Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Christ Follower or Christian?

I recently ran into this issue again: someone mentioned how her pastor and their church encourages the use of the label "Christ Follower" rather than "Christian" because in this culture, the word "Christian" seems to have lost its meaning. I agree. By today's standards, even among "Christians", anyone can believe anything and still claim to be a Christian. Anyone can also deny any foundational truth of Scripture (that which makes Christianity distinct from all other religions) and still be accepted as a "Christian". Unbelievers, however (that is, those who do not profess to be a Christian in any way) will just lump anyone who has any notion or belief no matter how nominal or wrong of Jesus as a "Christian". This error is understandable because they are unfamilar with what a biblical Christian is. But "Evangelicals" are supposed to know. Not any more.

Another problem is that many professing Christians today want to be unchurchy (hey, if the Post-Modern Emergents can make up words, I can too), "Christ-Follower" sounds more hip, less dogmatic, less in-your-face, and more about one's perspective, a relationship, a view, something you've chosen but don't want to place upon anyone else. To many POMOS/Emergents/Seeker Friendlies, "Christian" is offensive and "Christ-follower" is neutral. Well, interestingly enough, "Christian" was supposed to be an insulting word back in the early days of Christianity. However, biblical Christians from the outset have gladly taken up any reproach for the cause of the risen Lord Jesus Christ. We proudly wear HIS name and the biblical label of "Christian".

1Pe 4:16  but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name. 

Extreme Theology made some interesting observations a few years back:


...Here's the answer I came up with after reviewing the sermons preached at these seeker-driven / purpose-driven churches over the last 24 months:
Christ Follower: Someone who has made the decision to be an emotionally well adjusted self-actualized risk taking leader who knows his purpose, lives a 'no regrets' life of significance, has overcome his fears, enjoys a healthy marriage with better than average sex, is an attentive parent, is celebrating recovery from all his hurts, habits and hang ups, practices Biblical stress relief techniques, is financially free from consumer debt, fosters emotionally healthy relationships with his peers, attends a weekly life group, volunteers regularly at church, tithes off the gross and has taken at least one humanitarian aid trip to a third world nation.
Based upon this summarized definition, I've come to the conclusion that the world is full of people who can fit this definition but who've never repented of their sins and trusted in Christ alone for the forgiveness of their sins. This definition could easily apply to Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses. In fact, it could apply to Emergent Heretics, Unitarians, Muslims and practicing Jews. The reason why this definition of a Christ Follower could be applied to those outside of Christianity is because this is a definition based upon deeds NOT creeds. (Which is precisely what Rick Warren's so-called "second reformation" is all about.)..... 
It is frightening but absolutely true that ANYBODY can modify their actions, just like the Pharisees, so that their behaviors conform with this purpose-driven definition of what it means to be a Christ Follower without ever believing the creeds of the Historic Christian faith and without ever trusting in Jesus Christ alone for the forgiveness of their sins.
End quote.
Go here for the entire article.
Scripture states that doctrine has eternal consequences, so it does matter indeed:
2Jn 1:9  Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have
God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.10  If anyone comes to you
and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, 11 
for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds.

2Tim. 4:  3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

1Ti 6:3  If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, 4  he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions,:5  and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. 

Notice in that last passage in 1Tim. 6--the close connection between biblical doctrine and godliness. Biblical doctrine, if believed, leads to a godly life. Its a transformation from the inside, out. As Scripture states:

Php 2:12  So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; 13  for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. 

Eph 2:8  For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9  not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. 

We are saved not by works (we have no good works, because are not innately good, Romans 3:10-18 states), but by God's grace (unmerited favor). A saved person is a new creature in Christ, HIS handiwork, created to do His good works by His power to glorify Him. Anyone can do what humans call "good", however its not "good" according to the standard of God Himself (which is the sole standard of what is good). A Mormon or Hindu can, say, feed the poor. A "good" work, humanly speaking. However, if its not done to honor and obey the risen Lord Jesus Christ of Scripture, then its considered unholy dung to God. The difference between a Mormon and a Christian then, is not feeding the poor, but rather who or what they are trusting in for salvation and eternal life.

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