1. London
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    12 Sep '05 23:101 edit
    Since there has been some debate recently over whether Catholics and Mormons are Christians, I thought it might be a good idea to try and see if we could come up with a "litmus" test for Christians.

    The first place to look would be the dictionary:

    Merriam-Webster Online:
    http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?book=Dictionary&va=christian

    Main Entry: 1Chris·tian
    Pronunciation: 'kris-ch&n, 'krish-
    Function: noun
    Etymology: Latin christianus, adjective & n., from Greek christianos, from Christos
    1 a : one who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ

    As I pointed out elsewhere, even an atheist who follows the teachings of Christ will satisfy this definition, so we need something more specific if we are to arrive at the more common sense view of Christians.

    I propose that the Apostle's Creed might be the best candidate for such a litmus test. In its modern formulation, it reads:

    (1) I believe in God the Father Almighty Creator of Heaven and earth
    (2) And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord;
    (3) Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary,
    (4) Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried;
    (5) He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead;
    (6) He ascended into Heaven, sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
    (7) From thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
    (8) I believe in the Holy Ghost,
    (9) The Holy Catholic (LH: "Universal" ) Church, the communion of saints
    (10) The forgiveness of sins,
    (11) The resurrection of the body, and
    (12) life everlasting.

    As far as I can tell, this formulation should be acceptable to Gnostics, Arians, Unitarians, Monophysites, Monothelites etc.

    Comments welcome.

    ---
    References:

    (1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apostles_Creed
    (2) http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01629a.htm
    ---

    Cheers,

    LH
  2. Standard memberDoctorScribbles
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    12 Sep '05 23:131 edit
    Originally posted by lucifershammer
    Since there has been some debate recently over whether Catholics and Mormons are Christians, I thought it might be a good idea to try and see if we could come up with a "litmus" test for Christians.

    The first place to look would be the dictionary:

    Merriam-Webster Online:
    http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?book=Dictionary&va=christian

    Ma ...[text shortened]... ia.org/wiki/Apostles_Creed
    (2) http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01629a.htm
    ---

    Cheers,

    LH
    You made the claim that some denominations can be "less Christian" than others. How does that manifest under your proposed litmus test? Does it arise when a denomination holds fewer clauses of the creed to be true? If two denominations hold all clauses to be true, are they equally Christian?
  3. SubscriberAThousandYoung
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    12 Sep '05 23:161 edit
    Originally posted by lucifershammer
    Since there has been some debate recently over whether Catholics and Mormons are Christians, I thought it might be a good idea to try and see if we could come up with a "litmus" test for Christians.

    The first place to look would be the dictionary:

    Merriam-Webster Online:
    http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?book=Dictionary&va=christian

    Ma ...[text shortened]... ia.org/wiki/Apostles_Creed
    (2) http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01629a.htm
    ---

    Cheers,

    LH
    I think a Christian would be a person who believes Jesus was the Messiah and God and who accepts Jesus' death as a self sacrifice that washed that person free of sin.
  4. Standard memberUmbrageOfSnow
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    12 Sep '05 23:21
    1. Get some litmus paper
    2. Get them to spit on it
    3. Those groups who test more acidic are more christian
    Simple
  5. London
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    12 Sep '05 23:30
    Originally posted by DoctorScribbles
    You made the claim that some denominations can be "less Christian" than others. How does that manifest under your proposed litmus test? Does it arise when a denomination holds fewer clauses of the creed to be true? If two denominations hold all clauses to be true, are they equally Christian?
    As a quantitatively oriented person, I would have to say - broadly, yes.
  6. Standard memberDoctorScribbles
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    12 Sep '05 23:35
    Originally posted by lucifershammer
    As a quantitatively oriented person, I would have to say - broadly, yes.
    Can a denomination become less Christian by supplementing the Creed with additional yet consistent clauses of belief, such as

    (13) We believe that Jesus actually had white skin, long brown hair and blue eyes, as depicted in many children's books and paint-by-numbers.
  7. London
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    12 Sep '05 23:43
    Originally posted by DoctorScribbles
    Can a denomination become less Christian by supplementing the Creed with additional yet consistent clauses of belief, such as

    (13) We believe that Jesus actually had white skin, long brown hair and blue eyes, as depicted in many children's books and paint-by-numbers.
    If denomination X believed in the clause you mentioned, then the addition of that clause would constitute a "scorecard" for X, not Christianity in general.

    The idea is to find a least common denominator for all Christians (including heretics) as we commonly understand the term.
  8. Donationbbarr
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    13 Sep '05 00:262 edits
    Originally posted by lucifershammer
    If denomination X believed in the clause you mentioned, then the addition of that clause would constitute a "scorecard" for X, not Christianity in general.

    The idea is to find a least common denominator for all Christians (including heretics) as we commonly understand the term.
    So self-professed Christians who do not believe in the physical resurrection of the body are less Christian than those who do?
  9. Standard memberDoctorScribbles
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    13 Sep '05 00:313 edits
    Originally posted by bbarr
    So self-professed Christians who do not believe in the physical resurrection of the body are less Christian than those who do?
    Apparently. Curiously, the proprosed test requires no adherence to the teachings of Jesus, such as those regarding loving one's fellow man, but only faith in certain facts about the nature of Jesus. Under this test, one could hold that one must not love his fellow man and still be as much of a Christian as anybody who believes the Creed.

    So much for "They will know we are Christians by our love."
  10. London
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    13 Sep '05 00:421 edit
    Originally posted by DoctorScribbles
    Apparently. Curiously, the proprosed test requires no adherence to the teachings of Jesus, such as those regarding loving one's fellow man, but only faith in certain facts about the nature of Jesus. Under this test, one could hold that one must not love his fellow man and still be as much of a Christian as anybody who believes the Creed.

    So much for "They will know we are Christians by our love."
    The idea of using the Apostles Creed is to provide a test that matches up to common sense.

    In any case, it would not make sense for a person to hold that Jesus was the only Son of God and reject his key teachings.
  11. Donationbbarr
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    13 Sep '05 00:43
    Originally posted by DoctorScribbles
    Apparently. Curiously, the proprosed test requires no adherence to the teachings of Jesus, such as those regarding loving one's fellow man, but only faith in certain facts about the nature of Jesus. Under this test, one could hold that one must not love his fellow man and still be as much of a Christian as anybody who believes the Creed.

    So much for "They will know we are Christians by our love."
    Nice point. Perhaps the term 'believe' in the above creed is supposed to indicate something more than just doxastic commitment. When someone claims "I believe in love", they rarely mean merely "I believe in the existence of love".
  12. Donationbbarr
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    13 Sep '05 00:47
    Originally posted by lucifershammer
    The idea of using the Apostles Creed is to provide a test that matches up to common sense.

    In any case, it would not make sense for a person to hold that Jesus was the only Son of God and reject his key teachings.
    There is no analytical connection between believing that Jesus was the son of God and being motivated to act in accord with his teachings. If you want to maintain that those who bomb abortion clinics are not real Christians (as I'm sure you do), then you ought to ammend the above criteria to include acting in accord with Jesus' teachings.
  13. Hmmm . . .
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    13 Sep '05 00:47
    Originally posted by lucifershammer
    Since there has been some debate recently over whether Catholics and Mormons are Christians, I thought it might be a good idea to try and see if we could come up with a "litmus" test for Christians.

    The first place to look would be the dictionary:

    Merriam-Webster Online:
    http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?book=Dictionary&va=christian

    Ma ...[text shortened]... ia.org/wiki/Apostles_Creed
    (2) http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01629a.htm
    ---

    Cheers,

    LH
    Good question! And perhaps about time that a thread was devoted to it.

    I would think that using the Apostle’s Creed (or the Nicene Creed, for that matter) as a test, raises the question of interpretation of the various creedal affirmations. For example, Unitarians, Arians and Monophysites would have to interpret the creed differently from a “Chalcedonian” Christian in order to accept it. So would those who interpret “resurrection of the body” allegorically or symbolically or metaphorically (goes to bbarr’s question). Similarly, an Eastern Orthodox Christian is likely to view the creedal content more mystically than, say, a fundamentalist Protestant (using that term in its strictest “technical sense” here).

    I have stopped calling myself “Christian” over these very issues, while recognizing that Christianity offers a version of the “perennial philosophy” as valid as any other. (You might say “more valid,” but I’ll accept that in abeyance for now.) For example, as I have asserted more than once, one who finds Paul’s ouketi ego has found the Christian equivalent of samadhi, and one who experiences Paul’s en emoi Christos has experienced the Christian equivalent of the tathagata.
  14. Standard memberDoctorScribbles
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    13 Sep '05 00:502 edits
    Originally posted by lucifershammer


    In any case, it would not make sense for a person to hold that Jesus was the only Son of God and reject his key teachings.
    Perhaps not, given your understanding of Christianity, but it is consistent with the Creed, which is your proposed sufficient criterion.

    It only fails to make sense if your notion of Christianity necessarily encompasses something more than your proposed sufficient criterion.

    Edit: What bbarr said.
  15. Subscriberno1marauder
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    13 Sep '05 00:52
    Originally posted by DoctorScribbles
    Perhaps not, given your understanding of Christianity, but it is consistent with the Creed, which is your proposed sufficient criterion.

    It only fails to make sense if your notion of Christianity necessarily encompasses something more than your proposed sufficient criterion.
    Indeed as the Creed makes no mention of the Bible itself, one could reject that the Bible contains ANY of Jesus' teachings and still satisfy the criteria given.
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