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Source: (consider it) Thread: What makes a denomination "Christian"
Schroedinger's cat

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# 64

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This is coming out of another conversation about whether Quakers would be considered Christian or not. The question shocked me, because I have always seen the Quakers as part of the wide family of Christianity.

So maybe using this as a starting point, how do you define a grouping as "Christian" or not? Some argued that the Quakers don't have a statement of belief that provides direction - but is a statement of belief the definitive mark of a Christian organisation? Surely not. And, I gather, those who want to take more representative positions do have to be interviewed, so there is a sense of a direction being provided.

For context, at our meetings, we have Bibles and Queries and Practices available for inspiration, similar, I think, to an Anglican service which would use the Bible and Prayer Books as their guiding principles. And the range of belief and understanding would, I reckon, fall within the wide range that the CofE embraces.

I should point out I don't mind what people say. I am quite happy to be "A Christian who goes to Quaker Meetings" which is more reasonable than "A Christian who goes to Clan meetings". I am just interested in how anyone would draw a line to say A is a Christian group and B isn't.

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mousethief

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Are churches or denominations "Christian"? Or people?

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God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean. --Acts 10:28

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Mudfrog
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quote:
Originally posted by Schroedinger's cat:
This is coming out of another conversation about whether Quakers would be considered Christian or not. The question shocked me, because I have always seen the Quakers as part of the wide family of Christianity.

So maybe using this as a starting point, how do you define a grouping as "Christian" or not? Some argued that the Quakers don't have a statement of belief that provides direction - but is a statement of belief the definitive mark of a Christian organisation? Surely not.

Why not?

Of course it is!
There must be a foundation belief in Christ as testified to in the New Testament, otherwise why would you even want to be known as Christian?

It seems to me that if one can be a Christian Quaker, a Buddhist Quaker, etc, etc, as I was told once by a Quaker, then the only claim that individuals can make for themselves is that they are (perhaps) a Christian who attends a religious society.

What happens if, in a Friends meeting the consensus seems to be that no one there believes in the divinity of Christ, or the Incarnation. Can they call themselves Christians?

[ 29. January 2017, 15:13: Message edited by: Mudfrog ]

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Schroedinger's cat

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# 64

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Mousethief - The thing is, if you go to Church each week, doesn't this imply that you would consider yourself a Christian?

And Mudfrog - who puts this statement of belief together? And what interpretation of it do you apply? And do you have to embrace it all to be part of that group?

The problem is that, within pretty much any church you will find people who have significantly differing views and beliefs on even a basic statement of doctrine. You say "A belief in Christ as testified to in the NT" - well that is pretty wide, from those who believe that he existed and that the NT writings are valid to those who take every word as literal truth.

Most of the Quakers I have met would come somewhere in that range. And the purpose of overseers is that ideas as radical as this will not be expressed, and are unlikely to gain the consensus of the meeting. And there are those in the CofE who don't believe in the divinity of Christ, and those who don't consider the incarnation factual. At least in the way that you mean it.

Words are incredibly tricky things.

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Gamaliel
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Which is where Mousethief's point comes in that it's not organisations that are 'Christian' but people - although of course we can say that 'Church X, Y or Z' is a Christian church rather than, say, a political party, a voluntary social group or a co-operative organisation.

So, on one level we can say that the Anglican Church is a Christian church in that it is defined by a body of Christian beliefs that it broadly shares in common with other Christian churches. Whether individual clergy or laity 'sign-up' for those is a different matter, of course - but in a sense you should know what to expect from the description on the lid.

Where it gets trickier, of course is when we start to draw boundary lines based on particular practices. Calvin's definition of a church being, 'Where the word of God is duly preached and the sacraments duly administered' could be taken to leave out those Christian churches - such as the Salvation Army - which don't practice the sacraments/ordinances of baptism and the eucharist yet who don't deny or dismiss their efficacy for those who do ...

Of course, both the RCs and the Orthodox would go for a tighter definition of Church - Big C - as those in the lineage of apostolic succession with an episcopacy, priests and deacons and holding to certain non-negotiables in terms of doctrine.

I don't think that I'd be operating from a purely personal perspective when I'd suggest that the mainstream Protestant view would be that the Salvation Army is a Christian church because it adheres to generally accepted creedal affirmations, even though its particular stance on sacraments/ordinances differs from what might be called the 'norm'.

Whereas the Quakers are problematic to some extent as whilst they have the Bible and developed from a Christian base, it's possible to be a Quaker and not adhere to traditional Christian doctrine in any sense whatsoever.

I suppose my view would be that the Quakers are a Religious Society (which is what they call themselves) with a broadly Christian heritage and base but which is now broader than that and can accommodate people of all faiths or none. I've heard that there are non-theistic Quakers, for instance ...

Which is fine, if that's what they want to do and it doesn't harm anyone else ...

On one level, does it really matter to the Friends whether other churches or other Christians regard them as a Christian church or not? From what I can gather, Quakers regard themselves as people of faith in the broad sense and so find common ground with believers of whatever stripe ... whether within Christianity or beyond.

By the same token, that's how I would approach the Quakers - as fellow travellers in that they are people of faith. In the same way I regard Jews, Hindus, Jains, Muslims and anyone else with a theistic belief as people of faith ... and within that spectrum I'd certainly see Jewish people as closer to my own faith position as my Christian faith shares the same root as theirs.

That doesn't mean that I regard a synagogue as a 'church' or a mosque as a 'church' or a Hindu or Sikh temple as a 'church' ... but I would recognise it as a house of prayer and place of worship. It's just that it isn't a place of Christian worship.

As far as the Quakers go, of course there are overlaps and areas of agreement and I'm more than happy to attend Quaker meetings given the opportunity ... which I have done as I've twice stayed at a Quaker Study Centre when undertaking some voluntary work I'm involved with.

It doesn't bother me in the least what the Friends at such gatherings believe, I take it at face value and on its own terms as far as I can. The same as if I were to visit any other place of worship. I'd be happy to attend a non-Christian worship service as an observer, but I wouldn't see myself as a participator in such a thing ... whereas I have 'participated' in a Quaker meeting and was told afterwards, when I enquired, that it had been appropriate for me to do so.

I don't go around troubling myself unduly over boundary lines. I am happy to observe whatever the rubrics are wherever I am. I wouldn't go and receive communion at an RC or Orthodox service, because I know that's not open to me as a Protestant Christian. Fine. I respect their views on that issue.

If I went to an Anglican service where the clergy-person was a closet unitarian I'd have no idea whether or not that was the case, unless they'd told me. Equally, if I went to a Quaker meeting I'd have no way of telling whether anyone there shared my Trinitarian faith or not. But if I went to a Unitarian service, I'd have a pretty good idea because it says 'Unitarian' on the tin ... so I wouldn't feel at all comfortable doing that.

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Bishops Finger
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'Jesus is Lord' - possibly the earliest Creed, or Confession of Faith. Still stands, yes?

IJ

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mousethief

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# 953

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quote:
Originally posted by Schroedinger's cat:
Mousethief - The thing is, if you go to Church each week, doesn't this imply that you would consider yourself a Christian?

What on earth does this have to do with what I said?

quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
Which is where Mousethief's point comes in that it's not organisations that are 'Christian' but people

Precisely my point, yes.

quote:
- although of course we can say that 'Church X, Y or Z' is a Christian church rather than, say, a political party, a voluntary social group or a co-operative organisation.
Indeed. One could perhaps speak of Christian^1 and Christian^2, where 1 is "Christian properly so called" and refers to individual people, and 2 refers to organizations, creeds, etc.

I have no doubt the Friends started as a 2 organization, and at the moment they clearly are not so. It also bewilders me why anyone would think it's an insult to say so. Unless they're mistaking it for Christian^3, "decent, upright folk." Which meaning should be laughed off the stage, for obvious reasons.

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mr cheesy
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As I see it, the only real issue us where Friends are involved in Christians Together when other groups like the Unitarians and Mormons are excluded.

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Alt Wally

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quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
There must be a foundation belief in Christ as testified to in the New Testament, otherwise why would you even want to be known as Christian?

Conceivably the Marcionites are Christian by that standard, so I'm not sure that in and of itself would suffice. It begs the question of who the Christ of the New Testament is. You could go all the way from the Triune risen Christ to the failed prophet/moral teacher of Schweitzer. There's a lot of latitude there.
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Penny S
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I tried posting before, but my computer lost connection, which may have meant something.

I feel very uncomfortable when people seek to define others as "not Christian" from positions which they feel are clearly within.

And feeling that, I have to be careful when others define themselves as Christian while holding beliefs which I have difficulty attributing to Christ. For example, advocating torture, or the death penalty. But it isn't my business, though I would hold it right to oppose such beliefs, without challenging the holders' identification as Christian.

Two way street.

And I recall that Kent County Council's RE policy, in interpreting the law about assemblies being wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character, went for 51% and including from the Orthodox to the Quakers.

[ 29. January 2017, 17:59: Message edited by: Penny S ]

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Martin60
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quote:
Originally posted by Alt Wally:
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
There must be a foundation belief in Christ as testified to in the New Testament, otherwise why would you even want to be known as Christian?

Conceivably the Marcionites are Christian by that standard, so I'm not sure that in and of itself would suffice. It begs the question of who the Christ of the New Testament is. You could go all the way from the Triune risen Christ to the failed prophet/moral teacher of Schweitzer. There's a lot of latitude there.
The Triune risen Christ? What's that?

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Mudfrog
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Before we go any further, let's dismiss the implied criticism - and indeed the inferred slight - of people not being described as Christian; or more specifically described as 'not Christian'.

'Christian' is not an value-based adjective such as 'nice' or 'loving' or 'friendly'. So, by saying that a person is not a Christian does not automatically mean that that person is being described as somehow less moral or more sinful.

If I said to someone that, for example - Quakers are not Christians that does not mean I am suggesting anything more than that they do not subscribe to the creeds or a "faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour according to the Scriptures," (which is the Churches Together ecumenical statement.


So yes, I would say that anyone who cannot say that the Lord Jesus Christ is God and saviour according to the Scriptures, is not a Christian.

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Raptor Eye
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I went to a Quaker meeting some time ago, and was told that the word 'God' was not acceptable as they did not believe in the existence of God, rather they believed in an inner light.

It deterred me for a time, but I now recognise that each meeting house will have its own culture, like each church.

Surely a Christian is someone who has made the free will decision to follow Christ.

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Mudfrog
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quote:
Originally posted by Raptor Eye:
I went to a Quaker meeting some time ago, and was told that the word 'God' was not acceptable as they did not believe in the existence of God, rather they believed in an inner light.

It deterred me for a time, but I now recognise that each meeting house will have its own culture, like each church.

Surely a Christian is someone who has made the free will decision to follow Christ.

Yes, but you have to define 'Christ'.
Some people said that Rev Moon was Christ.

[ 29. January 2017, 19:31: Message edited by: Mudfrog ]

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"The point of having an open mind, like having an open mouth, is to close it on something solid."
G.K. Chesterton

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no prophet's flag is set so...

Proceed to see sea
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If we do not define "following Christ" we have a large group, which includes those who believe in all the son of god stuff, resurrection, miracles, redemption, heaven. It also includes people who see Jesus as a good moral example of how to behave, but don't believe in miracles or resurrection. I think the term "cultural Christian" is applied to this group.
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Stetson
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Mudfrog wrote:

quote:
Some people said that Rev Moon was Christ.

If by "Christ" you mean "Jesus Christ", I think he technically claimed to be a succcessor to JC, the idea being that Jesus failed in his mission by neglecting to get married and have kids. But yeah, I think he claimed to be the "Christ" in the sense of the Redeemer of mankind.

Interestingly, his pro-family schtick didn't seem to win him much of a following in his own Confucian homeland: I've met fewer than a dozen Moonies during my 15-year stay in Korea, and almost all of them were American, British, or Japanese. (The Japanese were all women mass-married to Korean men, though I never met their husbands.) And most Koreans under the age of forty with whom I've discussed him have only the sketichiest idea, if that, of who he is.

FWIW, from my very limited and unscientific study, arranged Moonie marriages seem to work out okay.

[ 29. January 2017, 19:48: Message edited by: Stetson ]

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Schroedinger's cat

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# 64

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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by Schroedinger's cat:
Mousethief - The thing is, if you go to Church each week, doesn't this imply that you would consider yourself a Christian?

What on earth does this have to do with what I said?

Because the organisation (the church) could then be considered Christian, because involvement seems indicate that you are a Christian.

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Blog
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mousethief

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# 953

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quote:
Originally posted by Schroedinger's cat:
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by Schroedinger's cat:
Mousethief - The thing is, if you go to Church each week, doesn't this imply that you would consider yourself a Christian?

What on earth does this have to do with what I said?

Because the organisation (the church) could then be considered Christian, because involvement seems indicate that you are a Christian.
I've already rather answered this. See above.

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God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean. --Acts 10:28

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Alt Wally

Cardinal Ximinez
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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
]The Triune risen Christ? What's that?

Probably poor wording. I just mean the divine and human Christ bodily resurrected from the dead. Not the human moral examplar Jesus.

I think the liberal end of the Friends are now probably a lot like the UUA's. Certainly traditionally Christian in lineage, but now a mix of beliefs many of which are self defined and potentially not even theistic. None of this intended to be critical in any way towards anyone.

[ 29. January 2017, 21:58: Message edited by: Alt Wally ]

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Stercus Tauri
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As I get older and my attention span shrinks to vanishing point, I tend to hang on to the basics and let cleverer people debate the other stuff at their leisure. The basic teaching of Christianity that matters to me is that we've been told we ought to feed the hungry, heal the sick, shelter the homeless, care for the oppressed, and we believe that to be right. If people are doing that, I think they are following Jesus' most important teachings to humanity and are perhaps entitled to be thought of as Christians, whether or not they adopt that label for themselves. There are self described Christian denominations that don't believe the gospel applies any longer, or not to them: we had a notorious troll on the Ship a few years ago who was famous for that. The concept of the undeserved gift of grace means more to me as I get older. It continues to surprise me, and I suppose anyone who considers that concept to be valid is also taking on quite a bit of what we call Christianity. Simply reciting a creed on a regular basis isn't enough - you have to do it. So that's what defines a Christian denomination for me: a bunch of people that believes it, does it, and hopefully, acknowledges who they got the message from. It really helps if you can sing about it on a Sunday morning, too.

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sabine
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That was a lovely answer, esp. the part about grace.

sabine

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ExclamationMark
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Faith without deeds is dead - faith is therefore clearly important. Faith in what or whom? God as expressed in the trinity forms the centre of the creeds that Christians believe whether they say them on a regular basis or not
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Bishops Finger
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Agreed re Stercus Tauri's post - as I, too, get older, I'm inclined to share those views.

I still think that acknowledging 'Jesus is Lord', however you might interpret that, or work it out in your own life, defines you as Christian.

IJ

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Gamaliel
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A Freemason colleague once observed to me that a Muslim who did all the right things could 'be a good Christian.'

He was taken aback when I replied, 'No, in which case he wouldn't be a good Christian, he'd be a good Muslim ...'

The point is, that Muslim could be a much better person, act in a more Christ-like way and so on than many or even most Christians, but that doesn't make him a Christian in the sense of faith in Christ as Saviour and Lord, rather than 'simply' a prophet.

What it does, though, is make him a wonderful human being and a wonderful Muslim.

When the Jewish authorities conferred the honour of Righteous Gentile on those who risked life and limb to save Jewish people from the Holocaust, they weren't saying, 'These people aren't really Gentiles, they are Jews' - they were acknowledging that they remained Gentiles but had acted in a righteous and praiseworthy way.

It's not a value judgement whether we identify someone as being a Christian or not - although I can see that it can get that way at times.

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Praise the Lord for He is kind.

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by Bishops Finger:


I still think that acknowledging 'Jesus is Lord', however you might interpret that, or work it out in your own life, defines you as Christian.

IJ

True, but I think that the OP was about what makes a denomination (not an individual person) "Christian". I'm not trying to be snarky, just pointing out that IMO they are different questions.
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Bishops Finger
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Yes, I see your point, but (at the risk of being pedantic!) perhaps it might also be said that a church, group, or whatever, could be labelled 'Christian' if it is clear that this simple creed is subscribed to.

IYSWIM.

IJ

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Baptist Trainfan
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Yes, declaring that "Jesus is Lord" is the bare minimum. But that phrase does not stand alone: it carries a rich profundity of meaning which needs to be explained or elicited. Although I do believe that it was a basic creed for the early Church, it was more than a simplistic mantra.

For instance "Jesus" meant more than a belief in the historic Carpenter of Nazareth, "is" implies a belief in his risen life as God, "Lord" is not only a claim to authority over and against the Emperor but an all-encompassing call to commitment.

And so on ...

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Al Eluia

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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
Yes, declaring that "Jesus is Lord" is the bare minimum. But that phrase does not stand alone: it carries a rich profundity of meaning which needs to be explained or elicited. Although I do believe that it was a basic creed for the early Church, it was more than a simplistic mantra.

For instance "Jesus" meant more than a belief in the historic Carpenter of Nazareth, "is" implies a belief in his risen life as God, "Lord" is not only a claim to authority over and against the Emperor but an all-encompassing call to commitment.

And so on ...

Of course several sects come to mind that affirm that "Jesus is Lord" but that are considered non-Christian cults by many folks. Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons come to mind. Both groups mean something different from historically mainstream forms of Christianity. I'd label them Christian-ish or heterodox versions of Christianity since they reject much historic doctrine, e.g., the Trinity as expressed in the Nicene Creed. But only God knows what is in each person's heart. I don't think individual salvation is dependent on getting all the doctrines right.

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Fr Weber
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quote:
Originally posted by Al Eluia:
I don't think individual salvation is dependent on getting all the doctrines right.

Of course not--but it might be affected by willful refusal to assent to those doctrines.

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Mudfrog
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quote:
Originally posted by Al Eluia:
quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
Yes, declaring that "Jesus is Lord" is the bare minimum. But that phrase does not stand alone: it carries a rich profundity of meaning which needs to be explained or elicited. Although I do believe that it was a basic creed for the early Church, it was more than a simplistic mantra.

For instance "Jesus" meant more than a belief in the historic Carpenter of Nazareth, "is" implies a belief in his risen life as God, "Lord" is not only a claim to authority over and against the Emperor but an all-encompassing call to commitment.

And so on ...

Of course several sects come to mind that affirm that "Jesus is Lord" but that are considered non-Christian cults by many folks. Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons come to mind. Both groups mean something different from historically mainstream forms of Christianity. I'd label them Christian-ish or heterodox versions of Christianity since they reject much historic doctrine, e.g., the Trinity as expressed in the Nicene Creed. But only God knows what is in each person's heart. I don't think individual salvation is dependent on getting all the doctrines right.
No, but it is dependent on believing in who Jesus is.

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Crœsos
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quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
quote:
Originally posted by Al Eluia:
I don't think individual salvation is dependent on getting all the doctrines right.

No, but it is dependent on believing in who Jesus is.
Right. Not "doctrines", just one "doctrine".

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Sipech
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There's lots of swings and roundabouts in the argument, but the point I keep coming back to is: what is the point?

What help would it provide to have a definitive answer as to who (whether an individual or a group) is and is not "christian"? It might be an interesting question, but I'm not convinced of its value. It strikes me as a bit too obsessed with drawing a boundary between "us" and "them".

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Sipech:
It might be an interesting question, but I'm not convinced of its value. It strikes me as a bit too obsessed with drawing a boundary between "us" and "them".

It isn't the defining, but the value one assigns to the definitions.
Categorization is innate. Discrimination based on this needn't be the result.

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No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

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Schroedinger's cat

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In some ways, I would agree that it doesn't matter. Until someone starts telling me that the group I am a member of is "Not Christian", with the implication that I am also not.

As I did say in the OP, it is not really an issue for me. I am a Christian, I find solace in the Quaker meetings, and if anyone doesn't like that, they know what they can do.

I suppose this is why the question raised itself - because I don't think there is an answer, and I don't think it matters. But for some, at some times, it seems to matter. And there are those who want to argue that the CofE is a Christian organisation, so want to know what the justification is for that.

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Stercus Tauri
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My father was a devout, lifelong member of the Christian Science church (unlike me, but that's another story). When he died in England, the funeral director got hold of a creepy little rent-a-rev from a nearby parish church, who helpfully explained to us, including my mother, that he could not regard my father as a Christian. After the service he promised to visit my mother, but was never seen again. If he was a Christian, I am a monkey's uncle.

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sabine
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Ah yes, those who would "help" the bereaved understand their place in the Great Chain of [Christian] Being. . .

When my brother, a Buddhist, died, my mother was having a terrible time with her understanding that my brother would be in hell and she would never see him again. I was of no help to her (I'm a universalist).

One day I walked by a small curbside "Ask-A [denomination deleted because I'm not mad at them, just at one person]" desk.

So I asked how they could help me help my mother. A very young (maybe not 21 yet) man told me that unfortunately there was only one divine truth, and my brother ran afoul of it.

I almost burst into tears, and I wasn't the person who thought my brother was in hell.

It was a cold and cruel thing to say.

sabine

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Penny S
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I had a parent explain to me that the Christian Scientists in our town could not be Christian because they were scientists. Now I would have been quite happy with an explanation about them not being scientists. (Though I know some who are.)
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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Penny S:
I had a parent explain to me that the Christian Scientists in our town could not be Christian because they were scientists. Now I would have been quite happy with an explanation about them not being scientists. (Though I know some who are.)

That's just five ways from Stupid.

quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by Sipech:
It might be an interesting question, but I'm not convinced of its value. It strikes me as a bit too obsessed with drawing a boundary between "us" and "them".

It isn't the defining, but the value one assigns to the definitions.
Categorization is innate. Discrimination based on this needn't be the result.

Excellent point.

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God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean. --Acts 10:28

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Stercus Tauri
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quote:
Originally posted by Penny S:
I had a parent explain to me that the Christian Scientists in our town could not be Christian because they were scientists.

Didn't take long for this thread to find a trump connection, did it? [Killing me]

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Thay haif said. Quhat say thay, Lat thame say (George Keith, 5th Earl Marischal)

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by Fr Weber:
quote:
Originally posted by Al Eluia:
I don't think individual salvation is dependent on getting all the doctrines right.

Of course not--but it might be affected by willful refusal to assent to those doctrines.
I'm reflecting on what you mean by 'willful refusal'.

In the context, it implies that it's better for laymen to be indifferent to or ignorant of orthodox doctrines than to deliberately oppose them. I imagine that quite a lot of clergymen would agree, although I think it's a problematic position to hold.

For example, in a secularising society like mine it may be preferable for church leaders if the nation has just enough religious and cultural awareness to claim a 'CofE' identity, but not enough to understand and then reject outright any official church doctrines that conflict with their own world view.

Paradoxically (ISTM) it may be better for the morale and status of 'orthodox' Christian denominations in secularised countries if Christianity is defined to mean almost anything rather than being limited to whatever creeds or doctrines small congregations recite, sing or pray every week.

When you look at it, it appears that the creeds and doctrines exist to bind congregations together through an acknowledgement of a shared heritage rather than to define what they do, or even what they should, believe.

[ 31. January 2017, 01:21: Message edited by: SvitlanaV2 ]

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Enoch
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
quote:
Originally posted by Fr Weber:
quote:
Originally posted by Al Eluia:
I don't think individual salvation is dependent on getting all the doctrines right.

Of course not--but it might be affected by willful refusal to assent to those doctrines.
I'm reflecting on what you mean by 'willful refusal'.

In the context, it implies that it's better for laymen to be indifferent to or ignorant of orthodox doctrines than to deliberately oppose them. ...

I'm not sure whether I've got the point, but I think what's being argued, is that fluffy, vague uncertainty in the ill-informed is one thing, but there's a different order which falls over the line into the spiritually risky which endangers a person's immortal soul.

So, a person might say 'well, I suppose I'd call myself a Christian, and as I was brought up one, I'd put 'Methodist' on a hospital admission form. I envy those who've got more faith but I don't really understand how someone can rise from the dead'. That is, sort of, an inadequate faith that might be going towards faith.

Another might say, 'well, well, I suppose I'd call myself a Christian, and as I was brought up one, I'd put 'Methodist' on a hospital admission form, but I don't hold with this mumbo jumbo about Jesus rising from the dead. O no. Not me. Once you're dead, you're dead. People don't rise from the dead. I'm OK with all the stuff about loving your neighbour. The world would be better if people did, and I try to. But I reckon those disciples invented the bit about the tomb so as to win followers.'

That's what I'd understand by wilful refusal.

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Penny S
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Now I would say that willful refusal demands that the refuser in fact has had experience of God, but is denying it for some reason. It is not willful refusal if the refuser has good reason for doubting the resurrection, as many may believe that they have, and has never been given evidence of the existence of God.

quote:
quote Mousethief:Originally posted by Penny S:
I had a parent explain to me that the Christian Scientists in our town could not be Christian because they were scientists. Now I would have been quite happy with an explanation about them not being scientists. (Though I know some who are.)

That's just five ways from Stupid.

To be quite clear, this was a parent of a pupil, long ago, before Trump was anything other than a reference on Alistair Cook's 'Letter from America', and consequently difficult to argue with. One is not allowed to imply that pupils parents are any sort of stupid.

[ 31. January 2017, 09:51: Message edited by: Penny S ]

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mousethief

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If one thinks that scientists can't be Christian, and that Christian Scientists are scientists, then one is at the very least ignorant, if not stupid. Has nothing to do with Trump.

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God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean. --Acts 10:28

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Penny S
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Quite. (Someone else made a trump connection.)
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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by Penny S:
Now I would say that willful refusal demands that the refuser in fact has had experience of God, but is denying it for some reason.

Ah. I thought Far Weber's comment above was about an individual - or a denomination - rejecting some significant aspect of mainstream theology rather than rejecting God outright.

It's obvious that anyone who completely rejects belief in God is unlikely to be identified as a Christian - although that's not necessarily the case. There are some atheists who nevertheless identify with the church that represents their cultural heritage. We know that Dawkins and others have encouraged such people to stop identifying as Christians on censuses.

With regard to the OP, I do wonder if Dawkins and his fellow travellers have tried to encourage whole institutions to cease identifying as Christian.

Out of interest, one survey from 2013 concludes that British Quakers, taken in general, were post-Christian.

[ 31. January 2017, 15:59: Message edited by: SvitlanaV2 ]

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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quote:
Originally posted by Fr Weber:
quote:
Originally posted by Al Eluia:
I don't think individual salvation is dependent on getting all the doctrines right.

Of course not--but it might be affected by willful refusal to assent to those doctrines.
Not sure I understand that.

Either one believes that Jesus is who the doctrines say he is, or one does not, or one does not know. One cannot choose to assent or not to assent. It would make no sense to "assent" to a doctrine one did not believe, not to choose not to "assent" to something one did actually think was true. To me, to assent, and to think something is true, are the same thing.

This "belief as a choice" thing is something I've never grasped. I can't make myself believe, or not believe, something, as an act of will.

[ 31. January 2017, 16:10: Message edited by: Karl: Liberal Backslider ]

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leo
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quote:
Originally posted by Fr Weber:
quote:
Originally posted by Al Eluia:
I don't think individual salvation is dependent on getting all the doctrines right.

Of course not--but it might be affected by willful refusal to assent to those doctrines.
Surely salvation is about relationship, not mental assent.

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
quote:
Originally posted by Fr Weber:
quote:
Originally posted by Al Eluia:
I don't think individual salvation is dependent on getting all the doctrines right.

Of course not--but it might be affected by willful refusal to assent to those doctrines.
Not sure I understand that.

Either one believes that Jesus is who the doctrines say he is, or one does not, or one does not know. One cannot choose to assent or not to assent. It would make no sense to "assent" to a doctrine one did not believe, not to choose not to "assent" to something one did actually think was true. To me, to assent, and to think something is true, are the same thing.

This "belief as a choice" thing is something I've never grasped. I can't make myself believe, or not believe, something, as an act of will.

It is how, IMO, some people get 'round a loving God condemning unbelievers to Hell.

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:


This "belief as a choice" thing is something I've never grasped. I can't make myself believe, or not believe, something, as an act of will.

I think perhaps there's a sense of 'I believe; help my unbelief' aspect to this. It's about doubt being a part of faith. It's about an unsettled but yearning John Wesley being advised to 'Preach faith until you have it.'

Of course, there's the other sort of doubt that simply can't give the time of day to an idea or a concept. It just doesn't make any sense, and doesn't inspire any emotional connection.

Speaking personally, I feel that the repetition of 'believing' statements and actions in the midst of my doubts helps to reinforces and create belief. In that sense you could say there is indeed an act of will involved; I don't want my doubts to take over, so I try to do those things that will keep them in check.

Moreover, the sociologists would agree that these 'willful' habits of faith are actually important in maintaining our beliefs, that giving up on such habits often leads to a loss of belief in our doctrines, rather than the other way round.

I addition, though, the emotions that overwhelm me at times tell me that this faith isn't just a habit but something that belongs inside me, despite my various doubts and my spiritual poverty.

Everyone is different, though. I'm sure there are many other possible responses to your statement.

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Schroedinger's cat

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I suppose "Belief as a choice" to me is about an acceptance that proof is not going to appear, nothing is going to prove conclusively either way.

At that point, I choose to believe that it is true. I choose to act as if it is true. But I am not then ruling out all possibilities, I am not saying "This is true, everything else must fit around this".

I guess this fits with my view of faith as a journey, and at this point in the journey, this is what I choose to believe. This has to be backed up with evidence and logic, but is not reaching a level where I could claim it is "proven". And I might change my mind at a later point in the journey, as I know more - a decision which doesn't invalidate my current belief.

I choose to believe in God. I find that there is sufficient evidence for this belief. I find that the balance seems to lean towards it being true rather than not. But it is more like a long-running hypothesis, that I am holding onto and modifying the details of as I learn more. But the choice is still, for the moment, to believe the hypothesis has a degree of validity.

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