[OT?] How can you tell if someone is a Christian?

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Twirlip
 
Reply Thu 11 Mar, 2010 10:20 am
@chad3006,
The context of this thread is only hinted at in the second paragraph of the OP. As I said, I did not want to go into any more complications than were necessary; but I see that some are necessary, to give context, to keep the conversation grounded.

A relatively minor part of the background is that I grew up in Northern Ireland, and have had a very bad impression of organised Christianity since about the age of 8. I have also always put my faith in non-religious concepts. As I mentioned in my profile and in my introductory message [correction: I only mentioned the Muslim guy in a later article], that started to change only when I met this Muslim cleric on the Internet about 4 years ago. (He succumbed to suicide; I don't see how I can do any better, since he was stronger and better grounded than I am; the pressure is strong today, but at least, unlike him, I don't own a gun! I struggle on, more for the sake of my daughter than anything else; these thoughts are part of the struggle.)

The major part of the background is that my ex-wife comes from a very strange Pentecostal family, in which there have been generations of severe child abuse, both physical and sexual, exacerbated by religious mania; her parents' home was literally a chapel (her family was literally a cult in itself); her back bears literal deep scars of what her father did to her. I have seen a generation of that family grow up, and heard tell of another connected family, most of whose children were driven literally insane by religious abuse. My sister-in-law frequently kept me on the telephone for hours, because she knew I understood much of what she was going through with my ex-wife's brother.

I need no education in the dark side of religion!

My ex-wife literally believes that our daughter is possessed by a demon.

(As for how she treated me: "Whereof one cannot speak, thereof must one remain silent." And the horrible details are surely not relevant.)

Any time I have any thought of a religious character, I have to check to see if I have not been tormented and brainwashed into sharing some of this abusive religious insanity, in a kind of folie a deux.

Perhaps one has to allow a mad person to drive one mad, in order to communicate with them; and my ex-wife and I must communicate, for the sake of our daughter.

What I am doing is checking to see if I am on the same wavelength as my ex-wife, to see if communication is now, at last, possible.

Every question I asked in the OP is a question I had already asked her. This is just some further checking. It seems a sane precaution to discuss Christianity with other, saner Christians, as well as my ex-wife. (I do not mean to imply that she is literally insane. When I have meant a statement literally, in this article, I have carefully used the word "literal".)
 
Pepijn Sweep
 
Reply Thu 11 Mar, 2010 10:47 am
@Twirlip,
In my country they call themselves CDA. Pm is ^5/3_ (I cant say what I Want)

Not all believers in X are bad p[eo:letme-at-em:
 
Pepijn Sweep
 
Reply Thu 11 Mar, 2010 10:56 am
@Krumple,
Krumple;138515 wrote:
How can you tell if someone is a Christian?

Where ever you find a person with really low self esteem chances are high they are christian. Nothing destroys a persons intellect and self perspective more than religion can. Although not all of them are as self destructive as the desert religions but they all still have their moments.
 
Arjuna
 
Reply Thu 11 Mar, 2010 11:14 am
@Pepijn Sweep,
Twirlip;138619 wrote:
What I am doing is checking to see if I am on the same wavelength as my ex-wife, to see if communication is now, at last, possible.

Every question I asked in the OP is a question I had already asked her. This is just some further checking. It seems a sane precaution to discuss Christianity with other, saner Christians, as well as my ex-wife. (I do not mean to imply that she is literally insane. When I have meant a statement literally, in this article, I have carefully used the word "literal".)
It sounds like Christianity is tainted by association with insanity and violence for you. You're not alone in that boat. For the residents of that boat, becoming a Christian in the conventional sense might be a mind-bending project.

But there's still the possibility of making friends with Christianity... discovering its heart. That helps with discerning what's being expressed using Christian language.

Pepijn Sweep;138630 wrote:
No human sacrifices, please. The tulips don't need that!
 
Twirlip
 
Reply Thu 11 Mar, 2010 02:09 pm
@William,
William;138188 wrote:
We can't know happiness unless we what sadness is. That has been grossly misinterpreted. We don't know happiness because we consider ourselves apart from god. That is a learning tool meant to bring us together, but misinterpreting it keep us apart and why we judge as we do. God, we, us; we are all the same construct. We are all in this together.

I'm inclined to think that some unhappiness is a "learning tool", in this sense, and I'm trying to think of at least some of my own unhappiness in that light, but not all unhappiness can be seen in this way. A baby burned with cigarette ends and having its back broken by its parents (to pick an extreme but realistic example) is not going to have time to "learn" much.
William;138188 wrote:
I think god will only suffer so much. Before he let's that suffering develop into a cancer, he will scratch that itch and start a new much akin to what death is all about. Let's us hope he doesn't wipe the slate clean. What I mean by that is if we continue a part from accepting we are apart of god, the farther from god we become and we will end ourselves by our own hand.

I'm really not clear what you're saying here, either. You're saying that some beings who are causing God to suffer are also under God's power, and He will get pissed off with them and, as they used to say, "smite" them? Who are you thinking of, exactly, what actions are they doing that upset God, and is this suffering God of yours also an omnipotent one?
William;138188 wrote:
Perhaps yesterday you finally began to realize there is more to you than what yourself had imagined before. It could be that you are making the transition of caring more for others than you do yourself?

It's something quite like that, but not exactly like that, because in many ways I have failed to care for myself even as much as I have cared for others (which is not much).

I put it like this: I cannot defend myself until I learn to defend others as well.

Some kind of unconditional commitment is required; I'm not at all sure if I'm capable of it; the only advance is that I have been given some understanding of how I am lacking, but not of whether that lack can be repaired.
William;138188 wrote:
He didn't lose his faith

He really did; and he couldn't tell anyone about it, except anonymously on the Internet, because people were depending on him as a wise teacher. He felt a fraud.
William;138188 wrote:
Nothing ever ends. The body yes, but that is not us. We wear the one we have out, and get another one dependent on how well we use the old one, ha! Now that takes a lot more explanation than I can offer here and now.

Reincarnation makes some sense to me, too, but it is indeed rather too big (and separate) a subject to go into here.
William;138188 wrote:
You can't expect anything from life unless you are willing to give..........first.

As an adult, yes; for children, that cannot be true. (As I intimated in another post today, all these thoughts implicitly have a lot to do with childhood: mine, my ex-wife's, and our daughter's. Again, too much, and too much of a separate issue, to go into here.)
 
Pyrrho
 
Reply Thu 11 Mar, 2010 02:19 pm
@Twirlip,
Quote:
How can you tell if someone is a Christian?


It is not for you to decide. Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius.
 
Twirlip
 
Reply Thu 11 Mar, 2010 02:35 pm
@Pyrrho,
Pyrrho;138685 wrote:

How does that relate to the question I am actually asking, which is primarily about myself, but stated in general terms?
 
Pyrrho
 
Reply Thu 11 Mar, 2010 02:56 pm
@Twirlip,
Twirlip;138689 wrote:
How does that relate to the question I am actually asking, which is primarily about myself, but stated in general terms?


It seems to me that your question in your opening post is purely a matter of whether or not you are going to place a particular label on yourself. Why you are concerned with a label for yourself is something you can possibly best explain yourself. If you are going to do that, you will want to figure out what the label means, and then after that, apply it to yourself if it fits, and don't apply it if it does not fit.

As for what the word "Christian" means, the first step is an ordinary dictionary, and one proceeds to more in depth material, if needed.

From your description of your views, I would not call you a Christian, but many people call themselves things that they are not, so you would not be the first person to do such a thing. Many people who live in a Christian culture describe themselves as "Christian" due to some vaguely similar ideas they have. In a Muslim culture, they would call themselves Muslims, and in a Hindu culture, they may very well call themselves Hindus. I don't think that having vaguely religious views makes one a Christian, but you can call yourself anything you want to call yourself, even if it is inaccurate to call yourself whatever it is that you decide to call yourself. Of course, there are two issues in this: One is what you call yourself, and the other is what you are. The two need not be related, as many people have very little regard for the truth, which shows in this as well as other matters.
 
Twirlip
 
Reply Thu 11 Mar, 2010 03:15 pm
@Pyrrho,
Pyrrho;138697 wrote:
It seems to me that your question in your opening post is purely a matter of whether or not you are going to place a particular label on yourself.

No. Although it narrows the question down too much to focus it on myself and my ex-wife (and I avoided doing this in the OP), the narrow focus does help to clarify what the question means, even in general terms.

Put narrowly, then, the question is whether I am now encountering some of the same kind of religious experience which has been so much an everyday part of her life ever since early childhood, or whether I am only encountering something rather superficial or misleading (dreams playing tricks on me, and through me, trying to play tricks on her - that sort of thing), and her experience, as a "Christian" (whatever that means), contains something I have literally not even dreamt of yet.

On the other hand (and this is what makes it so difficult, and why I could not rest content simply with asking her, but thought of asking my question here, as well), I cannot regard her as a trustworthy authority on what it means, or does not mean, to be a "Christian". Her entire family is caught up in this conundrum (and in a sense, I am only relaying her family's difficulty here): they are all caught up in an evangelical fervour to convert others (like vampires, they need an endless supply of others, new blood for the cause), and my ex-wife is herself one of those "others" to her own mother, who does not regard her as "really" being a "Christian".

(I was trying hard not to go into too many complications! But if I have failed to explain myself, I must add whatever details are necessary, as and when they become necessary.)

So, by asking a general question, of a general Christian audience, I am hoping to escape (to a certain extent) this narrow and confusing trap, in which the whole of Christianity seems to be represented to me by one person whose Christianity was formed in a most unwholesome environment (in which both I and my daughter are now caught up).

(By the way, I don't know how you have got the impression that I am describing myself as a "Christian". I asked a question; I did not make a statement; at most, I said something like, "I seem to be turning into one of those people ... Hello Damascus!")
 
melonkali
 
Reply Sun 14 Mar, 2010 02:17 pm
@Twirlip,
The following answers represent "shooting from the hip" from a Christian. And I'm an old woman, to boot -- Aren't we old-women the universally acknowledged wisdom keepers? As John Wayne might have said, "All right, pilgrim, listen and listen tight..." (If that doesn't work, how about "Lock and load"? "Circle the wagons"?)

I'm too close to the finish line to play other peoples' games. I've already wasted too many years trying. I don't recommend it.

I know that I am a Christian because I know that I am a Christian. That's what counts, IMO. I had my first "real" (not forced) subjective Christian experience over 22 years ago, at a time when my stated belief was universalist. I now consider myself a Christian universalist -- I understand that other people subjectively comprehend a different face of God than I do, including many (most) other Christians.

I encourage others to strengthen their own heart-felt perception of God, even if that is, as it is with many atheists, simply the face of humanity instead of a supernatural being. Reference Matthew ch. 25, the final judgment, sheep and goats: sheep are known by a life of feeding the hungry, caring for the poor, etc., "as you did for the least of these, so you did unto me." Compare with the New Testament teachings about blaspheming the Son or the Father, which can be forgiven, as opposed to blaspheming the Holy Spirit. Who encourages men toward compassion and kind "works" if not the Holy Spirit?

I subjectively believe that I have a real, true relationship with Christ, Mary, and the Archangel Michael (my unorthodox personal trinity). It would not be possible for me to reject the person of Jesus or His teachings. It would not be possible for me to live any way other than MY understanding of Christ's teachings. The first scripture verse I ever truly "got" is found in I John: "God is Love". Perhaps that remains the only scripture verse about which I feel confident in saying "I have understanding." It is enough.

How one asserts, or lives, new-born Christianity: act naturally? Like Francis of Assisi when he ran out and hugged a leper? You are becoming a changed person -- why behave like someone else? Or even worse, like someone else's idea of how you should behave? Listen to that "still, small voice", trust your intuitions. Trust that God is not a mischievous practical joker -- at least not in matters of consequence. He is not going to make Himself known to you, reach down, lift you up, then drop you on your head and walk away laughing.

If this happens to you, well, it wasn't the voice of the God of Christ you heard, anyway. I'm pretty sure on that point. I'm also pretty sure that if you inadvertently followed the wrong voice, and you ended up being dropped on your head, your child-like willingness to follow that voice created a sufficient opening for the God of Christ to reach down and offer His hand to you for a rescue. This "insight" comes from first hand experience.

I can't speak for others, but I certainly didn't come out of my early religious experiences with a PhD in Theology from The Divine University of God. I got the general idea, but was "off" on some of the details. I'm probably still "off" on some details. That doesn't stop me from trying, from living according to my beliefs.

Re: commitment. How is "I'll give it a try" -- living according to your intuitive faith, perhaps your understanding of love in action, perhaps your understanding of Christ, simply following the dictates of your own heart -- an overwhelming commitment? What is the alternative? How else would you live? If your understanding of commitment seems overwhelming, are you thinking of someone else's dogma on the meaning of commitment?

Re: professing Jesus: "Christ" is my own common personal name for the spirit of Jesus and the God of the New Testament. I refer to Jesus of Nazareth as the fully human vehicle for the teachings of Christ. Emphasize "fully human". Scripture says He was without sin, not without common human foibles. You think He never once tripped over his own sandal? I really want to make a video, "Bloopers of Jesus" -- maybe followed by "Bloopers of Mohammed" -- followed by "Fatwa Follies".... Oops, Did I go too far? My personal vision of God includes a sense of humor. Humor, IMO, is a terrific tool for uncovering truth, combined with a joyful spirit -- why should we fear truth or shun joy?

What happened to your cleric friend is horrible. I don't know many Muslims, and I cannot imagine what kind of God he knew who would lead him to such a dark place. I have known some Christians whose dogmatic perspective seemed, to me, too closed, with no room for growth, for adaptation (the Apostle Paul's being "all things to all men"). It is sad that your friend didn't feel he had the right or freedom to take a back-step and re-examine his beliefs. How did such an apparently good and wise person get backed into a corner by such a rigid, malevolent vision of God? As you are able, I'd like to learn more about your friend and what you think happened there.

Bridging the gap with other Christians -- my experience would advise that, as much as you can, you should meet them wherever they are, and lead by example. Again, referencing Paul's "being all things to all men". Never hate, condemn, or promote any form of meanspiritedness. Be always loving, forgiving, merciful, kind, gentle, as much as you are able. Even if they seem misguided, in your opinion (and probably in mine), they are not evil. Think of this: when they get to heaven, as I believe most people will, they're in for a real shock when they see how many other people made it, too!

I'm no longer active in church (I'm old and live way out in the middle of nowhere), although I'd have no problem returning to the church of my youth (Episcopal). I guess now I really belong to something and someone else, and my fellow parishoners are (loosely speaking) the rest of God's creation.

For inspiration beyond the New Testament, I personally find strength in reading some of the very early, non-canonical but widely accepted church literature, such as I Clement, the Odes of Solomon, the Epistle of Barnabus. I read about "saintly" people who touch my heart, who give me a model to emulate -- like Francis of Assisi.

In addition to wasting a lot of time trying to fit someone else's idea of being Christian, I've also been guilty of, and still am often guilty of, spending too much time and angst trying to understand things which can only be learned through first-hand experience, diving into the pool of the Christian life.

"Winging it", when not thoroughly prepared, is a little frightening at first. Still, once you realize that you're not going to turn into a pillar of salt, even if you make a fool of yourself occasionally, you begin to understand "living life abundantly". We humans tend to "err on the side of caution" -- maybe sometimes it's better to "err on the side of non-caution"?

rebecca
 
William
 
Reply Wed 17 Mar, 2010 02:43 am
@Twirlip,
William;138188 wrote:
We can't know happiness unless we know what sadness is. That has been grossly misinterpreted. We don't know happiness because we consider ourselves apart from god. That is a learning tool meant to bring us together, but misinterpreting it keep us apart and why we judge as we do. God, we, us; we are all the same construct. We are all in this together


Twirlip;138682 wrote:
I'm inclined to think that some unhappiness is a "learning tool", in this sense, and I'm trying to think of at least some of my own unhappiness in that light, but not all unhappiness can be seen in this way. A baby burned with cigarette ends and having its back broken by its parents (to pick an extreme but realistic example) is not going to have time to "learn" much.


Hello Twirlip and yes "unhappiness" is a consequence of being apart. Yes, it does have it's degrees and degradations and can be manifested in all manners of deplorable behavior. As far as your example, has anything remotely similar to that occurred in your reality? If it has, then if we all knew the circumstances, without editing, that led up to that horrendous occurrence we may be able to take the necessary measures to insure it never happens again. All such behavior are occurrences "apart from god" and not a part of that god. It is a very loosely defined "detachment". The way we treat our young, even that atrocity could fall under interfering with a person's "civil liberties" and it is none of anyone's business how one treats "their" children? The way we are going, one day a fetus could be a 2 year old who just happens to cause us a little distress?

William;138188 wrote:
I think god will only suffer so much. Before he let's that suffering develop into a cancer, he will scratch that itch and start a new much akin to what death is all about. Let's us hope he doesn't wipe the slate clean. What I mean by that is if we continue a part from accepting we are apart of god, the farther from god we become and we will end ourselves by our own hand.


Twirlip;138682 wrote:
I'm really not clear what you're saying here, either. You're saying that some beings who are causing God to suffer are also under God's power, and He will get pissed off with them and, as they used to say, "smite" them? Who are you thinking of, exactly, what actions are they doing that upset God, and is this suffering God of yours also an omnipotent one?


Twirlip there are different degrees of what can be defined as to what is suffering. Someone may consider suffering not being able to find the remote to the television set. Acts of god are indeed those occurrences we cannot attribute to anything else definitely in all they are and all that causes them. Those are just greater manifestations of what can occur as the Earth maintains it's harmony and balance. We abuse the Earth just like we abuse people and both will have repercussions micro-cosmically and macro-cosmically (See list) All, and I mean all of what we can call suffering comes from the fact that so many cannot understand our culpability in what happens as we feel that is all "apart from us" and something else alien to us. Once we understand the importance of balance then inequity subsides along with it's twin iniquity.

William;138188 wrote:
Nothing ever ends. The body yes, but that is not us. We wear the one we have out, and get another one dependent on how well we use the old one, ha! Now that takes a lot more explanation than I can offer here and now.


Twirlip;138682 wrote:
Reincarnation makes some sense to me, too, but it is indeed rather too big (and separate) a subject to go into here.


You don't have to understand it because you can't, just believe it. Everything about us is transmigratory! Nothing ever just ceases to exist because there is no such thing as "nothing". All slots are filled. No gaps. Let's just say it is what can be defined as complimentary action, both in the positive sense and the negative. You will take up right were you left off. If you are a "predator" you will be a predator until those you prey on eventually destroy you at which time you start over in a benign position as those you once preyed upon are your salvation. What goes around comes around and the universe has it own justice system and it will use our hands to administer that justice or mayhem. That is indeed god's misery and suffering as we engage our free will apart from that guidance that is readily available to us that only the peace of mind will allow. Peace can only come once we understand our eternal nature and all are a part of the one. There is no escape in death as many would like to think or been convinced to think. Such as a heaven being a remote destination apart and separate from this Earth just as hell is thought, by some, to be. When it has never been theorized exactly "where" those places are.

It can be understood those who do not believe in such stuff would be afraid if indeed it were true and denying the possibility because it cannot be empirically understood or defined, offers a measure of satisfaction if they are able to convince others otherwise. In that case if it were true, they would have plenty of company if indeed the soul does experience some kind of "hell". Misery does love company, you know! Of course in keeping with the thread the Christian refers to it as "being reborn or born again"; and that has been a bit rationalized as some kind of mental metamorphosis and I think that is, to some degree, what "manic" is. A feeling of confidence, euphoria and grandiosity. I know, been there, done that or let's say I was accused of that, but for me it was much, much more.

William;138188 wrote:
Perhaps yesterday you finally began to realize there is more to you than what yourself had imagined before. It could be that you are making the transition of caring more for others than you do yourself?


Twirlip;138682 wrote:
It's something quite like that, but not exactly like that, because in many ways I have failed to care for myself even as much as I have cared for others (which is not much).I put it like this: I cannot defend myself until I learn to defend others as well. Some kind of unconditional commitment is required; I'm not at all sure if I'm capable of it; the only advance is that I have been given some understanding of how I am lacking, but not of whether that lack can be repaired.


Outstanding offering and I thank you. Many would much prefer to mistreat themselves before they would do that to others. Innately we would rather suffer than to impose it on others. Those who do, don't do it themselves and are apart from it; they "employ" others to do it for them. The weak, insecure and unrecognized will do anything to fall in favor of anyone. Sad but unfortunately true.

William;138188 wrote:
"He didn't lose his faith", he just didn't understand it as most oppositionist argue regarding any faith; why would a good, all knowing God allow such horrors to exist in this world. I think the wise Epicurus was one of the first if not the first to express this conundrum. God doesn't have rules; he's just gracious enough to wait until we learn. This life is a bit overwhelming and somehow he knew we would not understand it and where forgiveness comes in. I don't think he understood it either and is learning as we learn. Only he knows if what we learn is beneficial or not to his universal continuum. We draw conclusions and there is no such thing. Nothing ever ends. The body yes, but that is not us. We wear the one we have out, and get another one dependent on how well we use the old one, ha! Now that takes a lot more explanation than I can offer here and now.


Twirlip;138682 wrote:
He really did; and he couldn't tell anyone about it, except anonymously on the Internet, because people were depending on him as a wise teacher. He felt a fraud.


I took the entire response I offered because it answered your question here. Why you parsed it as you did, I am not sure. It's difficult to adhere to a faith that resorts to beheading people. Just as it is a faith that sacrifices a person to show god's love for them? I could never understand why a "loving, understanding god" would resort to such measures. It just never made sense to me. For instance, if a man has three sons and he kills the eldest, or allows to be killed to show his love for the other two; how would that stand up in a court of jurisprudence?

That's enough to do immeasurable harm to anyone who is incapable of rationalizing it or gathering from the positives that faith offers that would eliminate those negative representations. These are all, afterall, man's interpretations of what "he" desires god to be; not what god is as I have offered on more than one occasion we created god in our image, not the other way around. One can only rationalize wrong, just so far, and eventually a brick wall will present itself where no excuse will suffice. Perhaps this is where this young cleric finally ended up. I am not saying what you offer is incorrect. Most rationalize what their religious groups do. Perhaps this young cleric couldn't do that. A wise person would have understood and denounced those who used faith as a crutch to commit horrendous acts. Muslim's are not the only ones who are guilty of that.

Honestly, the two most powerful religions come from what is called a "holy land" and I'll be damned if I can see anything holy about any part of that world. If I had a choice that would be the last place on Earth I would choose to live. Sorry, that is a personal opinion, and not meant to disparage anyone who would think different. If it weren't for that "black gold" beneath those desert landscapes, I don't think the rest of the world would have interfered with what goes on there................at all!!!!!!

William;138188 wrote:
You can't expect anything from life unless you are willing to give..........first.


Twirlip;138682 wrote:
As an adult, yes; for children, that cannot be true. (As I intimated in another post today, all these thoughts implicitly have a lot to do with childhood: mine, my ex-wife's, and our daughter's. Again, too much, and too much of a separate issue, to go into here.)


Adult? What is an adult, but an older child? And yes many are indeed contaminated. A child gives you his all and I mean all in hopes that you do the same. His very livelihood is dependent on all you have to offer. We are so "preoccupied" with what it is to be an adult, the child is virtually left out in the cold. And it is that child and it's coldness that is responsible for much of the suffering in the world. Some grow up to be that "snake in the grass" that sows what it was rept upon it. We, as adults, in that respect, have so very much to learn about "WHO" the child is. They are angels and it we who clip their wings. They are more than a souvenir of a sexual interlude.

William
 
octobrist
 
Reply Fri 26 Mar, 2010 04:40 am
@Krumple,
Krumple;138515 wrote:
Where ever you find a person with really low self esteem chances are high they are christian.

Not in my experience. Statistics, or it ain't true.

Krumple;138515 wrote:
Nothing destroys a persons intellect and self perspective more than religion can.

I assume you are referring to fundamental or extremely radical forms of religion, but this can be replaced with various other predisposed mindsets, and your single sentence claim is obviously superficial. Seems to me that you are assuming the role of the "militant athiest", whom society love so dearly.

Quote:
Although not all of them are as self destructive as the desert religions but they all still have their moments

?
 
froach
 
Reply Fri 26 Mar, 2010 05:48 am
@melonkali,
Many people say they are christians, but few of them actually are, if they learn the teaching and most do not transend it in to action. most folks thats say they christians are into to pointing the finger but it goes against their detiy as in he without sin cast the first stone, that one always makes laugh

There is also a difference between jesus and jesus christ, jesus is the man and jesus christ is the man that is enlightened.

so really to tell a Christian is to look at person in action of the christ teachings rather than where they worship and how often
 
octobrist
 
Reply Fri 26 Mar, 2010 06:00 am
@froach,
A Christian is someone who recognises the significance of the crucifixion.


As simple as that.
 
prothero
 
Reply Fri 26 Mar, 2010 06:28 pm
@octobrist,
  1. James 2:14
    What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
    James 2:13-15 (in Context) James 2 (Whole Chapter)
  2. James 2:17
    Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
    James 2:16-18 (in Context) James 2 (Whole Chapter)
  3. James 2:18
    Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
    James 2:17-19 (in Context) James 2 (Whole Chapter)
  4. James 2:20
    But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
    James 2:19-21 (in Context) James 2 (Whole Chapter)
  5. James 2:22
    Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
    James 2:21-23 (in Context) James 2 (Whole Chapter)
  6. James 2:24
    Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
    James 2:23-25 (in Context) James 2 (Whole Chapter)
  7. James 2:26
    For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
    James 2:25-26 (in Context) James 2 (Whole Chapter)

So the traditional teaching is salvation through faith alone but the corollary is that true faith manifest itself in actions (in deeds and works). So you should be able to tell true Christians by their actions, deeds and works. Mere profession of faith or belief does not indicate "true faith".
Gandhi "Christianity is a wonderful faith, someone should practice it sometime"
Also Gandhi "I like your Jesus, but I do not like your Christians"
 
onetwopi
 
Reply Fri 30 Apr, 2010 12:15 am
@melonkali,
melonkali;139666 wrote:
The following answers represent "shooting from the hip" from a Christian. And I'm an old woman, to boot -- Aren't we old-women the universally acknowledged wisdom keepers?


What an excellent post from your vast experience. I certainly value your perspective and appreciate your experience. I think "Christian universalist" might describe me pretty well also.

I feel that although there are many paths to God, I have found mine through Christ. I have found redemption and new life in him even as I struggle to understand him, understand me, and understand this journey we're all on in some way or another.

Thank you, Twirlip, for opening your post with such honesty. It has certainly opened an interesting discussion and given lots of food for thought for me.

Cheers!
 
Fido
 
Reply Fri 30 Apr, 2010 08:20 am
@Twirlip,
Twirlip;138619 wrote:
The context of this thread is only hinted at in the second paragraph of the OP. As I said, I did not want to go into any more complications than were necessary; but I see that some are necessary, to give context, to keep the conversation grounded.

A relatively minor part of the background is that I grew up in Northern Ireland, and have had a very bad impression of organised Christianity since about the age of 8. I have also always put my faith in non-religious concepts. As I mentioned in my profile and in my introductory message [correction: I only mentioned the Muslim guy in a later article], that started to change only when I met this Muslim cleric on the Internet about 4 years ago. (He succumbed to suicide; I don't see how I can do any better, since he was stronger and better grounded than I am; the pressure is strong today, but at least, unlike him, I don't own a gun! I struggle on, more for the sake of my daughter than anything else; these thoughts are part of the struggle.)

The major part of the background is that my ex-wife comes from a very strange Pentecostal family, in which there have been generations of severe child abuse, both physical and sexual, exacerbated by religious mania; her parents' home was literally a chapel (her family was literally a cult in itself); her back bears literal deep scars of what her father did to her. I have seen a generation of that family grow up, and heard tell of another connected family, most of whose children were driven literally insane by religious abuse. My sister-in-law frequently kept me on the telephone for hours, because she knew I understood much of what she was going through with my ex-wife's brother.

I need no education in the dark side of religion!

My ex-wife literally believes that our daughter is possessed by a demon.

(As for how she treated me: "Whereof one cannot speak, thereof must one remain silent." And the horrible details are surely not relevant.)

Any time I have any thought of a religious character, I have to check to see if I have not been tormented and brainwashed into sharing some of this abusive religious insanity, in a kind of folie a deux.

Perhaps one has to allow a mad person to drive one mad, in order to communicate with them; and my ex-wife and I must communicate, for the sake of our daughter.

What I am doing is checking to see if I am on the same wavelength as my ex-wife, to see if communication is now, at last, possible.

Every question I asked in the OP is a question I had already asked her. This is just some further checking. It seems a sane precaution to discuss Christianity with other, saner Christians, as well as my ex-wife. (I do not mean to imply that she is literally insane. When I have meant a statement literally, in this article, I have carefully used the word "literal".)

Your ex wife is literally correct... Your daughter is possessed by a demon, and my daughter is too, and everyone else's for that matter, and every son... It is called youth, and from a psychological perspective it is madness, but to the religious it is demonic... If we burned a few of them at the stake it might rectify the rest... Might work...
 
GoshisDead
 
Reply Fri 30 Apr, 2010 10:01 am
@Fido,
I often marvel rhetorically at how viotriolic ranting is tolerated, at times encouraged, in religion forums but scorned in other forums.
 
lazymon
 
Reply Fri 30 Apr, 2010 11:06 am
@Twirlip,
How can you tell if someone is a Christian?

If you believe in the freedom of religion than you can be a Christian any time you choose to be one.

It seems to me from reading your post that your question is really "Should I call myself a Christian or not?".

Or at least IMO that would be a better and more fun question to answer.

For me I call myself a christian, even though most christians would say that I am not. This is because it usually shuts them the hell up so I don't have to argue about it.
 
Twirlip
 
Reply Fri 30 Apr, 2010 11:44 am
@lazymon,
lazymon;158444 wrote:
It seems to me from reading your post that your question is really "Should I call myself a Christian or not?".

That would probably have been clearer.

The way I put it was almost asking for misunderstanding.
lazymon;158444 wrote:
For me I call myself a christian, even though most christians would say that I am not. This is because it usually shuts them the hell up so I don't have to argue about it.

Smile
 
 

 
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