Sorry to disappoint some of you who might be looking for a "Top 10 List" of things that all Christians believe about such things as: abortion, sexuality, politics, Glee, hell, gambling, dinosaurs, baseball, immigration, Justin Bieber and/or the rumored cage match between Glenn Beck and Rachel Maddow.
Tempting, but not gonna happen. I am no fool.
At the same time, I think this is an important question for people to grapple with, Christian and non-Christian alike. In a pluralistic age when the understanding of what it means to be "Christian" is so very complex, having these conversations with those whom stand on the various sides of faith, will only help everyone see one another as complex human beings rather than demonized caricatures; created out of our own convenience and arrogance. Far from wanting to create a pollyanna'ish culture of "Can't we all just get along?" it's my hope that we can thoughtfully engage in building a greater understanding of this broad community called, "Christian."
That's my story, officer, and I am sticking to it.
As I thought about this list, I admit that I wanted to compile a wordy set of beliefs to which one conform to in order for me to recognize someone as a "Christian." That list would feel pretty good to create and it certainly determines some of the ways I live my faith in the world, but I am not so naive as to think that my definition is the one truth of what it means to be Christian. I am also cognizant that not everyone comes out of the same flavor of the reformed, progressive, protestant tradition that I do, so I have to be doubly aware of my own theological bias when thinking about this question. So . . . here are what I think are essentials in creating the broadest scope of what I would consider "Christian." These are intentionally vague and screaming for nuance, but left open for each person and community to interpret and articulate their understandings of the Christian faith.
You might be a Christian if you believe . . .
- ...that Jesus Christ has a unique and divine claim on who you are and how you live your life.
- ...that Scripture reveals God's relationship with and hopes for humanity.
- ...that the Holy Spirit moves in and inspires individuals and communities.
- ...that gathering in Christian community is an essential discipline of the Body of Christ.
- ...that our faith compels us to act in the world.
Short. Sweet. And meant to inspire conversation, nuance and maybe a little spirited debate.