Theology for the Masses

November 15, 2006

Determining Christianity

Filed under: creeds — Henry Imler @ 11:38 pm

How does one go about determining who is and is not a Christian?

I bring this up because I recently read Mark Driscoll’s post on N.T. Wright and Marcus Borg: “N. T. Wright Denies Primacy of Jesus’ Resurrection?“. I was referred to Driscoll’s blog by my brother-in-law, Brad Andrews of Relevintage. Over the Mother’s Day weekend, a small group of us, Henry Thomas (a cousin of mine who is going to a Baptist seminary this fall), Brad, and myself were talking about Henry and I’s upcoming school work. I mentioned that one of the books on my reading list was Meaning of Jesus : Two Visions by Wright and Borg. Henry Thomas and Brad had heard of Wright and had heard good about him. I told how I was surprised at Wright and even Borg’s treatment of Christianity in the first couple of chapters of the book. Their treatment was remarkably fair and open minded compared to other books on the subject I have read.

This past week Brad emailed me the above posting from Driscoll’s blog. Driscoll warned about Wright’s friendship with Borg because Borg denies the resurrection of Jesus. It got me wondering about a few questions on this topic:

  1. Can one ever make a determination about anther’s salvation?
  2. At what point is a person saved? How wrong or right about Jesus can a person be and still be saved>

Boy oh boy, I used to have the answers to those questions. During late high school and early college I was the apologist. I wanted all of the hard answers and I got them. Once I got those answer I promptly went to work evaluating everyone’s picture of Jesus and if it did not match mine, thy were moved into the heathen camp. Everything became a “true Jesus” versus the “cult conspiracies.” For some reason, I thought that everyone with the “incorrect” view of Jesus and his work knew they were wrong and were trying with some demonic purpose to attack the true Church.

Luckily, I have a wise friends and family. Several people saw me in my fervent search for all the fake Christians and encouraged me to not be as harsh, to give people the same grace as God has given me. I myself have become increasingly weary about making that pronouncement about who is a true Christian myself anymore. I keep hearing the words of Jesus in my mind:

36Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
37“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

However, perhaps we are to judge ideas and not people. In this, the case of the Bereans comes to mind:

11Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

So, while we are to not judge the person, we are to evaluate the truth content of what that person speaks. In the case of Borg and Wright, we can say that while Borg is absolutely wrong when it comes to the resurrection of Jesus, we can’t speculate about his salvation. After all, who is there among us who can determine a person’s relationship with God? I would say none. We can speculate about what constitutes a believer. After all, it might be the case that a person can be awefully wrong about Jesus and still love him with all his heart and be saved. Who knows? I don’t and I know you don’t either. Still, we are to love and minister to all, just as Jesus did.

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