Originally posted by vistesd
On another thread, I recently said that I have no idea who the “true” Christians are, or what that entails. So many people who claim the label disagree, and denounce one another...
I would say that the problem(s) in trying to determine, in and of yourself or anyone else, who the "true" Christians are seem to me to be much more fundamental and basically boil down to problems in theory and practice.
To me, a huge issue at the heart of Chrstianity is something that the vast majority of Christians either are not aware of or choose to box up and ignore: There are 3 Christologies at work in the NT and are attributed to Christianity and Christ, although Jesus is only responsible for one. They are:
The Christology of John the Baptizer
Here we have a strange practitioner of the Jewish faith - totally counter-culture, living off the wilderness, dressing strangely; different in appearance, thought, action, religious practice. Christians don't expend a single thought to just how radical John is. In modern terms he's a backwoods hippie and just as such as person would be ignored and rebuked today by the religious status quo, so John would have been in his time. But John is not to be ignored, for even though he is away from the cities and authorities, lest he be put to death (which eventually happens, radical that he is), thousands look for him and flock to him. John's practice and ideas fly directly in the face of Judaic theology and law. John has a different practice and idea, and it's the new way. Huge crowds seek him and he is especially popular with women - hugely popular, beyond rock star popular, because he has a simple message: You do not require a penis for covenant with God.
I'm sure there is more than one person laughing aloud upon reading this, but consider the covenant that Abram makes with God in becoming Abraham - the Jewish practice of circumcism. Too bad if you're a woman, because you didn't matter anyway. And woman, lest you forget - every time I use this thing on you, you get to see visually that I have God on my side, that I can force God upon you, that I have covenant where you have nothing. You are nothing; you are a woman.
But John says that way is old. That way is outdated. There is another way, and that way is immersion in water. No one is allergic to water; everyone needs water. Water is the ultimate universal symbol of covenant. And, hey, what do you know - women can be immersed, too. Women can have covenant with God. Women are [/b]entitled
[/b] to covenant with God. Women get that. Women - thousands of women - go to the wilderness to be baptized.
Jesus does, too. The baptism of Jesus does several things: 1) It is the beginning of the mission and ministry of Jesus, 2) It symbolizes that covenant with God does in fact happen upon baptism, 3) It symbolizes the passing of old to new; of OT practice to NT practice, of the old (John) to the new (Jesus).
But Jesus is responsible for none of this. Jesus seeks out John and is baptized, and later instructs his disciples to also baptize. Jesus adopts not only the practice, but everything that goes along with it, overtly and implied. It is the new way. It overrides the old practice and law. It is available to everyone, even those who were nothing before, even (horror of horrors!) women
It is not a coincidence that the minstry and message of Jesus begins in this way with this background. This is the ministry and message from now on, and even though Jesus may obliquely talk about following Judaic law and the old customs, it is clear that is not his practice and message. The message of Jesus, at its core, is very simple and without exception: All are entitled to covenant with God. Everyone. No exceptions.