What Christians are Not.

I know, I know, a big topic, and I’m being a little arrogant in claiming to understand the whole of one of the largest religious groupings in the world. Keep in mind that you’re reading a conservative protestant evangelical.

These are just some things I would like non-Christians to keep in mind when talking to me.

1) Christians, by definition, do not think they are better than you. If somebody seems to, you know that he is being a very bad Christian if he is one at all. We get saved by grace. The main point of the entire religion is that we are so seriously messed up that we couldn’t save ourselves and needed God to do it for us. That means we think WE are sinners.

2) Christians (remembering the above proviso) do not think that morality is adherence to a set of moral precepts contained in a code (even the rules contained in the Bible). Morality is a heart issue for Christians, it is about the character of the person performing the act, not the act in itself. Thus talking about moral actions is non-sequential to our faith structure. While actions may be evidence of moral character, Good actions in themselves are simply not sequential to the issue of being good.

3) That said, Christians (if they are being Christian) do have some actions that they should be doing. If the person that claims to be Christian does not do them, you have a right to question their claim to be Christian. If you do not like what they are doing because they are acting in accordance with Christian expectations, then you can say it’s a problem with Christianity.

4) Christians, like every other belief structure in the world, has adherents who have not thought about the implications of their beliefs, and people who have. Do not assume that Christians are all unthinking, because you only talk to the former. Similarly, some Christians are not very rational in their thinking, but some are.

5) There are bad Christians. This is not an amazing revelation that upsets my entire faith structure, nor should it. The actions of people are actually independant of the belief structure and are relevant insofar as the specific actions you find abhorrent fit the belief structure.

6) Christianity is a big religion. Do not assume that you understand what the specific Christian you are talking to believes. He is a different person from all the other Christians you have met. Indeed, given point 5, despite his claims, he might not actually be a Christian. If you want to know if a Christian believes something, ask him. You can attack a belief that he’s claimed to believe after he’s claimed to believe it, not before.

7) No Christian, not even fundamentalist Bible thumpers (save the most extreme groups which most other Christians think are nuts), think that you can understand the Bible’s teaching on ANYTHING by looking at isolated verses. So, God’s teaching on slavery is not completed by looking at Leviticus, the nature of God is not explained by looking at the genocides in Exodus, and our opinion about social concerns is not exhausted by John 3:16. We have to look at the whole of scripture (because scripture interprets scripture). You may think that’s a dodge, but it’s the way we actually roll.

8) Christian beliefs are pretty central to the lives of Christians. It is the way we see the world. To ask us to put aside Jesus for a second is like asking you to put aside your understanding of reality for a second.

9) Christians are not inherently opposed to science. I am not a scientist, so I usually recuse myself from such debates because I’m probably better to be listening at those points. This is not because I think that science is of the devil. The statement “Some anti-science people are Christian” is not a logically equivalent statement to “All Christians are anti-science”.

10)  Christians (at least of the type that I am) do not believe that forcing you to “become Christian” is even possible, much less permissible. In fact, in my experience the attempt is unbelieving and counter-productive. When I tell you what I believe, it is because a) I think what I believe is true and would benefit you or b) I feel the need to correct your erroneous understanding of what I believe. I would like you to believe, because I would like you to enjoy God as I do, but if you don’t, I can’t force you.

Author: Stephen Dawe

Steve is a part-time vocational elder Calvary Baptist Church, St. John's as well as a full-time student at Memorial University of Newfoundland, in the Religious Studies Department.

4 thoughts on “What Christians are Not.”

  1. Wow. That’s helpful for people to know! If it weren’t so long, I’d be tempted to make a T-shirt out of this post! I’m going to have to bookmark this and link it if someone happens to strawman me into a box I’d rather not fit in.

  2. This is an excellent post.

    My brother Ben recently got in an online argument (yes, I know) with a fellow whose main points were:
    1. Ben is a Christian, even though he says he’s not, because he knows what Christians believe.
    2. The other guy has met a lot of messed-up freaky Christians.
    3. Therefore, Ben’s opinions are irrelevant to any discussion even if they make more sense to any objective observer.

    Ben IS pretty weird, but it was eye-opening to watch this play out on my screen.

  3. Thanks for this post. I will most certainly be book marking it at sending others to read it.

    I especially find point 8 useful. Non-believers sometimes say “why is everything always about Jesus for you?” . . . well, because EVERYTHING is ALWAYS about JESUS! It’s who I am. It’s the air I breathe and the water I drink. My Savior doesn’t fit in a box, or into Sunday mornings.

    Thanks again for sharing.

    Blessings,
    jJ

  4. n 6 years ago . I am dating a guy at my work place his is a christian. On that time i start know hearing about christian. We are going to church together and he teach me a lot thing of god. .In his church people was disagree him to dating a non christian . So only the pastor know he is dating with me . I don’t want to give him the trouble so we hiding our relationship. He did promise god love me no matter what happen and will married me after i am done for school . we are separated few time but we never break up b/c we are loving each other so much. i know that god is so important to him. He did break up with me b/c i am not christian. So i don’t want to give him the hard time. I do readying bible and go to church. when the time he is not with me i do pray for god. .I do pray for god regarding our relationship. On day i do baptism and found out that i am pregnancy . when I tell him i am pregnancy he did not said anything . He tell me to keep the baby. Give him sometime to think ..But at the same time he told me that he going to planing married with his ex girlfriend who are dating him more 10 yrs ago. b/c what he promise this women before. One day , i hear from my friend that him is engaged . They are going to getting married this Oct. The women know everything he did, but she forgive him. still want to married him. when i call him ask about regarding issue. He said don’t know how to telling me. When i find out that i was so up sad and we are only separated very short period off time. I am confuse that what he told me what’s mean of love. I always though that b/c i am not christian. The people in church want him to go back to the women to get married. In 2 day ago, i do call him ask regarding baby stuff. what he planing to do. But he said that he will going to tell the woman b/c he don’t want to lie to her. b/c he love this women. How can he just love another women so fast. He always tell me that he don’t love this women at all. He start telling me that he so regret what he did to me. He can’t be with me and the baby . I am feel so scare. who’s this person? what kind of man i am with this 6yrs. I feel like i get play with this 6yrs. Did this man love me at all. I am believe god is with me otherwise. In this 5mos pregnancy , Lot of thing is happening around me. my mom is past away. I was crying everyday..b/c the sudden change around me. From the beginning, i though that he still want to be with me. I am keeping the baby b/c he love me.. i don’t want to kill the baby. b/c this the mistake i done. I have to responsible for it. But now i find out that this man doesn’t not love us . why he keep tell me to keeping the baby.. why he keep telling me he still love.. He scare that i going to tell our stuff to other people. Finally, I am waken up.. but is too late. i should know that early, he not going to married me b/c if he want to be with me he have to leave his church and admitted to people what he been done. So no matter how much he love me is not more than he love himself. He will lose a lot friendship in the church. b/c he always is not guy in the church. what he now make a lot of people happy. Because this guy not telling me the true I have to face this trouble by myself. My friend and family they are not support me to keeping the baby. I am have to move out new york city. I am living a new town by myself without any support. . Please pray for me everyday and hope the baby stay healthy. sorry to the bad English.. i try so hard to tell the stories.

    What should i going do? Should I going to talk to the women? Should i still believe god? I am a sinner god still going to be with me? Did i going to any future? I am too scare what people think?

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