I used to think I was a Real Christian. Now I don't know if such a creature exists.
I've been Catholic. I've been Protestant. I'm told there are other flavors, but at this point, I just don't care.
If there's a God, it would be great to get to know it. But judging by the dizzying array of religions that humans have created, said God is not interested in knowing us. Or in correcting any misconceptions we may have about it.
If someone started a rumor that I thought homosexuals should be put to death, I would correct that misconception.
If someone said "Heretic Husband told me he will give $1,000 to anyone who gives me $100!" I would correct that person.
If I were the caretaker of the afterlife, and planned on splitting all of humanity into two groups, one group receiving eternal paradise and the other eternal damnation, I would make damn sure that everyone knew exactly what was required to be in the former group and not the latter.
I would certainly not leave cryptic instructions written in Hebrew and Aramaic and expect people to figure it out.
But enough about God, this post is about Christians.
The trouble with being a Real Christian is that anyone can make up their own definition of what a Christian is. There's no standard.
A "meter" is defined as the distance traveled by light in a vacuum during a time interval of 1 ⁄ 299,792,458 of a second". Weird, but hey, it's a standard. If I try to say that a meter is the distance from my house to the dumpster, I'd be wrong. A vegetarian is someone who doesn't eat meat. If I say "I'm a vegetarian, but I love to eat steak", I'd be wrong.
What is the standard for being a Christian? No one can agree. Now I know what some of you are going to say - "Heretic Husband, just look in the Bible! IT'S ALL THERE!!!"
Well, let's look at it then. We'll use the NIV (because everyone can at least agree on which translation of the Bible to use, right?)
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Well that seems easy enough.
14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
Huh. So faith by itself will save me, as long as it's not by itself.
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
Faith. Got it.
41 “Then he [God] will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
Works. Got it.
Now many people who accept that the Bible is God's Word, With NO Errors Or Contradictions Of Any Kind Despite What Heretic Husband (AKA Jerkface) Says, will cry foul. They will accuse me of proof texting. Of ripping innocent verses from the nurturing arms of their context. They'll say "But if you have REAL FAITH, it will CAUSE action!" In other words, it's not the actions that are your ticket into Heaven, it's the faith. But you can tell if someone has real faith because that faith will produce action.
Fair enough. What kind of works will it produce?
18 A certain ruler asked him [Jesus], “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.
I thought Jesus WAS God?
20 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’[a]”
21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.
22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Wait, is that even IN the Old Testament?
23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
26 Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?”
27 Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”
Ok, maybe that refers to faith...
Ok, so according to that story I have to give away everything I own. I'm sure my wife will be on board with that. After all, Jesus commanded it, right?
"DUH Heretic Husband! Jesus was talking to ONE GUY, not everyone throughout all time!!" (Geez, my imaginary readers are really rude).
Well, that's a fair point.
11 A woman[a] should learn in quietness and full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or
to assume authority over a man;[b] she must be quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve.
14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.
So if what Jesus said to that ruler doesn't apply to everyone, what Timothy is
saying here certainly doesn't apply to 21st century American society, right?
It's fine for women to be pastors, right?
Oh, that one applies to everyone? Sorry, my mistake.
Now some would say (quite reasonably) that neither verse applies to everyone.
But if that's the case, then what do we use as a standard of what a Christian is?
If the Bible is confusing, and God is silent, then how do we define a Christian?
If a word has no definition, what's the point of it?
The reality is, everyone makes up their own definition and tries to live up to it the
best they can. But many Christians don't want to hear that (I didn't). They want
to hear that their definition comes straight from God.
And honestly, who can blame them? After all, one thing that most, I daresay all,
Christians agree on, is that there are eternal consequences to our actions. If
that's the case I would certainly want to make sure that my definition is correct.
Well, hey! As long as we're all making up our own definitions, I'll make up one of my
Christian (noun): Someone who isn't sure if there's a God or an afterlife, and is unsure
about the characteristics of said hypothetical God and afterlife. Always willing to talk,
always willing to reexamine their beliefs. Hilarious blog optional.
I guess I'm a Christian.