Obviously, not everyone who answers to being a Christian is, in fact a Christian, but there are guidelines by which we can discern. First of all, I am NOT discussing the word “Christian” as it applies to salvation. God is the sole judge of that. I am talking about identifying a person or a group of persons distinctively. In most dictionaries the word “identify” means “the set of behavioral traits by which an individual or a group is recognizable.” Distinct means “clearly perceived by the intellect.” A Christian is described as “believing in Jesus as Christ and living according to the teachings of Jesus.” Along these lines, religious propaganda would have us swallow that 75% to 80% of Americans are Christian -- but given these set of rules, I don’t believe it.
Pollster George Barna defines a “Born again” Christian as having “made a personal commitment to Christ and believing they will go to heaven because they confessed their sins.” This guideline would allow the notorious abortionist George Tiller to reside alongside the 60,000 children he slaughtered. Some churches claim that a Christian is someone who “belongs to their particular denomination,” however, since there are more than 30,000 denominations, a lot of confused people are left out of the picture. Then there are those who claim it is enough to simply “believe that Jesus is the Son of God,” but the devil would fit into the same category.
I find it interesting. Why is it that most people from other religious beliefs define themselves according to the title given to the organization? A Muslim will describe himself as a Muslim and usually not to a sect of the religion. The same holds true for a Buddhist or a Hindu. But for some reason, Christian people will answer to being a Catholic, a Lutheran, a Baptist, an Evangelical, and so forth, rather than to being a Christian. There are even branches within these denominations -- ELCA Lutherans, Southern Baptists, United Methodists, etc. By their own admission, it actually appears that most of these organizations have “evolved” over the centuries and are now more denominational than Christian -- thus the confusion concerning the term.
So what, or who is a Christian? If I regard myself as a Christian, how can you tell if I am telling the truth? Maybe I’m lying. In nature there are birds, fish, snakes, animals and plants that have the ability to camouflage themselves as to appear to be something other than what they really are. It is only after we investigate closely that the imposter is discovered. I assume you have heard the saying, “If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, walks like a duck, and acts like a duck, it must be a duck.” But without a distinctive description, mistakes can be made. So a dictionary is needed to narrow the definition. “A duck,” they say, “is a swimming bird having a broad bill, short legs, and webbed feet.” But can a fox pretend to be a duck and get away with it? Of course not because it looks, acts, walks, and talks like a fox and not like a duck -- silly but sensible. What if I say I am a Spanish-speaking soccer player with a handicapped foot? Is there any justification in what I am saying? No, because I do not look Spanish, speak Spanish, nor am I a soccer player, or have a handicapped foot. It is obvious that I am a fraud because I do not possess the qualities of the person I claim to be.
From time to time, I receive communication from someone (not on our mailing list of course) who takes issue with something I have written or advertised. Most of these people claim to be Christians, but after voicing their displeasure, they go into a long tirade as to what they believe spiritually, which is usually contrary to Scripture and the teachings of the church to which they belong. Their beliefs are far more pagan than anything else.
Many of these people introduce their intelligence by referring to something they were taught by a church instructor when they were young -- and they apparently have learned nothing since. Then there are those who have never been taught anything spiritually, but are sure they know Christianity by what they have manufactured in their minds. And, of course, the ones who believe Christianity is little more than the Golden Rule. Mustn’t judge or disrespect others’ views. We must not think, but be tolerant and blind to whatever is going on around us.
I received this email a few months ago: “I’ve been a Roman Catholic since birth,” she said, “a lector, lay distributor, taught religious education, been a marriage preparation group leader, and what I follow is the Bible, that is the word I live by...but I don’t contort it to be negative or hateful.” This woman also favored same-sex “marriage,” “pro-death choice,” and a host of other evils that are against the teachings of the church in which she participates. Another lady said, “I am a strong Catholic but also a strong supporter of Obama.” One can only ask, “Where did all these people come from?” But the answer is extremely simple: “We grew them ourselves.”
In his homily, at a Catholic church I attended a few months ago, the padre addressed this very issue. What he said was along these lines: “It is IMPOSSIBLE to claim to be Catholic while not holding to Catholic teachings. If you want to say that you are against the teachings of the Church concerning abortion, you have a perfect right to do so, but you can no longer claim to be a Catholic -- go somewhere else, or start your own church.”
There is no evidence recorded in the New Testament of the early Christians alluding to their movement as Christianity. Generally, the followers of Christ described themselves by such terms as: disciples, brethren, saints, faithful ones, etc. The word “Christianus” is basically Latin, first appearing in Acts 11:26. In historical writings of classical times, the word is used to define combatant groups in terms of allegiance to their leader. It is likely to have been a bureaucratic term, invented by some clerk of the Antioch administration to cover a distant group among the Jewish community of which the authorities had become aware.
The history of the early church in New Testament times is one continuous example of resistance to tyrannical authority. The apostles repeatedly refused to submit to the dictates of both Jewish and Roman domination. Every apostle, save John, was killed for resisting carnal control. It may seem to us that the message of Jesus was more appealing than paganism, but that was certainly not true during the Christian revolution. After the Emperor Nero came on the scene, it became a risky matter to become a Christian. Christianity offended every traditionalist and flouted the tenants of every religion.
The Jews looked upon the followers of Christ as an Israelitic sect like the Sadducees, stating that the missionary Paul was “the instigator of the revolt of the sect of the Nazarenes” (Acts 24:5). Later the term “Christianus” was used politically to distinguish enemies of Rome and of Nero. “About this sect,” said the Roman Jews to Paul in prison, “we are informed that it meets with opposition everywhere” (Acts 28:22). Note: From the beginning, it is a fact that the title “Christian,” meant more than a belief in someone. It was created to describe a group of people whose allegiance to their leader was documented by their actions and behavior.
Around the Fourth Century, a strict definition was given to the word. At that time many groups with very different beliefs (similar to today), were defining themselves as Christians but by definition, were not. Each town (similar to churches today) had its own version of what Christianity was. For this reason, the world’s leading Christian scholars got together in Nicaea in 325 AD, and again in 381 AD. They decided on a universal or catholic definition (Nicene Creed) for people who practiced Christianity. The term “Catholic” (meaning universal), was used generations after the term “Christian” was born. It was inserted into the “Nicene Creed” to authenticate the Christian religion as being a world-wide faith, and not to give a title to their movement. Although the creed lists concepts that a Christian must believe, it does not list specifics such as evangelizing, feeding the hungry, and clothing the naked, because these actions were taken for granted and basic from the beginning. Christianity was intended to be, from its onset, a humane, universal, and visible religion.
Jesus preached a message that Scripture writers describe as “the Gospel of the Kingdom,” which is more than a reality to be acknowledged and confessed. To enter this Kingdom is to believe in Him and to live a life of obedience to His Law. Before the New Testament, God’s will was to be the aim of our action, but now, His pleasure also is to be sought. “What things are pleasing to Him, these do I always” (John 8:29). “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). A Christian could be defined, simplistically, as someone who pleases Jesus. Equally true is the fact that anyone that does not do these things does not please Jesus, and is obviously not a Christian but, rather, His enemy! “He that is not with Me is against Me” (Matthew 12:30).
This leads me to ask this question, “Do you think it pleases Jesus to kill pre-born children and to sympathize with sodomites and those who twist His Word?” What about voting for candidates who favor such behavior? The person I am talking about premeditatedly sins, defends his/her sin, and claims to be a Christian. A Barna survey of homosexuals states that 70 percent interviewed consider themselves to be Christian. But that’s like saying there are adulterous Christians, porn-using Christians, or incestuous Christians. These are the bottom-feeders of society. In churches, they distribute communion, sing in the choir, greet at the door, speak from the pulpit, teach Bible classes, and serve on church boards. Our political system is polluted by these scoundrels. Counterfeit Christianity may use all the language and hold Jesus in high esteem, but it just isn’t Christianity.
I had a conversation some years ago with an Internet ministry leader who claimed 230,000 people converted to Christ through his ministry. I asked him this question: “Are you stating that the 230,000 are now Christians?” His answer was, “Absolutely, because they have accepted Jesus Christ by faith.” I replied to him that I assumed he had never met these people, and asked if he was making this observation based strictly on their statement? His answer was, “Absolutely, they have sent in emails, they have made the choice to accept Christ as their Savior and have asked Him to forgive their sins...sounds like what the Bible calls Christianity to me.” But the problem is, this is not what the Bible calls Christianity -- it’s not even close.
Is it not true, however, that Jesus died for our sins so we could go to heaven, and if I profess this, isn’t it all that is necessary to prove I am a Christian? No, because it is not the whole Gospel, and if it’s not the whole Gospel, can we say it is the Gospel at all? It is not the same as saying that Jesus died to grant forgiveness and eternal life to all who believe, repent, and live according to His commands. To preach the good news only, and not the total news, is to preach deception and participate in a lie. It’s like saying Jesus provided an example for us to follow. Is that true? Of course, but is it the whole Gospel? Or that Christianity means we should do good works or live by the “golden rule.” Is that true? Certainly, but it is not the whole Gospel. “Yet, though we ourselves or an angel from heaven preach a gospel other than that we have preached to you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:7, 8). There is no uncertainty here as to what Christianity meant.
“Abandonment Theology” is a term by John Chalfant from his book America a Call to Greatness. It describes a faith which pawns itself off as Christianity by operating in the name of Christ, but which produces fruit destructive to America and to the commands of God. It has become clear that one of the reasons Christianity has been driven out of our dialogue is that its leaders have not been able to properly define the term. The definition has been distorted to the point that the true disciple is no longer recognizable and the term meaningless. By doing so, the word “Christian” has ceased to be a measuring stick for how our nation and its people should live and be governed.
When the church wants acceptance by the pagan society, it baptizes itself with religious language, describing its members as “Christian,” when in reality, they are counterfeits. The Hireling that spreads this illusion is as dangerous as the Devil. But the guilty never fool God; they only fool themselves.
The Measuring Stick
I remember seeing a picture of a starving child in Africa with a vulture standing nearby. I’ve read that the photographer shooed the vulture away but it eventually returned and ate the child. The photographer later committed suicide even though he had won a Pulitzer Prize for the picture. Can you imagine why? He could have prevented the vulture from eating the child, or taken the child to a feeding station near by, but he did neither. Replace the vulture with an abortionist, and the photographer with the church, and we have a perfect scenario for today. Sure God could have saved the child, but He expected the photographer to do the obvious! There is a message here. Augustine of Hippo wrote, “Without God I can’t, but without me, God won’t.”
I believe a measuring stick concerning who is a Christian can be discerned by how we treat the evil of abortion. We have never treated abortion like the murder of an adult human being -- you know it -- and I know it. The subject is so obvious that it is no longer debatable. So let’s stop pretending, either we do not believe the pre-born is human, or we have deliberately chosen to disobey God by allowing a form of pagan sacrifice to Satan. Which is it? I do not believe it is possible to be pro-choice and a Christian; they simply cannot dwell together.
Very honestly, and regardless of pro-life rhetoric, I do not believe Roe v. Wade will ever be overruled until Jesus returns. When I hear clergy talking about everything except abortion on the Sunday prior to the anniversary of Roe, and contributing to the church benevolent society on Mother’s Day, and on some unrelated scriptural quotation on the Sunday after the killing of Tiller -- something is terribly, terribly wrong. It makes me think of a group of theologians meeting in an air-conditioned hotel in a Third World country to talk about God’s love while children are dying of starvation on the streets outside.
This is not real Christianity, my friends, this is some other type of spiritualistic belief and worship (counterfeit Christianity) dressed up as the authentic version. It’s destroying our nation!