Who is a Christian?

I had a discussion with Serendipper who claimed that any one can be a Christian as long as s/he claimed to be a Christian and do what s/he thinks is necessary to fit that definition.

I do not agree and believe there must be an objective definition that should meet God’s definition of ‘who is a Christian’ thus qualify for all the divine rewards as promised by God for believing in God and obeying his commands and words delivered via Jesus as presented the Gospels [not Acts nor Epistles] in the NT.

Regardless of yours, Hitchens, Watts, or anyone’s definition of ‘who is a Christian per se’ there must be some objective standards [God’s] to their definitions.

Per Christian theology, there is no way God will accord ‘eternal life in heaven’ to anyone who merely claimed s/he is a Christian on Judgment Day. God is supposedly all powerful, all knowing and is not stupid in accepting anyone’s subjective claim.
In any case, the omniscient God would already knows a person’s status whether s/he was a Christian or not by God’s own standards.

Thus a Christian must first know what is God’s objective definition of ‘who is a Christian’ rather than relying on his own subjective definition.

Now, from a rational, critical thinking and philosophical perspective, the objective definition of ‘who is a Christian’ has to fall back on the Gospels of the NT, i.e. as per the words and doctrines from God.

As such ‘who is a Christian’ is one who has entered into a covenant [explicitly or implicitly] with God.

The terms of the covenant/contract can only be in the Gospels of the NT.

For any wannabe Christian to claim his/her own subjective definition [anything goes] is an insult to the Christian’s God.

Any dispute the above requirements for an objective definition in conformance with God’s standards of ‘Who is a Christian’?

Well… what you’ve said and taking the holy sacraments, to boot, as everyone knows that the first step to being a born again Christian is to be baptised into it, and only then will you be accepted into the faith in the eyes of Our Lord.

You, as an atheist, can’t decide that the criteria of what you consider an imaginary being is what decides who is X. The people who categorize themselves get to do this. Other Christians can certainly get in the discussion and disagree, which obviously happens. But it makes no sense for you to think you KNOW what qualifies someone to be in that category, since your argument is based on an appeal to an authority you either think does not exist or an authority (the Bible) which you think is fiction, especially it should be added, that this latter authority, that collection of texts, leaves so many ways to interpret being a Christian.

Good point!

It’s also a No True Scotsman Argument. “That’s not a true christian; a true christian does _______”.


Person A: “No Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge.”
Person B: “But my uncle Angus is a Scotsman and he puts sugar on his porridge.”
Person A: “But no true Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge.”

Person A: “No Christian engages in war.”
Person B: “But my uncle Angus is a Christian and he engaged in war.”
Person A: “But no true Christian engages in war.”

That’s where we are.

I don’t see why he can’t. One can get a list of characteristics of Christians from the NT. One can determine how many of those characteristics a specific “Christian” has.

It’s the same if someone claims to be a Jedi. Refer to the Star Wars movies and decide if he has the characteristics of a Jedi. It’s not necessary to believe that any of it is real.

Yes, “baptism”, I missed this critical point.

I presume “baptism” [not always using water] is the critical requirement to recognize someone as a Christian.
Are the any exception to this?

What is critical is the implication of baptism and becoming a Christian that one has entered into a covenant [read contract] with God and surrendering one’s will to God’s will via the commands and teachings of Jesus Christ [i.e. the terms of the contract].

The terms of the contract has to be from God directly via Christ which mean essentially what is stipulated in the Gospels.

So the point is one cannot claim to be a Christian merely based on one’s subjective feelings and dictates.

Nah, nothing to do with my non-theism. Note Phyllo’s point.

I am grounding my views on the philosophical perspective, i.e. logic, rationality, critical thinking and philosophical tools to form my conclusions re “Who is a Christian?”

Obviously the “teachings” of Jesus Christ are represented in the Gospels in the NT.
Note my philosophical and objective justifications in above post.


As stated above,

What is critical is the implication of baptism and becoming a Christian.
Baptism implies one has entered into a covenant [read contract] with God and surrendering one’s will to God’s will via the commands and teachings of Jesus Christ [i.e. the terms of the contract].

The terms of the contract has to be from God directly via Christ which mean essentially what is stipulated in the Gospels within the NT.

Yes, placing a small amount of water on a baby’s forehead and making some specific sounds means the newborn won’t burn in hellfire for eternity.

To paraphrase Jim Jefferies.

How could you not believe in such a noble religion, you monsters!

Yes you believe the vast majority of babies worldwide who are not Christian will endure endless maximal pain forever because they weren’t born in the right place to know the right book instead of theirs.

Oh wait, you don’t “have” to be Baptised, so what then? Keep retreating those goalposts from what the Bible explicitly says until it fits your own personal conscience, which you conveniently fit to God.
Yeah the stuff you don’t like in the book doesn’t match your personal conscience? Better attribute your own sense of morality to some book that you need to correct to fit your own sense of morality, because the book is the ultimate source of morality in the first place. What do you mean, “circular logic”?

Which is not the same as deciding what a Christian is. And it would include what he, an atheist, considers the proper interpretation of those qualities, how to measure them, how to prioritize them, and given the contradictions or complexities (however one wants to view them) in the NT or really the Bible as a whole, an outsider cannot tell someone if they are or not. Again, it is an appeal to authority that he does not think is an authority.

Then no one is a Jedi. Prismatic thinks he can say who are and who are not and that there are some in both categories. There would be no Jedi, unless you, Phyllo, think that some people have the powers, not just the outfits, of Jedi.

You need to feel that you have a method to determine which criteria are critical, which are not, to what degree one must meet them. Christians can do this since they believe in various authorities to sort out the complexities of the Bible. He does not believe in any of these authorities.

If the Bible was very simple and it said You are a Christian if you sang praises to God while being baptized, and that’s it. It makes it clear that is the only criterion. Sure, OK. At least in relation to any Christian who said that passage is the one that makes it clear what a Christian is and/or there is nothing elsewhere that muddies the waters.

Or does prismatic have a meter that measures if you have Jesus in your heart…? And whose authority does he appeal to to say that the person who believes this is the criterion is wrong? does he appeal to the Bible? He can’t. He doesn’t believe it is a true document. Perhaps it’s the Gnostic Gospels. Perhaps Jesus came to the person in a prayer induced vision. The Bible does not make it clear, though it says, sure a lot of stuff that can be used as evidence by those who believe the Bible is God’s word, and even they have trouble.

Here’s the liar who says you were one of the bank robbers.

I am not a Christian. I cannot imagine going to the Bible, finding some quotes, then telling someone who says they are a Christian that they are not one. Even an illiterate person who says Jesus came to them in a vision and they love Him, and try to good, because they can feel his goodness. I think it is loopy for a non-believer to think they can use an appeal to the authority of something they think is made up mythical untrue stuff, to tell that person they are not in a certain category. Not only would the argument be fallacious, it would be rude.

His point doesn’t work, see above.

That is true for some Christians and their interpretation of the Bible, but not for others. You are not an authority for all Christians or any particular sect or group. And given that you do not believe in God, you cannot claim to know the right way to interpret the Bible. Of course those who do believe in God have problems demonstrating that their interpretaiton is correct, but at least they can say they believe in whatever authority they do, including that it is God talkign through the Bible. Heck there are the Gnostic Gospels, perhaps those are right.

That implies that by simply declaring yourself a Christian, then you have a better ability to interpret, measure and prioritize than an atheist. That doesn’t seem possible. Your abilities have not changed. What has actually changed in you?

You’re not a Jedi and (I imagine) you don’t believe Star Wars is real … yet you are able to say that “no one is a Jedi”. No doubt that is some sort of reasoning which is based on the Star Wars movies - Jedi characterized by “having powers” for instance.

But the authorities are just some people “fleshing out” the details. They don’t have any more reasoning ability, understanding or “connection” to God than an equally intelligent and educated atheist.

Then you would agree with Prismatic if it was clear and simple. Therefore, in principle he must be right. The only disagreement seems to be about the role of complexity.

He’s not a mind reader so he has to rely on the observable behavior of the “Christian”. That’s what he is judging.

It seems that they have the same problem, although they are “inside”, as the atheist who is outside. They don’t have any advantage when doing the evaluation.

Then how can you make these statements about the relationships of a Christian to the Bible, to the Christian authorities?
You are stating how a Christian is defined.
It appears that if we accept your argument, then you, yourself, would not be in a position to make the argument. You’re an outsider.

By Prism’s definition, Christians do not exist; it’s an empty set.

Now with the additional baptism requirement, it’s even harder to populate.

He’s looking for a way to demonize Islam with respect to Christianity while I say Christianity is just as dangerous, if not more so, principally because people think it’s not. Christianity is the root of antisemitism, for Christ’s sake.

So he says anyone who murders is not a Christian; anyone who is evil is not a Christian; wars started by Christians were not really Christians because Christians cannot do wrong by definition of being a Christian.

He’s put Christianity on a pedestal as an angel of light.

2 Corinthians 11:14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.

So let’s see… violent islam or docile chrisitianity? Decisions decisions.

I used to preach it myself:

Matthew 24:24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

Can you be deceived by a vile 10-headed beast? What will deceive people will be angels of light.

That doesn’t seem possible. Your abilities have not changed. What has actually changed in you?
It’s not that your abilities have changed, it is that it makes sense for you to argue that the Bible means that you are only a christian if… or that you are only a christian if X based on some religious authority. It makes no sense for someone who thinks religious authorities are liars or fantasts to appeal to religious authority.

I pointed out was a bad example, because in one instance prismatic thinks there are Christians, in the other no one would think there are Jedis. One is presented as fiction and considered fiction. And how can he possibly determine the truth based on what he considers fiction. I am a fiction writer and reader. I can appeal to the authority of a fictional story that is considered fiction and draw conclusions from it. It is not dependent on me believing it is describing the real. There is nothing I need to believe to draw those conclusions.

Right but since they consider the Bible or whatever a religious authority, iow one that connects them to got it makes sense for them to draw conclusions. They may be wrong, but it makes sense for htem to appeal to authority. It is nonsense for prismatic to appeal to the authority of the Bible when he does not believe it is an authority.

If all Christians believed the Bible was the authority and it was simple. But that is not the situation. There are Christians who think the Bible left out key texts - or the only true ones, like the gnostics. I am in no position and neither is prismatic to tell they are wrong. I and P are in no position to tell someone who says they love Jesus, but do not fit the Bible’s criteria, are not Christian.

It’s one problem and a big one. What do you think? How could a non-christian possibly figure out what to prioritize. A Christian can (claim to be) be divinely inspired to prioritized and interpret. He can’t…

Well, since Christianity may very well be about internal, not visible, not measurable attributes and one can certainly use postions of the NT to back that up, he has no way to measure.

Sure, they do. They can claim that the Bible is the authority. He can’t. Perhaps they are just as fallible, but it makes sense when they say they can draw conclusions form a book they consider contains the truth and it does not makes sense for him to say he can draw conclusions from a book he considered false and deluded.

You are arguing he has as much chance of being right. I am arguing that his argument makes no sense at all.

I would be like me saying I know how magic should be used because Gandalf told me.

I stated many ways Christians are defined. By Christians.

I can actually see many but not all the ways Christians define themselves. That I can see. I am not in a position to say which are right or wrong. I would consider it ridiculous to tell them. I am not arguing they are right, or which ones are right.

Your ‘some’ is very misleading.

Note this list of those who practiced Baptism [mostly with water] and those who don’t

It would appear that the majority of the 2+ billion of Christians around the world practiced baptism as a qualification to be a Christian.

As for the non-practitioners, there are appx 210,000 Quakers around the world.
bbc.co.uk/religion/religions … rs_1.shtml
What is 210,000 to 2+ billion, I believe the others in the non-baptism list are lesser than 200K.

Note this:
In principle [P1], there is an implied covenant [read contract] by the believer with God to comply with God’s words [Gospels via Jesus] in exchange for a promise of eternal life in heaven.
You have not counter this point which is universal for anyone to be a member of a group, in this case, Christians.

It is obvious, I am not an authority for ALL Christianity, so is everybody else.

The point is I am applying universal philosophical principles of rationality, critical thinking, logic, etc. to justify my point.
We are in a philosophical forum, would you rely on any Christian’s claim or rather a claim with philosophical and rational justifications.

Btw, I am sure a judge, jury or any official who is not a Christian can decide on whether a person is a Christian or not based on general principles in terms of membership to a Christian organization.

The critical point for me is; a Christian is one who has surrendered his will to God as expressed by Jesus Christ via the Gospels.
In principle [P1] this implies a Christian must comply with whatever is stated in the Gospels in the NT in order to be rewarded on Judgment Day with eternal life in heaven.

It does not matter if it is the Gnostic Gospels since the same principle [P1] as above applies.

The same basic principle [P1] applies to all theists within the mainstream religions.

The consequence of the above principle P1 of an obligatory compliance by a believer with the official holy texts [at the extreme] is;

  1. Christian = love all [even] your enemies

  2. Muslim = kill non-Muslims when Islam is threatened [vague definition of ‘threat’]

How so?

Baptism is the outer indicator and note the majority of Christian groups practice baptism.
My definition of who is a Christian is one who has surrender his will to God via Jesus Christ and this implies in principle, a Christian must comply with whatever is in the Gospels.
What is wrong with this?

It does not matter if it is the Gnostic Gospels, it is still Christ’s Gospel, the basic principle is the same.

I am using the same principle for all the theistic religions.

A member of any of the theistic religion is one who has surrendered his will to God and promises via a covenant [read contract] to obey God words [the holy texts from God via agent] in exchange for God’s favor to grant him eternal life in heaven.

I have never put Christianity as an angel of light. Christianity has its negative baggage and I believe ALL religions must be weaned off [replaced] eventually.

What I have done was to compare Judaism, Christianity and Islam relatively.

How can you make the comparison if you have not read the Quran thoroughly and research into the linking of the evil laden verses in the Quran directly to all the evil and violent acts committed by SOME evil prone Muslims?

Christians [as human beings] had killed millions but has any of these killers ever justify their killing to Jesus Christ words in the Gospels? Had they shouted Jesus-u-Akbar before they kill?
I have argued the so-labelled Christians killed others as being human and not as Christian per-se.

On the other hand, those SOME evil prone Muslims who killed did it as directed by their God within the Quran.

Note I am not drawing conclusions from a book I considered false and deluded.

My approach is philosophical, epistemological, etc.
My point is based on the principle and definition of who qualify to be a member of any group, in this case, Christians.
There are many criteria for a person to belong to a group, i.e. in terms biology, e.g. race, clans, or by acceptance via some initiation process.

In the case of being a member of a theistic religion, a member of a religion has to go through some sort of initiation process.
In the case of a Christian, the majority [98%??] has to be baptized mostly water-based or other forms.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baptism#S … ng_baptism

In the baptism initiation, the inherent implication [explicitly or otherwise] is, a Christian would have surrendered his will to God and will obey the words of God as presented by Jesus Christ in the Gospels in the NT or the gnostic gospels. There is no way a person can be a Christian if the gospels [incl gnostics] are not involved.

Note I have read up many articles [googled ‘who is a Christian’] on the above on who is a Christians and their views are the same as mine.

If you disagree, show me references where it is up to anyone to claim for himself to be Christian by any means.

Phyllo also:

First, you negate your entire argument when you say that 98% go through the initiation. This means some do not. So by your own admission your criterion is not universal. Second your own link SPECIFICALLY mentions Christian groups that do not use Baptism. Third, I am not arguing who real Christians are. I am arguing that you cannot say who are, because anything that you consider a criterion, you must accept some religious authority on. You must argue that it is the criterion because God, this church, these religious believers believe it. BUT since you do not think they have special knowledge, this makes no sense. You cannot argue that these religious poeple are right, but the others who claim they are christians but did not meet your criteria are wrong, because you have no authority that you respect to base this conclusion on. You have no way to rule out individual believers in Jesus as their deity who have not met your criteria. Is it because there are less of them? That is an ad populum fallacy. Is it because the Catholic Church and the Baptists are right and those individuals are wrong? That is saying they have special knowledge, which you do not believe since you think they are deluded.

Jesus. Just give up this silliness.

And what the heck do any of us gain if we non-Christians decide we are better authorities then other people about what kind of religious person they are. I mean, setting aside the epistemological absurdity pointed out above, I can see not the slightest practical advantage.

If baptism is your only requirement, then fine, you have a populated set, but if following the NT is the requirement, then you have an empty set because: 1) It can’t be done. It’s an impossible standard. 2) No two people agree what the NT means.

If “love your enemy” is your test, then zero people fall into that category. It’s impossible for any being, including god, to love anyone but itself.

So he’s become a robot by surrendering his will. That’s the first step for committing atrocities.

Like the cops (no doubt christians) hassling the stage 4 cancer patient for marijuana because “they’re following orders”. zerohedge.com/news/2019-03- … -marijuana

I know. You’re saying christianity is relatively better than islam. Well, lead is relatively better than cyanide.

I’m just going on what you say and what others have said and what I see on tv. Islam appears to be a vile monster practiced by uneducated people. On the other hand, the only muslim that I really knew was a guy with better integrity than most christians I’ve known.

No, I don’t think so, except for Hitler.


I definitely get your point and have gotten your point all along. But I think the fact that islam commands killing should dissuade people from joining. It’s too outwardly evil while christianity appears righteous.