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Whta makes someone a Christian?

(85 Posts)
leonardodavinci Fri 08-Jul-05 16:48:21

my dh and I have decided to get dd(8) christened and according to the priest the fact that we haven't been to church after we christened ds 7 years ago we haven't fulfilled our obligation to God. We felt like we had failed, thing is we both belive in God, tell our children religiousy type things but we don't go to church as often please don't think am judging church goers here but sometimes church goers can go to church and be nice but do unchristian things to their neighbours. My question is does anyone else feel that going to church makes you a Christian or does having a big heart, praying and believing matter as much. Would be very grateful to anyone who replies to this.

loobywoof Fri 08-Jul-05 16:51:57

IMO being a Christian is what you do day in day out NOT just what you do on a Sunday.

WigWamBam Fri 08-Jul-05 16:54:35

I have a friend who is a vicar, and he always says that the church is not about buildings, it's about people, and that wherever people are, God can be there too if he is invited. If you believe in God, pray to him, have faith in him, and consider that he is part of your life then that vicar would consider you a Christian.

Tortington Fri 08-Jul-05 17:39:22

i think being a nice person whatever your religeon is what the almighty being who runs the universe would want.

i always thought it very vain of god to say " worship me"
sometimes i use my church as a conduit of my faith ( rather than my religeon)to thank god or to pray for something.

then i try to lead my life as a good person.

i find regular church goers in my experience. tend to be overly arsey about such matters.

However an old guy from church took the time out to come to my house with the money envelopes and asked " do you come to church anymore not seen you for a while"
" when i can, i try" i said!
"well thats all we ask" he said
nice chap

fruitful Fri 08-Jul-05 17:41:22

In the Bible, God says "don't give up meeting together" and that's pretty much it on church-going. He says it because its easier to keep living the way God wants you to if you have the support of other people who are doing it too.

A "church" is a group of people not a building - my church doesn't even have a building.

A Christian is some who follows Christ. Not someone who believes in God (the devil believes in God). Going to church, believing in God, being good, being charitable, praying - none of those make you a Christian.

Christians believe that God became a man called Jesus, died on the cross to take the punishment for all our sin (sin=doing what we want and not what God wants) and was raised to life again and is alive now, and as a result of that we can have a loving dad-and-child relationship with God. Again, the devil believes that too (he's not happy about it though). To be a Christian you need to have accepted that Jesus did all that for you and decided that God is your boss and you will do your best to live the way he wants you to.

If you don't believe that Jesus died for you and is alive for you then it is irrelevant whether you go to church, do nice things, pray, believe in God - you're not a Christian. You can obviously still be a nice person though .

And yes, Christians do un-christian things. Not perfect, just forgiven. Christianity is not about what you do, its about who you are...

That's my twopennorth.

Find yourself a church where the vicar doesn't mind christening your dd even though you don't attend?

fruitful Fri 08-Jul-05 17:45:19

Hang on - your dd is 8 years or 8 months? If she is 8yo presumably she wants to do it? Get her to tell the vicar why!

We're not having ours christened cos we want them to be able to choose to do it when they're grown-up. I loved getting baptised (aged 20). I'd have been upset if my parents had done it when I was too little to remember (not that they would have, being atheists).

starlover Fri 08-Jul-05 17:48:05

i think you'll find that most churches these days like you to attend if you want a child christened.

if i was a vicar i wouldn't want people standing up and lying in my church about whether or not they were going to bring their child up as a christian.

not saying that you are lying, or that you aren't christian... but going to church is the one way that they can be sure.

Ameriscot2005 Fri 08-Jul-05 18:43:33

A Christian is someone (a believer, obviously) who tries to be Christ-like.

You are right that some church goers do unChrist-like things, but this doesn't mean that you shouldn't go to church. If you are filled with the Holy Spirit, then you will [i]want[/i] to spend time in worship, learning and fellowship with other believers.

Plenty of atheists have the same qualities as Christians - being nice, big-hearted etc - because they too were created in the image of God. There is more to being and living as a Chrsitian.

bebejam Sat 09-Jul-05 01:09:21

Ameriscot I'd have to disagree with you just slightly.

I think a vast majority of people (both religious and not) think a Christian is someone who tries to be "Christ-like" i.e. live a good life and be kind to small animals ect., and I think that partially misses the point.

I think the heart of the matter is more about what you believe- I tend to think of a Christian as one who believes by faith that Jesus was who he claimed to be, the Son of God. And those who believe in the message of the Gospel, that Christ's death and resurrection gives believers salvation and new life...and those with said faith are saved by grace and faith ALONE and not how they live.

The problem with defining a Christian as someone who tries to lead a good life is that living a "Christ-like" life doesn't save you, and thus I'm not sure that good citizenship makes you a Christian...the bible is pretty clear that isn't enough to you get past the pearly gates. That was the whole point of his sacrifice- no one can be so good as to earn salvation.

To say being a Christian is just about living a good life (and many people believe that is all there is to it) falls short of what the Gospel is really trying to say. Does that make sense?

Tortington Sat 09-Jul-05 01:29:08

no, tell me again why good people can't go to heaven

nightowl Sat 09-Jul-05 02:08:31

i dont think that going to church makes you anything necessarily. the way you go about your life, how you treat others does. im not religeous (sp) in any way whatsoever but i know that im a good person. i treat others with kindness, i dont judge etc etc. on the other hand, my ex inlaws went to church every sunday, never missed a week, played in the church band etc etc...and they were two of most nasty people ive met. he was a woman/child beater and she was a horrible malicious woman. so what im saying is, how you conduct yourself matters more in my opinion. praying doesnt automatically make someone a good person, actions do.

Ameriscot2005 Sat 09-Jul-05 06:40:06

It's not about only living a good (Godly) life, or only about believing. It's about both.

Living a good life is not simply about salvation by works - far from it - it's about wanting to live that kind of life under the power of the Holy Spirit, and through a living relationship with God.

And this Christian life is a process - it doesn't all come on one day, and it grows as you spend time with other Christians in praise, worship and bible study, as well as private prayer. The best way to start, or rekindle, this process is to start meeting regularly with other Christians.

And might I recommend the Alpha course? It sounds ideal for this kind of situation.

bebejam Sat 09-Jul-05 15:25:30

Yes Ameriscot, well said, better than my jumbled attempt. Knowing a living God and having his Holy Spirit slowly change and renew your heart is a different experience than just warming a pew on Sunday. I guess ultimately who is qualified to say who is and who isn't a "christian"? Certainly not me.

My greatest struggle with being a christian is how nasty and stupid other christians can be. But then, there was a time I was pretty nasty and stupid myself because I believed in God.. but didn't really get it on a personal level. I didn't understand how much God loved me, and I didn't believe he could or would love someone like me because I knew I was so imperfect, and though a 'nice' person not really a 'good' one.

When it sinks in that no one deserves God's grace, but he gives it anyway freely if we take it... suddenly you realize how futile it is to look down upon other people. Coming face to face with truly unconditional love like that is immensely humbling, and begins to change how you live.

The point I was trying to make is that when people think it is is only about living a good life, it is easy to be so insecure in that... because we all know our own foibles, and the natural reaction to that is to start looking down on other people with 'more foibles' to ease that insecurity... and voila, the insecurity quickly turns into nastiness and legalism and haughty judment- all the lovely things that give christians a bad name.

I have to say that I love reading these threads, but actually hate talking about this myself and I'm pretty much a theological lightweight.

bebejam Sat 09-Jul-05 15:38:49

custardo- I think the problem with "good" being a qualifier is... what does that mean exactly?

Who or what is a good person? Is someone who doesn't drink or smoke or have naughty flings good? What if you are faithful to your husband, dutifully make muffins for the school bake sale, and hold the door open for others...but you are really racist? So you're a lovely person with just one bad flaw, is that good enough? Where do you draw the line?

And who gets to define what good is if it changes slightly from one decade to the next and from one culture to another?

If you live in Nottingham- having only two sexual partners before marriage is seen as pretty good. In Tehran, that is two too many and is seen as very, very bad.

I'm obviously being a bit of a smarty pants here, but I think you see what I'm getting at.

ScrewballMuppet Sat 09-Jul-05 15:42:12

someone who follows the christian way of life and attends a christain church regularly <shrug of shoulders> not sure.....isn't it just a way of labeling someone so that you know which group they belong to

Mosschops30 Sat 09-Jul-05 16:06:58

Message withdrawn

ruty Sat 09-Jul-05 16:22:52

I'm sorry, but NO Christian has the right to say that another person will not go to heaven if they are not Christian, even if they live a 'Christ like' life. And the Alpha course in my opinion is a dangerous oversimplification and unintellectualized perspective on the Gospels.

ruty Sat 09-Jul-05 16:25:16

And tho none of us can be entirely 'good', for me there is a universal constant that I believe Christ taught us - to live your life with love, humility, compassion and conscience, and to learn from your mistakes.

logic Sat 09-Jul-05 16:26:20

Our local CofE Vicar told us that if you live in the parish and ask to be baptised then he has to do it - there are no hoops to jump through. Obviously they prefer it if you attend regularly but he seems to have the attitude that some attendance is better than none! Any Vicar that makes you feel bad should be avoided really!

..and yes, it is our prominently fish-displaying neighbours that always park their car on the pavement and make it difficult to get the pram and kids past.

purpleturtle Sat 09-Jul-05 16:35:46

Going to church doesn't make you a Christian, but as others have already posted, there is a Biblical expectation on Christians to meet together.

If regular church attendance is not important to you, why do you want dd christened in church? You could have some kind of thanksgiving/naming ceremony in the garden - other MNetters have done this - and reflect exactly what it is that you believe. I think that in a christening service you promise to bring your child up within the family of the church, so I'm not sure why you want to make a promise like that before God with no intention of keeping it.

starrynight Sat 09-Jul-05 16:45:57

This is always my problem with christianity - if you go to church and believe Jesus was the son of god (or god?) then you get through the pearly gates - no matter what you are like the rest of the time? You can do anything you like if you ask for forgiveness afterwards? All seems a bit suss to me.

starrynight Sat 09-Jul-05 16:46:46

BTW I always thought that if you believed Jesus was the son of god, died for your sins etc then you are a Christian. Though I am no expert at all!

ruty Sat 09-Jul-05 16:48:47

if you do what you like in the knowledge that you can always ask for forgiveness afterwards it aint going to get you very far i suspect! But the redeeming power of God's love and forgiveness goes further than our understanding, i think. The parable of the Prodigal Son handles that tricky problem. And the son who stayed at home and always did the right thing is Really put out when the 'bad' son is welcomed home with open arms!

purpleturtle Sat 09-Jul-05 16:50:40

Starrynight - your 2nd post about sums it up for me. Your first is a bit oversimplistic IMO. The underlying question here, though, is not "Am I going to heaven?", but "Why can't my dd be christened?". As IMO christening is entry to a community, I'm just trying to explain why I think the priest in question has said what he did to leonardodavinci

ruty Sat 09-Jul-05 16:52:01

BTW starry night Christ always emphasised it is much more important to create heaven on earth than to aspire to some invisible reward. Now I'm going away!

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