Sunday, November 06, 2005

What is the difference between being a Follower of Jesus and being a Christian?

Within the last few weeks, I was invited by a Christian to get involved in a seminar seeking to explore "Christian perspectives" on a certain field that is of interest to me.

Now, I should make it clear that I treat in an exactly equally way all invitations whether they come from Christians or from Atheists, Agnostics, Buddhists, Confucians, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, Tribalists, or whatever. So I am, in principle, open to being involved in exploring "Jewish perspectives", "Muslim Perspectives", "Utilitarian perspectives" and so on.

However, it is not always necessary for me to make clear to people that I am a follower of Jesus. This particular case was one of those where I felt that it was necessary to make this clear. Usually, this creates no difficulty. In this particular case, I had the following response:

After much thought on my part, and upon discussion with the Planning Committee for the project, I judge it best to not re-invite you to this seminar. My decision is based primarily on your own words that you "do not wish to be involved with any project that has the word 'Christian' associated with it". I understand your reasons for feeling this way, and I also am grieved by the fact that many professing Christians (myself possibly included) do not adequately live up to their profession, and do not adequately conform their actions to true "biblical perspectives". Nevertheless, I do not believe this is sufficient reason to discard the name "Christian" (who I believe is a person who aspires to be a "follower of Jesus", however imperfectly that may be lived out). So, we are not prepared to eliminate the word "Christian" from our description of this project.

Nevertheless, I wish you well in all your endeavors as you seek to be a "follower of Jesus", which, I assure you, is also my aspiration and the aspiration of all those participating in this project.

I provide my response below, as this may help readers to understand the distinction between being "a good Christian" and "a follower of Jesus":

Dear …

Many thanks for your kind message.

I quite understand your decision.

However, I cannot help responding to the *basis* of your decision by saying that just as there have always been Christians who do seek to follow Jesus,
there have also been people who like to call themselves Christians while publicly making clear that they have no intention of following Jesus as Lord
Historically, these "Christians without Christ" have included Popes, Bishops, Priests, and Theologians, as well as lay people

On the other hand, today, there are Hindus who follow Jesus (such as myself), Jews who follow Jesus (but are not christians - "Messianic Jews"), Muslims who follow Jesus ("True Muslims") and so on

So Americans need to wake up and realise that "Christian" is an irrelevant category today.

The relevant category is not "Christian" but "follower of Jesus".

We are not likely to agree on this matter in a hurry, so I will close with prayers and blessings


For those who are interested, the distinctions between "Christians with Christ", "Christians without Christ", "Non-Christians without Christ" and "Non-Christians with Christ" were first made in writing by Sadhu Sundar Singh in the early twentieth century.

However, the distinctions implicitly go all the way back to the Jewish Bible which distinguishes between "righteous vs. unrighteous gentiles" and "righteous vs. unrighteous Jews".

As far as I am aware, Atheists, Agnostics, Buddhists, Confucians, Hindus, Muslims, Tribalists and others have not so far made this sort of distinction in writing.

ENDS Sphere: Related Content

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The new SADHU SUNDAR SINGH graphic novel by Alec Stevens is now available: