Monday, August 23, 2010

Why is identifying oneself as "Christian!" not definite enough?

Personally, I don’t like the term “Born Again Christian.”  (Blame Charles Colson for popularizing the term.  Kidding, Chuck.) 

It’s redundant.  One can’t be a Christian, without being born again in the first place.  Thus, a Christian will always be and should be “born again”.  Look it up in John 3, the famous conversation of Jesus and Nicodemus.    

I put a resounding “Christian” on every basic info that has the item that asks my religion.  Yes, “resounding”, as in if an exclamation point is allowed, I would also add it at the end of “Christian”.  Like “Christian!!!”  - yup, with three exclamation points.  “Born Again Christian” is not a religion.  It’s more of a term that determines a broad scope of Christian denominations, which is, in my opinion, inappropriate in a “religion” fill-up blank.  Even putting the denominational orientation, like Baptist or Presbyterian, would be inappropriate, since being a Baptist or a Presbyterian is not a religion. 

At least in Facebook, the item to be filled is not “religion” but “religious views” (wise move by Facebook), thus one can put his denomination or religious philosophy or inclination there.  And “Born Again Christian” would be acceptable (but would still remain redundant).

Back to “Born Again Christian” and being a Christian… I think the problem is that the concept of being a Christian is just too shallow now in the present time.  Christian as a religion is being treated as the same weight as the essence of a nationality.  That if one is born in the Philippines and of Filipino parents, therefore his nationality is arbitrated as “Filipino” without any question.  But is the same model applicable to becoming a Christian?  That being born in a Christian church and of Christian parents, would make one a Christian automatically?  Definitely not.  Regardless of belonging or growing up in a Christian church or being born of Christian parents, one is not “made” a Christian by those facts.  Being a Christian is always a personal encounter.  True, growing up in a Christian family and community would have the perfect healthy environment for someone to have that encounter, but that’s just what being born in a Christian church and of Christian parents can bring.  

This present society thinks of Christianity as just a traditional identity that could be inherited.   Now, since plenty of people treat Christianity as mere traditional and inherited identity, plenty of people identify themselves as “Christians”, though they are really not.  This created the conditions for the real Christians the need to identify themselves with the redundant “Born Again Christian” since a resounding and proud classification of “Christian” per se is not enough. 

Example, if I’m asked of what is my religion, I would simply reply my usual proud: “Christian!”
Sometimes, the person that asks this, not being satisfied, would follow up with, “What do you mean ‘Christian’?  We are all Christians here, aren’t we? Can you please specify?” 
Under my gritted teeth, I would be muttering to myself, “All Christians, eh?  Yeah right.  If you know what ‘being a Christian’ really is in the first place, you wouldn’t ask.”  But, of course, I would have to “specify”, so I reply, “Uh – Christian.  Evangelical Christian.  And Reformed leaning…” 
“Evangelical?” the asker would continue to ask, “What do you mean?  What church?”
By this time, I would be tempted to say, “Moron!” but that would be not good, so it only happens in my mind.  I would continue elaborating, “Evangelical Christian...  My church is (insert the church’s name).  It’s a Presbyterian denomination.” 
A blank look from the asker, then he or she would brighten up and he or she will say, “Uh, you’re like a Born Again or something?”
I grit my teeth once again (to avoid exclaiming “Yes, you moron! I said I am a Christian, so I am definitely born again.”  This may sound un-Christianly harsh in my part, but I’m just being honest.  I’m not perfect, I still get these thoughts… even sometimes completely articulating them in a retort) and reply with a shrug, “Y-yeah.  You got it.  Protestant.  Born Again.  Whatever.  That’s it.  Christian…”         

I find it both sad and ridiculous.  

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