How can someone still be a Christian if they don't believe the teachings of the Bible?

Jenny - posted on 05/28/2012 ( 62 moms have responded )

842

5

28

On COM I've come across a variation of Christians that believe in opposition to the bible on some issues, but still call themselves Christians. That baffles me.

One example (not on COM) is Oprah. She believes that Jesus did not come to die for our sins but to show us how to live a human life with "Christ-consciousness", does not believe there is only one way to God as promoted in the bible and believes that heaven is not a destination but an inner realm of consciousness.

If people's beliefs don't coincide with what is written in the Bible, (which is the only source for Christianity as a religion, right?) why do they still call themselves Christians? Why not call yourself something else?

On that basis, what does being a Christian actually mean today?

MOST HELPFUL POSTS

Johnny - posted on 05/28/2012

8,686

26

322

I'm just going to offer a perhaps here. Because I don't call myself a Christian at all. But as an interested observer, it has been noticeable that the spectrum of people call themselves Christians is extremely diverse. I've noticed this in other religions, but not to the extent of Christianity, although that may be due to my being exposed to Christians in greater numbers. I have also noticed that Christians do not seem to have any agreement amongst themselves as to what makes a "true" Christian. There seem to be so many definitions of this. With each group being certain that their definition is the correct way. Although the more literal the believer is to the bible as the "Word" the more vitriol they seem to direct towards those who don't feel the same.

As for people who don't see the bible as the literal "breathed" word of God still calling themselves Christians, I think it comes from whether or not you see it as a book written by God or by men. Most of the people whom I know, and I worked for a church that did not follow the bible literally, see it as an allegory guiding our lives. They place more value on the meaning than the words. They see it historically, as a text written by bronze age tribespeople trying to explain life. Or that it has been so translated and adulterated through the ages by man that the original intent of the authors who may have originally been writing at God's hand has been lost.

My husband's culture is a break-away sect from the Russian orthodox church. They rejected the dogma, the hierarchy, and rules of the church. They are Christians, their name means "spirit-wrestlers", and they believe that the path to salvation is through "peaceful life and toil". They reject religious and political hierarchies, are pacifists, vegetarians, and do not believe in the trinity. My husband was not even taught that Jesus was the actual son of God, but his greatest prophet. I have no doubt that a great many other Christians would agree with the Russian Orthodox church and state that they aren't true Christians. But just like all believers, they have their own truth.

That is really the thing about faith, it allows you to create your own truth. That truth may stem from the bible, or the religious leadership of your group/sect/denomination, but each person really does seem to come to their own conclusion about what the path to eternal salvation is, and that is ALWAYS the truth in their own world. The problems start when they decide that everyone else has to share that truth.

To me, if Oprah believes in God and Jesus, if she calls herself a Christian, then she is one. No one else has the right to define what you are.

Fran - posted on 07/17/2012

11

0

0

Hi Jenny - well, I am a Christian minister who believes pretty much like Oprah. I think much depends on how the Bible is read. If you read it as if the words were written in today's English (from the beginning), and only interpret them one way, it narrows everything.

First, I think we have to remember that everything in the Bible is written by human beings. All of the Gospels were written by unknown authors - using the names Matthew, Mark, Luke and John - 75 to 100 years after the death of Jesus. Mark was the first Gospel to be written, Matthew and Luke were next, and both used Mark as a basis and then added from outside texts and "sayings", called "Q". John is entirely different than the other three. All four authors had a specific agenda and a specific idea of who Jesus was supposed to be.

Jesus never said there was only one way to God - although that has been interpreted by some to be the case. Supposedly he said "I am the way, the truth, and the life." but some scholars also suggest that - translating from the Greek - he might have said "I am way, truth, life." Quite different, and with a distinctly Eastern tinge to it.It's known that Buddhists and other faiths were present at the time of Jesus - Romans and Greeks travelled to India - so it's not outside the realm of possibility.

Part of the process of interpreting the Bible to congregations is to ascertain through historical and cultural evaluation, what Jesus audience would have heard. In that culture, at that time, it would have been quite different.

There are several places where Jesus uses Samaritans as examples. Samaritans were not Jews, and were considered unclean by the Jews. They did not have the same faith - yet time after time Jesus points out that they are better people and closer to the "kingdom of God" than the Jews. Jesus never tried to convert anyone to Judaism, but he did teach people about human relationship.

As a Christian in the Reform tradition, I believe God's grace is and always has been given even before we are aware we need it. That comes directly from Martin Luther. So if we are able to access God's grace, Jesus did not have to die for our sins - and to be honest, that was a Jewish religious interpretation attached to Jesus' death by Paul - a rabbi, who was trying to make sense of something he did not experience himself.

I am still baffled by people who take those things so literally, instead of doing the necessary historical and cultural reading, to put things into their context, and then try to interpret.

Fran

Johnny - posted on 06/12/2012

8,686

26

322

Jenny, if you consider hell a state of having one's heart and soul separated from God, then it is not a "place". It's a state of mind. If one dies while disconnected from God, then one's soul will not reside with him. That is hell. It's not considered a place with burning fires or whatever else people like to imagine based on biblical allegory.

Now, as someone disconnected from god, literal or allegorical, place or state of mind, hell does not bother me in the least. In the state of non-belief, it simply is not of concern. I personally find hell to be here on earth trying to rationalize with religious believers.

I do find it interesting and actually quite funny that humans who are followers of a God claim to have the right to decide which other humans are following that God properly and are thus "Christians" or "Jews" or "Muslims". Because all o' y'all have the same judging others of the same claimed faith thing going on and it makes no sense. All of the holy books tell the believers that God is the only judge. I'd say that if you are really following your books, you might want to leave it up to your God and not the human bible writers or the human pastors or any other humans including yourselves to make those judgments.

Johnny - posted on 06/12/2012

8,686

26

322

Jenny, it all depends on whether you view the bible from an allegorical standpoint or a literal one. The context that you are placing the information in makes all the difference. Literalist Christians require that everything in the bible is view as FACT, where as others see the stories more as parables. Hell, for example, is viewed by a great many Christians as a warning that one's soul is at risk from being separated from God rather than that there is a literal place called Hell. When I was in church school, that is exactly how "hell" was interpreted. In my husband's faith tradition, the virigin birth is viewed as an allegorical way of describing the pureness of Mary's heart, not her hymen status. This information is all drawn from the bible, but how it is interpreted is vast.

Like I said earlier, many Christians do not see biblical stories as anything more than allegories and parables designed to teach a us lessons. I am guessing that the faith tradition that you were raised it was extremely literal and also convinced that was the only TRUE path. It does not effect me personally, but it really could be considered exceedingly offensive for many Christians to be told that unless you interpret the bible in a specific way, that one is not a Christian. I can not see anywhere in the bible that humans were given the right or the power to judge the faith of their fellow humans.

Minnie - posted on 05/29/2012

7,076

9

788

The stories found therein are thousands of years old, most told through oral tradition, cannonized hundreds of years after many were written, most written to an oriental culture and not us of a western one, written to a people of a language that is pictoral and circular, and most of it filled with hyperbole and poetic license.



Personally, I'm skeptical of anyone who says he or she knows what the Bible says unless he or she is fluent in old-style greek, Hebrew and is an anthropologist.

62 Comments

View replies by

Lindsey - posted on 02/03/2014

2

0

0

I'm only 15 and I have been raised in a christian house. I just recently started to question the bible because it basically says that humans were the first here and every animal was here with us. From a scientific standpoint that can't be possible. So I looked into the evolution vs creation debate. Its like comparing something of current belief to something thousands of years old. I have to go with evolution. If that part of the bible isn't correct, then what else isn't? Im just scared because I don't know what to believe and I don't know what to call myself. Everyone in my family would be offended if I was an Atheist. The thing is, I believe in God. Just not everything the bible says.

Jenny - posted on 09/19/2013

842

5

28

" A LOT of people believe a lie, that they are a Christian, when in fact they are not."

Isn't this a bit self contradictory? If you say by definition a Christian is a BELIEVER, then wouldn't someone believing they are a Christian make them a Christian? It doesn't make sense for one to believe themselves a Christian and in actual fact not be one at the same time.

I've gone through a lot of changes in my beliefs since my original post and am now comfortable with being a non-believer. I no longer believe in a personal God. Now that i'm on the other side, I see anyone willing to call themselves a Christian, a believer. When you no longer believe at all, there's a big difference between your lack of belief and another's belief, no matter how weak their belief may be. They shouldn't be put in the same boat as non-believers who admit they don't believe in a Christian God.

Deborah Ridgely - posted on 09/11/2013

59

0

7

Well, by definition a Christian (a.k.a. little Christ) is a BELIEVER. You can always say you were baptised as an infant or were raised in a church, but when you cease to believe (or have never truly believed) that Jesus Christ's shed blood is effectual for your salvation, you are no longer in the faith. A LOT of people believe a lie, that they are a Christian, when in fact they are not.

Shelley-Ann - posted on 07/15/2012

59

0

2

This is an interesting discussion. Like many have said, interpretations will vary widely depending on the person giving their opinion. I'm going to get a little technical here, so please bear with me. There are two types of definitions to words. "Denotation" which is the definition that appears in a dictionary, and "connotation" which is the definition we each hold for a word. Denotation is what makes it possible for us to understand each other, and this is what we could call a universal definition. Conotation is based on our personal experience, culture, perception etc. of a word and is so highly personal no two people will give the same response. If you follow this argument, then the only place to find that universal definition of Christianity is to go to the dictionary. Karla B. a nice job on posting that, so I won't repeat it here.

Beign a Christian, then, simply means following Jesus Christ and His teachings. Christ Himself never pointed to the Bible in particular as being something to follow. He spoke about God, the Holy Spirit and having a personal relationship with them. So, on that point, not believing all of the Bible and doesn't make calling yourself Christian an issue. It's not a matter of what the Bible says, but whether you follow Christ.

Having said that, we have to ask the question "Where do we get most if not all of our information regarding Christ and his teachings?" I don't think anyone will disagree that it is from the Bible, so I guess this is where the confusion steps in.

I agree with Jenny Sunner that claiming to believe in Jesus and not believing He came to die for our sins seems contradictory. If you believe in Jesus and his teachings, isn't that something He said Himself? Now we ask ourself if we say we believe in Jesus, do we have to believe everything He taught (as presented in the Bible) if we are to call ourselves Christians?

We can then begin to go around in circles with this discussion. So here's the thing: there is a universal definition of Christianity (check your dictionary) but many people disagree with it and choose to embrace many concepts that are not "standard" where Christianity is concerned. Perhaps we should ask non-Christians how they define Christianity instead of going back and forth amongst ourselves.

Karla - posted on 07/10/2012

1,555

48

99

Jenny: ”I don't know if this makes sense. Without any definition there is no religion, there is no Christianity or Hinduism or whatever if you cannot define them. Religion has its definitions within each denomination. Every church I know has a breif "mission statement" (im not sure what the proper word is for it) that defines its belief. So the church (or gathering of people) are what define a religion to those people who gather together for the same purpose.”

There are religions and then there are Churches, or sects of said religion. Within Religion, the Churches/Sects do not agree with one another about the definition of that Religion. In other words, Catholics do not agree with the Baptists’ definition of Christianity and vice-a-versa. They may claim authority and knowledge of the definition of Christianity, but none of them hold a divine authority to define Christianity. There can be a general definition, but most Churches/Sects would elaborate on the definition. Therefore, if an individual defines their Christianity in a unique way, then they have that right. (as long as no harm is done.)

No harm is done if someone’s “beliefs don’t coincide with what is written in the Bible,” they may still call themselves Christian. I would add that many Churches/Sects’ mission statements don’t entirely coincide with the Bible either, and yet they call themselves Christian.

Tina - posted on 07/07/2012

1,314

28

301

I basically believe if you do something you believe yourself is wrong then that's a sin. We have all been given a conscience. So we should use it accordingly

Krista - posted on 07/06/2012

12,562

16

847

Leigh, your Catholic upbringing must have been different from my own. In the churches I attended, and the way in which I was raised, we did not worship Mary over Jesus. We revered Mary, but Jesus & God were the recipients of worship.

Leigh - posted on 07/06/2012

100

3

8

LMAO, you are sooo not gonna like the things I believe in. I was raised Catholic (raised being the operative word here), yet I full disagree with the fact that they worship Mary instead of Jesus. I do not believe that all you have to do is accept Christ in order to make it to Heaven. It doesn't make sense to me that someone who lives a good, respectful life yet doesn't accept Christ in their life would be sent to hell, however someone can rape, torture, and murder, yet accept Christ on their death bed and go to Heaven. That doesn't seem possible. I also believe in Reincarnation to an extent. I believe that every soul is put on this Earth with a certain number of things to achieve and if they do not succeed in their first life, then they will be reborn (as a human, not another life form as Buddists believe) until they complete all of their tasks.

Xandria - posted on 06/14/2012

148

26

9

Here is the problem that you are always going to have. No two people have the exact same thought pattern and will agree whole heartedly on anything. Now take MILLIONS of people and give them a book to read and have them tell you exactly the point of the book. There will never be a single consensus. Even the Apostles themselves didn't agree exactly on the interpretation of Jesus's teaching which is why you have slight variations from book to book and even some things mentioned in some books that aren't in others. So how do you expect agreement thousands of years later when they couldn't even completely agree back them.

Secondly the issue that I personally am having is you say that you are Christian and that you have to follow the word of the bible but here you are calling other people untrue Christians because they don't believe the way that you do but you yourself are ignoring on of the most important lessons in the Bible itself "Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged!" Whether you agree with it or not it is not your place to tell someone that they are a true Christian. From my understanding Christianity is about following the ways of Christ, peace, tolerance, acceptance and belief in God. The fact that you are on here going on and on and judging other people based on the fact that they don't share the same belief structure as you just goes to prove the point that EVERYONE is going to take away from the Bible what works for them and no one follows a distinct literal interpretation of the Bible. Also the Bible is more than just the New Testament. Jesus was a Jew so you also have to follow the laws as set forth by his tradition and culture as well if you are going to say that you are a true Christian. There is absolutely no way to have a solid definition of Christianity because there will always be someone who does not agree with SOMETHING written in the Bible verbatim.

Karla - posted on 06/14/2012

1,555

48

99

I, on the other hand, believe they are not able to think outside the box.



Using this argument: "There has to be a universal definition of Christianity, otherwise the word itself has become meaningless," there would be lots of words that have no meaning if this were true. Such as "woman" A woman is female, but if she is not born that way, or if she cannot bare children, if she has a beard, etc, is she still woman? A Christian uses Jesus as a guide to life, but if they aren’t born that way, or if they do not take him as son of god or literally, or if they don’t go to church, are they still Christian?



Words can and do have broad meanings. Just because some individuals do not accept all definitions of a word, doesn’t rule against those that do accept them. As a matter of fact the mere existence of diversity validates the broad definitions.



Have you ever really met a "Christian" who did not use the bible or Jesus as a guide to life? Aren't we just debating whether or not the bible ought to be taken literally? And if it’s not taken literally, why is that not accepted? Fundamentalists are a great deal pushier than their counterparts; couldn’t those who take the bible as a guide (not literally) also judge those who do not? IMO, thinking outside “the literal interpretation of the bible” allows followers to be more accepting of differences; and that’s a good thing.



”However, I can identify with the frustration these groups would feel towards modern Christians. If you can't, that's where we differ.”



I can comprehend why fundamentalist Christians are frustrated with those that identify themselves as Christian on different terms, (I hesitate to call it “modern” as many denominations are quite ancient, and the concept of Jesus himself post dates his estimated birth date) but I cannot agree with them.

Jenny - posted on 06/14/2012

842

5

28

I was using the Baptist part as a mere example, I'm pretty sure she doesn't call herself that, I'm just saying that if she did, it would be meaningless.



"My argument is, do these people really have any authority from God to do this?"

You and I will say they don't, but they say that they do, they whole heartedly believe this, and could "prove" it to you with their logic.



Anyway, I'm begining to see this argument as pointless. The fundamentalist Christians will understand the point I am coming from, and even as an agnostic I would side with them over the more "liberal" type of Christians, as I would side with the Jews over the fundamentalists, even if I *know* that their agrument is circular and does not stand up outside of their own logic.



However, I can identify with the frustration these groups would feel towards modern Christians. If you can't, that's where we differ.

Karla - posted on 06/14/2012

1,555

48

99

I want to just throw out there that many denominations of Christianity have broad interpretations of the Bible -- Who decides what parts are legitimate and what parts are not? It is okay to believe in just part of the Bible, it is okay to take the Bible literally, and it is okay to take it as an allegory to base one's life on. All these belief systems are legitimate just because they exist. Because of these varying belief systems, quoting the Bible is pointless.



”This is part of their dogma, if they believe that the bible is the literal word of God, that is what they are told "by God" to do



But they don’t all believe the bible is the literal word of God. I think Johnny already demonstrated that not all Christian denominations believe the bible is the literal word of god. Why does it have to be?



” If you see the Bible as written by man, then you no longer have a reason to believe the words written in it. It's like reading Shakespeare, or a poetic book, or a book full of quotations. You can pick and choose what you apply to your life from the book. Your life does not depend on the words written there, you are not religiously based on it.”



From my experience, whether or not one defines “Christian” as the “literal word of God” has no bearing on the depth of spiritual enlightenment that they may find in their religion.



***

ETA:”I do not get why the western culture is so opsessed with Christianity. If you don't believe in what the bible teaches, why the wish to still call yourself a Christian? You could better identify with being a Deist. Or maybe a Unaritarian.”



I think it’s because when a person is raised with a strong belief system it is very hard to let it go entirely. There is some part of them that still connects with that history; especially when that history promises love, and threatens a burning hell.

*** (end edit)

”There has to be a universal definition of Christianity, otherwise the word itself has become meaningless. Have we evolved past that word? “



Okay, here’s the book I like to quote



The Dictionary

Chris•tian   [kris-chuhn]

adjective

1. of, pertaining to, or derived from Jesus Christ or His teachings: a Christian faith.

2. of, pertaining to, believing in, or belonging to the religion based on the teachings of Jesus Christ: Spain is a Christian country.

3. of or pertaining to Christians: many Christian deaths in the Crusades.

4. exhibiting a spirit proper to a follower of Jesus Christ; Christlike: She displayed true Christian charity.

5. decent; respectable: They gave him a good Christian burial.

noun

7. a person who believes in Jesus Christ; adherent of Christianity.

8. a person who exemplifies in his or her life the teachings of Christ: He died like a true Christian.

9. a member of any of certain Protestant churches, as the Disciples of Christ and the Plymouth Brethren.

10. the hero of Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress.

11. a male given name.




Nowhere does it say a Christian must believe the Bible is the literal word of God, or even that Jesus is the son of God. That’s because in our world today “Christian” has a broad meaning.



”According to the Pew Forum from the Center for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC) at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, there are approximately 41,000 Christian denominations and organizations in the world’



And yet more are being formed regularly. Does this mean the word “Christian” is meaningless – ask anyone who defines themselves as such and you will see they do not agree.



There are people who will judge as “non-Christian” those who claim to be Christian. That’s actually a given in my world. My argument is, do these people really have any authority from God to do this? First you would have to prove that this God is real and that a particular religious belief and book are from a divine source, and even that this God intended this book to be taken literally; and those are impossible to prove.



You originally explained what Oprah believes about Jesus, now you say she is Baptist. I cannot debate this if the story changes. From what I have researched I believe Oprah may have been raised Baptist, but I see no evidence that she defines herself as Baptist now.



So for the sake of argument, a person who defines themselves as Christian without denomination has only to answer to themselves their god as they define and believe in god. I would even argue that within a denomination most people believe in their own way.



Therefore the bottom line remains the same: learning someone defines themselves as being from a certain religion isn’t enough information for us to know their belief system, more information is needed.

Jenny - posted on 06/13/2012

842

5

28

According to their bible, Christians DO have a right to judge those in their circle, to excommunicate memembers and to reject a new teaching. Apostol Paul teaches that if someone comes in and says anything different to what he and Jesus taught, we are not to listen.

Galatians 1:8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!

This is part of their dogma, if they believe that the bible is the literal word of God, that is what they are told "by God" to do.

Given the way the bible (and I'm sure the Koran) is written, you cannot choose to "think for yourself" or "find your own moral compas". Everything new you think must be supported by the bible or else rejected, that is the nature of that faith Traditionally. It is so hard to get out of these religions if you have been brought up to believe that traditionally and literally.


The way a denomination's definitions will afect Oprah's beliefs is that it would be meaningless if she calls herself a Baptist but does not believe in the divinity of God and Jesus, or in the salvation of baptism in his name being the only way to God. It is non sensical if she calls herself a Baptist. Whether she uses this word to difine her beliefs is meaningless if it does not correspond with the definition.

Why should this be different regards to someone calling himself a Christian? If you say "I'm a Christian, but do not believe in God, nor in Jesus" what are you actually saying? You're probably more accurate in identifying yourself as being an Atheist rather than a Christian.

There has to be a universal definition of Christianity, otherwise the word itself has become meaningless. Have we evolved past that word?

I do not get why the western culture is so opsessed with Christianity. If you don't believe in what the bible teaches, why the wish to still call yourself a Christian? You could better identify with being a Deist. Or maybe a Unaritarian.

Have the bible and Jesus become seperate, to the point you can reject one and hold onto the other?

"I think it comes from whether or not you see it as a book written by God or by men."
If you see the Bible as written by man, then you no longer have a reason to believe the words written in it. It's like reading shakespere, or a poetic book, or a book full of quotations. You can pick and choose what you apply to your life from the book. Your life does not depend on the words written there, you are not religiously based on it.

Karla - posted on 06/13/2012

1,555

48

99

”Without any definition there is no religion, there is no Christianity or Hinduism or whatever if you cannot define them. Religion has its definitions within each denomination.”



Even when someone has the gull to say “I’m the decider,” we doubt their authority.



Its one thing to say “Religion has its definitions,” and quite another to claim a person cannot call themselves a “Christian” because it doesn’t fit in a particular definition.



Of course all Religions have a loose definition, and all denominations have a specific definition, but how does that affect Oprah’s, or any individual’s definition of their own beliefs? And if their definition of God or the Holy Spirit does not fit within the constraints of any religious denomination, who’s has the authority to say that person is wrong?



This is why we have so many denominations within each of the world’s religions, and it’s also the reason we find an occasional cult that is terribly misguided and harmful. In countries with religious freedom, only the rule of law has authority to stop a sect and that’s only if they are breaking the law.



“I know that from the outside it does not make sense, but what can you do when you are in one of these dogmatic religions, each of which have a book that say's THIS is the true way that you worship God? They have no option but to all think they are in the right and the others in the wrong or else they will not be able to believe whole heartedly.”



Perhaps that is what Oprah, and the person you debated, are striving for; a way to believe whole heartedly without the constraints of a religious denomination or religious dogma. Or maybe they are inventing their own denomination within the religion. Maybe they are fighting the strict denominations in their own thoughtful way. (ETA: They are creating another option to be accepting. Who decides these individuals are not believing "whole heartedly" because they reject the judgments embraced by others?)



Johnny said, ” As for people who don't see the bible as the literal "breathed" word of God still calling themselves Christians, I think it comes from whether or not you see it as a book written by God or by men. Most of the people whom I know, and I worked for a church that did not follow the bible literally, see it as an allegory guiding our lives.”



In that way and in that denomination, the interpretation is broad and more individualized.

Johnny - posted on 06/13/2012

8,686

26

322

Jenny, I'm not speaking of Christians judging Jews and Muslims or Muslims judging Jews and Christians or.... I am speaking of Christians judging other Christians and Muslims judging other Muslims. In Christianity historically and in Islam today, those who do not fit with someone's definition of what it is to be a Christian or what it is to be a Muslim are considered heretics and worthy of death (with no afterlife or a quick trip to hell). They are looked upon as worse than infidels or non-believers. Nowadays, most Christian sects just prefer verbal condemnation and in some case legal censorship as an approach to heresy, which is at least better than waging wars and garrotting people. Regardless of how sanctimonious these followers are, their holy books do not support the passing judgment and murder of others based on the human opinion of the "right way to worship".

"what can you do when you are in one of these dogmatic religions, each of which have a book that say's THIS is the true way that you worship God? "

Think for yourself? Find your own moral compass? Grow a pair? I don't know. All I know is that this is one of the biggest reasons that I can not reconcile religion with morality.

Jenny - posted on 06/13/2012

842

5

28

Christian's, Jews and Muslims ARE following their book when they judge eachother and differenciate between the three different religions. Although they are derived from the same patriacial books, the actual books they use are different, and God will tell them different things in each.

I know that the Koran for example often mentions that the Christians and the Jews are trying to deceive you and you must not let them, not listen to their persuasive arguments. It's very vidid on this point, and that's why they think they have to right to judge the Christians and the Jews for not following "Allah" properly.

I know that from the outside it does not make sense, but what can you do when you are in one of these dogmatic religions, each of which have a book that say's THIS is the true way that you worship God? They have no option but to all think they are in the right and the others in the wrong or else they will not be able to believe whole heartedly.

Jenny - posted on 06/13/2012

842

5

28

"Why should I think I have any authority to define any religion to any person?"

I don't know if this makes sense. Without any definition there is no religion, there is no Christianity or Hinduism or whatever if you cannot define them. Religion has its definitions within each denomination. Every church I know has a breif "mission statement" (im not sure what the proper word is for it) that defines its belief. So the church (or gathering of people) are what define a religion to those people who gather together for the same purpose.

Karla - posted on 06/12/2012

1,555

48

99

"The pope, maybe? lol."

See you are joking, but seriously to many Protestants the Pope doesn't know squat. So who decided which of these religions claiming authority to define "Christian" is correct?

"Wouldn't you agree that the Christian "fact" is the bible? Without the bible there is no Jesus or Christianity.

So, as an example, the bible often talks about a heaven and a hell (although it is left upto interpretation if these are physical places of not). You can't be a Christian and not believe in a heaven or a hell IMO.

What do you think?


That's my point, the way I define "Christian" is pointless when faced with someone holding differing opinions. It's all in interpretation and opinion. Why should I think I have any authority to define any religion to any person? There is no uniform way in which to define a religion, and there is no person who has divine authority to dictate how one interprets their beliefs.

IMHO

Jenny - posted on 06/12/2012

842

5

28

Not sure what you are trying to say? I doesn't bother me if someone doesn't believe in the bible nor God period :) I'm partially with them.

But are you trying to say, what if you don't believe in God or the Bible but still believe in Jesus?

♥♪Megan♫♥ - posted on 06/12/2012

6,435

12

72

Jenny, what if you don't believe in God or the Bible period?

Jenny - posted on 06/12/2012

842

5

28

Doesn't matter if the interpretation is of a literal hell or interpreted in a different way. But to say there is no hell (what ever that experience may be like) is not Christian.

Humans have always been given some sort of right (by the bible) to judge the faith of their fellow humans. If there is a prophet amungts the christians they are asked to judge the prophet by his fruits to see if he his false or true. They are to study what they hear a preacher declare to see if it holds true against God's truth. There are even verses in the NT that encourage excommunication of members who are practicing sin.

♥♪Megan♫♥ - posted on 06/12/2012

6,435

12

72

You can be Christian and not believe in Hell IMO. I know of nuns who don't believe in Hell. You don't need to believe in one to believe in the other. You can be gay and be Catholic too. That's why we have free will

Jenny - posted on 06/12/2012

842

5

28

The pope, maybe? lol.

"It all depends on religious opinion, not fact."

Wouldn't you agree that the Christian "fact" is the bible? Without the bible there is no Jesus or Christianity.

So, as an example, the bible often talks about a heaven and a hell (although it is left upto interpretation if these are physical places of not). You can't be a Christian and not believe in a heaven or a hell IMO.

What do you think?

Karla - posted on 06/11/2012

1,555

48

99

Who is the person that decides what constitutes being a Christian? Even that is subject for debate. It all depends on religious opinion, not fact.

Jenny - posted on 06/11/2012

4,426

16

129

The bible was written by humans period. That's not up for debate. Anything in the book is subject to extreme scrutiny for that reason. IF there was such an amazing being that could create a fully stocked planet and micro-manage the lives of those who inhabit it I have a feeling it could write it's own damn book.

♥♪Megan♫♥ - posted on 06/10/2012

6,435

12

72

IMO The Bible was written by God and Jesus' PR down here on Earth in early CE. As time went on parts of it were lost, other parts were mistranslated and other parts were removed completely and hidden in the vaults of the Vatican Library. What Christian denominations have worldwide is just what's left and has been translated for years.

Besides God or whomever you believe in granted us all free will to decide for ourselves what is real and what isn't. Although I doubt that Jesus was wealthy as so many of these mega church preachers would have their followers believe. I enjoy having the free will and the opportunity to question my fath

Jenny - posted on 06/10/2012

842

5

28

Dove the points you bring up are the extact points I find difficult to get past.

Johnny - posted on 06/10/2012

8,686

26

322

Of course, I should add that most of those evangelicals and fundamentalists I mention are pretty adamant that the people whom I am speaking of are not "true" Christians. So I get that many of you are coming from that perspective. I am only speaking as an outsider, with no vested interest in the debate.

Johnny - posted on 06/10/2012

8,686

26

322

I suppose that could be applied to most of what we know about the past, and about major players from thousands of years before. For example, most of Alexander the Great's military triumphs and quotes were recorded by others, not himself. People take that to be information about what he did and said to be "history", but understand that it may be subjected to the bias of the original writer and errors in the re-telling and translation since.



I think people simply approach their faith from different places. The certainty in the word of the bible that I see reflected amongst the writings and commentary of evangelicals and fundamentalists is extremely different than the faith in Jesus' message that I have seen reflected in many of the Christians I personally know, especially in my husband's culture and in the church I used to work for. While some pick every word to be truth, others see the overall message of the New Testament taken as a whole as the possible truth. Some people require their faith to appear as fact, while others are satisfied with it simply being faith.



They do not feel the need to "buy" it, it simply feels like the right path within their soul.

Johnny - posted on 06/10/2012

8,686

26

322

I suppose there may be a difference, for many Christians, between getting your knowledge about Jesus from the bible and taking the entire book as a literal truth. I suppose I have just been exposed to a great many Christians who feel that given the history of the bible, it can not be taken any longer at its face value. They seek the deeper meaning behind the parables and the allegories to understand what Jesus was trying to teach them. They have faith in Jesus, they have faith that they are supposed to follow him, but they don't entirely trust the guide that was left behind because too many hands and voices have been added as intervenors.

Johnny - posted on 06/09/2012

8,686

26

322

christian means a Christ follower.....to be a christian you must believe what the bible says... thats Gods word.... if you don`t believe the bible you are calling God a liar....

But first you would have to believed that the bible is "God-breathed". A great many Christians, possibly the majority world-wide, do not believe that. The bible was written by men, and thus whether it is God's direct word is very much up for debate. Simply because the PEOPLE writing the Bible suggested occasionally that it was God's word does not make it so. So a person can easily not believe the bible literally and yet not be calling God a liar.

Cindy - posted on 06/08/2012

9

0

0

christian means a Christ follower.....to be a christian you must believe what the bible says... thats Gods word.... if you don`t believe the bible you are calling God a liar....

Glorianna - posted on 06/02/2012

9

2

0

I was always taught that anyone who follows the teaching of Jesus, whether they are strict adherents to the Bible or not, are followers of Christ, also known as "Christian". So I believe that you believe in Jesus, and follow his teachings, (See the red letter version of any Bible), then you are Christian. Whether you follow any other part if the Bible or not, and regardless of how you interpret those teachings.

Karla - posted on 05/30/2012

1,555

48

99

You could just ask them what denomination they are -- their answer could help you define their meaning.

Jenny - posted on 05/30/2012

842

5

28

I understand your bewilderment. I guess the word Christian is ever evolving. I personally dont think its fair to those who follow the original meaning of what being a Christian means, but its just semantics. Whether one calls it Christian or not has become irrelevant, I guess we need to be more specific in debates and agree on a common definition of what that word means in order to debate effectively. And looking at it that way, that happens with other definitions too, i.e one's definition of morals may be different to anothers.

Elfrieda - posted on 05/30/2012

2,620

0

462

I think some people use "Christian" to mean "I'm a nice person", or "I went to church when I was a kid". As an actual Christian, I find that a bit bewildering, exactly for the reasons you list. I've met people who have ditched the term "Christian" for quite a few reasons, one being that it seems like there are some very hateful people who call themselves Christians but don't care about what Jesus said, they just want to boss everyone else around. The new word is "Jesus-follower". I can see the appeal in that.

Jenny - posted on 05/29/2012

842

5

28

hehehee at Jenny! I only meant it that way directly to Joy Benson, she knows why, once she comes back on here she's going to have a good laugh.

Thank you Karla for "Bottom line: learning someone defines themselves in a certain religion isn’t enough information for us to know their belief system, more information is needed."

IRL this is not an issue, but is an issue for me in COM, its the first place i've encountered such diversity within the Christian realm, its taking me a while to get my head around it. Comments like Karla's are helpful in getting this point across and letting go of what I thought was a universal concept.

Karla - posted on 05/29/2012

1,555

48

99

“I get that spirituality is personal and everyone has a right to believe what they see as true because no one is better than another. But does that I mean that I can call myself an Atheist if I still believe in God? I don't think so. “

Even though you understand the diversity, you want it to be better defined? It’s funny because some argue that Atheism is the belief in something – like science. Also, it’s quite different for and Atheist to believe in God, then for a Christian to not believe in God in a designated way – but yet believe.

I think there’s the mindset that Christians must believe Jesus was God’s son – which basically is the definition of Christian. People can twist that though because all people are supposed to be children of God so who’s to say Jesus wasn’t just a man (child of God like anyone else) who happened to also be a great prophet. That view is not anti-Christian. The way I see it, some people have a harder time letting go of the label because of the way they were brought up; it defines them at their core and it’s disconcerting to reject that.

There are Christian denominations, Schools of Buddhism, Hindu denominations, branches of Islam, and different branches of Judaism.

It would be helpful in understanding religions if they were more clear-cut, but actually they are becoming more and more diverse to meet the needs of the individual. Remember that the top 3 religions (forget about denominations) Islam, Christian and Judaism, all came from one religion to begin with; they just keep diversifying.

Bottom line: learning someone defines themselves in a certain religion isn’t enough information for us to know their belief system, more information is needed.

Johnny - posted on 05/29/2012

8,686

26

322

"I think this is why people think its okay to call themselves Christian, but to me it doesnt make sense because in order to follow the words and actions of Christ, you have to refer to the bible, don't you? So how can you follow Christ if you don't believe in the Bible that talks about him? Without the bible, Jesus would'nt be anything, he wouldn't exist. So to discount the bible, would be to discount the existance of Jesus, so I don't get how people reconcile that. "



Jenny, I think many of the Christians that I know that don't believe in the literal word of the bible feel that there is no part of it that you should take word for word, mostly due to the translations and re-translations. So they go with the gist of what Jesus was saying, how his whole life lays out and the goals and intentions he appears to have in numerous apostle's books, not just what one apostle specifically said that Jesus said. From their perspective, it doesn't make sense to take what one guy who may or may not have actually been who he said he was and whose words have been translated repeatedly and re-written by various scribes over the centuries as a literal quotation of the words of Jesus. Basically, they have faith in God and in the life of Jesus, not in the bible as a literal fact.

Minnie - posted on 05/29/2012

7,076

9

788

Oh I thought you were talking about -my- church ;). I'd agree with you there, lol.

Krista - posted on 05/29/2012

12,562

16

847

Pretty much.



Actually no. We don't have any Westboro fans around these parts, thank goodness. I was simply being facetious.

Firebird - posted on 05/29/2012

2,660

30

521

"We Don't Like Any of You Other Fuckers" Baptist Church. ... Do you mean the Westboro Baptist Church? lol

Krista - posted on 05/29/2012

12,562

16

847

If you look at all of the different sects around the world who would call them selves "Christians", you'd find that it's such a diverse religion.

No kidding. Even around here you have the First Baptist Church, the Reformed Baptist Church, the Baptist Bible Church, and the "We Don't Like Any of You Other Fuckers" Baptist Church.

Honestly, I think the different sects are simply due to petty squabbling. The Bible can be interpreted in so many different ways, so all it takes is one good battle royal about how to interpret a passage to completely split a congregation in two. One bunch goes off to start their own church, and there you have it.

There are so many sects because sadly, humans are just incapable of agreeing to disagree.

[deleted account]

Jenny, the way people reconcile that, as I have, is to soul search and come to a conclusion that they can honestly believe. For me, it was to not believe in any diety at all. For some, it's to take bits and pieces here and there and apply them where appropriate. For others, there is no other than the "word of God". I think where you're having your problem now is in understanding that not every person who calls themselves a Christian believes 100% in the bible, and therefore (in your eyes) discounts the existence of Jesus and all of his teachings.

Not true.

It's possible to be both and none at all, all at the same time. Part of your religion is having faith. Then HAVE FAITH. Or don't. But if you have faith, then that means that you are supposed to love all of God's creatures, including those who don't share your view of Him.

As for Jesus.....honestly? I think he was a cool dude who smoked herbs and drank wine (both are "evidenced" in the bible) and he taught a message about loving people....all people. That's something that even you and I (you're a person of faith and I'm an athiest) can agree is pretty cool.

Jenny - posted on 05/29/2012

842

5

28

"I guess in order to follow Christ, you would not have to believe that the Bible was the literal word of God or follow everything it says. However, you would have to follow the words and actions of Christ."

I think this is why people think its okay to call themselves Christian, but to me it doesnt make sense because in order to follow the words and actions of Christ, you have to refer to the bible, don't you? So how can you follow Christ if you don't believe in the Bible that talks about him? Without the bible, Jesus would'nt be anything, he wouldn't exist. So to discount the bible, would be to discount the existance of Jesus, so I don't get how people reconcile that.

Firebird - posted on 05/28/2012

2,660

30

521

I honestly don't care what the bible tells a person to do. The only part of it that would have any standing for me if I were a christian, would be the stories directly about what Jesus did. After all, the word Christian translates to "Christ-like". So in order to be considered Christ-like, it only makes sense that one must do their best to live life as Christ was said to have lived his. And last time I read a bible, I don't recall Jesus spewing half of the hate that I've heard from some so-called christians.

Becky - posted on 05/28/2012

2,892

44

93

The origin of the word Christian is "Christ-One." It was originally used in a derogatory manner to refer to followers of Jesus. So literally, it would be a follower of Christ. I guess in order to follow Christ, you would not have to believe that the Bible was the literal word of God or follow everything it says. However, you would have to follow the words and actions of Christ. So, I have a hard time seeing how you could call yourself a Christian if you do not believe that Jesus was the Son of God, since he himself said that he was.

Jenny - posted on 05/28/2012

842

5

28

Thank you Joy.

I do want to pigeon hole it. I thought it could and should be pigeon holed. So I guess that its one of those things that can't be? Its hard to let go of that, but if thats the reality of how everybody see's it, it will not benefit me in my interacts with others to see it that way. I guess I want to know where the general consensus is on this. That way I may be able to let go of the idea that a Christian must believe in the traditional way to be called one.

Join Circle of Moms

Sign up for Circle of Moms and be a part of this community! Membership is just one click away.

Join Circle of Moms