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Definition of Christianity
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33 / M / Baltimore, MD
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Posted 5/12/14 , edited 5/12/14
This stems from a discussion in another thread with Syndicaidramon specifically regarding the Jehovah's Witness faith/Watchtower Society. My definition of Christianity is one which does not include their faith.

I define a church as being Christian if they a) believe in the Bible; b) believe Christ is both fully God & fully man; c) believe the only way to the Father is through the Son; d) accept that Christ's atoning death on the cross is the basis for salvation; e) believe Christ was resurrected on the third day. Denial of any of these points, in my opinion, means a church/religion is outside of the definition of Christianity.

So, I ask, how would you define Christianity? Not looking for a fight, just curious what others view as a defining feature of this faith.
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25 / M / Zuellni
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Posted 5/12/14
The mass societal brainwashing that a several thousand year old book holds more truth than the world right in front of our eyes.
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Posted 5/12/14
^you're thinking creationism and fundamentalism.

I view Christianity the same way the original poster does, granted I do have a few additional requirements but that's for Catholicism not Christianity since I love being a Catholic.

Well, I do have one additional requirement to being Christian which takes a few official denominations out of the equation. Despite what people within Christianity or outside it may believe, the Bible does not need to be taken literally... So Christians should know when it's to be taken literally.

The most common example is the creation story. I believe that God had a hand in creating all things, like there was some button he had to press, but I don't believe it happened the way the Bible says because I also believe in evolution.

Believing in Jesus and the resurrection, that is something meant to be taken literally. As are everything else. Believing in the spirit and the meaning of the Bible may be a better way of putting it. Since Jesus spoke it parables, some of the other Bible stories could be taken in that way; understanding that while the story may have actually taken place, what really needs to be taken from it is the meaning behind the story.

God was in charge of creation. If I wasn't Christian growing up, I'd probably believe in some entity being out there after taking biology and finding out exactly how hard it was for life to have been formed the way it is today; the chances were very low if I recall correctly.

Creationism and fundamentalism are not as prevalent as people think when they think of Christianity and that bothers me. I grew up with my religion teachers encouraging me to believe the stories, but also encouraging against taking every little thing literally.

Also, another common misconception about Christianity is that we can not be people of science. It is entirely possible. I'm a writer by choice but I love geology and meteorology and biology.
I went to a Catholic school, and most of my teachers outside of religion class didn't bring up faith, but I know most of them were Christians. I still see my AP Physics teacher occasionally at the parish I go to.
Parents of my classmates who were Christian were doctors. My Christian classmates wanted to become doctors and other sort of scientists.

If you want a better example than personal ones... Galileo. Galileo was the one who figured out we revolve around the sun. He may have been excommunicated from the Catholic Church for it but that doesn't mean he wasn't Christian at all.
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25 / M / Zuellni
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Posted 5/12/14

Ouzoathena11 wrote:

^you're thinking creationism and fundamentalism.

I view Christianity the same way the original poster does, granted I do have a few additional requirements but that's for Catholicism not Christianity since I love being a Catholic.

Well, I do have one additional requirement to being Christian which takes a few official denominations out of the equation. Despite what people within Christianity or outside it may believe, the Bible does not need to be taken literally... So Christians should know when it's to be taken literally.

The most common example is the creation story. I believe that God had a hand in creating all things, like there was some button he had to press, but I don't believe it happened the way the Bible says because I also believe in evolution.

Believing in Jesus and the resurrection, that is something meant to be taken literally. As are everything else. Believing in the spirit and the meaning of the Bible may be a better way of putting it. Since Jesus spoke it parables, some of the other Bible stories could be taken in that way; understanding that while the story may have actually taken place, what really needs to be taken from it is the meaning behind the story.

God was in charge of creation. If I wasn't Christian growing up, I'd probably believe in some entity being out there after taking biology and finding out exactly how hard it was for life to have been formed the way it is today; the chances were very low if I recall correctly.

Creationism and fundamentalism are not as prevalent as people think when they think of Christianity and that bothers me. I grew up with my religion teachers encouraging me to believe the stories, but also encouraging against taking every little thing literally.

Also, another common misconception about Christianity is that we can not be people of science. It is entirely possible. I'm a writer by choice but I love geology and meteorology and biology.
I went to a Catholic school, and most of my teachers outside of religion class didn't bring up faith, but I know most of them were Christians. I still see my AP Physics teacher occasionally at the parish I go to.
Parents of my classmates who were Christian were doctors. My Christian classmates wanted to become doctors and other sort of scientists.

If you want a better example than personal ones... Galileo. Galileo was the one who figured out we revolve around the sun. He may have been excommunicated from the Catholic Church for it but that doesn't mean he wasn't Christian at all.


All very good points- but a few things I'd like to add-

Given the scale of the universe, life isn't something that had very little chance of happening. In fact- it's quite the opposite, it's almost impossible to think that there isn't other life somewhere in the universe.

As far as people being fundamental or not, my view is simple. Religion has contributed far more ills to society than it has good. No matter what religion it is, it has been used as a method to control and sway opinions of the common people. No good comes of religion that could not also occur without religion.
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Posted 5/12/14
For me Christianity has these definitional characteristics:

(a) Monotheism recognizing Yahweh/Jehova as the only deity in existence.
(b) Recognition of Jesus of Nazareth's death as an event which redeemed all generations, past, present, and future.
(c) Recognition of Jesus of Nazareth as having been resurrected and having ascended to Heaven.
(d) Recognition of the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth by virtue of His nature as a manifestation of Yahweh/Jehova.
(e) Recognition that salvation is only attainable by consciously accepting the redemption described in (b).

Recognition of the Bible as being inerrant and/or literally true throughout, recognition of hell as a permanent condition, mandatory attendance of church services, these are examples of characteristics which I treat as secondary rather than definitional. They're characteristics which answer the question "What sort of Christianity are we looking at?" rather than "Are we looking at Christianity at all?"
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Posted 5/12/14

mdmzero0 wrote:

Given the scale of the universe, life isn't something that had very little chance of happening. In fact- it's quite the opposite, it's almost impossible to think that there isn't other life somewhere in the universe.


Here your words ring true, but there is nothing in Christianity which prohibits the existence of extraterrestrial life.


As far as people being fundamental or not, my view is simple. Religion has contributed far more ills to society than it has good. No matter what religion it is, it has been used as a method to control and sway opinions of the common people. No good comes of religion that could not also occur without religion.


Some supporting data is needed to substantiate the claim that superior social outcomes are the direct result of religion's absence. In order to do that a causal relationship between Atheism and the social outcomes of interest will have to be established.
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25 / M / Zuellni
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Posted 5/12/14

BlueOni wrote:


mdmzero0 wrote:

Given the scale of the universe, life isn't something that had very little chance of happening. In fact- it's quite the opposite, it's almost impossible to think that there isn't other life somewhere in the universe.


Here your words ring true, but there is nothing in Christianity which prohibits the existence of extraterrestrial life.


As far as people being fundamental or not, my view is simple. Religion has contributed far more ills to society than it has good. No matter what religion it is, it has been used as a method to control and sway opinions of the common people. No good comes of religion that could not also occur without religion.


Some supporting data is needed to substantiate the claim that superior social outcomes are the direct result of religion's absence. In order to do that a causal relationship between Atheism and the social outcomes of interest will have to be established.


Can you imagine most of Christianity (or any religion) when extraterrestrial life is eventually found? What if it is superior to us? After all, "Man was created in God's image" (A rather egotistical statement, if you think about it)

And while there's no direct supporting data saying atheism leads to superior social outcomes- there is plenty of clear evidence of wars, poverty, poor treatment, etc., directly as a result of religion.
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33 / M / Baltimore, MD
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Posted 5/13/14

mdmzero0 wrote:
Can you imagine most of Christianity (or any religion) when extraterrestrial life is eventually found? What if it is superior to us? After all, "Man was created in God's image" (A rather egotistical statement, if you think about it)

And while there's no direct supporting data saying atheism leads to superior social outcomes- there is plenty of clear evidence of wars, poverty, poor treatment, etc., directly as a result of religion.
And look at all the death & violence brought about by atheistic cultures such as the Soviet Union & Communist China. Man is fallen & prone to do bad things, even from a Christian perspective (Ecclesiastes 7:20, Romans 3:23). As a Christian, I believe people are inherently corrupt and sinful. Meaning? They'll do bad things - even if they claim religion or do not.

Also, as you are looking at the evils done in the name of religion (which does happen as people are born sinful), you should not ignore all the good done in the name of religion. Examples include the Salvation Army & Southern Baptist Church's disaster relief responses, local charity organizations for the homeless, church food banks, Christian leaders who pushed to end slavery in the US/UK, etc.

Then again, that is diverging from the topic of this thread
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Posted 5/13/14
Christianity. The word says it all, I'd say. Etymologically speaking it means follower of Christ or the Anointed. The rest is all unnecessarily complicating things and trying to put boundaries on a word which already has boundaries of its own and thus doesn't need to be redefined into a specific christian cult as you would like it to be.

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mdmzero0 wrote:

Can you imagine most of Christianity (or any religion) when extraterrestrial life is eventually found? What if it is superior to us? After all, "Man was created in God's image" (A rather egotistical statement, if you think about it)


In Christianity that phrase does not carry the implication that humans are equivalent to God in either appearance or ability. Humans are taken as being a flawed imitation of God at best. Even the creation story does not describe humans as being equivalent to God since Adam and Eve were neither omnipotent, nor omniscient, nor omnibenevolent, nor omnipresent.

While I'll completely agree that most religions across the globe would have to account for the discovery of extraterrestrial life, it seems a stretch to assume that this would not be possible for Christianity.


And while there's no direct supporting data saying atheism leads to superior social outcomes- there is plenty of clear evidence of wars, poverty, poor treatment, etc., directly as a result of religion.


In that religious bodies have engaged in behavior directly contributing to these problems? Absolutely. In that the tenets of the religion themselves have directly contributed to these problems? A far more difficult case to make. To wind the conversation a bit more toward the topic while still remaining true to the theme, let's consider the definitional criteria (that is, the core tenets) of Christianity as either I or anyone else in the thread have defined them. Which specific tenets contribute to the problems you've cited, and how?
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25 / M / Zuellni
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Posted 5/13/14

BlueOni wrote:


mdmzero0 wrote:

Can you imagine most of Christianity (or any religion) when extraterrestrial life is eventually found? What if it is superior to us? After all, "Man was created in God's image" (A rather egotistical statement, if you think about it)


In Christianity that phrase does not carry the implication that humans are equivalent to God in either appearance or ability. Humans are taken as being a flawed imitation of God at best. Even the creation story does not describe humans as being equivalent to God since Adam and Eve were neither omnipotent, nor omniscient, nor omnibenevolent, nor omnipresent.

While I'll completely agree that most religions across the globe would have to account for the discovery of extraterrestrial life, it seems a stretch to assume that this would not be possible for Christianity.


And while there's no direct supporting data saying atheism leads to superior social outcomes- there is plenty of clear evidence of wars, poverty, poor treatment, etc., directly as a result of religion.


In that religious bodies have engaged in behavior directly contributing to these problems? Absolutely. In that the tenets of the religion themselves have directly contributed to these problems? A far more difficult case to make. To wind the conversation a bit more toward the topic while still remaining true to the theme, let's consider the definitional criteria (that is, the core tenets) of Christianity as either I or anyone else in the thread have defined them. Which specific tenets contribute to the problems you've cited, and how?


I think my statement is simply this: religion, correctly interpreted or not, has simply been used as a tool to control, subjugate, or otherwise create undesirable social/political/etc. outcomes. From the crusades to today's "Holy Wars" - religion has always been the tool and the motivator for many undesirable outcomes.

Why? Because religion relies on one thing- faith. It implicitly states that you must trust, rather than think for yourself. Listen to what others tell you, not what you yourself observe or think. Trust in the church or religious figures. This core premise of religion makes it very, very, easy to abuse, and it has and continues to be so abused.
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Posted 5/13/14

mdmzero0 wrote:

I think my statement is simply this: religion, correctly interpreted or not, has simply been used as a tool to control, subjugate, or otherwise create undesirable social/political/etc. outcomes. From the crusades to today's "Holy Wars" - religion has always been the tool and the motivator for many undesirable outcomes.

Why? Because religion relies on one thing- faith. It implicitly states that you must trust, rather than think for yourself. Listen to what others tell you, not what you yourself observe or think. Trust in the church or religious figures. This core premise of religion makes it very, very, easy to abuse, and it has and continues to be so abused.


Gnostic theism and dogmatism do not describe the whole of religion.
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25 / M / Zuellni
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Posted 5/13/14

BlueOni wrote:


mdmzero0 wrote:

I think my statement is simply this: religion, correctly interpreted or not, has simply been used as a tool to control, subjugate, or otherwise create undesirable social/political/etc. outcomes. From the crusades to today's "Holy Wars" - religion has always been the tool and the motivator for many undesirable outcomes.

Why? Because religion relies on one thing- faith. It implicitly states that you must trust, rather than think for yourself. Listen to what others tell you, not what you yourself observe or think. Trust in the church or religious figures. This core premise of religion makes it very, very, easy to abuse, and it has and continues to be so abused.


Gnostic theism and dogmatism do not describe the whole of religion.


True, but I fail to see how good examples of religion "cancel out" all the bad that has come because of it. I understand why religion formed and became an integral part of humanity, but I no longer believe religion is necessary. The most logical reason religions formed is simple: they started as a way to explain that which we did not know, and became a way to control and gain power. I no longer see a reason to explain away what we do not know- because we already know most of what religion tries to explain, and we know that religion got it wrong.
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Posted 5/14/14

mdmzero0 wrote:

True, but I fail to see how good examples of religion "cancel out" all the bad that has come because of it. I understand why religion formed and became an integral part of humanity, but I no longer believe religion is necessary. The most logical reason religions formed is simple: they started as a way to explain that which we did not know, and became a way to control and gain power. I no longer see a reason to explain away what we do not know- because we already know most of what religion tries to explain, and we know that religion got it wrong.


We've veered pretty far from the thread topic, which is a discussion on what the core tenets of Christianity are. With that in mind, I will say that theology is far more than cosmology and metaphysics, and it is the philosophical (particularly the ethical) branches which have the most impact these days (at least in the developed world as a collective). And while it's fine to engage the ethical stances of various religions, one must do so with attention to the fact that religious ethics cannot be painted with a broad brush and must be engaged as clusters or individuals. One must also keep in mind that divine command theory is not the sole basis of religious ethics.
Posted 5/14/14
There is no one definition, but it could come with a fair warning.

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