Defining Christianity


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Defining Christianity
Comments by Maynard S. Clark - 28 Oct 2009

In asking the question: "Should the word 'Christian' refer to anything specific in religious or metaphysical beliefs?" I ask all of us to consider whether defining 'Christian' as nice people who love one another is, indeed, what 'Christianity' is about.

Of course, for a great many people, that IS what 'Christianity' is about, so there's no real question about it. However, for a great many OTHER people, that is decidedly NOT what 'Christianity' is about, so there IS not only real question about it, but those who think otherwise, despite their thinking that they 'ARE' 'Christians' really are NOT Christians by (how do we say it?) 'God's understanding'.

Now an agnostic (like many in the world) or an atheist can understand such a conceptual distinction without agreeing with it, as can theists who believe any one of a large variety of things (typically only one belief at a time).

I believe that where one stands (or falls) on this issue (INSIDE the context of CALLING ONESELF 'a Christian') is going to have ramifications for discussions on many topics - some ethical, some other things.

Unlike being Jewish, where one is born Jewish but may not be 'religiously Jewish', the nuances around the word 'Christian' are defined a number of different ways, and falling outside any particular definition (as all NON-Christians do fall outside such definitions) does not preclude one from being a nice person, an ethical person, or even a productive and admirable person.

But I think that the question is relevant for a topical discussion that CALLS itself Christian - even Vegetarian Christian - because being vegetarian (or pro-animal) is not the FULL label of "Christian Vegetarian" or "Vegetarian Christian". In fact, if the word "vegetarian" modifies (like an adjective) the noun Christian, one would think that one STARTS with Christians who are, further qualified AS 'vegetarian' Christians.

To have no clear understanding of what the word "Christian" means in this context seems to MY mind to be very confusing.

I'd hope that, in the process of discovering that a great many list members on this list will disagree vigorously with most other listmembers, we (in a very civil and polite way) will clarify the confusion and learn how to 'move forward' in our reasoned discussions with some potential for intellectual progress on issues that matter to us all, despite our very clear COGNITIVE DIFFERENCES (that is, conceptual differences and differences of belief and opinion about many important issues, even if we don't agree on the relative importance of those issues about which we have conceptual and other differences).

These can be serious questions and issues IF they matter; those who believe that they don't matter will likely NEVER understand just HOW important and significant they are (to those who BELIEVE that they matter).

Now Should the word 'Christian' refer to anything specific in religious or metaphysical beliefs?

And does REASON have anything to do with anything religiously important (as Evangelicals seem to be saying these days, but others have already ruled out in the way they have developed their epistemologies).