What life should a Christian live to be Christian?

(Richard Wright) #261

Hello Mitchell,

Those studies simply assume that everyone, and every group, that associates itself with Christ is really Christian, there is no standard whatsoever. But Jesus laid down a standard! The real question here is, what is a Christian? And what is authentic Christianity? IMHO opinion much of Christianity now and in history, isn’t what Jesus would recognize as what he died for. But inauthentic Christianity is talked about even in the New Testament.

"“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’" (Matthew 7:21-3)

"For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect." (Matthew 24:24)

"For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths." (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

"The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth."(1 Timothy 4:1-3)

Using my own church as an example, since it’s what I know, every single person that has been baptized is a, “better person” than they were before the conversion, according to anyone’s standard. And that’s not saying we’re all perfect and don’t sin and slip up. So those studies don’t say anything to me, since they don’t hold any person or group to the standard of Christ.

And of course I never said that we’re not called to, “oppose injustice and oppression”. But only our purpose is a spiritual one, just like our Lord’s was, and those born again will serve the poor and needy and will do good works. But that’s completely different than claiming that we’re called to go out into the word to, “end oppression and injustice”. Jesus never called us to do that, and neither did anyone else in the NT.

(Mitchell W McKain) #262

NO! I will not buy into that! EVERY Christian is a sinner. EVERY single one of them. AND I will not rate their sins to say that some are ok. Even the smallest injustices and oppression are still injustice and oppression!

Well… if there is one that is worse than all the others, then it my book, it would be self-righteousness. For that one is inconsistent with being a Christian.

(Richard Wright) #263

Hello again Mitchell,

You seem to have missed:

“And that’s not saying we’re all perfect and don’t sin and slip up.”

It’s not up to you to say that some are, “OK”. What you’re called to do is repent of your sins, and forgive those who sin against you.

Every instance sin does not result in, “injustice and oppression”.

Yes, because in your book, the standard to be a Christian seems to be, in some way, an association with Christendom. But that’s not Jesus’ standard. Jesus has a standard. And if I live by it, then I’m fully authorized to compare someone’s life to the expectations of scripture and tell them that they are not a disciple of Christ, or, as they started to be called in Acts 26:11, a, “Christian”.

(Mitchell W McKain) #264

Clearly you feel free to speak both for me and for Jesus to put whatever words you choose in our mouths. I suggest you reign this is and quote what we actually have said without your adjustments.

For me, “Christianity” is a word referring to a human religion which is primarily distinguished from other religions by beliefs and the oldest official definition of this particular religion was made by an ecumenical council in Nicea 325AD with the creed they agreed upon. This happens to be sufficient to distinguish this religion from quite a number of different religions like Islam and Judaism.

As for how you have defined “christianity” as a way of awarding yourself some authority to judge the lives of other, I don’t see that agreeing with the words of Jesus in any way at all.

Ah yes… I am reminded of the habit of the Pharisees to focus on things which do no harm to anyone like working on the Sabbath so they had an excuse to attack and demonize people like Jesus.

(Mitchell W McKain) #265

Richard was claiming that this is something which changed when going from OT and Israel to NT and Christians. I never imagined such a thing, but this explains a lot to me about how Christianity could have gone down such dark paths in the past. Seems to me that if anything Jesus and Paul went in the opposite direction, telling us that what is expected of us is not about following a bunch of laws and commands but about truly caring for people enough that you don’t even think of doing bad things to them but rather about helping them when they are in need.

Matthew 22: 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.”

And what does it mean to love God? How do we show our love for God?

Matthew 25: 31 “When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33 and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. 34 Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? 38 And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? 39 And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’ 41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?’ 45 Then he will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.

Apparently, it is how we treat others even strangers which according to God is how we treat Him.

(Mervin Bitikofer) #266

Amen … to the direction that Jesus and Paul went. Only I wouldn’t refer to it as being the “opposite” direction of what the prophets said so much as a fulfillment of - a call back to what the law was supposed to be all about. But since the Jewish leaders of the time had indeed made it about something else, then yeah. I see your point about Jesus and Paul taking it in the opposite direction. It is indeed the warp and woof of both testaments, which should forever put away the modern Christian notion that Christianity is all about privatized piety.

Some evangelicals think that the only important orientation is the vertical one (God-us). Some social warriors think the only important orientation is the horizontal one (human-human). Christ is where the vertical and the horizontal permanently meet. Woe to those of us trying to tear that cross asunder.



(Mitchell W McKain) #268

Sorry… I should have said the Sabbath.

(Mitchell W McKain) #269

I meant the opposite of the change Richard was suggesting, that it is no longer our calling to seek justice and correct oppression as it says in Isaiah chapter 1, with an emphasis added on if anything is different! It is not really my argument that the OT cared less about such things.

Anyway, Richard seems to be thinking of this exclusively in terms of politics. But I don’t think such sharp divisions were a part of the OT mindset. And when God says to seek justice and correct oppression, it was about how we conduct our own affairs rather than about fixing the world. However, in a democratic society, the politics of our own country is part of how we conduct our own affairs and so saying that Christians shouldn’t be involved in seeking justice and correcting oppression in their own country cannot be right either.

Amen to that!!!

(Richard Wright) #270

Hello again Mitchell,

I sincerely apologize if I put words in your mouth, The above is what I meant, and I just don’t consider being in a church that recites or believes in the Nicean creed the definition of what a Christian is. To me, Jesus taught that a Christian is a baptized, born-again follower of him. Those people will do good works, it’s part of the calling of who they are. But that is a much different thing from claiming that Christians are called to go out and, “seek to end justice and oppression.”

If I’m a true Christian, I have every right to speak for Jesus. I’m not THE spokesman for Jesus, I’m A spokesman for Jesus.

I haven’t awarded myself anything. If I’m living the life the Jesus calls me to, then I have every right to compare someone’s life to the scriptures to see it matches up. That is what we’re supposed to do as followers of Christ:

"Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit," (Matthew 28:18-9)

Jesus’ last words as recorded by Matthew, what is generally known as the Great Commission. He told the 11 to make disciples everywhere, then baptize them in the name of the Father, Son and Spirit. His very next words are:

"and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (v. 20)

Jesus told the 11 to teach the disciples to obey everything that Jesus taught them, which includes making disciples.

Didn’t you just say not to put words in people’s mouths? Your response is a non-sequitur to what I wrote. I’m not excusing any sin in any way. You stated that you won’t rate any sins as OK (as if anyone would), to which you added:

You’re conflating sins of Christians to, “smallest injustices and oppression”. I simply noted that every sin doesn’t lead to that. The funny things is, it seems that you, subconsciously maybe, understand that injustice and oppression have spiritual roots.

(Jay Johnson) #271

I had a more extensive reply in mind, much delayed, but this grabbed my attention, and I’d like for you to explain what you meant, since it directly affects my reply. I’ll hold off, since I don’t want to put words in your mouth.

(Mitchell W McKain) #272

I think a part of what is going on with @Richard_Wright1 is a reaction to the social gospel which seeks to equate Christianity with civil solutions to the social problems like injustice and poverty. And I entirely agree that these are not the same thing at all. But in Richard’s reactionary stance I see him going too far in the opposite direction to make Christianity nothing more than an effort to convert people to his religion as part of an ideological war. And that is something to which I am very much opposed for it transforms Christianity into a tool of power and this warps Christianity so badly that atheists are quite justified in seeing this as something evil which the world is better without.

I believe in a rule of thumb which says that whatever purpose something look tailor made to serve is most likely the real origin. So when something best serves the purpose of power and manipulation then I think the evidence is telling us that the origin is people crafting a tool for power and manipulation. I certainly think there is more to Christianity than this, but these power and manipulation elements are human motivated distortions which need to be purged from it, and only then is it believable that what remains is actually from God.

So back to the problem with the social gospel movement. Not only is there a lot more to Christianity than solving social problems but there is a difference between these two things:

  1. seeking justice, correcting oppression, and helping those in need.
  2. eliminating all injustice, abolishing all oppression, and putting an end to poverty and suffering.

The problem with the second of these is as Richard points out, these are not the most important things. We can trade too much away in the effort to make some final solution (and to demonstrate the point I have pointed out novels and movies like “The Giver” and “Equilibrium”). But that is not the same thing as saying that we are called to higher purpose than seeking justice, correcting oppression and helping those in need. We cannot set aside the ideals in number 2, because it is the rather clear message of Jesus that serving those ideals is to serve God Himself. Take those out of our calling and make it all about religious activities only, whether worship or evangelism and I think the Bible is crystal clear in numerous passage like Isaiah chapter 1 that God will be utterly disgusted, because they will become meaningless as far as He is concerned.

(Richard Wright) #273

Hello Mitchell.

I’m responding again since you mentioned my name several times in posts to others.

Things have changed from OT to NT! We have a new covenant, and a new way to God! That’s because Jesus came to earth and was tortured, murdered, and rose from the dead! We have direct access to God now, through his blood. This is something new! And how to live the life of a Christian in the NT, not the OT. We’re not bound by anything in the OT. It’s the physical to the spiritual

Christianity went through dark roads because they WERE NOT obeying Jesus. Because people who are born-again disciples tend not to kidnap, torture and murder those who aren’t believers. That, “dark Christianity” was not, “real Christianity”, not IMO anyway.

And I NEVER said that Christianity is about following a bunch of laws, like in the OT. You’re a new creation if you’re a true Christian, and you will care for and help the poor and needy. But there are still things we need to obey, in following Christ. Jesus said so himself, as I quoted in my last post.

I agree that we’re called to do everything you posted from Matthew 25. Just for the record, I’ve done everything listed. That is about meeting needs, caring for the poor and needy and yes, I’ll say it, the oppressed. Those are things that followers of Christ do. But, and I’ll say it as many times as I have to, that’s different from saying that we’re called to, “seek to end injustice and oppression”. They will never end on earth, just like hunger will never end, as Jesus said:

"The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me." (Matthew 26:11)

I’m not thinking exclusively in terms of politics, though it sounds close to it.

We’re not called to obey the OT, that’s why Jesus came!

Not to Christians. The Christian life, what this thread is about, is found in the NT, not the OT. You could say that we do that in helping people come to God, as well as in serving. Really, they’re all a part of good works, they work hand-in-hand. When people see you doing good, then they are attracted to Christ, just like he said in Matthew 5:16.

Now THAT sounds political. But, I guess I’ll have to say it again, we simply are not called to correct oppression and injustice.

I guess I’ll have to write it out again. Jesus in the synagogue said in Luke 4:

"“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
  to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor."  (vs. 18-9)

Whatever the OT context, Jesus is clearly referring to spiritually proclaiming freedom for the prisoners, etc., and not the physical…

(Mitchell W McKain) #274

I was responding indirectly because I was getting messages telling me that too many of my responses were to you alone, and that I should be talking to other people too.

I quite agree that some things have changed. But it is also quite clear that many things have not changed. And so our disagreement is concerning what the changes are. While the Bible certainly talks of a new covenant, I think the emphasis upon this causes distortion because it is too much the language of lawyers and legalists which Jesus criticizes in Luke 11. I think the idea that people can hold God to some kind of legal contract is not only laughable but is evidence of exactly the kind of entitlement which is utterly condemned by both Jesus and Paul. So I agree that things have changed and I think some of the best description of the change are found in Matthew 22:34-40 from an understanding that all the law and prophets are about love for God and our fellow man, and Romans 10:5-8, from a righteousness based on law to a righteousness based on faith (which doesn’t even ask who goes to heaven and who goes to hell). The same difference is described as a gospel of salvation by the grace of God and not salvation by works or obedience seeking the favor of God. But since this serves the purpose of power and manipulation very poorly, this has been repeatedly twisted back into a religion more like that of the Pharisees, so that people can use the Christianity to command people to do things for their salvation.

No, you go too far. Marcion was incorrect. Jesus made this quite clear in Matthew 5:18. All of the law and prophets are applicable to Christians, but Jesus is the lens though which it should all be understood, not as laws written on paper but as love and written on our hearts (so for example, physical circumcision is changed to “a matter of the heart, spiritual and not literal.” Romans 2:29) And by that same love Christians are definitely called to seek justice, correct oppression, and help those in need – without which all our worship services and evangelism are nothing but “vain offerings,” “abomination,” and a “burden” to God which His “soul hates.”

And to clarify this with an historical example, let us consider all the “Christians” who sang praises to God on Sunday while whipping slaves on the other days of the week. Are the fact that they ignored all the restrictions on slavery in the Bible absolved by some bogus rhetoric that “Christians are not bound by the OT.” No. Was their abominable treatment of fellow human beings absolved by claims that “Christians are not called to seek justice and correct oppression?” No they are not! They were evil hypocrites many times worse than the Pharisees, which Jesus called serpents and children of the devil.

(Mervin Bitikofer) #275

starting at James 2:14:

If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.

You can ignore the automated computer ‘overlord’ with its warnings. It won’t take it personally. Just click the ‘x’ to make its advice go away and carry on as the Spirit leads.

(Richard Wright) #276

Hello Jay,

And I’ll paste what I posted last night:

The roots of hunger, oppression and injustice are spiritual. It’s a spiritual cancer, in every individual’s life, that Jesus came to eradicate, not hunger, oppression and injustice themselves. So we’re called to feed the hungry, but not to end hunger, and to relieve the oppressed, but not end oppression. Our Lord had a spiritual mission, and so do his followers. As Jesus met needs along the way, so do we.


Whatever the OT context, Jesus is clearly referring to spiritually proclaiming freedom for the prisoners, etc., and not the physical…

starting at James 2:14:

If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.

Christians, who are born-again replicas of Christ, care for the needy. But they were born-again because someone followed Jesus’ example to seek and save the lost. Jesus, our Lord, had a spiritual mission, and so do we. So James 2 in no way negates the fact that Jesus in the synagogue was talking a spiritual mission.

(Albert Leo) #277

IMHO Paul’s frustration, vented in Romans 7:15-24, arises from the fact that he (as all of us) have one foot in the Biosphere and the other in the Noosphere. All of our attempts to rise above our animal instincts (products of biological evolution) and to become, by freely choosing to follow our newly gifted conscience, what God intended for us to be–these attempts are frustratingly difficult to carry out. In Paul’s day, this difficulty was readily ascribed to the Evil One, Satan. In the 21st century some Christians may prefer to ascribe this difficulty to God’s wisdom in requiring each human to freely sacrifice whatever is necessary to work toward the perfection promised in the Coming Kingdom.. Jesus may have had this in mind when He advised us to “take up your cross and follow me”.
Al Leo

(Albert Leo) #278

In general I agree with most of your posts Mitchell, but don’t you draw the line somewhere where a local culture has become actually EVIL? I’m thinking of the Aztec culture at the moment. Their priests cut the beating hearts out of captives, or else they flayed them and donned their skins–all to appease their gods, or keep the sun rising each morning. One can argue that the Spanish priests who accompanied the conquistadors and preached a 16th century theology, were not faultless either. But don’t you see a difference?

You and I are fortunate to live in a 21st century (mostly) Christian society where being unorthodox does not endanger our lives like it did in the days of the Spanish Inquisition. At least that culture was subject to change. I wonder what changes would have occurred in the Aztec culture had Christianity not intervened.
Al Leo

(Mitchell W McKain) #279

Yes of course. But this discussion with Jay313 was in the context of the cultural difference between the West more focused on the individual and the rest of the world more focused on the collective. So the thought is that some of our programming of what is good and evil might come down to more of a cultural preference. This conflict came to a head in this exchange.

For example, consider the western reaction to the Japanese admonishment that the nail which sticks up will get hammered down. Where we would see something really wrong with that, much of the world might think this is simply the natural order of things. They might think conformity is essential to good behavior where we might think that a demand for conformity is the cold soul of evil (as it is in L’Engle’s “Wrinkle in Time”). This cultural conflict played an interesting role in WWII with Japan. Japanese captives were so cooperative that they helped our armed forces, meanwhile the Japanese found the resistance of American and British captives to be incomprehensible. I am also reminded of the Japanese version of chess called shogi, where the pieces you capture can then be played on your own side.

(Mervin Bitikofer) #280

“Wrinkle in Time” was by L’Engle. I haven’t read much [any] of Le Guin, though I hear she’s good. “Left Hand of Darkness”?