How I define Christianity

I like having internet friends. I have one named Krisko (not his real name…? has something to do with vomiting) and he’s pretty cool I guess. I have had atheist friends before Krisko, but most of my atheist friends (with the exception of Krisko) take their atheism and my Christianity just as, this like, unfortunate side hobby that we both have. We don’t speak of it for the sake of getting along. What can I tell you? It is the Canadian way.

95% of the time, with my atheist friends, it’s like “Oh, I don’t believe that.” And like I’m okay, cool. I don’t believe your thing either. Let’s talk about the Beatles or like Harry Potter or something.

With this guy, he doesn’t really flinch. He’s just kind of like….that’s dumb, you shouldn’t believe that. He’s assertive, and he believes that religion and believing in it is harmful to humanity as a whole. So he argues against it. A lot. I’m more used to the “You believe what you want over there and I’ll believe what I want over here and I’ll keep my opinion of your stupidity to myself,” but he’s not really like that.

So I’m trying to proceed in a way where I discuss things with him not for the sake of discourse but for the sake of getting to the truth (harder than it looks, when you’re on the internet) where I’m not belligerent or prideful, where we don’t hurt each other’s feelings, and where I don’t lump him in with Richard Dawkins. The reason I do this is not because I feel I need to prove myself or what I believe to him, or because I need to be right. I like being right, but I don’t need to be. I do it because we’re friends and because I care about him. And if I was him and I felt the way he did about Christianity, I would want a response from them that was logical and respectful. So I am trying this. It’s like a social experiment. It’s FUN! Right, guys? And besides, I actually like Krisko. Like I like talking to him, he’s funny, he likes Animorphs, shit like that. If I didn’t like him, I probably wouldn’t bother. That might not be very Christian of me, but that’s how I roll.

SO ANYWAY. All this is to say that the latest blog entry he wrote was about REAL Christians – some christians use the argument “Well, Person X is not a real christian, because a REAL christian wouldn’t do this thing or that thing.” Fair enough. Then at the end of the blog post, he asks “How do you define Christianity? How should I?”

As to the second question, that’s something I can’t answer for you. You gotta figure that out on your own. It’s only fair, I had to figure out how to answer it on my own too.

So I’ve written up a list of things that I feel Christianity….is. This is what it is. To me. And much like the Pirate’s Code, they’re more guidelines than actual rules. Some Christians don’t agree with me on all of these, and that’s fine. That doesn’t mean they’re not “real” christians. It just means that we don’t agree. That’s been a hard thing for me to come to terms with, but now I just think that it’s okay. It’s okay if I think you’re being an asshole, because you probably think I’m being one too. One day we’ll all understand, and until we get to that day, I see no reason to fight with you. It simply isn’t worth it to me anymore. If people don’t feel loved by your actions and your words, that’s a clue as to how effective your particular brand of Christianity may be. Anyway, here is my list.

living responsibly – My friend Sarah Fast put it this way : “We live so simply from our day to day lives not thinking about how so many people in our cities and neighbourhoods are not as privileged as us….we have become too accustomed to our way of living.” How this looks for each individual person, I’m not sure. For me, it looks like trying to live with less. I choose to live in a poorer area of town, I choose to live with less space, I choose to have things that aren’t as nice as what other people may have. THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS!  But seriously, this is why we can’t have nice things.

Not passing judgment on other people who don’t self-identify as Christian

Sharing economic resources with people who need them more than I do

Nurturing common life among members of an intentional community

An open door policy to people in my neighborhood, friends, family, and people I don’t know, people that smell bad, and etc etc. Basically, if you fit the definition of “people”, my door is open to you.

Peacemaking in the midst of violence and conflict resolution within communities along the lines of Matthew 18

Not being overly involved in politics. I’m not saying that it’s not Christian to vote, but I am saying I fundamentally disagree with the high precedence of using christianity to deny civil rights to others.

Earth Care

Commitment to justice and peace for the marginalized and oppressed, both locally and globally

Loving the unlovables

More than anything, THIS quote –

“I say to my non-Christian friends and neighbors, if you want to see the gospel of Christ, the gospel that has energized this church for two thousand years, turn off the television. The grinning cartoon characters who claim to speak for Christ don’t speak for him. Find the followers who do what Jesus did. Find the people who risk their lives to carry a beaten stranger to safety. Find the houses opened to unwed mothers and their babies in crisis. Find the men who are man enough to be a father to troubled children of multiple ethnicity and backgrounds.

And find a Sunday School class filled with children with Down Syndrome and cerebral palsy and fetal alcohol syndrome. Find a place where no one considers them “weird” or “defective,” but where they joyfully sing, “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world.”

That might not have the polish of television talk-show theme music, but that’s the sound of bloody cross gospel.”

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12 Responses to How I define Christianity

  1. twdyen says:

    Christians are literally the followers of Christ, the Christ-like people. You have to receive baptism, of water and of the Spirit. Once you receive the Spirit, you receive also the gifts of the Spirit. You may be enabled to speak another language, to interpret another language, to prophesy, to preach, to lead, to manage and to do all sorts of things that contribute to the growth of the Church.

    There were about 500 eyewitnesses of Jesus’ resurrection, including the 12 Apostles, who then testified and founded the many churches in the first century. Many were sent to jail and died on the cross, but they wouldn’t deny their faith, because they saw Jesus’ resurrection. Of course, we don’t have eyewitnesses anymore, but it doesn’t mean that Jesus the Son or the Holy Spirit cannot speak to you. If you have the first-hand experience or something similar, I am interested. However, I ask very difficult Bible questions just to be sure that the spirits who speak to you can at least handle my questions. There are too many liars in this world. By the way, I occasionally ask random questions, such as mathematics and physics, because if God couldn’t even understand basic science, it definitely wouldn’t be a good sign.

    Barclay, a Canadian missionary, admitted that he never had the first-hand experience with God. That doesn’t make him less than a great missionary. In fact, many of the martyrs in the first century, who followed the Apostles, didn’t have the first-hand conversations with God, either. However, they all received the Holy Spirit and were given the various spiritual gifts to spread the Gospel. For example, if you suddenly speak German perfectly without having first learned the language, you know it’s a first-hand experience with the Spirit, though not a conversational one. You don’t have to worry about your status as a child of Jesus simply because you never had any direct experience. Most Christians never had one. However, it’s a promise of Jesus that we will experience these things. So, if you care enough, you can pray for it.

  2. Jesus says that all of God’s Revelation to mankind can be summed up thusly: Love God with your heart, mind, soul and strength. And love your neighbor as yourself.

    Jesus says that loving your neighbor is like loving God. That’s the Golden Rule which nearly everyone who wishes harmony with his fellow man can get behind.

    The atheist has chosen a way devoid of reason and wisdom, so the rule of thumb when speaking with them is, “Keep it simple.”

    • I don’t think that’s fair. I wouldn’t say it’s devoid of reason or wisdom, it’s just they got to a different place with their reasoning than we did. I don’t think that means we can say that they don’t have reason or wisdom.

      • Since atheism cannot be proven, than by definition, it is a faith-based belief. That means that atheism is not based on any rational thought process, evidence, scientific experimentation or eye witness.

        On the other hand, existence of God is self-evident and can be proven through simple reasoning.

        Further, God put on daily pyrotechnic displays of His glory in front of hundreds of thousands of witnesses, every day for decades. Those witnesses were the ancient Hebrews.

        Jesus, Son of God, put on pyrotechnic displays of his glory for 3 years in front of thousands of Jews, Arabs, Greeks, Romans and other assorted people living in Palestine.

        I am being much more than fair by laying out a logical, reasoned case for why atheism is complete nonsense.

  3. LEjames says:

    “Jesus loves the little children…”

    This maxim is always interesting. Revelations 2:23, red letter, talks about how Jesus kills children.

    Anyways, your friend is right, a person shouldn’t believe things that aren’t true. Hopefully you will have more dialogue with this person.

    • Well, you’re taking that verse wildly out of context, but anyway. I don’t think that I believe things that aren’t true, I think that I believe things that ARE true…therein lies our disagreement. I hope he and I will be friends and have dialogue for many years to come.

    • Clearly, in that passage, God is stressing the sanctity of marital fidelity and how utterly abhorrent is the sin of adultery.

      How can atheists, who deny the existence of God, purpose to preach to Christians from Good Book?

      If you deny knowing God, then you must also deny knowing the meaning of His Word.

      Consequently, anything you say about the Bible and its contents can be nothing but nonsense.

  4. kriskodisko says:

    I can agree with pretty much everything you posted here, but it seems to me that most of this is more of a guide on how to be a good person, and can be done with or without accepting Christ’s divinity. In fact, I’m quite sure that your views of what makes one a Christian would be very unpopular with Red State Christians here in America. They’d probably call you out for being a closet atheist or some other such garbage.

    In general, I only bring up the atheism thing with people who want to talk about it. I enjoy the thorough debate that comes with it. And in general, with liberal live-and-let-live Christians such as yourself, I don’t take issue with your faith. While I personally believe that you could reach these life goals regardless of religious beliefs, either way they’re a wonderful way to live your life and a good step towards making the world a better place. My real issue is with the people that push their beliefs uninvited on others, usually through politics. If all Christians were like you, I absolutely would not push my atheism around. Sadly, in America Christians like you are in the minority.

    P.S. Love the Louis CK clip.

    • It can be done with or without Christ’s divinity, but often the reason for doing these things stems from Christ’s divinity. And when these things are done without Christ, you subtract an important part of the equation. Which isn’t to say that those things lose meaning when done from any other motive. I’m just saying that in doing those things, I’m trying to express God’s love, not because I’m a good person or it’s good to be nice or anything like that. This list is just a number of concrete ways that christianity plays out for me personally, but all those things stem from a belief. If I didn’t have that belief, I probably wouldn’t do those things. I do them because of Jesus, and for him, because God gives me love for people, not because I have a great ability to love others on my own.

    • twdyen says:

      I went to your blog and read a few posts. The way you paint Christianity isn’t exactly fair. There are many problems with Christianity, which I have decided not to share with you because you are already attacking it relentlessly, with or without the facts.

      Scientifically, the notion of God is no different from that of extra-terrestrials with superior technology. The existence of God is as hard to prove as that of aliens from outer space. You can’t prove that they don’t exist. You can only prove that they exist by finding them. However, if their technology or inherent biology gives them invisibility or even intangibility, how are we supposed to prove that they exist. Indeed, they must be willing to speak to us. That’s where the problem is.

      If you don’t believe that God exists, then you shouldn’t believe that extra-terrestrials exist, either. I can show you that the probability for the existence of God is much higher than that for the existence of extra-terrestrials, through the testimonies of the eyewitnesses in the first century who paid their lives in defense of the reality. It’s historical evidence versus a probabilistic approach based on evolution(ism) or conspiracy theories even, if you want to include them regardless of their notoriety as rumors.

      I just hope that more Christians are aware of this issue and can pray for the gifts of the Spirit already promised to them. It’s probably a bold statement to make, but we live in the promise of Jesus. After all, the first-hand experience now is stronger than historical evidence.

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