What Is A Christian?

You may also like...

190 Responses

  1. Xenia says:

    I agree.

  2. Duane Arnold says:

    De Civitate Dei…

  3. richard says:

    I ask, if somewhere in the definition, should humility be mentioned…..a trait that appears to be lacking in many who claim the title ?

  4. Xenia says:

    Hi Richard, I think Michael covered humility when he specified:

    … thus lives a life that reflects the teachings and ethos of Christ as recorded in the New Testament

  5. Michael says:

    Richard,

    If I were to continue this piece and drill down on the teachings of Christ, I would do an exposition of the Sermon on the Mount…and the first virtue mentioned is humility.

  6. Jean says:

    “It cannot be stressed enough that the primary characteristic of the biblically defined Christian is love”

    I would say that the primary characteristic is “trust.” To me what the hard right Christian nationalists and hard left social justice warriors of the church both lack is trust in Christ.

    Only a Christian who trusts in God’s promises, in the effectiveness of the Word, in the resurrection from death, in the final judgment, in eternal life, in God’s plan for his/her life, in God’s governance of the world, will offer himself/herself as a living sacrifice in service to God and his neighbor.

    Whatever one places their trust in, whether a political figure, a political party, a social justice agenda, their wealth, medical advancements, or anything else is their god.

    The Rich Young Man in Mark was a very respectable, moral religious man. He had kept the entire 2nd Table of the Decalogue from his youth. But something bothered him in spite of his well lived, moral life. He suspected he still lacked something. Jesus quickly diagnosed his problem. The problem for this man was with the first Table.

    Therefore, I believe that the primary issue is trust – and trust in Christ above all else.

    There will be a lot of moral people in hell. Lots of generous, loving, law abiding, chaste, honest people in hell. Maybe they trusted in their goodness. But without faith, their goodness is filthy sin in the eyes of God.

  7. Michael says:

    Jean,

    The biblical definition …over and over again…is love.
    I could fill a page here with direct biblical citations.
    Love may be the spring from which trust flows…but love is the central doctrine of the NT.

    “There will be a lot of moral people in hell. Lots of generous, loving, law abiding, chaste, honest people in hell. ”

    “He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.”
    (Romans 2:6–8 ESV)

  8. Jean says:

    Michael,
    Why argue? You asked for other opinions. I could cite faith and trust passages all day long too. I don’t discount love, but to my understanding, love is the fruit of a good tree, not the tree itself or that which makes the tree good (unless of course we are speaking of God’s love for us).

    I don’t read the Romans 2 passage as teaching against what I wrote.

  9. Michael says:

    There can only be one central doctrine…and I believe that it is explicitly taught that it is love.
    I would refer the reader to the Gospels and the book of 1 John.

  10. Michael says:

    I am avoiding theological wrangling on purpose…this is simply a broad overview of the most basic definition I could come up with.

    Faith and trust and all manner of other virtues are in view…but itemizing them is beyond the scope of what I’m trying to do here.

    Once theological shadings come in…we all damn each other .

  11. richard says:

    i agree with Michael, not taking sides or arguing, that love is the distinguishing trait, number 1, above all, of a christian.

    I am often reminded of the song, “they will know we are christians by our love”

  12. Michael says:

    “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.”
    (1 John 4:7–12 ESV)

  13. Jean says:

    The central doctrine is Christ. One must be “in Christ” to have any inheritance in the kingdom of God. He is our righteousness and sanctification and redemption. Apart from Christ we can do nothing.

    Moving out from the center, which is Christ, is God’s love for the world – God so loved the world….

    “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:15-19)

  14. em says:

    richard @9:40
    amen
    God resists the proud and offers grace to the humble

  15. Em says:

    yes, perfect love casts out fear…. BUT
    the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom…. if you understand the holiness of the Creator – perfect – you understand that fear and respect are closely related

  16. Kevin H says:

    I would think the central doctrine of who we are as Christians is being in Christ.

    The central doctrine of what we are to be as Christians is love.

  17. JD says:

    I John 5:12

    He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

  18. josh hamrick says:

    I would probably leave a larger place for Grace, but then again, I love Brennan.

  19. Michael says:

    Kevin, Josh,

    As I said, a number of virtues are in view…I was trying to go to the base that the others are built on.

    Theologically, being “in Christ” is probably the center…and grace is one of the primary “graces” that accompany that.

    The question before the house is how this description matches or doesn’t match the impression we have of the church today…

  20. Kevin H says:

    Is “owning the libs” one of those virtues? 🙂

  21. Michael says:

    KevinH,

    Troublemaker… 🙂

  22. josh hamrick says:

    Michael, sure. Wasn’t being critical, just reflecting.

    To further beg your question: If one is touched by Grace, what would his life reflect?

  23. Michael says:

    Josh,

    We’re getting into the weeds…but…grace should produce gratitude and gratitude joyful obedience…which looks a lot like love.

    This gets back to the original issue I avoided…which is how people become Christians in the first place.

    I will say this…I watched you on video briefly the other day…and what you were demonstrating (consciously or not) was really close to what I’m talking about. Love of God and His people…

  24. Randy Davis says:

    I think you have given an Anabaptist vision of the Christian life. It is almost necessarily monistic nature. I cannot live up to it.

    I think the question, “what is a Christian,” is first an ontological question, what am I? Ontology generates praxis.

    A Christian is a sinner “saved” from his fallen condition. Of course that condition needs to be defined, particularly as those created in the image of God and how that image is violated by willful sin. The whole soteriological narrative needs to be explored. We are freed from our guilt, the wrath of God, the penalty of the law, death. We are saved to a new life justified before God, sealed by the Holy Spirit, empowered, by the Holy Spirit to live a life pleasing to God.

    Our being is located in God himself, an identity that not our own. We are his Children, literally adopted into his family and we bear the family traits-which, of course, have to be defined. It it is our being that leads to our behavior. If the non Christian world measures us by our behavior, then that behavior must not be dictated by the world, but by God.

    One of the obvious questions that needs to be answered is what does it mean to be a Christian in a democracy, especially we who live in a representative republic. As citizens we have a political responsibility. How do Christians live in that world?

  25. Michael says:

    Randy,

    I’m not even close to an Anabaptist…I’m basically quoting Peter…holding in mind the early church.

    “One of the obvious questions that needs to be answered is what does it mean to be a Christian in a democracy, especially we who live in a representative republic. As citizens we have a political responsibility. How do Christians live in that world?”

    Good questions…I would quarrel with whether we have a political responsibility…other than to pray for the peace of the place we dwell.

  26. josh hamrick says:

    “grace should produce gratitude and gratitude joyful obedience…which looks a lot like love.’

    Right. My point exactly. Thanks for your comments on the church video.

    I think my responsibility to our democracy, as a Christian, is to stay out of it. Each passing election makes me more sure of that conviction.

    While I think my political conviction is valid, I do recognize believers with conflicting convictions on this matter. Thus, I don’t think political activity can possibly enter the subject of “What is a Christian?”

  27. Randy Davis says:

    I know your not an Anabaptist, but your statement certainly corresponds to their belief regarding the Christian life. And I’m using the term Anabaptist in its broadest term. I guess the more proper term would be the radical reformation. They wanted to either withdraw from the world or take over

  28. Jean says:

    I don’t know how or on what basis a Christian could possibly say that citizens do not have a political responsibility.

    God gave man and woman a vocation to “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

    To subdue the earth and have dominion over…, are political.

    God calls men and women to political office as His servants and avengers for our good. Would He leave those callings and the process for their election to the hands of pagans only? I don’t think so.

  29. josh hamrick says:

    I clearly said others were convicted otherwise, and that I validate their convictions.

    I am called to stay away from the US political system. And I’m a Christian.

  30. Michael says:

    Let me be clear…I’m not arguing for monasticism.
    I’m saying what Peter was saying…we are a separate people within a people…demonstrating the kingdom.
    If we are to live as “aliens” within the prevailing culture…I’m not sure that demands we be politically active, especially when there are no good choices.
    We do not see the Apostles or the early church concerned with such.

  31. josh hamrick says:

    I think many Christians are called to that arena, just as many are to be be bakers or tennis-players, or whatever.

    Just as a how a Christian acts within a certain industry cannot define all of Christianity, neither can political activity in one particular country.

  32. Dread says:

    The apostolic church seemed to clearly see the demise of Israel and the hand of God upon it.

    There would be no reason in such case to advocate for the body politic. They were more likely to urge abandonment of it.

    Their kingdom theology was unperturbed by national disaster.

    A person in Christ is a regenerate participant in new creation.

  33. Xenia says:

    To subdue the earth and have dominion over…, are political.<<<

    I think it has more to do with farming than politics.

    There's the idea, which I love, of reclaiming your little parcel of earth for the Kingdom of God by gardening, planting indigenous species, caring for animals, re-using what can be reused, cutting down on buying new things, welcoming birds and other wildlife, restoring ponds/creeks- whatever is possible for where you live. Reading up on permaculture is helpful. That's how I "subdue the earth" and I try to have dominion over my hens, but sometimes it goes the other way.

  34. Xenia says:

    I am called to stay away from the US political system. And I’m a Christian.<<<

    Same.

  35. Xenia says:

    I don’t know how or on what basis a Christian could possibly say that citizens do not have a political responsibility.<<<

    I think being a Christian includes avoiding what is evil, and I am sorry to say I believe the US political system is evil. I will no longer participate, other than locally.

  36. Xenia says:

    What does it mean to be a Christian in a democracy?<<<

    It's just the same as being a Christian under any other kind of government. People who are anti-god call the shots and we have to live our lives in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.

  37. Michael says:

    Xenia,

    Well said…all of it.

  38. Jean says:

    In the Bible, sins can be of commission or omission. Silence and/or a failure to act in the face of injustice is also a testimony.

    Would anyone say that German Christians who did not partake, but also did nothing and said nothing, regarding the Nazi atrocities were demonstrating the kingdom?

    Where Christians see injustice occurring today, are they not duty bound as citizens to testify to the truth as voters who have a say in, and responsibility for, the actions of their elected government? What is their testimony if they stay silent?

  39. Michael says:

    The German confessors made their stand as a church, not a political entity.

    In our current situation, the church should speak as an advocate of the ways of Christ to address injustice and seek righteousness…but not as a competing political unit.

    Neither party is holy, neither is interested in righteousness…they are simply interested in power.

  40. Michael says:

    For example…I believe that the Bible speaks clearly about treating migrants with compassion and righteousness..

    I have no idea how to translate that politically…I voted for the one who claimed to share my concerns…he lied.

    All I can do is speak Gods truth to power and pray that His kingdom comes…the system itself is broken.

    Somewhere…I read that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal….

  41. Michael says:

    Further…

    I understand that many Christians love and cherish an ideal of America.

    They are concerned about the cultural changes and political machinations that have accompanied them.

    There is no solution in that political system itself…and believing that there is sucks the very power of God out of our lives and witness.

    A conservative win will end up manifesting a different anti-Christ spirit than a liberal one…but both will be anti-Christ.

  42. Duane Arnold says:

    Michael

    “All I can do is speak Gods truth to power and pray that His kingdom comes…the system itself is broken.”

    …And to a greater or lesser extent, it has always been broken and will continue to be so. What you wrote in your article is not difficult to understand, it is difficult, however, to practice. As a result we bring up categories that take us into the weeds. It is another version of “Yeah, but what about _______” (fill in the blank). Thereby Christian love can die the death of a thousand qualifications, even though we know that it is what we are called to…

  43. Jean says:

    Duane,

    “As a result we bring up categories that take us into the weeds. It is another version of “Yeah, but what about _______” (fill in the blank).”

    Has anyone done that here on this thread?

  44. Michael says:

    “Thereby Christian love can die the death of a thousand qualifications, even though we know that it is what we are called to…”

    That’s the sentence I wanted to write..

  45. Jean says:

    I haven’t. The closest I’ve seen to what you posited is the proposal (or is it a mark of a true Christian?) that Christians should sit out politics.

  46. Em says:

    All one has to do is to remember that hell is a real place in order to display love to the unbeliever…. for an unloveable Believer (yes, there a few) remember God has said “vengeance is Mine” so?….
    so pray 🙂

  47. Em says:

    “People who are anti-god call the shots and we have to live our lives in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

    AMEN

  48. Jean says:

    I will conclude by saying that I agree with many aspects of the article. Despite the discussion, which to me was useful, the differences are on only two points. First, what is the most important or primary aspect of the Christian: faith or love? The second is: Is Christian love to be extended into all vocations that citizens of a country can participate in?

    On the points that Christians are known by their love, that they love their enemies, and that love of neighbor is not optional, I am in total agreement with the author.

  49. Linn says:

    What is a Christian? I’ve always started with John 3:16 as the base. God so loved the world that He gave hIs only Son, that whoever believes, will not perish, but will have everlasting life. But, I also think growth and discipleship are key (see James 2:18-19:

    18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
    Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

    So, I wonder about people (people I know well) who after a great start 30 years ago, are no longer practicing believers. It’s not for me to say (that’s God’s job), but I don’t have any problem reviewing the essentials of the faith with them. From everything I understand from the Bible, believers will sin, but there will some growth and development along the way.

  50. Em says:

    Touched by God’s grace? We all are
    It is the reflecting, the realization of His faithful Grace that effects an attitude change….. or it should
    So it seems to me today up here in the mountains (there’s snow on the peaks of Cascades today – phooey!).

  51. Em says:

    Linn @3:37
    Those are TRUE words… Good onders …. IMHO

  52. Em says:

    What’s an “onder?” Dunno
    meant to say ponder

  53. Steve says:

    Jean @ 1:35, this raises the issue of priorities, practicalities and what is considered the greater good or greater evil in our own particular theological camp. For instance, I could make an argument that taking the covid vaccine is ultimately about loving our neighbor by helping stop the virus. However, I could also make an opposing argument that taking the covid vaccine is sanctioning fetal stem cell research and organ harvesting and turning a blind eye to the destruction of a human embryo by abortion. I think we have entered into a whole new area of ethics, morality and Christian responsibility that I have seen very little healthy debate on. I think I know where I stand personally, but I would like to hear other Christians how they determine what to take a stand on and what to simply stay silent on.

  54. richard says:

    Steve at 5:05

    you make some good points….besides the vaccine example, one could also say similar things about illegal immigration.

    at the end of the day, don’t we all make our choices, our decisions, to the best of our ability, based on what we know, and right or wrong, we each pray that at the end God will say “well done”

  55. Em says:

    Has it escaped notice here that taking one of the covid vaccines may protect one from a severe episode, but one who has been vaccinated can still give the illness to another person?

  56. Xenia says:

    Em, Michael has mentioned this, yes.

  57. filistine says:

    I’ll throw out my quick take, which emphasizes simplicity: A follower of Jesus Christ. It harkens to the words of Christ when he invited the disciples, ‘follow me.’

  58. Em says:

    glad that you remembered that Michael mentioned it, Xenia
    and glad that he did

  59. JoelG says:

    To dovetail filistine’s comment, perhaps a “Christian” is one who is learning from Jesus, the Second Adam, to be fully human, in the best sense of the word. It is under the umbrella of being justified through faith that we are learning to love God and neighbor as God had originally intended.

    I know this is a repeat of what’s already been written here, but I miss the forest for the trees of what a Christian is: one who is learning to be fully human.

    “Behold the Man!”

  60. Xenia says:

    There has to be some basic theology that is affirmed as well. I know there isn’t a theology quiz at the Pearly Gates, but all kinds of heretics say they are following Jesus, such as Mormons, JW’s, etc. I would say at the very least one should believe in in the tenets of one of the historic creeds.

  61. Muff Potter says:

    I hold to the tenets of The Apostle’s Creed as non-negotiable parameters up front and on the table.
    But because I refuse to sign onto dogma x , shtick y, or what this or that Bible teacher says about this, that and the other, I’ve been declared heretic and apostate.
    I do the best I can with what the Almighty has given me in talent and ability.
    I’m glad they won’t decide my fate when I breathe my last.

  62. DH says:

    The trouble really comes down to what a Christian believes about what the church is and their eschatology. Their worldview hangs on that and so their daily living and politics.

  63. Babylon's Dread says:

    The Christ is the anointed king… he is the one who reveals the father. To be a Christian is to be a little christ or one who is united with the king by the Spirit whom he has given to us.

    Christianity is union with Christ. It is new creation. To be in Christ is to be heir to all that he is.

    The appeals to love, of course, cannot stand alone — they must exceed human sentiment and indulgence and rather manifest the almightiness of his love through which the world is made new. His holy and perfecting love which transforms. It must be the love that overcomes the darkness.

    The eschaton is the love of God in full manifestation a love which judges and heals.

    Anyway… back to the top… Union with Christ is christianity.

  64. josh hamrick says:

    Dread…thank you. Beautifully written.

  65. Robin says:

    What is faith? Is it assent to doctrinal points? Is it trust? Is it following? We are told plainly that faith without works is dead, in the Gospels faith seems to exist when one is shaken by an encounter with Christ and then one drops everything and follows Him. It does not seem to be confined to thinking or attitudes only, it does not content itself in comfort or peace, it often accompanies great sacrifices taken without a moments hesitation because one has found the pearl of great price.

  66. Jean says:

    I spent years in two Evangelical churches where the exhortation to love in one way or another was preached and taught every week and midweek. I look back on that period as the hampster wheel days. There was little grace taught (other than as a rear view) and thus I never experienced the rest or my soul that Jesus promises in Mt. 11. Without that rest and the peace of Christ, I was not nearly as loving as I might have been.

    I don’t think there is any shortage in Evangelical churches exhorting love. Sometimes I think that is all they know how to do. Maybe there are some churches preaching a loveless Christianity, but I haven’t seen that. It’s do this and do that; do more of this and more of that. It is never enough.

    The issues that I believe are being raised here, which are legitimate questions, are whether or not Christian love is being defined correctly? Whether or not the kingdom that Jesus brought is being defined correctly? And whether or not Christian interaction with the world and secular government is taught and carried out correctly from a biblical perspective.

    For example, you are unlikely to find an Evangelical who would say that Jesus doesn’t preach love of neighbor. But, then they might say that someone is not their neighbor (or not their problem) and so not the proper recipient of their love. Or another might say, people who don’t work shouldn’t eat. Or Jesus had righteous anger, so I can too. The list could go on.

    So, I think the issue is probably more around what is Christian love rather than should Christians love. But this is just my experience.

  67. CM says:

    Em,

    This is why everyone should be vaccinated. This why things like social distancing, etc. are still being done. Of course those who are NOT vaccinated not only have a much greater chance of being hospitalized, but also transmitting the virus to others. That is a fact you CANNOT ignore.

    The vaccine is like a seat belt. Sure, there are rare situations where a seat belt will not help or may even make the situation worse, but for the vast majority of cases, they help tremendously.

    I wonder how many of these anti-Vaxxers are intellectually honest and deliberately don’t buckle up when they get in the car. The rich irony would be that if more anti-Vaxxers didn’t buckle up, get in a car accident, but end up dying because ANOTHER anti-Vaxxer is taking up an ICU or ER spot due to COVID. Darwin wins either way.

  68. Michael says:

    J.D. Vance was quoted as saying “evangelicals hate the right people”…. meaning their political opponents.

    My experience has been hatred of Catholics, the Orthodox, liberals…always some group…they did show love to people in disaster situations better than anyone…

  69. Michael says:

    Scott McNight and Nijay Gupta on being a “good citizen”.

    Phil. 1:27 Only, live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent and hear about you, I will know that you are standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel, 28 and are in no way intimidated by your opponents. For them this is evidence of their destruction, but of your salvation. And this is God’s doing. 29 For he has graciously granted you the privilege not only of believing in Christ, but of suffering for him as well— 30 since you are having the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

    That first verbal expression, “live your life,” translates politeuesthe, which can be translated “live as citizens” or “live your citizenship” and this term is not the same as his regular “walk around” (peripateō). NT translations mostly avoid the political implications of the term even though the term is itself a politicized term. Is it analogous: as you are faithful citizens in Philippi, so with Christ? No, Paul wanted them to imagine a new citizenship. It’s more than “conduct” or “live.” It is to be a new kind of citizen.

    The term contrasts with idoteuō, which suggests living an individualistic life; here he wants them to have a new social, civic imagination. There is, Nijay says, a domestic and a foreign civic responsibility. Jewish texts illustrate how Jews lived in foreign countries in a way that had responsibility to the covenant God made with Israel. Though abroad, they lived as citizens of the covenant.

    Now Paul sees Christians as living in a foreign land if heaven is where they have their base citizenship (Phil 3:20).

    Worthiness of the gospel then is a life worthy of a different citizenship. And “gospel” too was a Roman term that Paul takes up in a new way with a new king in a different kingdom/empire. This gospel, Nijay observes, is the “organizing standard” and the new “constitution.”

    Paul calls them to their new civic identity, which is on display in the famous Christ hymn in Philippians 2:6-11: faith filled obedience and love inspired compassion. All of which is “counter cultural” to the way of Rome as lived in Philippi.

    Nijay then turns to Philippians 3:17-20:

    Phil. 3:17 Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. 18 For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears. 19 Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Again, we find a true civic identity, which does not mean escaping this world but living in this world as a citizen of the kingdom. The Savior here has saved and placed people into a new city as new citizenship under a new king.

    We may be estranged, Paul was saying, but someday the king’s rule will be established so stay strong!

    How to live this today? Nijay has these points:

    First, earth is our home, heaven is our commonwealth.

    Second, our state enemy is sin, not people.

    Third, we are to be a unified light in the world and to the world.

    Fourth, the heavenly commonwealth has high(er) standards: obedience, not posturing; resilience, not conformity; humility, not hubris; and contentment and joy, not cynicism and greed.

  70. Michael says:

    “Anyway… back to the top… Union with Christ is christianity.”

    This was Calvin’s belief and it may well be theologically true.

    However…it doesn’t advise us on what we’re trying to discern here…how does one who is in union with Christ live out the evidence of that union in culture and society?

    What does that look like?

    I note again that the Bible describes the church as a separate “nation” within the nation it dwells in and is supposed to be recognizable as such.

  71. Steve says:

    CM,

    I switched on the vaccination issue for covid. I used to believe all the hype you just spouted off but just recently did a 180. When it gets to the point you need continual booster shoots in perpetuity, I wonder how many will still believe the hype? Keep in mind big pharma is getting extremely wealthy right now.

  72. Jean says:

    “how does one who is in union with Christ live out the evidence of that union in culture and society?”

    Here’s my contribution:

    Broadly speaking, 1 Peter 2:9-3:17.

    In the past the church debated whether a Christian could serve in the military or as a hangman. The answer for the majority of Christendom has been that a Christian can serve in any lawful vocation that does not violate the laws of God.

    At a more granular level, it is helpful to recognize that a Christian lives as a citizen of two kingdoms (or nations) simultaneously, both under sovereign governance of Christ. Christian exile is from the culture’s worldview and values, while engaging in vocational service in both kingdoms. In other words, he/she can serve and participate in the governance of secular political entities and still be a Christian in good standing in Christ’s Church.

  73. Xenia says:

    My guess is there will be boosters, masks, and social distancing until the virus is pretty much subdued, which is taking a whole lot longer because of the anti-vaxx people.

  74. Michael says:

    This isn’t a thread on the vaccine issue.
    I will say that seeing vaccinated people still catching and spreading the virus makes me very wary of being too harsh on the unvaccinated.
    There is a great deal here we do not know…

  75. Xenia says:

    he/she can serve and participate in the governance of secular political entities and still be a Christian in<good standing in Christ’s Church. <<<<

    I do not believe this is possible anymore. To get to the top of the political heap requires one to betray the principles of Christ.

    A little example: I detest Multi Level Marketing schemes (MLMs) AKA Pyramid Schemes. They are scams, directed largely at women who want to work at home so they can be with their children. Yet it is impossible to make money with Amway, Lularoe, Herbalife and all the rest of them and it's designed that way so all the money funnels to the top. Yet these predatory "businesses" have been protected by the government, all the way up to the presidential level, and Trump was their poster child, although the Dems also kept them in business. Betsy DeVos is part of the Amway scammer family. So everywhere I look, no matter what industry I study, all the scams, big Pharma, oil, fast fashion, Monsanto, etc. are being enabled by government officials who support them because they finance their campaigns. So the whole thing is rotten from snout to tail.

    All that being said, it's hard to imagine a decent Christian person getting very far in politics without considerable compromise. Maybe a Christian could/should get involved in local politics, if possible (big "if" there) but on the state or national level? I seriously doubt it.

    (The only reason I brought up MLMs is because that is what I am currently studying. I could have used GMO's or a host of other evils that are propped up by politicians who are beholding to the PAC that are bribing them.)

  76. Em says:

    Medical people will tell you that the covid vaccine is NOT a vaccine like the MMRs we gave our children, not like the polio vaccine….
    It might serve us better to find another term than “vaccine.” The covid “shots” invade your whole system.
    FWIW
    i have heard some very knowledgeable folk say the covid shot will turn up in your body further in time and will shorten lives.
    Dunno though, do i? 🙆
    God keep

  77. Michael says:

    Our system is broken and in some form or another, both parties are anti-Christ.

    It may be possible to serve at some local level…but I have my doubts.

    My greater point is that the embrace of either left or right requires the compromise of some Christian virtue and undermines the Gospel message.

    It’s not our lane…

  78. Jean says:

    Xenia,
    The corruption issues you raise are real. I don’t know why we can’t ban lobbying and have publicly funded elections. The insider stock trading that politicians participate in is IMO unconscionable. For some reason, their constituents don’t seem to care.

    There are many ways a Christian can “serve and participate in the governance of secular political entities.” One way is, as you mentioned, by running for office; that has the challenges you mentioned. Other ways include serving as a civil servant and voting.

    I would observe as someone who has never served in government, but has worked in many private corporations over the span of my career, that even in private business Christians will find plenty of ethical questions that will bring a Christian into conflict with His/Her faith.

  79. CM says:

    Steve,

    They have new flu vaccines year after year How is that any different?

    The answer is simple.

    BOTH are RNA viruses, just like the Rhinovirus (responsible for the common cold).

    This is why people may get sick with the flu after getting a shot, and why you have a cold again after having one earlier.

    RNA viruses mutate much quicker than DNA viruses.

    But go ahead and believe conspiracy theories….

  80. Em says:

    “…..it’s hard to imagine a decent Christian getting very far in politics without considerable compromise….. ”
    AMEN – where did respect for integrity go?
    That said my daughter is up for re-election to her city council. She never compromises her Faith. She has the backing of the last six mayors (both parties) and the county’s police guild.
    Yet she may not get re-elected….. The Puget Sound area is hard over liberal now.
    But God sees and for the Christian that should be a very sobering truth.

  81. josh hamrick says:

    “AMEN – where did respect for integrity go?”

    I hate to be the one to say it, but you were the one on here promoting Trump.

  82. Duane Arnold says:

    Michael

    “However…it doesn’t advise us on what we’re trying to discern here…how does one who is in union with Christ live out the evidence of that union in culture and society? What does that look like?”

    It looks like what you wrote in the article. The problem is we would rather love our politics, our doctrinal formulations, and all the rest.

  83. Steve says:

    CM, I took one look at the covid vaccine adverse event reporting system on CDCs own website and there is no need to believe any conspiracy theory. There is a Christian ethics problem here that is not going away. We are in historic times where we have the technology to probably reverse aging and live forever with regenerative medicine. But what is the cost morally and ethically. Can we simple sanction the killing of human embryos in the name of medicine? Has the Christian completely lost their mind and sense of right and wrong when it comes to bio ethics?

  84. josh hamrick says:

    Boy, that took a strange turn.

  85. Em says:

    Josh! ! !
    Biden is what we got – that’s a better choice?
    I’d vote for Trump over Joe any day of the week.
    Integrity? I’ll ask it. Who was the last President who personified Integrity? Not Clinton. Not Regan. Jimmy Carter? nope…. Guess my vote goes to Teddy Roosevelt 🙂

  86. Xenia says:

    People will get the shot when something/someone that is important to them is threatened.

    Our daughter has cancer and no immune system to speak of. We are having our traditional Thanksgiving dinner this year and we sent out a letter to family members informing them if they weren’t vaccinated, they couldn’t come, not for reasons of politics but for the love of their sister. They ALL got their shots, even the family grump. Their sister mattered more to them than their politics.

  87. Xenia says:

    Their sister mattered more to them than their politics.<<<

    Which causes me to ask: Who is my brother? Who is my sister? Who is my neighbor?

  88. josh hamrick says:

    “I’d vote for Trump over Joe any day of the week.”

    Exactly. That’s what happened to integrity. We pick a party, and then vote for whatever loser our party puts forward. A vote for Trump is a vote for the opposite of integrity. No way around that.

    I think Biden has integrity, though he is an inept leader.
    Obama had integrity.
    George H.W., I think so.
    Carter, absolutely, a man of integrity.
    None of them were “good presidents” but they had integrity.

  89. josh hamrick says:

    Xenia is on fire lately.

  90. Xenia says:

    I voted for Trump last November and I am ashamed of myself. I allowed myself to be overly influenced by what I was reading on the Internet. It seemed the whole country was being overrun by drag queen story hours at local libraries. But Trump is a wicked person, and an evil tree cannot bring forth good fruit. I forgot that for a few weeks. I should have sat out that election and that’s my plan for future elections.

  91. Em says:

    “A vote for Trump is a vote for the opposite of integrity. No way around that.”
    Was there a better candidate? I must have missed him/her 🙂
    AND i am not a Republican, BTW
    Citizenship duties have their place for Christians in this world, but not at the compromise of The Faith…. I didn’t see Trump as unfriendly to Christians. Biden on the other hand… You think that smiley Joe has integrity? Well… okay then, he meets with the Pope this week and i don’t think that Pope has integrity either – sorry
    God keep

  92. josh hamrick says:

    “Was there a better candidate?”

    Nope. My point exactly.

  93. Xenia says:

    I didn’t see Trump as unfriendly to Christians. Biden on the other hand<<<

    The idolization of Trump and MAGA has shipwrecked more Christian lives than Biden ever has.

  94. Xenia says:

    Was there a better candidate? <<<<

    Yes, there were. There were ten candidates running in primaries, some who were acceptable, even to me, and all more decent than Trump but somehow the worst candidate got chosen to head the Repub ticket. This was only possible because of corruption and influence, coming from somewhere.

  95. Michael says:

    Trump was not unfriendly to Christians the way a tourist in Juarez is not unfriendly to a cheap prostitute…

  96. Steve says:

    Next time I vote, I may just flip a coin. I voted for Trump and would be tempted to vote for him again because I still would like to salvage something of what we call America. Biden is incapable of that. I respect folks on here who want to vote for Biden because you think he is a decent guy. What bothers me though is some folks judge each other for who we vote for. It is so silly. God will ultimately put who he wants in office. This is why I think either not voting at all or flipping a coin is the most Christian thing we probably could do.

  97. Xenia says:

    flipping a coin<<<

    Maybe we could use the Urim and the Thummim.

  98. josh hamrick says:

    If Trump is equated with “what we call America”, let it burn. The sooner the better.

  99. josh hamrick says:

    And so, to answer the question of “What is a Christian?”, as we see in the comments, and everyday in real life: It is to argue over politics and Covid.

    Those are the defining characteristics of a Christian in America.

  100. Jean says:

    Duane,

    “It looks like what you wrote in the article. The problem is we would rather love our politics, our doctrinal formulations, and all the rest.”

    Who is the “we”? Is it anyone here? I certainly don’t see that. I do read a lot of thoughtful answers given though.

    Here’s the thing: Christian’s are supposed to be a sanctified (set apart) people in, but not of, the world; a people who can be distinguished as Christ followers by the world.

    If you ignore the essence of Christianity, Christ, and the doctrines of Christ and the Gospel, then you may have behavior to talk about, but that does nothing, absolutely nothing.

    There are plenty of non-Christian religions and Christian heresies that have behavioral morals basically equivalent with Christianity. So, behaving a certain way is not going to distinguish Christianity in the world. You’d be just another nice, honest, moral guy. So what? Hell will be full of nice, honest, moral guys.

    The great thing about Christianity, probably the distinguishing trait of Christianity among all the world’s religions, is that it’s not about what you can or must do (which without faith is really nothing at all before God), but what Christ has done for you. So, salvation and Christ’s church is open to everyone, from the worst to the best, from the lowest to the highest, from the simplest to the smartest. Everyone comes in and stays in by what Christ has done for us, not what we do for Him or each other.

    The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the Christian’s calling card. Our prayer is that His name be hallowed, His kingdom come, His will be done. To Him be the glory. Believe it or not, that is doctrine and takes the teaching of doctrine. Christian love cannot be understood or actualized apart from doctrine.

    “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, <<>>, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

  101. josh hamrick says:

    “it’s not about what you can or must do …, but what Christ has done for you.”

    AGREED!

    But I am outside the historic faith, and don’t share the same faith as you, so my opinion doesn’t really matter.

  102. Jean says:

    Josh,
    Your opinion matters a lot to me. Any despite your self-loathing, I consider you a brother in Christ. I’ve heard Evangelicals say that the Reformers didn’t go far enough or that the early church was corrupted by Platonic or Aristotelianism philosophy, so maybe the historic faith is not where its at. Maybe my tradition has it all wrong. You have the liberty to believe as you may without shame and I respect that. I’m sorry if my words were sloppy and could be interpreted as an insult.

  103. Em says:

    voting for Trump is idolizing him? hmmm
    Trump is friendly to Christians the same way a tourist is friendly to a cheap prostitute? hmmm
    Trump knew he needed the Christian vote to win, is/was he friendly to Christians? He, at least recognized their worth to the nation. A famous English atheist once said that Christians were the best citizens the world has….
    “If Trump is equated with “what we call America”, let it burn.” hmmm
    has anyone here REALLY looked into Biden’s track record? ? ? He is corrupt right down to his toe nails…. IMHO
    equating Trump with “what we call America” is a bit naive – IMHO
    BUT we all are Christians and, i hope, doing our best to be good citizens of the country we live in….
    pray for wisdom and discernment
    God keep
    **

    Worth repeating – IMNSHO 🙂 …..

    “The great thing about Christianity, probably the distinguishing trait of Christianity among all the world’s religions, is that it’s not about what you can or must do (which without faith is really nothing at all before God), but what Christ has done for you. So, salvation and Christ’s church is open to everyone, from the worst to the best, from the lowest to the highest, from the simplest to the smartest. Everyone comes in and stays in by what Christ has done for us, not what we do for Him or each other.”

  104. josh hamrick says:

    So, if this thread is a good gauge of what it is to be a Christian in America (and from experience, it is), the A Christian: Argues over politics, is republican, Divides over a pandemic, believes conspiracy theories, condemns other Christians.

    Why would anyone, ANYONE, wan to be part of this?

  105. Xenia says:

    voting for Trump is idolizing him? hmmm<<<<

    Em, I did not say that.

    You know as well as I do that there is a segment of the population that idolizes Trump.

  106. josh hamrick says:

    “has anyone here REALLY looked into Biden’s track record? ? ?”

    I hope that you realize no one here has defended Biden in the slightest. He’s awful.

  107. Michael says:

    “Why would anyone, ANYONE, wan to be part of this?”

    I don’t and won’t…but it is obvious that people are not interested in a biblical vision of discipleship and citizenship and love things as they are.

    It’s not Christianity…it is a civic religion using Christian vernacular.

  108. Duane Arnold says:

    Josh

    “And so, to answer the question of “What is a Christian?”, as we see in the comments, and everyday in real life: It is to argue over politics and Covid.”

    Bingo!

  109. josh hamrick says:

    “I’m sorry if my words were sloppy and could be interpreted as an insult.”

    Not an insult, but condemnation. Your apology means a lot. Thank you.

    I will once address the “historic faith” comment: I am every bit a part of the historic faith as you. Luther nor Zwingli were present at the last supper, but that doesn’t matter, because we aren’t followers of those guys, we are followers of Christ. We have different traditions, but we can both take those traditions right back to the very words of Scripture. The early church sang and prayed and read scripture…as do I, and as do you. The Faith that I practice IS the historic Christian faith. Me and my peeps do it imperfectly, just like every other stripe.

    But again, thanks for the apology. I did not expect that.

  110. josh hamrick says:

    “It’s not Christianity…it is a civic religion using Christian vernacular.”

    I’m afraid you are right. So when I hear about the decline of Christianity in America, I know the kind of Christianity in America, and maybe for it to decline is a good thing.

  111. Em says:

    Josh @ 12:56
    IMHO
    your conclusion is correct and it is the result of careless, not God fearing, teachers – sad

  112. Jean says:

    There’s another perspective: It’s Christ’s church; He is the head; we’re the body. He is in charge; we are to be faithful.

    Jesus says, “pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

    Beyond that why would Christians stress out over, or complain about, stuff we have no power nor invitation to control? Do we not think that Christ is fully aware of how His church is doing in America? Is some human being able to thwart His will? Has He not overcome the world, sin, death and the devil?

  113. Em says:

    Xenia @ 12:45
    apologies
    but yes, idolizing leaders is a weakness in most societies…
    weren’t there folk who thought that Adolph Hitler was the answer to the world problems?
    Oh, Lord Jesus, come soon… YOU are the answer to the world’s problems
    * * *
    Josh, i am old and my mind plays tricks on me, but i do believe there are Biden admirers here who have expressed their admiration for the man….
    if i am wrong i apologize

  114. Em says:

    another declaration worth repeating:
    “Beyond that why would Christians stress out over, or complain about, stuff we have no power nor invitation to control? Do we not think that Christ is fully aware of how His church is doing in America? Is some human being able to thwart His will? Has He not overcome the world, sin, death and the devil?”
    “in this world you shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Oh Lord, the wait seems sooo long
    BUT
    we are told to pray for those in authority over us

  115. Jean says:

    Biden is not a saint. I don’t understand how he can reconcile his Christian faith with his support for elective abortion. Aside from that, I respect him. He came out of retirement out of a profound sense of patriotism and lifelong devotion to our nation when it appeared that no one else could defeat Trump. For that, I am grateful. I believe, aside from abortion, he is an honorable man, doing his best in a party with radically divergent priorities.

  116. Steve says:

    Besides abortion……. I’m super glad Jesus wasn’t aborted. Honorable, I don’t think so. How Hunter Biden can sell his artwork for more $$ than a Picasso should clue you in. And father and son share finances and bank account should also clue you in. He should be impeached.

  117. Jean says:

    Steve,
    First, what do Hunter Biden’s art sales have to do with President Joe Biden?

    Second, were you bitching and moaning about the the millions Trump’s hotels and resorts charged the American taxpayers from housing Secret Service and other dignitaries?

    This is not a thread to discuss Trump or Covid, but you are hilarious. It’s amazing how guys like you suddenly grow ethical chops when your guy is out of office. You are the same guy who was convinced the election was stolen and the Supreme Court was going to reverse the election. Your credibility on politics is zilch. Why not stick to the topics of the articles posted here.

  118. Owen Wells says:

    Jean,

    “I would say that the primary characteristic is “trust.” To me what the hard right Christian nationalists and hard left social justice warriors of the church both lack is trust in Christ.

    Only a Christian who trusts in God’s promises, in the effectiveness of the Word, in the resurrection from death, in the final judgment, in eternal life, in God’s plan for his/her life, in God’s governance of the world, will offer himself/herself as a living sacrifice in service to God and his neighbor.”

    I hear you with trust, Jean, I really do.

    But let me ask you….. trusting in God’s promise, His Word, God’s plan, etc…. isn’t that trust placed because He first loved us?

    Why do we trust in Christ? Because of His love for us.

    I normally don’t comment much here, because so many here are far wiser and more learned than myself.
    But I can’t help but agree with love being the central tenet to our faith.

  119. Jean says:

    Owen, you are correct. If the love we are talking about is God’s love, then yes and amen. That is the reason that God sent His Son. But if we are talking about the derivative love of man for His neighbor, then there are differing opinions as to whether that love is the primary characteristic of the Christian.

  120. Em says:

    Jean @ 1:14pm
    “Aside from that, I respect him. He came out of retirement out of a profound sense of patriotism and lifelong devotion to our nation when it appeared that no one else could defeat Trump”
    You really believe that? aww cumon
    he came out of “retirement” so that he could go down in history as a President – IMO
    sadly, one of our worst… take a look around… 10 months in office…
    But God is in charge of the leaders of our nations, so maybe there’s something to the old saying that a nation gets the leaders it deserves? ? ?
    God keep

  121. Owen says:

    All right Jean, I agree with that.

    I would offer, then, (as my opinion), that the love a man should have for his neighbor is the same love God has for him, and that love is what is supposed to define the Christian.

  122. Jean says:

    Thank you Owen. It’s very good to hear from you. Keep warm my friend!

  123. Em says:

    love is a word with many definitions today…
    we should be careful to practice a love that is in keeping with God’s love
    He takes no pleasure in the deaths of the wicked because He knows that there is a hell… i think…
    His love is surrounded by holiness – no compromise
    If we think about it, that is as it must be. Love should not enable another’s weaknesses

    In my not so humble opinion….. again 🙂

  124. Em says:

    Jean @2:19
    “First, what do Hunter Biden’s art sales have to do with President Joe Biden?”
    Jean you are too smart a fella to ask that question…..

  125. Owen says:

    Thanks, Jean – so far it’s been unseasonably warm up here.

  126. Jean says:

    “take a look around… 10 months in office…”

    This morning the federal government reported weekly jobless claims. The country achieved a pandemic low of 281,000 claim.

    Covid cases are declining as vaccination rates are increasing. Vaccines for youths are coming soon. Boosters for adults have been authorized (I am scheduled for my booster next week).

    The economy is growing.

    The ACA is still in existence. Infrastructure is coming. Climate change and environmental protection are not longer being denied by our government. People groups are no longer being scapegoated and demonized by our government.

    Our military is out of Afghanistan.

    Is the world or America perfect? No.

    Looking around, I am grateful that God continues to bless America and I am hopeful for the future. I am 100% happier than I was under the last administration.

  127. Duane Arnold says:

    “But if we are talking about the derivative love of man for His neighbor, then there are differing opinions as to whether that love is the primary characteristic of the Christian.”

    Here’s a differing opinion…
    “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. “This is the first and great commandment. “And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”

  128. Jean says:

    I don’t know anything about Hunter Biden’s artwork. Whether it’s good or bad (and who am I to judge).

    Can the President stop him from selling art? Can the President stop someone from paying whatever they pay for a Hunter Biden work?

    There was never in the history of the presidency more grifting than by the Trump family. Why is everyone so interested in Hunter Biden, when for 4 years they could have gone after the millions that the Trumps and his son in law were making?

  129. Jean says:

    While I wouldn’t sign on the dotted line of all 39, there are many I agree with. For instance, Article 18:

    “XVIII. Of obtaining eternal Salvation only by the Name of Christ.
    They also are to be had accursed that presume to say, That every man shall be saved by the Law or Sect which he professeth, so that he be diligent to frame his life according to that Law, and the light of Nature. For Holy Scripture doth set out unto us only the Name of Jesus Christ, whereby men must be saved.”

  130. Duane Arnold says:

    Yes, we know you are a Lutheran…

  131. Em says:

    Jean @ 3:49
    “Grifters?”. The Biden family isn’t ? Hmmmm

    Also @2:52
    Your facts have holes in them, dear brother…..

    Still, God keep you close and keep us all growing in the nurture and admonition of our Lord

  132. Steve says:

    Jean@2:19. Let’s stick to the topic. You seem to like to go ad hominem fequently and I’m wondering if you view that as a Christian attribute? I apologize if I egged you on too much but I think you are a really smart guy and very sincere and I respect your thoughts. However, if you are willing to except any constructive criticism I really think ad hominid type attacks should not characterize a Christian at all. I can’t stand Trump with the way he does it. Its rude, disrespectful, unchristian and uncharitable. And I’ve never called Trump an honorable man so he is not my man and I don’t know who the people “like me” you are referring too. I still have opinions on the integrity on the election and politics but it’s impossible to have a respectful dialog with you abiut this without it becoming personal. I was sincere about possible flipping a coin in the next presidential election. God will put who ever he wants in office any way he wants and not sure what value I add in voting. I will pray for who ever is there and I’m not making any predictions what is next. Every now and then I do get infected with a mild to severe case a rapturitis but usually get over it. I feel it coming on now.

  133. Jean says:

    Steve,

    “I don’t know who the people “like me” you are referring too.”

    I am referring to partisans with selective ethics and memories. People bring up Hunter Biden to accuse Joe Biden of being corrupt and unethical. However, I never saw those same people raise corruption and ethical issues when the last president was dealing corruptly and unethically himself directly.

    That is the definition of hypocrite, is it not? The inference is that corruption and unethical conduct is okay when “my” politician is doing it, but it’s not okay when “your” politician is doing the same thing. One of my take aways from the Trueman article is his contention that Christians, like Russell Moore, are caving to the cultural elite for having the audacity to criticize the former President. How can a Christian have double minded truths? It seems impossible to me.

  134. filistine says:

    to follow Jesus Christ doesn’t simply initiate at direction, it embraces the person. It isn’t just a decision, it is to stay at his heels, doing as he did/does/bids.

  135. Dread says:

    Michael

    “However…it doesn’t advise us on what we’re trying to discern here…how does one who is in union with Christ live out the evidence of that union in culture and society?

    What does that look like?”

    Wasn’t able to come online yesterday but this discussion is central and the question is appropriate.

    Two responses to you Michael,

    We are citizens of a kingdom – when Christ died and rose he ascended to the throne of his kingdom. Two questions rise. First, what is the kingdom action in history, that is how does it act or interact with the kingdoms of this world?

    You see when we pray “thy kingdom come” we are taking militant action toward the present kingdoms. All incursion of God’s kingdom is an assault and affront to the existing kingdoms. When His kingdom is manifested it judges (that is to say, it sets right) the existing kingdom. When we pray kingdom prayers (our first obligation) we are praying militant action. We are revolting against all rival kingdoms. Sometimes it can be said that we know not what we ask.

    You see to pray for the kingdom can cause the intercessor great pain in that our comfort in the present kingdom is disturbed by the incursion of a new kingdom. This was evident in the first century when Israel was under judgment and being destroyed by Rome. (Yes I asserted that God acts in judgment in history) Without that view we flail to explain much of history from any idea of a sovereign God.

    A God who cannot rule cannot reign.

    The second question concerns — what is a kingdom citizen and how does that kingdom of heaven citizen act in the present world? The present ‘kingdom’?

    Obviously I have asserted that kingdom prayers are first — these are not egocentric prayers though they may serve our temporal interests, ‘daily bread’ ‘deliverance from evil.’

    The rest is very contentious and hard for us all to sort. It concerns what is a citizen? How is citizenship of heaven worked out? Clearly sometimes the kingdom citizen must abandon the city … WHAT? Yes, such was the call upon those early Hebrew believers who were called to go to Jesus ‘outside the camp” where he was crucified. That is a clearly a reference to those believing Jews who were called to leave, the levitical priesthood, the sacrificial system, the Temple, and Jerusalem itself behind for Christ. Sometimes Christian citizenship is abandonment of the present order.

    But for most of us engagement and not abandonment is in view. Much can be said but this is enough for this post.

  136. Dread says:

    When the ‘city’ becomes evil beyond imagining the believer must abandon the city. It is very very hard. This would for example, have called upon the southern slave owner to abandon his partnership with the ‘city’ to live out fidelity to Christ.

    Our founders likewise did not discern this call. Of course their project was an enlightenment and not a Christian discipleship project.

    Thus, just now our nation is convulsing under anger over unpaid debts and unrighteousness discipleship.

    We need to consider the ways in which we must ABANDON the city.

  137. Dread says:

    As far as engagement of the city the western church has had a profound impact on all of our civilization. The values for education of the masses, healthcare, caring for the widow and orphan and the like are all rooted in our Judea-christian heritage. These values are not secular they are profoundly religious and profoundly rooted in the imago dei and the call to hear the cries of the poor That has been and is a value that our faith has melded into our culture. We are fully engaged in partnership with all people on these issues.

  138. Steve says:

    Jean, I brought up the Hunter Biden art money laundering scandal after you calling Biden an honorable man. Its pretty simple.. Trump has been through two very partisan impeachments and has been heavily criticized by both established Republicans and almost every single Democrat and is at war with CNN, CBS, ABC, PBS, Holleywood and all the social media conglomerates, and the list goes on and on etc.. Even Trump supporters that may vote for him like myself are not giving him a pass. He really is a bulley but people hated him for other reasons as well. They hated him because he was a threat to what they thought was best for the people. It’s like the Terry McAuliffs of the world who thinks the school board knows better than the parents in VA. What arrogance. Most parents are not partisan. They just want what is best for their kids and they are not domestic terrorist as the current DOJ wants to label them. Donald Trump is also the most censored president we ever met, the most scrutinized ever but also the most accessible and transparent president we ever have had. Yes, hypocrisy exists but it exists on both sides and I’m not sure you are capable of seeing that. Do you remember when the term “basket of deplorables” went viral? You seem to be making an argument similar that we are just plain morally reprehensible simple because of the political side we are on and not attacking the guy we voted for enough with sustained vigor like yourself. Let it go Jean. We are on the same side if we are in Christ.

  139. Michael says:

    Dread,

    Thank you for your response.
    You are using the language of a developed theology that most of us haven’t been exposed to, so I’ll be parsing it as I go.

    It’s very broad, so I’ll try to ask competent questions to understand.

    You cite the 1st century Jews as an example of being called to leave the city of man.
    Most did not do so and I think that’s where the lesson lays.

    I would contend that they were not trying to bring Rome into conformity with the law of Yahweh, but sought political power to initiate the kingdom.
    In doing so, they missed their Messiah and were destroyed.

    We do not know what would have happened if they had been obedient.

    In reality they were following the exhortationsof the religious leaders of the day…standing up and contending for earthly power without regard for God except by association.

    Kind of like Jack Hibbs and the prophets of your clan.

    If I am correct…what is the real lesson here?

  140. Dread says:

    Michael,

    I think you have it right… the Jews of Jerusalem were equivalent to those who seek to establish kingdom reality by the ‘sword.’ That is by might and power rather than the Spirit. In a way we do know what would happen because the earliest church did escape Jerusalem and live out their kingdom hopes in the Spirit. The kingdom of God is not spiritual it is “in the Holy Spirit.”

    As you know I reject the kingdom theology of nationalism and I also reject the kingdom theology of utopian leftists. Both trust in might and power. We must seek to abandon both.

  141. Jean says:

    “Clearly sometimes the kingdom citizen must abandon the city … WHAT? Yes, such was the call upon those early Hebrew believers who were called to go to Jesus ‘outside the camp” where he was crucified. That is a clearly a reference to those believing Jews who were called to leave, the levitical priesthood, the sacrificial system, the Temple, and Jerusalem itself behind for Christ.”

    I am with you up to the point of: “and Jerusalem itself.” Christ reigns over 100% of the earth. He does not cede any geographic territory to Satan.

    My understanding is that most believers did abandon Jerusalem before the Roman siege, as Jesus warned them to do in Matthew 24. The reason was because God was judging the unbelieving Jews for rejecting Christ, as Jesus prophesied while He was with them. They left so they wouldn’t get killed, and they owed no loyalty to the Temple or their unbelieving brethren to stay and fight in vein, actually against God.

  142. Dread says:

    Jean

    We see it the same — abandon simply meant to leave

  143. Jean says:

    God established one temporal, political entity, called Israel, in the OT. That political entity ended when the Southern kingdom fell to Nebuchadnezzar. Since then, God never established another temporal, political entity as a holy nation devoted to Himself (despite what the Pope thinks).

    The successor to the temporal, political entity called Israel is the Church of Christ. It is not a temporal, political entity. Therefore, it can grow, exist, and be of benefit, within any temporal, political nation within the world without being a military threat to anyone.

  144. Michael says:

    Dread,

    If I’m close here…the application is obvious.

    The Jews were a recognizable nation within a nation.

    Those that abandoned the city survived, those that “fought for God” were destroyed along with their home.

    Why are we replicating their error…and what should kingdom people be doing instead?

  145. Nathan Priddis says:

    Dread.
    Your comment re the Jews of Jerusalem contradicts the behavior of your own tribe.

    What is the point of councils of apostles, if not to establish the Kingdom here on Earth? And how can the Kingdom be established if not by force?

  146. Duane Arnold says:

    Dread

    I could be misreading your comments, but I’m hearing echoes of dominion theology or kingdom now theology. Again, I don’t want to misrepresent what you’re saying…

  147. Em says:

    Since Satan can read, he knows prophesy. He knows that Jesus will defeat him in God’s timing. Question is, does a ruling ego blind one to Truth?

  148. Dread says:

    Nathan

    If you reference 7 mountain dominionism I reject that.

    Duane

    I certainly believe the kingdom of God is among us in the Holy Spirit

    We ARE receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken.

    I definitely believe in an inaugurated kingdom.

  149. Jean says:

    “I certainly believe the kingdom of God is among us in the Holy Spirit

    We ARE receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken.

    I definitely believe in an inaugurated kingdom.”

    Yes!

  150. Jean says:

    He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
    Colossians 1:13‭-‬14 ESV

  151. Jean says:

    Don’t miss the union with Christ: “in whom.”

  152. Duane Arnold says:

    My theology revolves more around the Church being a pilgrim entity, not seeking a kingdom or a measure of power in this world. Our identity is not found in civil society apart from living in peace within that civil society. Rather, our identity is found in God’s love, our love for one another and, yes, for those outside of the Church as well. I think Michael’s essay stands on solid ground…

    “This heavenly city, then, while it sojourns on earth, calls citizens out of all nations, and gathers together a society of pilgrims of all languages, not scrupling about diversities in the manners, laws, and institutions whereby earthly peace is secured and maintained, but recognizing that, however various these are, they all tend to one and the same end of earthly peace. It therefore is so far from rescinding and abolishing these diversities, that it even preserves and adopts them, so long only as no hindrance to the worship of the one supreme and true God is thus introduced. Even the heavenly city, therefore, while in its state of pilgrimage, avails itself of the peace of earth, and, so far as it can without injuring faith and godliness, desires and maintains a common agreement among men regarding the acquisition of the necessaries of life, and makes this earthly peace bear upon the peace of heaven; for this alone can be truly called and esteemed the peace of the reasonable creatures, consisting as it does in the perfectly ordered and harmonious enjoyment of God and of one another in God. When we shall have reached that peace, this mortal life shall give place to one that is eternal, and our body shall be no more this animal body which by its corruption weighs down the soul, but a spiritual body feeling no want, and in all its members subjected to the will. In its pilgrim state the heavenly city possesses this peace by faith; and by this faith it lives righteously when it refers to the attainment of that peace every good action towards God and man; for the life of the city is a social life.”

    Augustine

  153. Dread says:

    I’ve yet to mention in these posts anything about seeking power in this world. I’ve called it a kingdom in the Spirit which is the testimony of scripture.

    And Jean

    Yes to theosis

  154. Michael says:

    My understanding is that living this cruciform life out in front of the world is an announcement to the world that God has begun the process of setting the world right through Jesus…and we are demonstrating what the kingdom will look like in its fullness and way the King rules.

    This is why (in my view) it is critical to be aligned only with the kingdom of God and find my identity as an ambassador of the King…an extension of the Incarnation that overthrew the kingdoms of this world.

    On the other hand, I may be delirious…

  155. Jean says:

    Duane,

    “Our identity is not found in civil society apart from living in peace within that civil society. Rather, our identity is found in God’s love, our love for one another and, yes, for those outside of the Church as well.”

    Christians have two identities. I am also Jean, son of Marcel, of my home town in the USA. I am a husband and father.

    When a Christian loves “those outside the church as well,” that is often done as spouse, parent, employee, and citizen of my city, state and country.

    For example, When a Christian serves in the armed forces during wartime, he/she as an American armed forces member expresses love for neighbor at the risk of his/her life.

    I would agree that one citizenship is temporal, one eternal; and the eternal citizenship is the Christian’s primary identity. But we have two identities that should not be denied.

  156. Michael says:

    Some identities cannot be conflated…I cannot be Michael the pastor and Michael the drunken brawler.

    I also cannot represent the kingdom of God in its purity and fullness while representing an anti-Christ political party…one must choose who one is and who they represent…

  157. Duane Arnold says:

    Dread

    Was not about you… and, Jean, I think I get that, but then again I might need your far reaching instruction…😁

  158. Duane Arnold says:

    Michael

    Yes and thank you… a voice of sanity (at least mostly!)…😁

  159. Jean says:

    I don’t know Joe Manchin’s religion, but if he’s a Christian, I think he could serve as both a Democratic Senator and a member of Christ’s body.

  160. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean

    It’s obvious that we are talking at cross purposes… No one denies that each of us play many roles in this life.

  161. Michael says:

    I don’t think he’s a Democrat or a Christian…

    He’s scuttling parts of the new bill that address lowering prescription costs…which means that people are going to continue to suffer needlessly.

    He’s owned by Big Pharma.

    Is that compatible with the faith?

  162. Jean says:

    The Bible does not have a position on prescription drug costs or how they are paid for or not.

    I don’t have insight into his independence of mind, how he views the budget priorities, or his faith in Christ, so I can’t answer your question.

  163. Jean says:

    I do know that the world and every career field is penetrated by sin, even the most pristine monastery and the heart of the most kind person one will ever meet. Yet, Christians live within societies and work in fields and sin every day in thoughts words and deeds.

    Therefore, the Christian life is one of daily repentance. And this is just the way our Savior wants it.

  164. Michael says:

    Jean,
    The Bible is clear about Gods concern for the poor and those on the margins. A man who claims Christ cannot rob the poor to enrich himself.

  165. Em says:

    Observing Joe Manchin lately. If i were a much younger woman, i think I’d have a crush on him… He may be an old school Dem’ and i pray that he has come to the cross for redemption, but i do have doubts

  166. Dread says:

    Duane

    I’m not sure why you need to take swipes at me. We’ve had that enough and we’ve recently de-escalated. I thought you were talking to me based on the flow of the conversation. Let’s give that a rest.

  167. Dread says:

    And now I see that your other statement was toward Jean so I will apologize. I was wrong.

  168. Jean says:

    This is the oath of a US Senator:

    “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.“

    He represents all his constituents, from all segments of society.

    He serves the Lord by faithfully carrying out his elected office according to his oath of office for the benefit of all his constituents.

  169. Michael says:

    He serves the Lord by oppressing the poor and destroying the environment.

    I need to start drinking what Lutherans drink…

  170. filistine says:

    will someone more objective, learned, and clear-headed than I summarize this discussion? Is there yet any clarity on what we all are?

  171. Michael says:

    fil,

    I gave all I had in the original piece…

  172. Jean Dragon says:

    filistine,

    What are we?

    We are the thief on the cross.
    We are rulers of our people.
    We are fishermen and tentmakers.
    We are little children who come to Jesus with the help of our parents.
    We are mothers who are content with crumbs from our Master’s table.
    We are women caught in adultery.
    We are poor Lazarus who beg for food.
    We are widows who pray persistently for justice.
    We are Peters who one minute confess Christ as the Son of God and the next, from the same mouth, speak for Satan.

    We are wretches who know of only one Man who can deliver us from our bodies of death.

    We who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.

    We are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.

    We are blessed whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.

    We are those who boast in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to us, and us to the world.

  173. filistine says:

    Michael, it seems to me as I read through this thread that there is a lot of luggage attached to the wagon you originally spelled out–what does that say about “us?” I suppose I’m challenging “us” to recognize the peripheral pieces “we” are allowing to cloud our vision and muddle the expression of the Christ and Christianity in the world today. The world sees the political, layers of theological disagreement, vax/anitvax, progressive/traditional, etc. and says “no thanks.” Honing our identity and purpose in the world should be paramount, and it, evidently, is not.

  174. filistine says:

    Jean, Thank you. that is more concise & focused. Is that what we express to each other and to the world?

  175. Michael says:

    fil,

    Honing our identity to focus on what is primary and needful is is not on the “paramount” list. I wrote this piece in great frustration and I’m still quite frustrated.

    I have little hope that things will change in my lifetime.

  176. Dan from Georgia says:

    Michael and fil,

    Outside of the few political comments here, I found this threat AND the original post to be helpful. And I agree it’s when we “pork barrel” our pet ideas onto the core of what we are, is when we go WAAAY off the narrow path.

  177. Dan from Georgia says:

    THREAD, not threat.

  178. Michael says:

    Dan,

    ” Pork barrel” is the perfect term…I will use it in the future… 🙂

  179. Em says:

    Dan from GA
    Good, good ponder…. Thank you

  180. Jean says:

    Philistine,

    “Is that what we express to each other and to the world?”

    On a personal and human level, I would answer in a way “yes.” What we – Christians – all have in common, in many cases the only thing we have in common, is Jesus. He says:

    “It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.”

    As we cling to Jesus and inwardly digest His life and teachings, we become like Him to others. We learn from His Word and imitate Christ in a similar fashion to how a little child learns from and imitates His/her parents.

    The closer we get to becoming Christ for others, as Jesus says, the more we will draw the contempt and hatred of unbelievers.

  181. Em says:

    Jean, true and another good ponder. ..
    The more we increase in developing the mind of Christ, we will offend…. 😇

  182. BrianD says:

    Michael, I asked you on some thread that I can’t find right now what being a Christian would look like. You had said we needed to redefine what that was. This is a good start.

    I wonder how He deals with those whose experiences and logic make them both doubt His existence and keep their distance from His children who wouldn’t understand why they think and feel the way they do.

    I ask for a friend, by the way. 🙂

  183. pstrmike says:

    BrianD! trust you are well…..

  184. BrianD says:

    pstrmike, well enough. Could be doing better but could be doing a lot worse, too…

  185. Michael says:

    BrianD,

    I wrote this in response to your question…it just took me a while.
    Doubts and difficulties dealing with the brethren do not change His stance toward those dealing with such.
    The love and understanding of God transcends our fears and frailties…and He remains a good and loving Father ready to receive any who desire more of Him.

  186. Em says:

    Michael @ 10:22
    70 years walking (sometimes trudging) this earth as a Spirit born again soul, i can absolutely affirm the faithfulness of our Triune God.
    A song i now sing loud and clear, “Great is Thy Faithfulness.”
    A confession: only lately have i come to appreciate what it means to call him “Father.”

  187. BrianD says:

    Thanks, Michael.

    I find it almost impossible to believe, and yet I am still open. Maybe once you are His, you are His forever…not even you can pluck yourself out of His hand (I’m sure some here are eager to give me a more proper theological viewpoint, but I’m not interested in having that discussion here).

    I do wonder if He exists…if He might decide to spark His next movement among the groups that most people in the church want nothing to do with…like the hippies in the late 1960s.

  188. Em says:

    Interesting ponders, Brian – interesting
    A God we can’t see is hard to conceptualize, true
    But God IS what the Scriptures describe and more….
    Sorrowfully, there have too many wolves exploiting us sheep and drawing in opportunists. Opportunists that have a “form” of godliness, but whose conduct denies His power – No fear = no wisdom. IMNSHO, of course. 😇

  189. Muff Potter says:

    Jean wrote @ 10:28 AM:

    “There will be a lot of moral people in hell. Lots of generous, loving, law abiding, chaste, honest people in hell. Maybe they trusted in their goodness. But without faith, their goodness is filthy sin in the eyes of God.”

    What a cruel and brutal religion.
    And worst of all, it’s unjust…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.