When someone tells you what a “Christian” is, their definition will fall into one of the four major categories below. After each category I offer its short-comings (SC:). The first definition category, “Anthropological”, is my preferred definition. The next three are all favorites of religious prescriptionists (see my post). The beauty of definition #1 is that we can apply a variant of it to terms like ‘Buddhist’, ‘Muslim’, ‘Jew’, ‘Patriot’ and other such terms. The Anthropological definition is the most flexible. I could have also offered a 5th definition, of course, which is just some ‘intuitive’ combo of 2-4 but I wanted to keep it simple.
- Anthropological (self-declaration): People who call themselves “Christians” are Christians. This is the only definition with intersubjective verifiability.
SC: For prescriptionist this definition is too broad.
- Doctrinal (belief change): People who believe the correct Christian key doctrines are Christians.
SC: With so many conflicting doctrines, who decides.
- Praxeological (outer-behavior change): People who act Christian are Christian.
SC: Many Christians feel faith is far more important than actions. Does someone slip out of being a Christian when they do something bad?
- Ontological (inner-being change): Someone in whom the Spirit of Christ lives. [Do we know this by their self-report (#1), their stated beliefs (#2), their behavior (#3)?] This does not solve the problem. Or someone who has asked Jesus to be lord of their lives — Once saved, always saved.
SC: Christians mutually accuse each others of being fake charlatans, self-deceived, or tricked by Satan and not having the Holy Spirit or the Spirit of Christ” (depending on their theology). Thus, their is no objective measure.
Questions to readers:
- How do you define “Christian”? Does your definition fit under one of my categories?
- Can you think of improvements or corrections of my definitions?
Milk is a combination of fat, protein and water which does not stay mixed. To prevent the fat from rising to the surface in milk, it is homogenized by pumping the milk under high pressure through small tubes which breaks up the fat globules through turbulence and cavitation. Fat molecules are thus reduced in size and tend to disperse more evenly throughout the milk so that creaming on the top of milk doesn’t occur. This process also actives enzymes in the milk which breaks down fats and can produce rancid flavors but this is then prevented by inactivating the enzymes through pasteurization (heating the milk).
Our Bible translations are also intensely homogenized. This homogenization furthers the illusion that the Bible has one author — the Holy Spirit. This illusion is the result of all the highly varied texts of the Bible being translated by the same committee (or person, sometimes) working under a specific set of theological and translation guidelines. You get the sense that a lot of the texts are pretty similar. Homogenization also takes place prior to translation — in the editing and redaction of the texts over the last 2,000 years and in the selection of canon for the Bible.
The New Testament in particular, because of this process, seems pretty consistent. In fact it is anything but. This translation consistency and homogenization incorrectly leads many people to think that there is some obvious central voice running through all the Biblical texts.
It would be interesting to see an English translation that tried to preserve functions of the original languages without homogenization. Such a translation would end up with the Book of Revelation, the Bible’s last book, coming out as pidgin-English in some places, and as having long flouncy sentences with obscure words as in the pastoral epistles, and so on. It would make the obvious *theological* differences between the various authors stand out too.
Note: This post is largely word-for-word from a comment by my Bible scholar reader, Ian, in my previous post — Holy Spirit as Author. Thanx Ian !
To me, Ulysses is everything. My personal relationship with Ulysses fills my life with courage and hope. Ulysses lives in my heart.
You may accuse me of only knowing Ulysses through Homer’s poem, “The Odyssey”, but other great works such as the Telegony testify of him. Many movies and plays have attested to his great works. But more importantly, I speak with Ulysses in my prayers and I have faith that he will lead me past the gates of hell with the same strength and wisdom that he led his men past the Sirens and the dangers of Scylla and Charybdis.
How can Atheists question my personal relationship with Ulysses? They will never understand until they commit themselves to his holy spirit and open their hearts to Ulysses our savior, our Christ.
Many Christians glibly speak of a “personal relationship with Jesus”. Yet we all know what “personal relationship” means — it is doing things together with a person even if only talking together and getting to know each other. When I was a Christian, I never heard Jesus’ voice. And no honest Christian I know claims she has either. No Christians I have met have talked with Jesus, yet alone having done things like had a meal together, hiked together, bowled together or any of those sort of thing we do when we speak of having personal relationship with someone. Christians “know” Jesus through stories. The strengthen their imagination by talking about these stories and having rituals about the stories over and over. Then they talk to him in their heads and imagine he is talking back when they get a certain feeling in their heart. When they do this imaginary talk with groups of other pretenders, it strengthens their commitment to the story even more. Then they forget the difference between imagination and reality.
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Oddly enough, this analogy just popped into my head last night but after writing it and looking for pics to accompany the post, I found these sites. It just goes to show that Ulysses lives !
Christians may offer many different sorts of arguments for why they believe in Christianity but usually they are often just fart-logic (see definition here). You see, the actual reason they know Christianity is true is because that of what that quite little voice in their heart tells them.
A leading Evangelical theologian, William Lane Craig, confirms exactly that:
“The fundamental way in which we know that our faith is true is through the self-authenticating witness of God’s Holy Spirit. That is to say, God himself, in personal relationship with us, bears witness to us that we are Children of God and we are rightly related to him and that Christianity is therefore true.”
— William Lane Craig
See the video of Craig at “Common Sense Atheism” where Luke explains this better than I do (as always). Remember, all the reasons Christians give for WHY they believe are usually just fart-logic in that as soon as you shoot down whatever reason they give, they desert that explanation and run to yet another. And even if you shoot down all these fart-logic arguments, they still believe. That is because the real reason they believe has nothing to do with the reasons they state. Their stated beliefs are mere post hoc justifications for usually very simple reasons.
All religions base their faith on the feeling they get inside, so Christianity is no different that all the rest. Further, Craig used the phrase “Personal Relationship” which is used extensively by evangelicals. I have written already on how this phrase is totally manipulated and misused by Christians.