Thursday, October 11, 2007

'What sort of Christian are you?'

At Zac's last night, before we tucked into lovely soup and dodgy bread, Sean read a bit from the Bible about Nicodemus, and he said how much he disliked using the phrase 'born again'. It only occurs once in the Bible and that's in John 3:3, where Jesus tells Nicodemus, a wise old teacher, that no-one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.

A few months ago, Chris, one of our church leaders, caused a furore in a meeting when he said something very similar to Sean, along the lines of 'I can't be doing with this born again malarkey.'

What they both meant was not that they disagreed with Jesus but that the term has become so associated with negative things about Christianity that they wanted to be disassociated from it. When people say, 'are you a born again christian?' you can almost hear them thinking, 'Oh, no, not one of those.' In many people's eyes the term has come to be associated with the happy clappy, greedy, hypocritical, televangelist type of person - usually, I'm afraid, American. And what some of these preachers say is enough to make Jesus get down from the cross.

I've read a few blog posts of late that are critical or unbelieving of Christianity. I would suggest that most bloggers' views of Christianity are based on their experience or what they perceive it to be through what they see. I would also suggest that that perception is an infinity away from what God intended.

God is passionate. About his creation, about his created beings. Evil rouses him to fury; suffering makes him weep. He isn't wishy washy; he isn't apathetic. He is strong; he's gentle; he is all-knowing; he waits to be told; he listens; he hears; and most of all he loves humanity to a depth and a height and a width that we can't understand.

God didn't send his son into this world to condemn it - or us.

Now I've forgotten where I started, how I got here and what I wanted to say. You see, this is why I don't try and write clever posts. So I'll conclude with Sean's answer to the title question. 'I'm one who tries to follow Jesus.'


Stu Savory said...

Believe it or not, Liz, I actually blogged positively about a church today :-)


Liz said...

I'd better go check it out. Have you not recovered properly yet?

Anonymous said...

How interesting - so your 'Industry' really is religion. Good. I will blog roll you - maybe you will find some lost souls...

JRD168 said...

Church and religion aren't really my thing. My near neighbour, in blogging and physical terms writes some interestingf stuff from a methodist perspective though.

Anonymous said...

I like the answer :0)

o.t book reviews done!

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

I concur with Sean and Chris: this “born again” phrase reflects what I consider to be very poor theology.

Biblically, Jesus never said one has to be “born again.” A better translation of the Greek is “born anew.” There is also a text variation that has Jesus saying “born from above.” When Nicodemus asks if that means one must enter into his mother’s womb, Jesus defines “born anew” as being born of “water and the spirit.”

I also agree that right-wing evangelicals and fundamentalists have give the term “born again” a very negative connotations, such as ‘if you ain’t been born again like me then you ain’t no Christian.’

Forgotten where you started? You started with the conversation of Jesus and Nicodemus and then proceeded down the 3rd chapter of the gospel according to John to the 16th verse. I would say that was excellent progression, exactly as the author of John meant one to do.

Thanks for this thought-provoking post.

Further on up the road said...

Thanks for the thought provoking post.

My vision is much as you describe in response to that statement. However my sister would no doubt describe herself that way and she isn't like that at all - she tries to follow Jesus as best she can.

Liz said...

Thank you for blog-rolling me, mutley - however I am already in the Blogpower roll!

I'll have a look at the methodist preacher man, jrd. I hope my occasional comments on Christianity won't stop you visiting.

It's a good answer, isn't it, 4kids? It's always difficult when people ask what sort of church I go to. 'Well, it's ... Christian.'

Thank you St Nick.

Furtheron, thank you too. We need to reclaim the phrase.

Stu Savory said...

George Bush always claims he was born again.

This is to counter rumours that the first time around he was not botn but rather hatched.

You know, like a serpent ;-)

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