December 2, 2009

What is a Christian?

Nick Norelli noted, to my delight, that the working definition of "Evangelical" is becoming so general that we may as well just say "Christian". Amen. Meanwhile, Dan Wallace is getting hundreds of comments about this post on evangelicals vs. liberals in scholarship. Some of Dan's early commenters challenge his "narrow definition" of Christianity. Well.

On the one hand, Academics should respect qualification. Narrow definitions help us communicate more precisely. On the other hand, the definition of who is or isn't a "Christian" should not depend on what doctrines they hold. Just because every bastion of orthodoxy since Nicea has kept boundaries with theology, does not make it right.

This past Sunday - one week after my daughter's recent vocabulary lesson, we asked my son "What is a Christian?" His answer got close. So my brilliant wife asked, "What is a Texan?" Bo immediately caught on and responded with glee. "A Texan is someone who lives in Texas.. so a Christian is someone who lives in Jesus!"

I have never heard a better definition.

So-called Liberals and so-called Evangelicals, ya heard.


Anonymous said...

Tell Bo I say Good job for defining what a christian is?
Yes, a "Christian is someone who lives in Jesus"


A. Amos Love said...

Hey - Glory

I lived in Texas for awhile. I'm a Texan? Ya All.
Had to learn to talk real slow.

Got saved in Texas. Houston of all places.
A Youth for Christ prayer meeting.

If I'm not living in Texas anymore
am I no longer living in Jesus?


Bill Heroman said...

Hey, Lou.

Amos, you might find someone around here that thinks so, but I don't. :-)

A. Amos Love said...

I see the smiley face.

I hope "you" were smilen

A. Amos Love said...

Help - really

Can you give me your take on the word

ekklesia - and the "historical"
and proper meaning, translation, or what ever.

Got an interesting challenge

And I so hate to be wrong.

Bill Heroman said...

I'm not a linguist, Amos, but here's what I know. In certain cities of very ancient Greece, somebody would walk around the city calling all citizens out to assemble in the Agora (marketplace/town square). The citizens would gather, discuss things, vote if there was to be a vote, and go home.

Ek kaleo means to call out.

Theologians take that a bit further, saying the "church" is the "called out" people of God. Called out of the world, to Christ, for example.

In practical usage, around the time of Jesus and Paul, "ekklesia" was essentially the word they used for an assembly. By those days, most regular business seems to have been taken care of by the town councils in those days, and I'm a bit unclear on whether thousands of citizens in Athens ever bothered to get together in one place, five centuries after the "Golden Age" of Pericles. Perhaps there were special occasions? At any rate, the word had come to mean "an assembly" in its most basic sense.

You should double check all that with some other sources, but that's the scoop as far as I understand it, and as best I recall.

Hope that helps.

Bill Heroman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J. L. Watts said...

Bill it was great meeting you at SBL...

Bo seems like he has the best answer that I've heard in a long time.

steph said...

Bo could teach Dan a thing or two.

Bill Heroman said...

Me too, Joel. Tuesday's church-osophy was all in me, but I've been thinking 'bout ya.

Steph, you got up awfully early to post that, didn't you? I bet you were standing on your head, too. Silly Kiwi. ;-)

A. Amos Love said...


Thanks for the input on ekklesia.

I know your post is about “What is a Christian?

But, What is “The Church?” Is similar, almost.
And - Can/should a Christian “go to Church?”

I feel like I’m being picked on. :-(... tsk, tsk.

Some (my adversaries) say
ekklesia only means “assembly” and
“called out ones” is not correct at all.

And they be highly edjumacated.

Cemetery training and all.

I think I’m being refered to as
ignorant and unlearned. Hmmm?

The only degrees that I have are measured
on a thermometer. 98.6

And, to top it off, I have a Polish uncle
who taught me almost everything I know.

If “The Church” of God
always translates to only “assembly?”
“The assembly” of God ?
And never “The called out ones” of God.
and I’m in Barnes & Noble all by myself
Am I still part of “The Church” of God?

Am I now “the unassembled asembly” of God?

And no longer living in Jesus, His body?

Maybe some of your very knowledgeable
readers have some idea?

How de we know "The Church"
Jesus is building when we see it?

Wow! 2000 years and we still can't figure it out.

Maybe you can ask Bo?

Bo knows Jesus.

Bill Heroman said...

Amos, there's only one church in your city, and you are a part of her. You're a part of her now and forever. She just doesn't get all her members in one place very often.

Any time I gather with other members of Christ's Body, WE have an opportunity to express Him and stand together as His church.

Christ is in you, over there.
Christ is in me, over here.
Christ is in others, wherever.

The church is Christ, assembled.

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