…rather, a Christian is what I am dedicated to becoming.
I was reminded of this important nuance via Peter Rollin’s one-time Christian post where he identifies himself as a “one-time Christian…now committed to the task of becoming Christian.”
Or as the apostle Paul says:
“For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
Another way of phrasing Paul’s argument is to simply say salvation is ongoing.
Unfortunately, this idea seems to be lost on contemporary evangelical culture. I believe this present dilemma is largely due to loud-mouth neo-fundie adherents of substitutionary atonement where salvation becomes reduced to a legal contract and the cross is our get-out-of-jail-free-card into Heaven.
(Not to mention the even-louder-mouthed penal-substitutionary-atonement sadists who think God had to kick Christ’s ass so God could get his required divine satisfaction.)
While substitionary atonement certainly has its place, a closer reading of the Gospels and the Letter’s of Paul show that Christ’s death and resurrection has a much wider purpose. Namely, the cross shows what it means to love, and how we are to live. Or as one of my favorite theologians likes to put it, the cross teaches us “who we are to be.” More on that later.
For a similar take see the following clip where Rich Mullins explains the difficulty of trying to answer when he “became a Christian.”