Christian but not Christian help label me please.

Discuss philosophical questions regarding theism (and atheism), and discuss religion as it relates to philosophy. This includes any philosophical discussions that happen to be about god, gods, or a 'higher power' or the belief of them. This also generally includes philosophical topics about organized or ritualistic mysticism or about organized, common or ritualistic beliefs in the existence of supernatural phenomenon.

Christian but not Christian help label me please.

Post Number:#1  Postby Grotto19 » May 16th, 2017, 3:28 pm

I need the aid of fellow intellectuals in labeling myself with brevity but also accurately. In order to explain to anyone from what place my perspective comes I find there are no labels which I can use to describe my starting position. This poses a huge problem for me in online discussion because so many assumptions are made which are incorrect leading the debate on tangents which are not relevant. The only way I can rectify this is by typing pages of text explaining my core foundation first. I am hoping some of you will help me to accurately convey myself with labels which can be understood accurately regarding my position which is not uncommon in the populace but seems to in my perception at least remain without terms.

First on the docket would be religion. I use the label Christian to describe myself. This label automatically brings a host of wrong assumptions about my position however. The biggest being that I believe the Bible a true account of historical events. No I do not believe that. Another being a lack of faith in science or believing creationism, nope wrong again. Another being there is a man on a cloud judging everyone, nope wrong again. So having said the above one might say that I cannot be a Christian then. To which I would say exactly the label carries with it connotations which are wildly inaccurate.

Now the problem I do believe that there is a higher power which directed the creation and order of our universe. I call that thing God. I do believe there is a way we should try to aspire to act and think in order to act in accordance with the intended order. And I do believe that higher power did in fact directly inspire a living man named Jesus to covey guidance to us regarding how we should act to be in compliance with the order for which the higher power intended. Basically in short my view on ethics is that foundationally as our creator what God intends is necessarily what is the good. So now the question. Knowing this bit about me what am I? The above paragraph states why I am not Christian, but yet I am a believer in God a Christ. What label do I use to encapsulate this? Many think as I do yet we seem to have no label for it.

Other faiths have this same issue. People who believe but their label carries with it so many incorrect conceptions. I realize labeling is problematic but it is a necessary condition of communication. Without labels conversation becomes painfully lengthy to the point of futility. So if you can dear reader assist me in finding a label for this aspect please do tell me, I welcome your thoughts and perspective on the matter.
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Re: Christian but not Christian help label me please.

Post Number:#2  Postby Dark Matter » May 17th, 2017, 1:57 am

Cool. I'm not alone in this.
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Re: Christian but not Christian help label me please.

Post Number:#3  Postby Burning ghost » May 17th, 2017, 3:39 am

Well, I guess the issue people have is that Muslims also believe that Jesus was directed by some "higher being". The main difference between Islam and Christianity is that Christians believe Jesus was literally the "Son of God' where Mulism view both Jesus and Mohammed as prophets (merely "messengers" of Gods teachings). So I would not class you as a "Christian' in the strictest sense!

I think I get the idea that you've read the Bible and find lot so of things there you can understand and relate to. I do not think religions hold sway over moral values, but I certainly understand that many people may want to express their moral/ethical position as being similar to the Christian values in the Bible (even if they disagree with some of them).

Honestly to me it sounds more like you are trying to look for a way to express that you find the basic "Christian" values, and some of the beliefs therein, close enough to your background and thoughts to say "I am roughly about this kind of area".

I think we all like to believe there may be some higher order and purpose to the universe. We console ourselves in different ways to this problem of our questioning human nature. I find the biggest problem is that many people who say they are "Christian" cannot really outline the kind of God they say they believe in. Some can. To me it doesn't really sound like you are describing a Deity but more of a universal rule. My own opinion here is obviously weighing in because I can interpret other views which I do not hold and reconcile them to my own view of existence.

What you have laid out sounds much closer to Buddhism than to Christianity.

See here:

Now the problem I do believe that there is a higher power which directed the creation and order of our universe. I call that thing God.


But not higher "consciousness"? So you are expressing something, whatever it is, rather than an actual Deity. Even Hinduism stretches into this area, hence why Buddhism was birthed from it. They say "Brahma", which is not really a "Deity" per say, but rather a universal "force/entity". The confusion in understanding this is trying to appreciate how this "Brahma" is represented in many forms (numerous so called "gods"). It does not take a genius that these gods represent many different facets of human psychology and action, including war, death, birth, fertility, wisdom, etc.,.

If someone was to pin me down I would say I am Christian, Buddhism, Muslim, Taoist, Hindu, etc., and that it is a matter of how I console these various interpretations of wise (or otherwise!) and ancient sages that defines what I am. Given that in the Western world own cultural foundation is mostly based on Christian "traditions" (with obvious symbiosis with other pagan traditions brought into the cultural fold of the collective "Christian" ideal and geopolitical climate) we are all, atheist, theist or anti-theist, ALL entwined in a Judeo-Christian background in our language, science and political stance, generally speaking.

The problem of posting online is you don't know what others think about religion and others don't know your position. If you say "god" it is going to create a certain reaction in certain people. I try my hardest not to look at such utterings as meaning what you say above, because many Christians are rational and will get offended if harassed by trying to rationalize their beliefs (which by definition do not adhere to rationalization and are quite personal). Then there are those that wish to preach their "truth" as "The truth". Those are the ones that cause the most difficulty on forums for everyone be they religious or not.

I really enjoyed your post and hope many people read it. The simplistic answer from me is that in philosophical discussions you simply have to explain the details of your position if the topic comes up. Labels are merely there to help us get a general idea of what you mean. I think it is reasonable for you to say that you have a Christian upbringing/background (?) and that it is embedded in your cultural community, yet when it comes to defining "god" you're unable to adhere to more traditionalist views of "god" and that it is more of a placeholder, much like figuring out what we are doing in our lives and what we think is best, is a ongoing progression/digression (?) of being human.

My biggest annoyance in this topic is people calling themselves "atheist" when they are really "anti-theist". I have issues with "anti-theists" because they are pushing another idealistic notion of how people should behave and what they should believe. At the same time I also understand that rationalists want to fight against the institution of religion in general and its negative impacts in areas such as human rights, education and isolationism.

If you're not discussing theology just don't bring up the topic of "god" and religion unless it helps as a metaphor/analogy of the subject at hand. It is quite difficult to do this though but it can help curb the discussion from going off the rails like you mention.

To sum up, just say 'I equate myself with Chiristian traditions yet don't adhere to the more irrational views of some Christians in regards to science and rationalism. Just to be clear being religious does not mean you are incapable of rational discourse. Sadly there are people online who are religious who generally give others a bad name by their inept grasp on what warrants a logical and reasonable discussion rather than appealing to Biblical references. In ethics religion is a very rich topic. Historically religion was essentially humanities first communal "law giver". We learnt from nature what kills us and what doesn't and from there looked to unseen rules of nature to find a way to coexist and prosper on Earth (an ongoing project!)
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Re: Christian but not Christian help label me please.

Post Number:#4  Postby Greta » May 17th, 2017, 5:25 am

A believer but not a Christian.

I have no label either. I personally go with "agnostic" because we are very small in a very large reality.
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Re: Christian but not Christian help label me please.

Post Number:#5  Postby Eduk » May 17th, 2017, 9:44 am

Grotto: I would describe you as a very normal, very average Christian. Maybe you could call yourself a 'relaxed Christian'? To be honest in the UK you could just call yourself a Christian and most people would assume you weren't a creationist and that you didn't believe in a literal translation of the Bible. This is the inherent weakness of labels and the overpowering human need to label things.
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Re: Christian but not Christian help label me please.

Post Number:#6  Postby Burning ghost » May 17th, 2017, 12:07 pm

Good point Eduk. In the UK people don't generally believe that the second coming will happen let alone happen in their lifetimes!
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Re: Christian but not Christian help label me please.

Post Number:#7  Postby Eduk » May 17th, 2017, 12:25 pm

I don't know what day to day life is like in America. In the UK going to church every week or not going to church every week doesn't make a whole lot of difference in day to day activity. We have young earth creationists in the UK too of course but outside of denying evolution and stuff like that most of time that doesn't make much difference either. At least that is my experience of work and social life.
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Re: Christian but not Christian help label me please.

Post Number:#8  Postby Dolphin42 » May 17th, 2017, 12:39 pm

I've run your details through my computer program. You're Christian.

Code: Select all
string religion;
int number_of_gods;
bool jesus_is_son_of_god;
bool muhammad_is_the_messenger_of_god;

if(number_of_gods == 1)
{
   if(jesus_is_son_of_god)
   {
      religion = "Christian";
   }
   else if(muhammad_is_the_messenger_of_god)
   {
      religion = "Muslim";
   }
   else
   {
      religion = "Jewish";
   }
}
else if( number_of_gods > 1)
{
   religion = "pantheist, e.g. Hindu";
}
else
{
   religion = "none, or Buddhist or something";
}
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Re: Christian but not Christian help label me please.

Post Number:#9  Postby Fooloso4 » May 17th, 2017, 2:57 pm

Grotto 19:

This poses a huge problem for me in online discussion because so many assumptions are made which are incorrect leading the debate on tangents which are not relevant.


This is a big problem, but not one that I think can be solved by more accurately labeling one’s position. Some here, and of course elsewhere as well, pay little or no attention to what is actually said. They simply attack what they perceive to be the enemy by giving their prepared arguments. This is not a partisan remark because it is not just one “side” or another that is guilty.

I use the label Christian to describe myself. This label automatically brings a host of wrong assumptions about my position however … So having said the above one might say that I cannot be a Christian then. To which I would say exactly the label carries with it connotations which are wildly inaccurate.



Yes, there is all kinds of baggage we load onto this label. Some of it coming from those who identify themselves as Christians but deny others the right to identify themselves as Christian. I do not think the problem is so much inaccurate connotations generated by the label as much as it is that the label itself has such a wide variety of connotations that do not apply in the case of any particular usage of the term.

The other side of the label question is, what connotations and beliefs one does hold when using whatever label it is they identify with? We sometimes find strong disagreement even within narrowly and seemingly clearly defined labels. You identify as a Christian who does not believe the Bible a true account of historical events, who does not lack faith in science and does not believe creationism, and does not believe that God is a man on a cloud judging everyone. This can forestall some areas of misunderstanding but by saying you are Christian but not x or y or z, or searching for another label that more accurately reflects your beliefs you leave too much unsaid.

The Church Fathers found pluralism intolerable. They found “inspiration” suspect. They demanded a single, unified doctrine of belief and labeled those who did not adhere as heretics. So, what is the correct label and meaning of a Christian? Does it require that one believe that Jesus is God? Born God or deified? Does it require that one believe that Jesus died for our sins? Does it require that one believe that man is powerless against sin and must be saved by God? Does it require that one be or not be Catholic or Protestant or say or do or believe this but not that while others who call themselves Christian say or do or believe that but not this?

Was Jesus a Christian? Would he have accepted most of the things attributed to him by the followers of Paul? This last question goes back to the beginning of Christianity and the conflict between Paul and the disciples. By many counts, the followers of Jesus, because they were not followers of Paul and did not condone his message, were not Christians. In time Jesus’ Jewish identity had to be ignored or denied because Jews were seen as the enemy of Christ. Jesus had no problem with how he identified himself - he was a Jew who was at odds with other Jews who identified themselves along partisan sectarian lines as Pharisees and were themselves at odds with Jews who identified themselves as Sadducees of by some other label.
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Re: Christian but not Christian help label me please.

Post Number:#10  Postby Spectrum » June 17th, 2017, 1:06 am

In generally all the religions are labelled in relation to their founder, e.g. Buddhism [Guatama], Islam [Muhammad], Taoism [Lao Tze], Judaism [Moses], thus Christianity [Jesus Christ]. Hinduism is not a religion per-se. Hinduism comprised of various sub-religions which are associated with a founder or deity.

A Christian is a monotheist who basically believes in the teachings of Jesus Christ, i.e. the Gospels.
Therefrom, the derivatives, different types and forms of Christianity will depend on the variations from the basic belief [Gospels Only];

1. believe in the whole New Testament [epistles] and related OT.
2. do not believe in creationism
3. believe in Science [but Gospels override]
4. Believe in the Pope [Catholic] or do not [Protestant] of such and such a denomination.

Some Christians [Gospels only] may have a different interpretations in some verses in the Gospels but they are nevertheless Christians by definition.

So as long as a monotheist believe and accept the teachings of Jesus Christ [Gospels Only], that person is a Christian first and foremost.
Not-a-theist. Religion is a critical necessity for humanity now, but not the FUTURE.
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Re: Christian but not Christian help label me please.

Post Number:#11  Postby Greta » June 17th, 2017, 1:25 am

A spiritualist?
noun
1. the belief or doctrine that the spirits of the dead, surviving after the mortal life, can and do communicate with the living, especially through a person (a medium) particularly susceptible to their influence.

2. the practices or phenomena associated with this belief.

3. the belief that all reality is spiritual.

4. Metaphysics. any of various doctrines maintaining that the ultimate reality is spirit or mind.

5. spiritual quality or tendency.


Trouble is, there is another semantic that can easily lead to misunderstandings and a thesaurus gives synonyms for "spiritualist" as:
augur clairvoyant crystal ball gazer diviner medium mind reader oracle palm reader palmist predicter prophet psychic seer soothsayer tarot reader

Not exactly ideal :)

Gandhi as a Hindu held similar beliefs about a non-denominational God, one that each faith was attempting to access in their own ways. Science is doing the same thing in its own way too. It's all just ultimately people investigating reality and trying to dig ever deeper - basically because we get bored when we aren't active or developing or moving forward in some way.

Spiritual non-theist? Non-denominational believer? Back in the say I used to say "spiritual, but not religious". Now "agnostic".
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Re: Christian but not Christian help label me please.

Post Number:#12  Postby -1- » June 18th, 2017, 11:40 am

Many Christians say their religion is a very private business.

If that is true, then you can call yourself a Christian, and the rest is nobody else's business.

------------

If you think being a Christian is a public matter, then you should carry a card that succinctly explains your Christianness to a fellow so-called Christian.

You could start a trend with this, being a card-carrying Christian of self-denomination, and get on Oprah and Dr. Phil with this on national television.

I may become a card-carrying atheist. My card will say, "I believe there is no god or gods."
Sweat the small stuff... because then the big stuff will take care of itself.
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Re: Christian but not Christian help label me please.

Post Number:#13  Postby Greta » June 18th, 2017, 6:34 pm

-1- wrote:Many Christians say their religion is a very private business.

If that is true, then you can call yourself a Christian, and the rest is nobody else's business.

Very much my father's approach. If questioned, he would say he believed in God, and that was about it. The rest of his spiritual life was entirely private and internal. Many of his generation were like that.

I sensed 9/11 as a turning point for US theism, where religiosity became aggressive and ostentatious as opposed to the quiet believers of the generations who fought in WWII. After 9/11 there was much rationalising by Islamists of their brutal atrocity, which was mostly fuelled by hatred and resentment about the imposition of Israel and competition over oil profits.

The fundies' rationalisations came as criticisms of the "decadent west". American conservatives were stung because they actually agreed with the Islamic fundies about decadence (ie. permissiveness) in the west. Never mind that those Islamic countries had numerous issues with state sanctioned child abuse and rape. The glass house was rarely mentioned as US theists played into the terrorist's hands.

Western conservatives started attacking their own countrypeople for being too permissive, too gay, too feminised, too much female influence. Now there was a propaganda competition between conservatives of either side, a battle for the moral high ground. That's when US conservatives became more serious about exerting political influence. This had become a matter of winning a war against the forces of evil, from both within and without, for them.

Alas, none of this has much to do with spirituality. It's just theistic politics. I suspect that spirituality is alike to creative pursuits. Mum used to warn me about "talking out" my ideas before creative writing because it tended to suck out the internal power source that drives strong prose. Spirituality appears to operate similarly. One needs to be selective and strategic in how one speaks of their spirituality to ensure that at no stage one's ego becomes involved. Once people's egos are attached to their spirituality they move from "the spiritual mind" and return to the hurly burly of competing egos, just in a different arena this time. Same sh1t, different stink, as they say.

The idea of spirituality, as far as I can tell, is to be an oasis of peace from all the competitive and ego-driven dynamics of normal life. So, on a personal strategic level, I think that one's spirituality is best kept private. If that's the case then labels become less important and in such situations one may be able to properly explain themselves beyond the confines of a label, as the OP did here.
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Re: Christian but not Christian help label me please.

Post Number:#14  Postby Belindi » June 19th, 2017, 9:12 am

I claim that nobody is a Christian who does not believe that the Resurrection event is historically true.
Therefore, Grotto , if you don't believe that the Resurrection event is historically true you aren't a Christian.

However you may still be a religionist of some other sort. You may be a Muslim, or a Hindu for instance.

If you want to cherry pick among the various religions for beliefs that appeal to you here are some terms I have found useful:

Transcendent Immanent Interventionist Avatar Incarnation Idolatry Mystical Biblical literalism Praxis The Wisdom tradition

Gnostic Charismatic ontological.

However your ontological preference (what you believe exists) , and your attitude subservient or autonomous , probably prejudices your understanding as it does that of everybody else except for mystics.

-- Updated June 19th, 2017, 9:14 am to add the following --

Belindi wrote:I claim that nobody is a Christian who does not believe that the Resurrection event is historically true.
Therefore, Grotto , if you don't believe that the Resurrection event is historically true you aren't a Christian.

However you may still be a religionist of some other sort. You may be a Muslim, or a Hindu for instance.

If you want to cherry pick among the various religions for beliefs that appeal to you here are some terms I have found useful:

Transcendent : Interventionist : Avatar : Incarnation : Idolatry : Mystical : Biblical literalism : Praxis : The Wisdom tradition :

Gnostic : Charismatic : ontological.

However your ontological preference (what you believe exists) , and your attitude subservient or autonomous , probably prejudices your understanding as it does that of everybody else except for mystics.
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Re: Christian but not Christian help label me please.

Post Number:#15  Postby Eduk » June 19th, 2017, 9:17 am

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