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Come Reason's Apologetics Notes blog will highlight various news stories or current events and seek to explore them from a thoughtful Christian perspective. Less formal and shorter than the www.comereason.org Web site articles, we hope to give readers points to reflect on concerning topics of the day.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

How to Spot Impostor Christianity



One of the key things kids learning elementary science is the basic groups of backboned animals. You may remember how to differentiate fish, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals.
  • Birds have feathers, lay eggs, and have bills.
  • Reptiles are cold blooded, have scales, lay eggs, and some, like snakes, can inject venom.
  • Amphibians are cold-blooded, lay eggs, breathe air but live on the land and in the water.
  • Mammals are warm-blooded, have hair, give live births, and produce milk for their young
So when English naturalists had quite a quandary on their hands when in 1798 they received drawings and the hide of a platypus from the newly colonized Australia. Many believed the animal was too outrageous to be real; it had to be a hoax. Here was an animal that had a bill, webbed feet, and laid eggs like a bird. It lived in and out of the water. Its legs are not below it but come from the side of the body, its eggs are soft-shelled, and males could inject venom like a reptile. Yet, they are warm-blooded, are covered in hair and they nurse their young. One of the necessary characteristics of all mammal is the females have mammary glands that produce milk for their young. Because this was true of the platypus, it could confidently be classified as a mammal.

What Does It Mean to Be a Christian?

Understanding the various religious systems offered today can sometimes be as confusing to navigate as those naturalists who sought to classify the platypus, especially when it comes to what makes someone a Christian. It seems everybody wants to claim that they are following Jesus's teachings in some way. The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, the parent organization for Jehovah's Witnesses, claims to be Christian.1 Former Mormon president Gordon B. Hinckley, when asked whether Mormons were Christians, answered "We are Christians in a very real sense."2 Other organizations such as The Way International, the Restored Church of God, and various Oneness denominations all claim to be representing true Christianity.  Yet, they all have radically different beliefs.

How can you tell what is Christian and what isn't? Most people I speak with don't have a clear idea of just what classifies someone as a real Christian. They think as long as they claim Jesus and point in some way to his teachings, it is enough. But that's like calling a platypus a bird or a reptile. There's some resemblance, but it is still different and will lead you to a different belief, one that leads to judgment instead of salvation.

Just as with classifying animals, there are certain essential beliefs that define what a Christian is and while the various denominations within Christendom differ on many things, they all hold these specific beliefs as non-negotiable. These beliefs are reflected in the early church creeds from Nicaea and Chalcedon, which summarized the bare minimum of what being a Christian means, found in the outline below:

The Essential Beliefs of Christianity

Who God is
  • There is one God
  • God is eternal—without beginning or end.
  • God is transcendent—He is separate from his creation.
  • God is recognized as the Creator—God made all things.
  • God is Triune—a single being comprised of the three persons of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Who Jesus Is
  • Jesus is wholly (with all the attributes of) God.
  • Jesus is wholly (with all the attributes of) a human being.
  • Jesus is indivisible—one cannot separate his divinity and his humanity.
What Jesus Did
  • He Sacrifice Himself for Our Sins.
  • He rose bodily from the grave.
  • He fulfilled the promised of God in the Old Testament.
What Jesus Will Do
  • Jesus will return bodily to this earth.
  • Jesus will raise all people.
  • Jesus will judge all people.
The Unity of Believers
  • All believing Christians are part of Jesus's one true church.
  • All believing Christians will be raised by Jesus to eternal glory.
  • All believing Christians will dwell in fellowship with God in the world that is to come.

Why It Matters

I've written about some of these distinctions before and I will explore them in more detail in upcoming articles. My intent in this article is to show that there is a very specific set of beliefs to which all Christians must hold. While a lot of people or organizations claim to be Christian, they are really impostors offering a counterfeit Christianity. The JWs say they are Christians, they deny the deity of Jesus, making him a created being instead of eternal God. Gordon Hinckley and the LDS deny the triune nature of God, the transcendence of God, and the fact that there is only one God in all of existence.

Jesus warned the church to "beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves" (Matt 7:15). The Apostle Paul cautioned "there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ" (Gal. 1:7). The Apostle John warned the church of "those who are trying to deceive you" (1 John 2:26). We must be able to distinguish who is a sheep and who is a wolf. To not do so would be to betray Jesus, something no true Christian would ever desire.

References

1. "Are Jehovah's Witnesses Christians?" JW.ORG. Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania., n.d. Web. 21 July 2015. http://www.jw.org/en/jehovahs-witnesses/faq/are-jehovahs-witnesses-christians/.
2. "Are Mormons Christians?" Mormon.org. Intellectual Reserve, Inc., n.d. Web. 21 July 2015. http://www.mormon.org/faq/mormon-christian.

5 comments:

  1. I just have a question, it seems like your saying one thing and then something else in another sentence.
    The last two sentences you say, " We must be able to distinguish..." and then you say, " To do so would be to betray Jesus..."?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It actually says to NOT do so! Or maybe they corrected the second sentence before I read it!

      Delete
  2. Wish this gave more insight, such as the attributes of a real believer. I also agree with the first comment on your blog. The last two sentences is confusing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The word "not" was missing from the last sentence. I've cleared that up. The attributes of what it means to be a real believer may be found in this post: http://apologetics-notes.comereason.org/2015/09/defining-what-it-means-to-be-christian.html which is part of a larger talk on the subject.

      Delete
  3. You really need to free yourself FROM the Bible (the New Testament), Lenny, to understand salvation. None of those things you say above about Jesus are true. Because, Jesus is an invention of the Church. There is not a SHRED of historical evidence for Jesus as a man. Jesus was Paul's heavenly redeemer, not a human on earth. Read Doherty and Carrier. Price and Wells are good also. Give up apologetics. The canon is a reaction to mystics, nothing more. Dr. Robert Eisenman tells us the same from the Scrolls, and he is the leading expert on the Pesherim. Judas and Jesus were invented to hide the real savior of the day, James the Just. Email me if you want: judaswasjames [at] aol [dot] com

    ReplyDelete

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