The first time I thought of myself as a Christian was when I was 15 years old, after I had said the “sinner’s prayer” (though I had believed in God and Jesus from the time I was about 5 years old).
During my teens, I attended a Pentecostal church for several years with my father. I was taught that a real Christian is someone who believes everything in the bible is literally true. That it was the “word of God”.
For that reason, I fully accepted that Jesus was the Son of God, was born of a virgin, performed miracles, was risen from the dead, ascended into heaven, left the “holy spirit” to live within us. And that true believes would be “raptured” into heaven just before God unleashes seven-years of “tribulation” on the non-believers who will be left behind, etc.
Christian denominations squabble over some of the details, but very few doubt that Jesus was God in the flesh, was born of virgin, was risen from the dead, or that “salvation” happens through believing in the “finished work of Christ on the cross”.
This is generally what I would call fundamentalist Christianity. Most of these Christians would not consider me a Christian today. And in that context, I’m not (though I would be perfectly okay with Jesus being God in the flesh).
What’s true to me now, is that God is love. That the “Kingdom of God” is within us. That Jesus understood this and was a living example of that truth. He was the epitome of forgiveness and humility.
That is the type of Christian I am now. One who wants to be more like Christ.
A fundamentalist will tell you that you can’t have it both ways. That you can’t pick and choose what to believe in the bible, and you can’t interpret its message on your own. That you need a “spiritual father” to tell you what it all means. But the truth is you can and you must pick and choose.
Biblical scholars have known for years that the bible is full of inconsistencies and that some of the books and letters of the bible are outright forgeries. Most Christians don’t know that. I didn’t know it until about four years ago. No preacher or bible teacher ever told me.
But now the scales have fallen off and I can see that I was deceived. That most of Christendom has been deceived. It’s time to wake up and educate ourselves and to trust that if God is real, he is capable of being our guide. Even the bible says so (1 John 2:27).
So, am I a Christian? Yes, I am. But I use that term loosely.
Even the early Christians didn’t call themselves Christians. That was a term non-Christians used to describe them. They were students and followers of Jesus. I put myself in that category. No labels necessary.
I consider myself a student and follower of many people. I want to be more like people who are/were a living example of the truth.
Truth is grounded in love, peace, simplicity, and humility. I believe these qualities represent the character of God. These are the qualities we should all want to cultivate, regardless of what we label ourselves.
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