I crafted this image to illustrate the ‘amusement’ I get out of hearing Christians chastising other Christians for sliding into heresy. These Christians watchdogs must envision their sliding colleagues as leaving behind angelic clouds and descending self-deceptively and happily into hell.
But where do the guardians of orthodoxy put the blue-dotted line of damnation? (see the line on the sliding board) Where on that sliding board do they see their colleague as no longer being a Christian? The orthodoxy watchdogs have no trouble knowing people like me are apostates, because we tell them we are. We tell them we aren’t Christian. But what about the many Christians sliding down the board while all along joyfully still considering themselves to be Christians.
“A relationship with Jesus” is a test by some Christians of someone being a “true” Christian. This test is common, for instance, among Evangelical Christians. But do Christians really have a relationship with Jesus? When I talk at any length with most of my reasonable Evangelical (or other) Christian acquaintances, they admit that they don’t hear Jesus, touch Jesus, see Jesus, bowl with Jesus or watch TV with him. It doesn’t take long to agree that they don’t have a “personal relationship” with Jesus in any normal sense of the phrase “personal relationship”. But I understand how these Christians have an awe and reverence for God and how they see Jesus as God incarnate and how such imagery helps them to personalize God in their life. I get that. But that is a Jesus made of select gospel stories, Christmas holidays, church dinners and warm fuzzy feelings. So when I point out that they don’t have a “personal relationship” with Jesus they are uncomfortable admitting their defect in the touchstone doctrine in their version of Christianity. They are not comfortable with the explanation I gave — that is not enough for them, though it may be for some progressive Christians, who they consider sliding into heresy.
Relatively few Christians really understand their sacred texts – Evangelical or progressives. Most Christians could easily be exposed for holding some heretical views even when judged only by the doctrine of their own sect. But they rightfully don’t care, for most Christian do not hold together the Jesus-in-their-head with theological propositions. So those orthodoxy Christians, the doctrine watchdogs who worry about heresy, are sort of unique.
These heresy watchdogs know that their Christian sect is a believist sect — a sect which maintains that correct belief is what wins a person a ticket to heaven. But when accused of being a “believist”, they will try to deny it. Nonetheless, their believist mentality is blatantly obvious when they are patrolling for heretics. The contradictions to me are humorous, if not sad.