There was an oh-so-true cartoon published on FaceBook today that solidified my desire to write this article. The caption read: "Let's argue about politics until we resort to name calling. Then we can move on to religion and finally kill each other."
A couple of weeks ago, the following comment was received by a friend of mine:
Challenge your Christian beliefs?
While everything in me wants to get into the fray about what these candidates represent, that is not the purpose of this article.
I want to talk about this concept of Christian beliefs.
Actually, I want to challenge the concept.
Where did we come up with the idea that there are a set of beliefs that we must subscribe to?
That originated with the Apostles' Creed, which somewhat loosely followed the Roman Creed of the early church fathers. Today, as far as creeds go, most churches follow the Nicene Creed for their statement of faith.
I find it interesting that among many of the evangelical churches exists what is called a "Statement of Faith," but it is usually in the form of a list.
These statements of faith are good to a point--they allow the ones who subscribe to them to label anyone outside of that belief system as a heretic. While you may snipe at me for such a comment, that was the original reason for any statement of faith up to and including the Nicene Creed. They were formulated as an answer to various unorthodox doctrines of their time.
The biblical basis of this is found in Acts 15 where Paul goes to Jerusalem to check with the apostles there about the gospel he was declaring.
Usually, after the Statement of Faith is agreed to, one must also agree to the group's particular code of conduct.
It is this perceived code of conduct that divides Christians today and was the basis of the statement quoted above about checking in on your "Christian beliefs."
If there are any non-Christians reading this, I will tell you flat out that this is wrong. Just because the majority of the Christians you know live this way, that does not make it right.
Once we subscribe to a code of conduct, it becomes necessary for a code enforcer to arise. Since the Lord never established one in the Church, we are left with no shortage of volunteers for the position. Almost everyone at one time or another--myself included--has tried to act as God's policeman and straighten out someone who is "obviously wrong."
That "obviously wrong" part can extend into any arena the policeman desires, whether conduct or belief. Here's the fun part--every policeman is armed with a Bible text that they will shoot at the supposed offender. Often, they get to shooting at each other, using the scripture to disprove scripture--the very scripture each holds to be totally, completely, perfectly inspired by God.
Is it any wonder we get laughed at and trounced upon?
What are we to do?
Well, let's try scripture.
Romans 14:4--"Who are you to judge another man's servant? Before his own master he stands or falls. and stand he will, for the Lord is able to make him stand." Paul wrote this in response to those who were judging the behavior of others.
James 4:11--"Don't speak evil of one another. He who speaks evil of a brother is judging the law. If you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law."
Of course, there is always Matthew 7:1 which every non-believer knows by heart--"Judge not lest you be judged."
People have set themselves up as the arbiters of what is acceptable to believe and what is not.
Therefore, it is necessary that I join the fray and state my opinion about what it is that Christians believe.
The answer is quite simple.
Are you ready?
Here it is.
As I observe the world and the Church I can come to no other conclusion. Christians believe all kinds of stuff. They are no different in this than anyone else upon whom we would hang a label. And they all believe different and sometimes opposing stuff. But, they are still a Christian.
Because what a Christian believes about politics, people, marriage, sexuality, food, movies, books, junk food, chocolate, newspapers, hair color or anything else has absolutely no bearing on whether they are a Christian. It is the fault of the people who call themselves Christians that we have gotten to this place, because they challenge everything that differs with their own particular orthodoxy.
Is belief important to a Christian?
But, only ONE belief is absolutely important--Jesus Christ, savior.
Contrary to popular opinion, not even belief in the virgin birth is necessary.
Jesus Christ, savior.
That is the belief that makes one a Christian.
All other beliefs only prove that they are a human being still sucking air.
Comments, questions, and criticisms are welcomed here. Please add to the discussion by giving yours. Thank you.