A post in the Christianity series.
“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” - Mahatma Ghandi
I'm beginning here a series of posts that have been weighing on my heart for a while now. With the election of Donald Trump to the Presidency of the United States, helped in no small part by the Evangelical Christians of this country, I can no longer stay silent. The public face of Christianity in this country today has fallen a long way from the roots of our belief, and I've met numerous Christians who have either forgotten or are otherwise unable to answer the question: “What is Christianity?”
Confusion about Christianity is nothing new. Christians have been acting against the best interests of their own faith since the religion started over two thousand years ago (for extreme examples, see: The Spanish Inquisition, The Crusades, etc). While I cannot fix this problem, a problem fundamental to our fallen nature, I hope I can, through my writings, help spread some understanding and light on what Christianity actually is and what it means to be a Christian in today's day and age. To do this we need to start at the very bottom and work our way up.
In the coming weeks and months, I will work hard to be as objective as possible and clearly marking subjective sections and opinion pieces so as to prevent any confusion. I love discussion and fully expect to be wrong in plenty that I say so please let me know if you have questions, concerns, or comments, because in the end this isn't about me, this is about us as Americans, us as Christians, and us as Humans. The light is looking rather dim these days, let's brighten it up and work towards making a better society as a whole.
So let's get started.
So what, really, is Christianity?
At its core, Christianity is a simple (not complicated or complex, but may not be simple to understand or explain) religion that believes the following:
First, there is a supernatural being whom we call God. God is all-knowing and all-powerful and the source of Love, Life, and Good in the universe.
Second, God created this universe, and all things in it, particularly the Human Race (not to be confused with Creationism vs Evolutionism; that is a different topic). We have been infused with free will, such that we can choose to worship God or we can choose not to.
Third, Humans disobeyed God. The story of Adam and Eve is most often used to explain this important event. Christians often refer to this as the “Original Sin” or the “Fall of Man”. Humanity chose to live its own path, away from God, condemning everyone to Hell and eternal punishment after we die.
Finally, God, a being of pure and infinite Love, would not let His creation condemn itself to eternal suffering away from Him. He sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to take that punishment for us. Jesus, who was God and Man in one and the only blameless and sinless human ever to live, was crucified on a Roman cross and suffered the punishment we deserved. Three days after his death he came back to life, defeating death and opening the way to eternal life in Heaven.
With the debt we owed now paid in full for everyone until the end of time, complete forgiveness and eternal life can be had by:
- Admitting that you are fallen, have disobeyed God, and need His forgiveness
- Believing Jesus was and is God and that He died and rose again, paying the price so we don't have to.
- Asking for God's forgiveness and accepting Him into your heart and into your life.
And that's it, really. The well-known and oft-quoted John 3:16 puts it quite succinctly:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
At its core, that is all Christianity is. It is a salvation-through-faith religion, requiring belief in things that cannot ever be scientifically or physically proven or verified. And to be explicitly clear here, Christianity is not a salvation-through-works religion. There is nothing anyone of us can do or any act we can perform here on this Earth that will earn us salvation and eternal life, save for the steps listed above.
In the next article I will introduce what it means to be a Christian, which will cover Jesus's teachings while he was here on Earth.