I am Not a Christian…

September 4th, 2009 / 3 Comments

…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.”

Comments (3)

  1. YouKnowWhoIAm! / January 9, 2010

    I love thinking that salvation is ongoing, because it makes me think of healing and the redemption of the world, but I think a comprehensive view of salvation is past, present, and future, i.e., we have been saved from slavery to sin, we are being healed (saved) inwardly and in community right now, and we will be saved from the wrath that is to come.

    My controversial claim is that none of us are Christians; the best we can do is to try. Maybe sometime we’ll sit by the ocean and drink pina coladas (or beer!) and talk about that.

    Sorry - I should have commented earlier, Scott. I hope things are well with you. We should hang out in February (if you haven’t figured out who this is, just check my IP)

  2. robert Gelinas / March 6, 2010 / http://www.jazztheologian.com

    Hello my brother.
    I’m sorry my decision to move to Beliefnet.com constitutes a hassle for you. That is not my desire. I’m also sure it was not your desire to infer that I am serving God for the purpose of gaining “chump change.” The money variable does not come into play for me for a couple of reasons. One, the chances of my blog garnering enough hits to even fall into the pay scale beliefnet is slim to none. Two, I’m am a practicing Christians, as yourself and thus I’m endeavoring to seek only the kingdom of God–meaning that money is not my motivation. Rather, opportunity to be on a site that many atheists, God-seekers, muslims etc. will perhaps stumble upon my words is worth the inconvenience…it’s kind of like the parable of the lost sheep in my mind only at Beliefnet.com there are thousands of lost sheep wandering around. Additionally, I am a fan of Paul who sought to communicate the gospel at the mall in Athens, in the midst of advertising he shared Christ even though there was not financial gain in it for himself.

    Once again, I am sorry for the inconvenience this causes you. If I might humbly make a request–please be more careful in your public commenting about people you do not know personally–in the process you malign their integrity and character based upon incomplete knowledge. Or to put it this way, “love always protects, always trusts, always hopes”–let’s assume the best of our fellow brethren–all of us are not out serving God for “chump change.”

    God’s best to you,
    robert gelinas

  3. Lisa / July 16, 2010

    I like to say that to. I am working to become a Christian. Perhaps that is a better way. I am working on becoming a Christian, but this is impossible if you just believe in the word of God in text, but not in that he will give the desires of your heart.

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