The QuasiChristian

Critical Thinking and Spiritual Reasoning

Onward, Christian Soldier – Part 2

Jesus is considered by scholars such as Weber ...

Image via Wikipedia

The series “Onward, Christian Soldier” continues with clarification of the term “Christian” from a historical perspective. Look up the word Christian in your dictionary and you’ll find definitions similar to the following:

  • of Christ’s teachings or religion
  • believing in or following the religion based on the teachings of Jesus Christ
  • showing the qualities associated with Christ’s teachings

On the surface, these appear to be descriptive enough to grasp the meaning of the label. Upon further examination, you’ll notice that these definitions are quite ambiguous. Why? Christ’s teachings are central to each one. Without knowledge of this information you’re back at square one. How does one determine what those teachings are? For the average person this necessitates attending local church services and/or viewing Christian broadcast programs, being a passive recipient of strategically selected and packaged information. Whatever disseminates conforms to the agenda of the leadership within that particular organization of believers.

In the earliest years of Christianity the Church was united with no classification system of beliefs or denominational names (e.g., Baptist or Roman Catholic). Local churches didn’t have names and were simply referred to by their location (e.g., church at Corinth). The new movement of Christianity didn’t even have a formal name and many Christians simply considered themselves Jews who followed Jesus.

It wasn’t until other Jews saw that the disciples of Jesus were preaching and winning converts that they recognized this competing approach to life. They referred to the Christian community with several names: Nazarenes, Galileans, Followers of the Way, and Christians. I want to focus on Followers of the Way, as this is very telling about early Christianity. Such a designation implies that Christianity was not a belief that exists in theory rather than practice; it was an entire way of life.

It’s intriguing that this way of living was obvious to those around Christians and to the Christians themselves. These individuals were following Jesus’ lifestyle, the way he had lived and taught. Today, if one were to hear the phrase “Followers of the Way,” the mind would conjure up images of a fringe religious sect whose members are brainwashed by their leader who believes he’s God.

Part three in this series will continue to shape the historical background of Jesus’ followers. Until then, stay rational.

Onward, Christian Soldier – Part 1

Onward, Christian Soldier – Part 3

August 19, 2010 Posted by | Christian Education | , , , , , | Leave a comment