Speaking of I don’t know...
Christianity? What does that mean?
I know I’m a Christian the way many Christians define it but I also know I’m not a Christian the way many Christians define it, which means that instead of knowing whether I’m a Christian, or not, I only know that no one really agrees on what a Christian even is.
I’ve had many conversations with people who are worried they are no longer a “Christian” and by the time we’re done, I think it’s fantastic news.
I’ve had other conversations with people who tell me that they would never become a “Christian” and by the time we’re done, I think they are already more “Christian” than the majority of “Christians” that I know.
Am I a Christian? Is this a Christian writing? I don’t know.
There are many who say you can’t be a Catholic and be a Christian which is kinda like saying you can’t be a Tiger and be a Cat... but you won’t change their mind. (And there are probably some who would insist that a Tiger is not a Cat.)
I’ve spent some time thinking about why this even matters to me. Who cares? Use the word or don’t. I’m not sure any of this would really matter if it weren’t for my own ego. Which might say something about the value I still place on the word and its ties to my ego.
We can all relate. It’s frustrating when someone comes along claiming to be in our “tribe” whom we don’t think is in our tribe, or we don’t want in our tribe. They make us and our tribe look bad and so we get angry and defensive and afraid and then we worry about definitions.
We don’t need to look any further than “You’re not a real American.” Technicalities and definitions don’t matter. Perceptions do.
To a small degree it’s how my Muslim friend feels when he hears someone talk about ISIS as an Islamic group. He gets angry. He gets upset. He tries to explain definitions and uses words like “true” and “real” which only illustrate how desperate we all our to define these things of which we see ourselves as a part.
All of it, including myself and my anger is just religious tribal ego and it’s amazing how violent the religious tribal ego can get about defending definitions.
Because, again, what does it mean to be a Christian?
Words like follow, believe, Jesus, have all the same problems. Even the Bible speaks of “believing in Jesus” and yet “demons believing” and “faith without works” and “saved by grace”.
And Jesus talks about wind and birth and tells stories to try and explain this “kingdom of God”… all of which is very vague and hard to pin down.
All that to say that some will assume, people will criticize, people will reject, people will pay attention... and there isn’t any label I can use that won’t have a similar spectrum of responses.
So, I do use Christian to describe myself and our church. It’s my culture, and the language I’m most comfortable with (even if some of it is toxic)
But I also think that many people who use the word Christian should be using the word Pharisee.
And I do have my own definition of the word Christian.