(Orange, Texas)


March 9, 2014

How do you define Christian?

ORANGE — Is it even possible to define the word “Christian” in today’s pluralistic society? Best estimates of the number of people who profess to be Christian is approximately 235-million in the U.S. Of that number the best estimate of those who, more or less, attend church regularly is about 40%. How many of that number actually read the Bible is anyone’s guess. It is small to be sure. It is a safe assumption to say that American Christians are Biblically illiterate. The next time you attend your church just kinda look around at those who are attending and see who is carrying a Bible. Whether one does read the Bible or studies the Bible helps define who is or isn’t a Christian—don’t you think?

My faithful dictionary gives the following definitions of the word Christian: “Professing belief in Jesus as Christ or following the religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus.” Not everyone who professes belief in Jesus is actually a Christian but if one “follows the religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus” does make it easier to actually believe one is a Christian. However, how is it possible for “one to follow the religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus” if one doesn’t read and study the life and teachings of Jesus as they are found in the Bible? How can one live a Christian life if one knows little or nothing about the life and teachings of Jesus? That makes sense to me. How about you? Another part of the Dictionary definition adds: “One who lives according to the teachings of Jesus.” Again, however, how can one know the “teachings of Jesus” unless they read or study the Bible?

I want to add one other decisive word when defining the word Christian. The word is “disciple” or “discipleship.” When Jesus called the first 12 men he called them to be disciples. He spent approximately three years teaching them because he knew that one day he would leave them and they would “go into all the world and preach the gospel.” On the Day of Pentecost (the birthday of the Church, when 3000 were added to the church), these “continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” and “they continued daily” (Acts 2:42, 46). Discipleship defines a Christian even in this day and time.

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