Monday, May 9, 2011

Rachelianity

First, I will preface this post by saying that you can believe whatever you want. In this whole wide world, you have options to believe whatever you like. Whatever you choose. You can believe that the sun orbits the earth, or that you can control the weather with your mind, or that broccoli is delicious. You have the ability to believe any number of things, no matter how possible or impossible they may be. That's the beauty of free will and free thought and all that.

But.

If you choose to be called a Christian, your choices are a bit narrower.

The term Christian, plain and simple, means "follower of Christ." That means you follow the teachings of Christ. You read his words, you do what he says.

Not just some of it. All of it.

So when Christ says:

I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6

That means, as a Christian, you believe that. Christ said it. As a follower of Christ, that's part of your doctrine.

You can't pick and choose.

If I decided to piece together my own belief system—take a little from here, a little from there, listen to some things Christ said and not others—I would cease to be a Christian. I'd become a Rachelian. I'd become a follower of whatever I wanted to believe. Whatever sounded good to me. Or easy. Or fun.

Rachelianity is not Christianity. Clearly. Even though I've got a Rachelmas to go with it.

But I digress.

Christianity has somehow become this broad idea that encompasses whatever you want. You can't say that Christ died for your sins and in the next breath say that he's not the only way to the Father. It's all or nothing. You either take everything that Christ said and did, or you essentially take none of it.

That's not to say that if you're not the World's Most Perfect Christian you don't count as a Christian. There's a difference between trying to live your life for Christ and screwing up (which we all do) and actually rejecting his teachings as you see fit. I'll never be a perfect Christian as long as I live. There's just no way. But rejecting his teachings to suit my lifestyle kind of takes me off the path altogether.

Like I said, you can believe whatever you want. You can believe an amalgamation of whatever religion du jour you prefer.

But unless you adhere to the teachings of Christ—all of them—you can't really call it Christianity.

10 comments:

  1. amen! well said. too often people pick and choose to be good, to follow a few commandments, or whatever. but christianity is following it all

    ReplyDelete
  2. and i'm assuming the same would be true for other religions and not following their doctrine completely, as well.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is the hard part isn't it? To follow the easy and the difficult. sigh.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This reminds me of something a friend used to say: Either change your name or change your behavior. You can't have it both ways.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Broccoli IS delicious.

    and true, you can believe whatever you want, but we are all going to the same place for judgement, right?

    ReplyDelete
  6. I've been reading the book 'The Christian Athiest' by Craig Groeschel. He pretty much says we believe in God but live as if He doesn't exist. Its pretty profound. If we really believed in God we would believe very differently about things and thus behave very differently. Excellent post Rachel. God bless, Tracy

    ReplyDelete
  7. I was raised attending Baptist and Nazarene churches. Until I went to college, I steadfastly lived by those doctrines.

    In my current job, I've worked with a number of Unitarian and Congregationalist ministers who speak out in support of gay marriage rights and abortion rights. When I first learned of these faith traditions, I was taken aback. When I went to church, I was taught that the Christians who supported these rights were ignoring parts of the Bible. We interpreted the Bible very literally.

    Then I got engaged to a Jew. One night we were arguing about the logic behind the verse "An eye for an eye." I wondered why anyone would ever write that to begin with, unless they intended people to be punished in the same way they hurt others. How could it mean anything else? My fiance shared that Rabbis have interpreted the verse to mean the punishment should fit the crime, not that the harm inflicted on others should be the exact same harm then inflicted on the criminal.

    If there is one fundamental belief in Christianity, it's that each individual has the right and opportunity to have a relationship with God (ok, maybe Catholics draw that line differently). I also know that sprinkled throughout the Old and New Testaments are scriptures directing Christians not to judge others. This is how best we could support one another in our religious freedom. If it's true to you that God will judge us all one day, then let God do God's job. If one Christian tradition uses scripture to ban abortion, fine. If another uses scripture to condone it, fine. It's all good! To each his own, so long as our laws allow us all to practice our faith traditions as we sit fit.

    ReplyDelete
  8. @unknown I'm totally on board with the whole not judging thing, as well as each of us needing a personal relationship with God. But when we read scripture, the point is to get to the heart of what God intended, not what we want to be true.

    There are two ways to interpret scripture: exegesis, which is essentially pulling out what's truly in the text (a critical reading) and eisegesis which is putting your own ideas into the text to change the meaning. We should always strive to find God's meaning, exegesis, and not twist his intentions with eisegesis.

    ReplyDelete
  9. It's sounds like critically reading text is what best suits your particular faith tradition. That doesn't mean it fits all Christians and that only your tradition deserves the title Christian. Jews are called Jews even though there are significant differences between reform, conservative and orthodox Jews. Muslims are called Muslims even though there are massive differences between Muslim extremists and most Muslims.

    I think people are always served best when they focus on their own practices and not whether or not the practice of another is right, wrong, better or worse.

    unknown = Brianna. I can't figure out how to make my name appear. I am technologically... challenged.

    ReplyDelete
  10. @unknown I know it's you. :) And with the point of Christianity to be more like Christ, I think it's essential to know just who he is---not make our own version of him. I can't speak for Jews or Muslims or how their doctrine works, but for Christians, the goal is pretty clearly stated.

    ReplyDelete

I wrote the thing. You read the thing. Don't be too lazy to comment!