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The Definition of "Christian"

ShintoShinto __BANNED USERS
edited October 2007 in Debate and/or Discourse
earthless wrote: »
Shinto wrote: »
I fail to see that an authority exists which can credibly define what "Christian" is, therefore I'm left with the definition of whoever claims that label for themselves.

Good point - I take whatever group's authoritative writings are and judge them by that.

I fail to see that a collection of scriptures assembled by one group in the fourth century, no matter how widely adopted in current times, possesses said authority. In fact, I don't think you can even get a consensus on the authority of the bible within mainstream Christian groups. Catholics certainly view the Papacy as an alternative source of authoritative decisions while Anglican bishops have been known to flatly disagree with certain sections to give two examples.

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Posts

  • DortmunderDortmunder Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    You're wondering how to properly define a group of people who believe a supernatural being created the universe, reads their minds, etc etc?

    Delusional.

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  • ShintoShinto __BANNED USERS
    edited October 2007
    Dortmunder wrote: »
    You're wondering how to properly define a group of people who believe a supernatural being created the universe, reads their minds, etc etc?

    Delusional.

    Both clever and on topic.

  • ElkiElki GOBS OF PUKE!!! YES!!!!!!!Super Moderator, Moderator, ClubPA mod
    edited October 2007
    Thank you for that wonderful contribution. It's so edgy I'm bleeding.

  • stiliststilist Registered User
    edited October 2007
    As I understand it, ‘Christianity’ is based more in history than beliefs. The whole tree began with the original Catholic church, which now has a lot of branches that might violently disagree.

    Considering that a sizeable portion of the structure was composed to serve various purposes, it’s not surprising that there’s a lot of disparity between the various sects.

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  • earthlessearthless Registered User
    edited October 2007
    Shinto wrote: »
    earthless wrote: »
    Shinto wrote: »
    I fail to see that an authority exists which can credibly define what "Christian" is, therefore I'm left with the definition of whoever claims that label for themselves.

    Good point - I take whatever group's authoritative writings are and judge them by that.

    I fail to see that a collection of scriptures assembled by one group in the fourth century, no matter how widely adopted in current times, possesses said authority. In fact, I don't think you can even get a consensus on the authority of the bible within mainstream Christian groups. Catholics certainly view the Papacy as an alternative source of authoritative decisions while Anglican bishops have been known to flatly disagree with certain sections to give two examples.

    It posses authority to those that claim to adhere to them.

    earthless.png
  • ViolentChemistryViolentChemistry __BANNED USERS
    edited October 2007
    There isn't a definition of christian. It's just an affiliation, a label. Every christian I've ever met has a different idea of what it means to be christian. Almost all of those ideas contradict scripture, and very rarely do they not contradict eachother. The only constants are Jesus as Christ, virgin-birth, and that you shouldn't worship golden cows.

    DAMM
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  • earthlessearthless Registered User
    edited October 2007
    stilist wrote: »
    As I understand it, ‘Christianity’ is based more in history than beliefs. The whole tree began with the original Catholic church, which now has a lot of branches that might violently disagree.

    Considering that a sizeable portion of the structure was composed to serve various purposes, it’s not surprising that there’s a lot of disparity between the various sects.

    The RCC didn't even exist until centuries after the New Testament churches. So that claim is a bit of a historical stretch.

    earthless.png
  • MalkorMalkor Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Dortmunder wrote: »
    You're wondering how to properly define a group of people who believe a supernatural being created the universe, reads their minds, etc etc?

    Delusional.
    Well those billions of delusional people would probably disagree. It seems to me that a major part of most religion is 'We're right and you're wrong.', in Christianity each group thinks they're more closely living the life Christ wanted them to live. All the other Christians are just a little confused.

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  • earthlessearthless Registered User
    edited October 2007
    There isn't a definition of christian. It's just an affiliation, a label. Every christian I've ever met has a different idea of what it means to be christian. Almost all of those ideas contradict scripture, and very rarely do they not contradict eachother. The only constants are Jesus as Christ, virgin-birth, and that you shouldn't worship golden cows.

    But... but... what about golden chocolate cows? :|

    earthless.png
  • earthlessearthless Registered User
    edited October 2007
    Malkor wrote: »
    Dortmunder wrote: »
    You're wondering how to properly define a group of people who believe a supernatural being created the universe, reads their minds, etc etc?

    Delusional.
    Well those billions of delusional people would probably disagree. It seems to me that a major part of most religion is 'We're right and you're wrong.', in Christianity each group thinks they're more closely living the life Christ wanted them to live. All the other Christians are just a little confused.

    By your own standard everyone is delusional. Because every single human being is biased and have certain levels of faith. Whether they will admit it or not.

    earthless.png
  • stiliststilist Registered User
    edited October 2007
    earthless wrote: »
    stilist wrote: »
    As I understand it, ‘Christianity’ is based more in history than beliefs. The whole tree began with the original Catholic church, which now has a lot of branches that might violently disagree.

    Considering that a sizeable portion of the structure was composed to serve various purposes, it’s not surprising that there’s a lot of disparity between the various sects.
    The RCC didn't even exist until centuries after the New Testament churches. So that claim is a bit of a historical stretch.
    Well, I said ‘original’ on purpose—Catholic just means ‘universal’, and is sort of a generic name for the church during its first centuries.
    earthless wrote:
    It posses authority to those that claim to adhere to them.
    Er, are you saying that this magical blob of people has the ability to claim adherents? I’m not sure what you’re going at here.

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  • ViolentChemistryViolentChemistry __BANNED USERS
    edited October 2007
    earthless wrote: »
    There isn't a definition of christian. It's just an affiliation, a label. Every christian I've ever met has a different idea of what it means to be christian. Almost all of those ideas contradict scripture, and very rarely do they not contradict eachother. The only constants are Jesus as Christ, virgin-birth, and that you shouldn't worship golden cows.

    But... but... what about golden chocolate cows? :|

    Are you asking what I think or what christians think? What I think is that you shouldn't worship anything, and christians think you shouldn't worship anything except their personal god (who by all accounts isn't a very nice guy).

    DAMM
    Drunks Against Mad Mothers
  • earthlessearthless Registered User
    edited October 2007
    stilist wrote: »
    earthless wrote: »
    stilist wrote: »
    As I understand it, ‘Christianity’ is based more in history than beliefs. The whole tree began with the original Catholic church, which now has a lot of branches that might violently disagree.

    Considering that a sizeable portion of the structure was composed to serve various purposes, it’s not surprising that there’s a lot of disparity between the various sects.
    The RCC didn't even exist until centuries after the New Testament churches. So that claim is a bit of a historical stretch.
    Well, I said ‘original’ on purpose—Catholic just means ‘universal’, and is sort of a generic name for the church during its first centuries.
    earthless wrote:
    It posses authority to those that claim to adhere to them.
    Er, are you saying that this magical blob of people has the ability to claim adherents? I’m not sure what you’re going at here.

    No, you're misunderstanding my point. The writings have authority, are authoritative, to those that claim to abide to it.

    earthless.png
  • SniperGuySniperGuy Also known as Dohaeris Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited October 2007
    Malkor wrote: »
    Dortmunder wrote: »
    You're wondering how to properly define a group of people who believe a supernatural being created the universe, reads their minds, etc etc?

    Delusional.
    Well those billions of delusional people would probably disagree. It seems to me that a major part of most religion is 'We're right and you're wrong.', in Christianity each group thinks they're more closely living the life Christ wanted them to live. All the other Christians are just a little confused.

    Which is amusing in and of itself, because Jesus never really created a "church," and most people before a church got set up called themselves followers of "The Way" and then Peter or whomever turned it into a church with ALOT more rules.

    I like to consider myself basically a Christian, but I don't really believe in organized religion as such. Just leads to animosity.


    Though one would think the most clear definition of "Christian" is "One who believes in Jesus Christ"

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  • ShintoShinto __BANNED USERS
    edited October 2007
    earthless wrote: »
    Shinto wrote: »
    earthless wrote: »
    Shinto wrote: »
    I fail to see that an authority exists which can credibly define what "Christian" is, therefore I'm left with the definition of whoever claims that label for themselves.

    Good point - I take whatever group's authoritative writings are and judge them by that.

    I fail to see that a collection of scriptures assembled by one group in the fourth century, no matter how widely adopted in current times, possesses said authority. In fact, I don't think you can even get a consensus on the authority of the bible within mainstream Christian groups. Catholics certainly view the Papacy as an alternative source of authoritative decisions while Anglican bishops have been known to flatly disagree with certain sections to give two examples.

    It posses authority to those that claim to adhere to them.

    Yes, but as outside observers what authority is it supposed to have for us? Group A claims to hold exclusive title to a certain label while group b disputes it. Short of sorting all of this out with Jesus on the second coming, I fail to see some kind of valid objective standard.

  • RichyRichy Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    The most basic, general definition of Christian I know is "someone who believes in and proclaims the resurrection of Jesus Christ". That definition would include all the different Christian Churches and sects, as well as the early Christians who lived and died before the various Churches were organised. Interestingly, by that definition, the first two Christians were Mary and Mary Magdelene, who were the first to visit Jesus' tomb, see that he was resurrected, and went to tell the disciples.

    If you want a more specific and restrictive definition, then you have to start defining essential dogma that all "Christians" must believe and add it to the definition of "Christian". But what you're really doing then is defining sub-groups of Christianity. Like "Roman Catholic Christians" believe in the authority of the Pope, and so on...

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  • ViolentChemistryViolentChemistry __BANNED USERS
    edited October 2007
    Shinto wrote: »
    earthless wrote: »
    Shinto wrote: »
    earthless wrote: »
    Shinto wrote: »
    I fail to see that an authority exists which can credibly define what "Christian" is, therefore I'm left with the definition of whoever claims that label for themselves.

    Good point - I take whatever group's authoritative writings are and judge them by that.

    I fail to see that a collection of scriptures assembled by one group in the fourth century, no matter how widely adopted in current times, possesses said authority. In fact, I don't think you can even get a consensus on the authority of the bible within mainstream Christian groups. Catholics certainly view the Papacy as an alternative source of authoritative decisions while Anglican bishops have been known to flatly disagree with certain sections to give two examples.

    It posses authority to those that claim to adhere to them.

    Yes, but as outside observers what authority is it supposed to have for us? Group A claims to hold exclusive title to a certain label while group b disputes it. Short of sorting all of this out with Jesus on the second coming, I fail to see some kind of valid objective standard.

    Simple. Group A cleanses Group B, because Group A is better-armed.

    DAMM
    Drunks Against Mad Mothers
  • kildykildy Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Is your faith based around Jesus being in some way shape or form a savior and God's Son/Part of the Trinity?

    If Yes, you're Christian.

    If No, you're Not.

    I fail to see the difficulty of this question. It's got a ton of offshoots with different beliefs, but the core of the faith is that Christ was the Son of God. Anything more minor in the details than that is "are you a catholic (or one of it's offshoots)", etc.

  • stiliststilist Registered User
    edited October 2007
    earthless wrote: »
    No, you're misunderstanding my point. The writings have authority, are authoritative, to those that claim to abide to it.
    That’s a flawed claim. The writings chosen for the standard 66-book Bible were picked by a group of people several hundred years after Christ. It would be disingenuous to be informed about the subject and honestly say that human factors were not involved. I’m Protestant and believe in the integrity of the Bible as we know it, but still—church councils, especially then, were a little iffy at times.

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  • DortmunderDortmunder Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Shinto wrote: »
    Dortmunder wrote: »
    You're wondering how to properly define a group of people who believe a supernatural being created the universe, reads their minds, etc etc?

    Delusional.

    Both clever and on topic.

    Fair enough - but I have trouble taking this subject seriously. Or maybe I just don't understand the point being posited in the OP. Having trouble finding a consensus on religion? Shocking.

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  • SniperGuySniperGuy Also known as Dohaeris Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited October 2007
    kildy wrote: »
    Is your faith based around Jesus being in some way shape or form a savior and God's Son/Part of the Trinity?

    If Yes, you're Christian.

    If No, you're Not.

    I fail to see the difficulty of this question. It's got a ton of offshoots with different beliefs, but the core of the faith is that Christ was the Son of God. Anything more minor in the details than that is "are you a catholic (or one of it's offshoots)", etc.

    Actually I think even that definition is too specific. One doesn't necessarily have to believe that Jesus is a savior, or part of the "trinity" to be a Christian. Merely that the guy was pretty awesome, existed, and had a good idea of how to run ones life. Personally, wether he was divine or what have you, I could care less. The man had good ideas, I'll just follow those. Besides, his divinity and such was decided by a group of humans. So eh.

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  • templewulftemplewulf Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    I didn't read the original thread.

    Can I safely assume this is to resolve a "No True Scotsman" accusation?

    EDIT:
    Oh, look at that, Elk pointed it out.

    In any case, it's pretty lame to equivocate your way out of an argument when a common definition already exists.

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  • poshnialloposhniallo Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    I don't think you're gonna get one definition that everyone concerned will agree on. There are fundamentalists of all stripes (I have some friends who are fundamentalist but hippy lefty types - they think Jesus was a radical) who think the bible is the core, and so Catholics are very iffy for them. There are some like Quakers who pretty much believe the relationship with God is key. Of course, Catholics are different, as are Russian Orthodox, or say The Church of Korea.

    And never mind just 'Everyone who says they're a Christian is one' because that's just not having a definition at all.

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  • stiliststilist Registered User
    edited October 2007
    poshniallo wrote: »
    And never mind just 'Everyone who says they're a Christian is one' because that's just not having a definition at all.
    Beyond that, different strains clearly reject others. Roman Catholics say mass and such are influential on one’s getting to Heaven, whilst Protestants tend to be faith-only. Things get even messier if Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses are considered Christian groups, though that’s somewhat tenuous.

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  • ShintoShinto __BANNED USERS
    edited October 2007
    kildy wrote: »
    Is your faith based around Jesus being in some way shape or form a savior and God's Son/Part of the Trinity?

    If Yes, you're Christian.

    If No, you're Not.

    I fail to see the difficulty of this question. It's got a ton of offshoots with different beliefs, but the core of the faith is that Christ was the Son of God. Anything more minor in the details than that is "are you a catholic (or one of it's offshoots)", etc.

    I don't even think you can make that statement, otherwise certain early Christian groups around before such doctrines were settled would not be considered "Christian" when clearly that is the label that best fits them.

  • HamjuHamju Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    There isn't a definition of christian. It's just an affiliation, a label. Every christian I've ever met has a different idea of what it means to be christian. Almost all of those ideas contradict scripture, and very rarely do they not contradict eachother. The only constants are Jesus as Christ, virgin-birth, and that you shouldn't worship golden cows.

    That's how I've seen it as well.

    Also, re:the bible, most serious Christians I know take the bible for what it is, a book put together centuries ago by a bunch of people. It's obviously flawed and requires a great deal of study. It does teach some really good things (when it's not telling you who to not have sex with), but a lot of it has to be taken into context. And as I understand it, the Catholic church doesn't even interpret very much of the Bible literally anymore. All I know that they take literally is the virgin birth, rising from the dead and the stuff that deals with the Seven Sacraments.

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  • FunkyWaltDoggFunkyWaltDogg Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Richy wrote: »
    The most basic, general definition of Christian I know is "someone who believes in and proclaims the resurrection of Jesus Christ". That definition would include all the different Christian Churches and sects, as well as the early Christians who lived and died before the various Churches were organised. Interestingly, by that definition, the first two Christians were Mary and Mary Magdelene, who were the first to visit Jesus' tomb, see that he was resurrected, and went to tell the disciples.

    If you want a more specific and restrictive definition, then you have to start defining essential dogma that all "Christians" must believe and add it to the definition of "Christian". But what you're really doing then is defining sub-groups of Christianity. Like "Roman Catholic Christians" believe in the authority of the Pope, and so on...

    As a Christian, I endorse this analysis.

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  • kildykildy Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    I'm failing to see how a group rejecting another is any evidence of one or the other being Christian though.

    I can be a Texan in El Paso, and claim people in Dallas aren't really Texans, but it doesn't make Dallas not part of Texas. If you think Christ was the son of god and the savior of your religion, you're Christian. Anything else is simply a branch/sect/what have you, no matter how bat shit insane the rest of their views may be.

  • ShintoShinto __BANNED USERS
    edited October 2007
    Richy wrote: »
    The most basic, general definition of Christian I know is "someone who believes in and proclaims the resurrection of Jesus Christ". That definition would include all the different Christian Churches and sects, as well as the early Christians who lived and died before the various Churches were organised. Interestingly, by that definition, the first two Christians were Mary and Mary Magdelene, who were the first to visit Jesus' tomb, see that he was resurrected, and went to tell the disciples.

    If you want a more specific and restrictive definition, then you have to start defining essential dogma that all "Christians" must believe and add it to the definition of "Christian". But what you're really doing then is defining sub-groups of Christianity. Like "Roman Catholic Christians" believe in the authority of the Pope, and so on...

    As a Christian, I endorse this analysis.

    If our goal is to come up with a definition that include all the different Christian Churches and sects, and this is the rationale Richy has offered for his argument, then it would seem to me simpler to define a Christian as anyone who claims to be a Christian.

  • FunkyWaltDoggFunkyWaltDogg Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Shinto wrote: »
    Richy wrote: »
    The most basic, general definition of Christian I know is "someone who believes in and proclaims the resurrection of Jesus Christ". That definition would include all the different Christian Churches and sects, as well as the early Christians who lived and died before the various Churches were organised. Interestingly, by that definition, the first two Christians were Mary and Mary Magdelene, who were the first to visit Jesus' tomb, see that he was resurrected, and went to tell the disciples.

    If you want a more specific and restrictive definition, then you have to start defining essential dogma that all "Christians" must believe and add it to the definition of "Christian". But what you're really doing then is defining sub-groups of Christianity. Like "Roman Catholic Christians" believe in the authority of the Pope, and so on...

    As a Christian, I endorse this analysis.

    If our goal is to come up with a definition that include all the different Christian Churches and sects, and this is the rationale Richy has offered for his argument, then it would seem to me simpler to define a Christian as anyone who claims to be a Christian.

    Do you know of any Christian churches in which the Resurrection is not a fundamental doctrine? I'm not aware of any, but that doesn't mean they don't exist.

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  • poshnialloposhniallo Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Shinto wrote: »
    Richy wrote: »
    The most basic, general definition of Christian I know is "someone who believes in and proclaims the resurrection of Jesus Christ". That definition would include all the different Christian Churches and sects, as well as the early Christians who lived and died before the various Churches were organised. Interestingly, by that definition, the first two Christians were Mary and Mary Magdelene, who were the first to visit Jesus' tomb, see that he was resurrected, and went to tell the disciples.

    If you want a more specific and restrictive definition, then you have to start defining essential dogma that all "Christians" must believe and add it to the definition of "Christian". But what you're really doing then is defining sub-groups of Christianity. Like "Roman Catholic Christians" believe in the authority of the Pope, and so on...

    As a Christian, I endorse this analysis.

    If our goal is to come up with a definition that include all the different Christian Churches and sects, and this is the rationale Richy has offered for his argument, then it would seem to me simpler to define a Christian as anyone who claims to be a Christian.

    Simpler, yes. But obviously massively flawed.

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  • HeartlashHeartlash Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Would not a Christian, at their very core, simply be one who follows the teachings of Jesus Christ? The emphasis on different pieces of scripture (along with structure and heirachy) is what seperates most sects.

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  • Apothe0sisApothe0sis Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    I'm not sure how flawed it is.

    Would you say Shelby Spong is a christian? He certainly identifies as one. He doesn't believe in anything miraculous at last count, as far as I know.

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  • FunkyWaltDoggFunkyWaltDogg Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Heartlash wrote: »
    Would not a Christian, at their very core, simply be one who follows the teachings of Jesus Christ? The emphasis on different pieces of scripture (along with structure and heirachy) is what seperates most sects.

    It's not only the teachings of Jesus which are central, but also his resurrection.

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  • ShintoShinto __BANNED USERS
    edited October 2007
    Shinto wrote: »
    Richy wrote: »
    The most basic, general definition of Christian I know is "someone who believes in and proclaims the resurrection of Jesus Christ". That definition would include all the different Christian Churches and sects, as well as the early Christians who lived and died before the various Churches were organised. Interestingly, by that definition, the first two Christians were Mary and Mary Magdelene, who were the first to visit Jesus' tomb, see that he was resurrected, and went to tell the disciples.

    If you want a more specific and restrictive definition, then you have to start defining essential dogma that all "Christians" must believe and add it to the definition of "Christian". But what you're really doing then is defining sub-groups of Christianity. Like "Roman Catholic Christians" believe in the authority of the Pope, and so on...

    As a Christian, I endorse this analysis.

    If our goal is to come up with a definition that include all the different Christian Churches and sects, and this is the rationale Richy has offered for his argument, then it would seem to me simpler to define a Christian as anyone who claims to be a Christian.

    Do you know of any Christian churches in which the Resurrection is not a fundamental doctrine? I'm not aware of any, but that doesn't mean they don't exist.

    No, but conceptually there is no need for us to mark our definition arbitrarily at the point of the lowest common denomination of observed belief. We can certainly posit the existance of someone who believes Jesus was the Son of God but not in the bodily resurrection and describes themselves as a Christian.

  • ShintoShinto __BANNED USERS
    edited October 2007
    Heartlash wrote: »
    Would not a Christian, at their very core, simply be one who follows the teachings of Jesus Christ? The emphasis on different pieces of scripture (along with structure and heirachy) is what seperates most sects.

    It's not only the teachings of Jesus which are central, but also his resurrection.

    Why would that be more of a criteria than anything else though.

    My basic thought is this: If someone disagrees on any - any - tenent of a religion but still describes themselves as a member of that religion, what authority exists that can validly claim they are not a member?

  • poshnialloposhniallo Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Heartlash wrote: »
    Would not a Christian, at their very core, simply be one who follows the teachings of Jesus Christ? The emphasis on different pieces of scripture (along with structure and heirachy) is what seperates most sects.

    This is good - the definition needs to involve religious words like 'following the teachings' or 'accepting the resurrection' rather than some kind secular 'believes that the bible is true' or 'goes to mass'.

    The definition needs to involve internal states and religious acts.

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  • emnmnmeemnmnme Heard about this on conservative radio:Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Oh, good grief ...

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  • HeartlashHeartlash Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    The big issue is, though, that there are four accounts of the life of Jesus Christ, and each account has been edited thousands of times. So there really is no universal definition of "the teachings of Jesus Christ."

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  • ShintoShinto __BANNED USERS
    edited October 2007
    poshniallo wrote: »
    Heartlash wrote: »
    Would not a Christian, at their very core, simply be one who follows the teachings of Jesus Christ? The emphasis on different pieces of scripture (along with structure and heirachy) is what seperates most sects.

    This is good - the definition needs to involve religious words like 'following the teachings' or 'accepting the resurrection' rather than some kind secular 'believes that the bible is true' or 'goes to mass'.

    The definition needs to involve internal states and religious acts.

    Why?

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