Tuesday, December 18, 2012

What Is Christianity Anyway?

     There are many "versions" of Christianity out there.  Just for the sake of my readers' sanity, however, I'll only focus on the three biggies:  Christianity as a Philosophy, Religion, or Relationship.

     Christianity can be either one depending on where you place your values, but when done right, it's all at the same time.  I used to argue with vehemence that Christianity is a relationship, and that's all.  Others will argue vehemently that it is a religion.  And then there are those who will argue that Christianity is a philosophy.  Just to muddy the waters, I've come to present another opinion: that Christianity is (d) all of the above.  

     A:  Christianity as a philosophy.  When you grow up with it, but only go so far as to accept the beliefs.  You can spend your whole life believing yourself to be a Christian simply because you can argue to Christianity's defense, get a college degree in Christian philosophy, attend a seminary, etc., but your heart can still be devoid of the Holy Spirit.  This is the reason we have those progressive Atheists that used to be pastors.  They found out that the Christian walk is hard, and the philosophy was the only thing that kept them involved in the Church, but had no faith that gave them endurance, no religion to live, and no relationship to assure them that the struggle was worth it.  

     B:  Christianity as a religion.  When a person blindly follows Christianity, and the only qualification as a Christian is that their parents are Christians, and they grew up in the Church.  When a person has Christianity as only a religion, they exclude the crucial relationship with God, the faith that keeps them rooted in Christ, and the philosophy that allows them to share it.  In short:  they take it for granted. 

     Side note/Sweeping generalisation:  The religious and philosophical aspects often go hand-in-hand, but one with religion and good reasoning can go their whole life and not even give a thought to their relationship with Christ.  Taking only those two can potentially make one very self-righteous, and make one think that they are lacking nothing, or may have had a false conversion at some point and thought that was it.  God can come to someone, and the person can respond, but that is not the same as the Holy Spirit entering and dwelling in the person's heart.  Be careful with how you balance your religiosity and philosophicality (that's a new word).  

     C:  Christianity as a relationship.  This is the purest facet of Christianity.  A person's relationship with God is the only facet that remains forever, regardless of the circumstances.  Once you belong to God, you're His forever.  This is the foundation on which all other facets should be built.  The other facets can't be sustained forever without the fundamental relationship, but a person has that relationship with their Savior even if they lose faith, can't convince an Atheist, and/or fail to be fruitful.  The relationship is what gives one the desire to learn the philosophy and live the religion.

     D:  All of the above.  This is when one finds that steady, middle ground, where they have that fundamental relationship with Christ, are well-reasoned and able to stand against the secular tide, and are fruitful and consistent in the Walk.   This is difficult as all get-out, and it's easy to deviate from one facet or another.

     I have a testimonial for y'all.  I'm sure many of my Facebook/Twitter friends are aware of a run-in I had with some Atheists on Twitter over Thanksgiving Break.  There, they were heavily challenging and criticising my beliefs, and I ended up getting all logical/philosophical with them, and was forced to abandon talking about my relationship and faith because they didn't think they were valid reasons for the stand I took.  It certainly made me think of things I hadn't before, but it left me feeling exceedingly drained, spiritually and emotionally, because I overworked that philosophical muscle and neglected all the others.

     No wonder those who only rely on the philosophy alone bail!  It's exhausting!!  It took a lot of prayer and consolation before I recovered, and I learnt something of infinite value:  You can't argue someone into a conversion, but it is a quick and easy way to make someone extremely jaundiced against Christianity.  Argument is not evangelism, and it took a kick in the pants for me to realise that.  So, be careful with how you present the Gospel.  We are called to share the Gospel, but how you do so it is crucial.  

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