To become a Muslim, you just need to say the following phrase in the presence of two witnesses:
There is only One God, and Muhammad (Peace be Upon him) is His messenger (Ash-hadu an laa ilaaha illa-Allaah, Wa ash-hadu anna Muhammad ar-Rasoolullaah).
It’s a powerful statement that should be taken very seriously, but it doesn’t require the approval of someone else…just witnesses. The witnesses don’t even need to attest to the “truth” of the statement, just that it was said.
What about becoming a Christian? We have baptism, but what about the time between articulating to yourself that you are Christian and the actual baptism (which can sometimes require scheduling)? Does child baptism count? If you need to be born-again, do you need proof or witnesses? If you don’t have a one-time born-again type experience, but rather a gradual acceptance, does that not count? What if you were born into the faith and never knew yourself as not being Christian?
And what does Christian mean? Is it as simple as believing and accepting Christ as your “Lord and Savior”, or do you have to follow a set of doctrinal beliefs? If you are an unrepentant sinner (and that sin depends on the beholder), are you automatically not Christian even if you believe in Christ?
Does your understanding of the Bible make a difference? Can you only be Christian if you take it all literally…or is it acceptable to understand it as a sacred story of the relationship between God and God’s creation, a relationship that continues into eternity and is just as valid as it was in 35 A.D.?
Oh, and does God have to have a penis?
Do you think I’m Christian when I admit to aligning myself most closely with progressive reformed theologies? What if I can’t sign a doctrinal faith statement that insinuates limitations on my direct contact with God?
I am as Christian as much as I am female, a mom and a wife. It is who I am. It is how I make sense of the world.
Heather Caliri’s recent post, I didn’t know Jesus was with me because another Christian told me he wasn’t., is one of many discussions that probes into the aspects of Christians judging Christians.
I’m personally sick of it. It tears apart families and friendship, churches and communities. I understand the need of denominations fracturing, but I don’t get the need of judging others.
We all have our own personal spiritual journeys. We all have times of faith and disbelief. We all have questions (if you don’t, your need to question why you don’t). We all have issues.
I get it if you don’t agree with my understanding of God, Christ and the Holy Spirit – with the Divine. You don’t have to agree. You don’t have to agree because God’s relationship with you is as personal and important as God’s relationship with me. We don’t have to go to the same church, read the same books or pray with the same words. We don’t even have to talk about God…but I wish we would.
I wish we would talk about our differences, about our unique relationships with God. I wish we were open and honest, not being afraid of being judged, and not automatically judging. I wish we would listen, with open hearts and minds, as maybe – just maybe – the Holy Spirit would be working within and through the conversation. I wish, no, I pray that we would approach each other with the open and scarred hands of Christ, rather than the sword.