How do we define Christianity?

I read this on JR Daniel Kirk’s blog and found it really helpful and inspiring.

In a previous post he talked about how problematic using a theological statement (like a creed) is  to define what a Christian truly is. It makes faith very static and turns it into a list of rules rather than a relationship.

Here is the Nicene Creed as an example:

We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen. 

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, light from light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary
and became truly human.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end. 

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father [and the Son],
who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Is that what defines a Christian? What if, as I do, we read through that and do not agree with everything that is written? Does that make us not a Christian?

This type of understanding is known as bounded set theology. A second way of understanding Christian identity is what is known as a centred set and is defined below”

“…a centered set is created by defining a center or reference point and the relationship of things to that center. Things related to the center belong to the set, and those not related to the center do not. Kingship groups… are relational categories.

It is a relational category. Our Christianity is defined by how close out relationship is to Jesus. Some days we may be close to the centre and other days we may be further away.

Sometimes, by what we say and what we do, we are closely identified by Jesus and at other times we are not.

This makes so much more sense to my understanding of what a Christian is.

Christianity should not be understood as a series of rules that we need to adhere to inorder to be “in”, rather it should be defined as a relationship with God.

In the same way, Christians should not be defined as those who adhere to a set of rules but by their relationship with Jesus. Sometimes we are closer to Jesus and sometimes we are far away but we are always ‘in christ’.

Youth workers, do you agree? If so, how do we communicate this to the young people we work with?

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2 responses

  1. […] My answer stems from a couple of blogs I wrote a little while ago about ‘belief and action’. read it here and here […]

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