After recently spouting off in response to one of Dale’s fine posts at Faith In Honest Doubt, which was in turn a response to comments about one of his previous posts (got that?), I realized that the commenter - who went by the name Bible Study Boy, which gives a pretty good idea of his philosophical leanings – had hit on something that I had long thought was a slightly uncomfortable aspect of Christianity. First, his comment.
I realize that many professing Christians teach that one must live by certain rules in the flesh in order to be saved. However, all that is required for salvation is faith alone in Jesus Christ. I also realize this is an atheist website, or at least it appears to be, but there is a great bible study website that shows why many professing Christians don't really represent true Christianity. Many profess to know God, but they are full of evil and hate trying to get people to live according to their rules. This is contrary to the bible which teaches that faith alone in Jesus is sufficient for salvation, not our own works of righteousness in the flesh.
Actually, as I read that again, I have to admire his ability to hit sore spots so succinctly. The classic theme “my Christianity is true, yours is false” is practically a founding principle (Paul spent a lot of the Old Testament trying to settle arguments within and among various groups, and from what I’ve seen he wasn’t always eye-to-eye with Peter’s Roman crew), and the role, if any, of good works has been debated for almost as long.
But this also got me to thinking about a commonly-used phrase: “good Christian”, as in “He’s a good Christian person”. Grammatically it can have a couple of meanings.
“A good person who is also a Christian”.
“A person who is a devout follower of Christianity.”
Most Christians want to think of those as essentially the same thing, that a person who is a devout follower of Christianity is also automatically a good person. But – as Bible Study Boy inadvertently points out – that is not necessarily true. There have been far too many really bad people who considered themselves good Christians. The uncomfortable fact for Christians like Bible Study Boy is that – by the definition he presents – those people were right. No matter how awful they were as human beings, as long as they had faith in Jesus Christ they were as worthy of salvation as anyone.
Which means that Bible Study Boy would wind up spending eternity with the evil-and-hate-filled people he mentions, along with some other pretty unsavory characters. Perhaps this is why some people want to have a few more conditions. They’d like to think it keeps the riffraff out. It also allows them to sidestep an aspect of their religion that they’d rather not advertise; that you don’t have to be a good person to be a good Christian.