Kennedy's 'Postcards from
What doesn't make something 'Christian'?
Jonal entry 922 | Wednesday, September 28, 2005
I must admit to taking the easy way out today. I wanted to end Monday's "What makes something 'Christian'?" on Monday, but no other topic got my creative juices going yesterday. And I did have a loose end or two on Monday that could be tied up. Tying loose ends is the easy way out of having no inspiration to write about something new. If you don't see any loose ends, you can even untie some.
But I have recast the question to What doesn't make something Christian? I've implied already that the fact that Adolph Hitler may have been christened as a child didn't make him a Christian and the fact that we talk a lot on the Nanty Glo list about Christian issues and prayer needs, and I engage in a lot of loose-ends Christian apologetics in these thrice-weekly mind stretchers doesn't make the Nanty Glo Home Page or the eforum "Christian." And that in turn suggests that some people must think some things make other things "Christian," and I think otherwise. I claim no authority for these opinions; no one died and made me king, pope, bishop or theologian in residence. If my arguments are persuasive enough to persuade, my work is availing. If not, here's some good alterative reading.
First: What doesn't make a person a Christian? Adolph Hitler, for example. Though I believe in baptism for the remission of sins (Mark 1:4, Luke 3:3, Acts 2:38), I don't believe that baptism without saving faith does anything. Actually, I would say that there's no such thing as "baptism" without saving faith, because administering water to a body and performing ritual prayers without saving faith isn't baptism, it's just hoping for either a miracle or at least for a fee or "honorarium" for the officiating clergy. Baptism to be effective in the remission of sins requires all the elements: subject, water, correct prayers, saving faith. I will part company with Baptists when I say that that saving faith can be the faith of the parents, godparents, and the parish all together, but that's a loose end I may or may not tie up some other time.
Other things that don't make something Christian include applying the name "Christian" to something. I look up Christian-related news every day and most days I get "Christian Dior" and/or "Christian Slater" in the mix, to reinforce my point. Nor does calling something Christian, like "Christian music," make it Christian, even if the caller is describing himself or herself. It may be true, but it may just as likely not be.
Being Christian means being born again, which means being born from the Holy Spirit, being born from above. There are such things as music and works of literature and art that have the touch of the Holy Spirit and therefore qualify as Christian. And if something claims to be Christian, I believe we must in Christian charity give the claimant the benefit of the doubt. Except, however, when the claimant or the subject of the claim (like Adolph Hitler) is so antithetical to the Spirit of God that we must in Christian charity call "fraud," "heresy" or "apostasy," which the New Testament writers tell us to do repeatedly. If anything fails to show the marks of the Spirit or bear spiritual fruit (Galatians 5:22, Ephesians 5:9), they should not be called Christian. If someone claims to be a follower of the way but blatantly doesn't follow the Commandments, don't call him or her a Christian (John 14 and 15; 1 John 2:4).
In short, if something doesn't appear Christian in behavior but claims the name, beware.