“If you don’t believe then you are not a Christian.”
This statement is orthodoxy at its finest. By believe, we mean believe correctly. If our statement of faith is not correct [where it matters] how can you be a Christian. I believe this. However, the ‘where it matters’ for me is extremely small.
“Modern Christians have a hard time understanding how the Pharisees and Sadducees could work together in the Sanhedrin with such differing theological positions but this view helps us to see that what they believed was less important than how they lived their lives.” hockey pastor
Can I be a functioning, healthy Christian and believe: evolution?; that the bible is a God- breathed but human book, full of messy humanity and errors, and yet profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness?; the virgin birth was midrash and not meant to be taken literal?; any of a number of the different views of church leadership?; that ultimately all creation including all humanity will be redeemed and reconciled to God through Jesus? Each one of these I either wrestling out in my mind with God or I have already come to believe.
Some of the beliefs listed above would prove to some that either I am not a Christian, or that I was on my way to becoming a non-believer.
The problem I am having with this mentality, is that the early Christians and Jesus did not seem to function this way. Jesus said: “Follow me.” not here is a set of teachings, now start believing. Sure He also said. “Who do you say I am?” But I don’t think he was looking for a doctrinal statement for a response, He was looking for “You’re the One.” Christianity was not about coming to a right set of beliefs, but about coming to a relationship with the living Jesus. The only belief that was needed was that Jesus was Lord and that He was raised from the dead.
What is sound doctrine?
1 Timothy 1:10: “ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching”
Jesus and his early followers emphasized orthopraxy, or right practice over right belief: Love one another (fellow believers, our neighbors, even our enemies); Sell all you have and give it to the needy; Feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, invite in the stranger, clothe the naked, visit the sick and imprisoned; Visit orphans and widows.
If you say that I am not a Christian, or that my Christianity is off, by pointing to my orthopraxy, there I may have to agree.
What do I believe? Well, who knows? What day is it? Because it will be different tomorrow…