When Do You Not Call Someone a Christian?

Have you ever noticed how some statements tell us more about the person than what the words actually say?

So with Roman Catholicism, which at this [current] point in its history, I no longer believe to be a true Christian church any more than a Buddhist monastery.

— Alan (found in a post to the Internet Monk’s Forum)

In my meanderings around the Internet and blogsphere, I have on occasion stumbled upon sites that are anti-Christian, and specifically a few anti-Catholic sites. There are also anti-this-denomination and that-denomination sites too. I generally ignore them because they are not energy-giving or life-affirming.

What all of these “anti” sites have in common is that they, through various means, claim some particular denomination or church (or even part of a church) is apostate and have lost touch with the “real” Christ. Ironically, they seem to condemn these “misguided” people to hell, usually without indication of offering a prayer for their lost souls.

One particular site currently has a poll asking, “Of all Christian churches that exist today, how many do you believe have fallen away from Christ?” The choices are: less than 25%, between 25-50%, between 50-75%, and more than 75%. There is an option to leave a comment to the poll. I asked, “Where is the choice for zero percent?”

This journal entry is not meant to be a rant or a joke or to cause division. They are many, many groups that call themselves Christian. There are many people calling others non-Christians. Does calling yourself a Christian make you a Christian? Sorry, stupid question. Let me rephrase that. If someone, or some community, is honestly trying to put Christ first, to follow His two commandments, is that enough to call them Christian? What if their practices are questionable? What if their community or church messes up a couple, a few, some, or many of the ideas, principles, and practices laid down by the Apostles and early Christians? What if they have added a few ideas from other religions? Are we not allowed to call them Christian because of their practices? Does this spoil their good fruits? Where is the dividing line? Is there a dividing line? (Please don’t tell me it depends on how conservative or liberal one is.)

Now I know we are suppose to be our brother’s keeper. There are verses within scripture that say we are suppose to correct others with charity if they have strayed from their journey home, but there are also verses that say we are not to judge, that we must remove the splinter (beam of wood) from our eye first. Who on earth has a right to say that the Holy Spirit is not working in those communities? At best, cannot we honestly just say that some Christians are more, or less, in communion with the Body of Christ? Besides, who is the real judge anyway?

So, my poser to ponder for you: When do you not call a Christian a Christian?

Please note that although the Internet Monk has his opinions, it is not an anti-this or anti-that kind of site.

(I almost did not post this journal entry. It feels like I have sinned against charity. Please forgive me if I did.)

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