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The Problem of the True Christian

By Wertbag ~ 

What is a true Christian? What are you required to believe or practice, and which parts can be skipped while remaining a Christian? The majority of Christians will point to Mormons as being false Christians, and yet they follow the Protestant bible (plus 3 extra books), believe in God, Jesus and the resurrection. Their heresy makes them labelled as false, and yet the core of the religion remains the same. Would God really care that people who are actively looking to have a relationship with Him have been led to believe in extra books? By such logic the Catholic church can declare the Orthodox church heretics, the Protestants can declare the Catholics heretics and the Ethiopian Orthodox church can declare all the other heretics.

There are some Christians who say you must be baptised to be a true Christian, but this is not universal and amongst those who do practice it some believe in a splash of holy water while others say it must be full immersion. Some Christians say that a failure to be baptised means you are false and won't make heaven. This seems to make God very petty, in that being taught things, outside of your control, is enough to damn you to hell.

Perhaps you should evangelise, speak in tongues or handle snakes? Perhaps you should be circumcised, but perhaps that was only for the Jews. Perhaps you should keep the Sabbath holy, whether that be the Saturday or Sunday by your particular beliefs, but does getting the day wrong when you don't know better, really enough to make you not a true Christian?

Several Christians have told me a failure to be "born again" means you are not a true Christian. When you try to find what this means it gets very vague, with many saying it is just a feeling you have. Others have said if you do not take a literal interpretation of Genesis and believe in a young earth then you aren't a real bible believer and hence aren't a real Christian. This line of reasoning both means that the majority of Christians are not "true" Christians, but also some of the most famous Christians in history such as William Lane Craig, CS Lewis, Origen, Saint Ambrose and Saint Augustine are not "true" Christians.

Believing that Jesus was the Messiah but not God himself as the Unitarians do, is also apparently enough to make you not a true Christian.

Do you have to pray a certain way or a certain amount? Do you need to attend church or tithe a certain amount? Do you need to read the bible cover to cover and if so, does it matter which of the many versions? Do you need to believe in the bible being literal history, or is there some wiggle room where it is acceptable to believe parts are parables, moral stories or metaphors?

This all works to reinforce this idea of being correct as part of the in-group, while everyone else is "the others". Of course, out of the thousands of religions and thousands of denominations, you happen to be in exactly the right one and everyone else is blind for not seeing your church as the one true way. You are a true Christian and all the others who disagree with whatever the leadership of that church deem core rules, are all false Christians.

Originally posted in the Reasons for Disbelief thread on Ex-Christian.Net