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Are You REALLY a Christian? REALLY?

September 16, 2010

Last night, at our first ever Holy Grounds discussion, we got into what it means to be a Christian: Whether there is a litmus test; Can you be a better or worse Christian than someone else? The necessity of following one’s individual conscience versus getting along with a community; and so on. And we explored the ways we’ve experienced different denominations define whether someone is in or out.

Regarding all that, here’s an article that appeared in yesterday’s St. Petersburg Times that reports on how a member of a local evangelical church (Calvary Community Church in Tampa)–acting on her own–posted leaflets printed up by Calvary on the cars of those worshiping at St. Raphael’s Catholic Church in St. Pete. The leaflets warn whomever might happen upon them that they may not be “saved” and they depict someone wondering, “Am I Going To Heaven?”

Catholics have often been targeted by tracts such as the ones distributed by Calvary Community Church, said Bill Leonard, professor of church history at Wake Forest University Divinity School… Many Protestants, particularly in the South, continue to question the salvation of Catholics, Leonard said, because they believe the church promotes a sacramental approach to salvation with an overemphasis on good works and salvation through the church, rather than through Christ… Catholic parents have complained to officials at certain Protestant-based universities “when their children have been told by their peers that they were ‘lost’ and ‘going to hell’ unless they converted, since Catholics ‘were not Christians.’ ”

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. Michael Adams permalink
    September 16, 2010 5:31 pm

    I guess they keep forgetting that the Church in Rome was one of the earliest Christian churches that were established.

  2. Murray permalink
    September 16, 2010 8:35 pm

    “Last night, at our first ever Holy Grounds discussion, we got into what it means to be a Christian: Whether there is a litmus test; Can you be a better or worse Christian than someone else? The necessity of following one’s individual conscience versus getting along with a community; and so on. And we explored the ways we’ve experienced different denominations define whether someone is in or out.”

    So, how did this end up? Did you put each question to a vote to see which perspective the majority preferred?

    For example:

    All those who believe there should be a litmus test to determine whether one is a Christian say “aye” and all those who believe there should not be a litmus test say “nay.”

  3. jamiemcelroy permalink*
    September 16, 2010 9:54 pm

    Ha! Um, no… no litmus test votes. We weren’t nearly as organized as all that. In fact, I’d have a hard time saying we reached much of a consensus at all about what it means to be a Christian. I think we could all agree that part of being a Christian involved thinking for oneself and following one’s own conscience when it comes to figuring out what one believes and what one is called to do–in the light of our scriptures and tradition (but those are ultimately subject to spectacularly variable interpretation). And we couldn’t even agree that being a Christian necessarily involves being engaged in some sort of larger conversation with others trying to live as Christians–i.e. being an active member of a Christian community (something I personally believe is a necessary part of being a Christian, but I may have been in the minority on that one).

    So no, we didn’t do a very good job answering the question before us last night. If anything, we only confused the issue further. Which is why I found the conversation so meaningful and, paradoxically, productive.

  4. Murray permalink
    September 16, 2010 10:22 pm

    “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you….” (I Timothy 3:15)

    This verse has always spoken to my heart.

  5. Suzie B permalink
    September 17, 2010 11:28 am

    To quote St. Peter’s first dean, Father Lawson “We all fall but as Christians we fall forward” – a good litmus.test!

  6. Suzie B permalink
    September 17, 2010 11:35 am

    To quote St. Peter’s first dean: “We all fall but as Christians we FALL FORWARD”!

  7. Murray permalink
    September 18, 2010 7:23 am

    Jamie, I think Suzie’s comment is worthy of a response by you.

    Perhaps mine is also but I’m probably less objective about that.

    May I suggest you revisit a few earlier threads in lieu of starting new ones?

  8. jamiemcelroy permalink*
    September 21, 2010 8:56 am

    I generally comment when I’ve got something to say–to add to the conversation–but I don’t really have anything to add here. Do you have a comment you’d like to make?

  9. Murray permalink
    September 21, 2010 9:31 am

    ‘Do you have a comment you’d like to make?’

    I already did and it’s fine with me that you didn’t answer it.

    However, I thought Suzie was local to you and made a serious comment. I don’t know anything about Father Lawson. If I did, I would love to go farther into what she’s saying. It does seem a shame to me to not acknowledge her and engage a bit with her. I assume you and she are part of the same community.

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