Christians: Is it the opinion that evolution did not happen and the belief that the earth is less than ten thousand years old that makes people Christians? Before embarking on the pros and cons of evolution it would do well to explain more about Christianity and Christians.
Ron was seventy-five years old when we had a discussion about Jesus and God- he has since died. Ron said that he did not believe in Jesus and thought God probably did not exist yet Ron said he was a Christian. I asked how can you be a Christian when you don't believe in Jesus or God. His reply was that he was a Christian because he obeyed the Ten Commandments; it was only common sense not to sleep with someone else's wife or kill. I said, "You can't be a Christian the very name Christian comes from Jesus Christ and you can't believe in the Ten Commandments because the very first is to love the Lord God with all your heart, mind, body, and soul. You believe God probably does not exist how can you obey that commandment?"
To Ron being a Christian meant living to a moral code. His background of being raised in a time when most attended church and had some biblical exposure caused Ron to call his ethics Christian. For a lot of people Christianity and being a Christian in their underlying thought is a moral standard. Sometimes the phrase "be more Christian" is heard.
When people ask me what religion I am I tell them I am a Christian. They then say "Yes but what church do you go to?" To which I say "There is only one Church, Christ's body, to which I belong. What you mean is the denomination I usually attend. ..." Although I knew what reply the questioner was after to begin with I purposely played obtuse, perhaps painfully, to make a point against a wrong mind set of theirs. Religions like Islam, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormon, and Sikhs and so on in some way claim a belief in Jesus. Many people say Jesus was a great teacher and humanitarian, he was a really good person. Many others and I consider the religions mentioned above not to be Christian. Just believing that Jesus was a great humanitarian and a really good person does not make you a Christian.
My hometown has had the Alpha course run recently. The Alpha course is a fairly informal course, there are no exams or tests but it is a friendly introduction to Christianity for those who are interested in learning about Christianity or who want to know more about their beliefs or those who are interested in becoming a Christian. The Alpha Course was concurrently run by the Anglican, the Apostolic, and the Assembly of God, the Baptist, the Catholic, the Open Brethren, the Presbyterian denominations and some others. Although these denominations are all thought to be different from each other all of them ran the same set of videotapes teaching about Christianity. Yet Mormonism, J.W.s, Sikhism, and certainly Islam would not agree with these tapes.
So what is Christianity and what is it to be a Christian? Before addressing the issues of creation verses evolution or whatever lets look at some of what Christians lay claim to and about them generally.
Christians believe in one utterly transcendent God who created all things and made human beings so as to have a relationship with God. Our relationship is damaged because we all are sinful, even in leading as good a life possible we all have fallen short of God's glory. But God so loves us and chose to wrought, salvation, justification, liberation, sanctification, redemption and glorification for us. That is we deserve punishment and death but God rescued us from our own fate paying the price for us and setting us free from sin, making us holy and righteous in his sight to receive the honours that are due to his own children. As far as the east is from the west has he removed our transgressions from us, (Ps.103:12). God wrought this through his Word, (and God's Word is not apart from God), becoming a man being conceived through the Holy Spirit in a virgin. This man is Jesus. Jesus was just like us as a human except for sin. Jesus was the perfect man and was not guilty of anything but was in a contrived manner unfairly prosecuted, he was taunted and made fun of, beaten, whipped and made to carry a cross to where he was nailed naked on it and placed on public display. Jesus through this took our sins and sickness upon himself becoming as sin there dying and descending into Hades. On the third day Jesus rose again and is alive ever more at God's right hand and is going to return to judge the living and the dead.
Salvation is held out and available to all. Jesus died for everyone. It is up to individuals to accept or reject Jesus when convicted to their need for healing and salvation. The working of the Holy Spirit upon a person's heart and life brings about this conviction.
Those who come to believe in Jesus and accept God in their life are given the gift of the Holy Spirit, the spirit of God and Jesus. The Spirit is Jesus' presence and the Father's presence to and in the person. God's indwelling. The person is a living temple of God as with other believers. The person therefore is, through the one Spirit, united to the Church that is Christ's body. The Spirit not only is God's presence in each of us but also in our midst, among us.
The Spirit has many functions to us although he is the same spirit. What to us are many and various functions of the Spirit demonstrate the one multifaceted wisdom of God, both simple and complex. Some of these are. A pledge, the Spirit is God's pledge; God has put down a deposit in the Christian, his own spirit that guarantees God will claim his own, that the person belongs to God. Just as in purchasing something a deposit is put down on an item that secures the right of purchase so too the Holy Spirit in the Christian is God's deposit. God has put his spirit on the Christian, a seal, his own seal denoting ownership, royal property as it were and God will take up his own.
A Christian is a child of God, having the Holy Spirit is to have the spirit of Son-ship to God. To come into God's Son-ship is not dependent on a person's social standing, race or language, how rich or poor or whether a person is male or female. To come into Gods Son-ship is to be led by the Spirit.
It is the Holy Spirit who counsels and comforts us and sustains us. The Spirit is the renewer of our hearts and minds empowering us. The roles of the Holy Spirit are many and these stated above are just some. All members of Christ's body have the one spirit however no member has the exact same expression of the Spirit in their life, or are the gift or gifts of the Spirit to one exactly the same as someone else. Just as Jesus appointed twelve apostles but the expression of each apostle's role was different, one to another.
For some on becoming a Christian their life miraculously changes in a way that is very apparent. Addictions are broken; behaviour and lifestyle become a stark contrast to what it was before being a Christian. For other people they do not experience such a radical turn about in their life upon becoming a Christian although there still has been a miraculous change. Some know exactly when they became a Christian while others know that they now are a Christian and at one time they were not but as to exactly when is unsure but it was a growing conviction over a period of weeks, months or whatever. This of course does not just happen there would have been a searching, and a finding.
Lastly Christians believe the Bible is divinely inspired and contains the revelations of God. The literal translation of the Greek word for inspired is "God breathed". The Bible is more than a book, or a collection of books, it is canonical. Christians believe the Bible is authoritative. Christians believe in the Bible.