Monday, April 16, 2007

Christian vs. Christ Follower - Which is better

If you haven’t yet seen the new Christian parody of the Mac vs. PC commercials, you can see all four of them here, here, here and here. In the commercial you have a somewhat strange fundamentalist with his bumper stickers collection and suit who is called “Christian” and then you have the laid back, hip, even a bit witty “Christ-follower.”

At first glance the video seem to strike a cord because we have all run into that “Christian” guy or girl who was just a little off. It is true that sometimes Christians can get carried away with strange little things, dare I mention the Test-a-Mints if you need to have your breath freshened. Ultimately, there is nothing wrong with poking a little fun at ourselves and the strange things Christians do, but these videos are doing more than that. They have a message which comes into play at the end of each video that says “Christian no more.”

Though it is not completely spelled out, the message is this. Let’s not call our selves Christians anymore, and instead let’s call ourselves Christ-followers. The reason for this change is that the term Christian carries with it too much baggage. Which ends up being a stumbling block for anyone trying to reach out to the world. Thus, the answer to this dilemma is to call ourselves Christ-followers instead because it is more precise and hasn't been misused as much.

Is the solution really that simple? The way to get people to stop making Jesus look bad is to simply change what we call ourselves. I am going to argue no. At best this is a shallow answer to the problem. Here are three reasons why.

1. Even the term Christ-follower carries baggage with it and it will only end up getting more baggage as more people start to use the term. There are some who are in the emergent church (notice I didn’t say all), who are pushing this change who are so bitter against the local church and the flavor of their lives puts a negative spin on the term Christ-follower. Making the term already some-what embarrassing to wear. And do we think that the world will really buy the name change? Doesn’t scripture teach us that the name of Christ is a stumbling block to many? And which Christ are we following, the Christ of the Christians that have lived in the entire history of the Church? You know, the ones Peter calls Christians in 1 Peter.

2. It segregates the strange amongst us, instead of embracing and loving them. Instead of saying "don’t associate me with that person," we should own up to the fact that they are our brothers and sisters in Christ even if we don’t agree with everything they do or say. Even though both the term Christian and Christ-follower carries with it baggage that the world will not like, we should be willing to embrace both of them, because they actually mean the same thing. And even though I am in strong disagreement with some of those who are pushing for the name change, and I think they cause problems for the way the we relate to the non-Christ-followers, I must not be afraid to bear the name simply because of some of the problems I might face because of the attitudes of one of my brothers or sisters in Christ. Yes, they may be strange, but I still love them. In fact, the world will know we are His disciples by our love for each other. Even our love for those who persecute us and disagree with us within the Church.

3. It assumes a wrong soteriology or understanding of salvation. It paints a picture that the world is just waiting to accept Christ, but Christians and some of their strange antics are keeping them from coming in. The problem with this is that Scripture paints a completely contrary picture. The natural man is not waiting to accept Christ. Instead he is doing everything in his power to suppress that truth. In fact, the message of the cross and of Christ is foolishness to him. Now it is true that when Christians do stupid things we add fuel to their fire in the same way that riches can make it even harder for a man to comes to faith. But money is not the reason why the man won’t accept Christ. He won’t accept him because he is sinful, and riches only fuel that rebellion. But praise God all things are possible with Him.

So what is the solution to the problem set out by these videos if it is not a name change? It seems a call to clarity as to what it means to be a Christian is in order, and the place we will find out what it means is in Scripture. We must be people who study the Word and then live it in love. We must realize that the world will always hate us because it hated Him. But as we respond with the truth in Love, through the Holy Spirit’s work some will come to faith, because faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.

When a non-believer meets a Christian or Christ follower like this, much of the false baggage of the term “Christian” will begin to fall off, but don’t get your hopes up too much, because without the Holy Spirit working in their lives they will not accept Christ's message. In fact there have been many who loved there enemies and were so Christ-like that they were put to death.

Live the life of a Christian and a Christ-follower, since both terms mean the exact same thing. Proclaim the truth in love, contend for the faith, and live lives of Holiness, and you will be blessed, whether or not the world finds you foolish. And remember our goal is not to try and make the world like us. We are to live to please God and love the world whether they like us or not.

You can see my video response here.

God Bless,

Doug

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8 Comments:

At Tuesday, April 17, 2007 2:16:00 AM, Anonymous bobby grow said...

Doug,

great response, and great video. How do you make these videos? Does it simply require a video camera--I would like to do the same.

 
At Tuesday, April 17, 2007 4:04:00 PM, Blogger Doug E. said...

Hey Bobby,

Thanks for the comment. I shoot those video using my digital camera. I just put it on video mode and upload them to my computer then up to Godtube. MOV files seem to work pretty well. If you can, you should really shoot some videos. The site is actually pretty good. Some people out of Dallas Theological Seminary are putting the site together. I think they are looking for reasoned Christians who can think their way through a few issues, so you would be a great addition to the site.

Hope to see you there soon,

Doug

 
At Wednesday, April 18, 2007 12:27:00 PM, Anonymous Gordon Cloud said...

This is a great article, Doug.It brought to mind a quote of which I am growing fond of using, "If the bottle is empty, it doesn't matter what the label says."

 
At Thursday, April 19, 2007 12:41:00 PM, Anonymous bobby grow said...

Doug,

thanks, I'm working on "producing my first video" ;).

IN Christ

 
At Tuesday, April 24, 2007 3:31:00 AM, Blogger Lisa said...

definitely a great response - We should simply learn to BE Christ followers, rather than spending time on developing marketing techniques and new names to break each other down. We all get caught up in our own thoughts on Christianity sometimes - we've all become the judgemental/holier than thou for a few minutes; we're all human.

That's definitely the ticket - I love the statement in your video -we've got to keep learning about Christ. The more we learn about Christ, the more we can love Christ for what and who He is. The more we love Christ, the more we will try to be like Christ, and the more we will share Him with the world - and that is what being a Christian OR a Christ follower is all about right?

My split second initial response when I watched the "commercial" was to smile - but as it kept going, I realized that it really is breaking our brothers and sisters down.

Just because someone doesn't worship the same way we do, doesn't mean they aren't worshipping - and it's so easy for us to start pointing fingers about what is right and what is wrong. It's so sad that over history we constantly see how groups of Christians are split and divided among themselves over debates like this, instead of coming together to a common goal of sharing Christ.

I definitely believe that in this post-modern time, the gospel has gotten watered down by many - many of us put the focus on the wrong things, and we do need to revive what following Christ is all about.
The term Christ follower is definitely a good one - but if we spend all our time debating which name is better, that is time spent bickering between Christians - and time not spent sharing the gospel.

Thanks for sparking thought - it's so easy to just go with the flow and not think about things. I love this topic.

Lisa

 
At Sunday, April 29, 2007 1:40:00 AM, Blogger Michellebelle said...

Doesnt impress me.It says that Grace gives us licence to sin and we wonder why the church has become no different from the world.The bible speaks about the lukewarm church and God is clear about how he feels about it.The church has decided to pick and choose what sin is.There are those who dabble in the occult and go to church on sunday believing that psychics are from God.The bible is clear about how we are to live and what we are to avoid.These parodys give the impresion that you can live how you want and still go to heaven.Salvation is not by works,but we are still commanded to believe and obey the word.He will tell the lukewarm church to "depart from me I never KNEW you."When we sin we are to recognise it and repent.The bible is loud and clear about piercing,tatooing,music ect...yet so called followers of christ are doing it anyway.Following Christ means being christ like and obeying his word.These spoofs are offensive to say the least.What ever passes through the eye affects the spirit.When we participate in things that clearly go against the word we leave ourselves open to demonic attack and get pulled further down.I suspect that whoever came up with these spoofs are lukewarm christians trying to justify bad behavior.
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The most frequent objection to the doctrine of eternal security is that it supposedly promotes the idea that Christians can live anyway that they want to - and still be saved. While this is "technically" true, that is not the "essence" of eternal security. A person who has truly accepted Jesus Christ as his or her Savior "can" live a sinful life - but he or she "will" not do so. We must draw a distinction between how a Christian should live - and what a person must do in order to receive salvation.


The Bible is abundantly clear that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9; John 14:6). A person is saved by faith - faith alone. The moment a person truly believes in Jesus Christ, they are saved and secure in that salvation. Salvation is not gained by faith, but then maintained by works. The Apostle Paul address this issue in Galatians 3:3, "Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?" If we are saved by faith, our salvation is also maintained and secured by faith. We cannot earn our own salvation. Therefore, we cannot earn the maintenance of our salvation either. It is God who maintains our salvation (Jude verse 24). It is God's hand that holds us firmly in His grasp (John 10:28-29). It is God's love that nothing can separate us from (Romans 8:38-39).



Any denial of eternal security is, in its essence, a belief that we must maintain our own salvation by our own good works. This is completely antithetical to salvation by grace. We are saved because of Christ's merits, not our own (Romans 4:3-8). To claim that we must obey God's Word or live a godly life to maintain our salvation is equal to saying that Jesus' death was not sufficient to pay the penalty for our sins. Jesus' death was absolutely sufficient to pay for all of our sins - past, present, and future, pre-salvation and post-salvation (Romans 5:8; 1 Corinthians 15:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21).

So, with all that said, does this mean that a Christian can live anyway they want to and still be saved? This is essentially a hypothetical question, because the Bible makes it clear that a true Christian will not live "anyway they want to." Christians are new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17). Christians demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), not the acts of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21). 1 John 3:6-9 clearly states that a true Christian will not live in continual sin. In response to the accusation that grace promotes sin, the Apostle Paul declared, "What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?" (Romans 6:1-2).

Eternal security is not a "license" to sin. Rather, it is the security of knowing that God's love is guaranteed for those who trust in Christ. Knowing and understanding God's tremendous gift of salvation accomplishes the opposite of giving a "license" to sin. How could anyone, knowing the price Jesus Christ paid for us, go on to live a life of sin (Romans 6:15-23)? How could anyone who understands God's unconditional and guaranteed love for those who believe, take that love and throw it back in God's face? Such a person is demonstrating not that eternal security has given them a license to sin, but rather that he or she has not truly experienced salvation through Jesus Christ. "No one who lives in Him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen Him or known Him" (1 John 3:6

 
At Thursday, May 03, 2007 1:22:00 AM, Blogger Scott said...

Some really good thoughts in your video... I appreciate the way that you are able to discuss some possible problems without being dogmatic, aggressive, and judgmental.

Two additional problems I see in addition to the ones you raise.

1. Christian vs. Christ follower can seem to become external boundary markers. Listening to U2 does not identify a person as an authentic follower of Christ anymore than a fish on a bumper.

2. It minimizes the work of the Holy Spirit and puts too much focus on what we do: no one says that Jesus is Lord except by the Spirit.

 
At Saturday, June 02, 2007 10:12:00 PM, Anonymous Julie said...

I had ignored these videos for a long time. Then yesterday, I saw a spoof on the spoof. The Christian was the cool guy and the church goer was the nerd. So I put both videos side by side on my blog.

When I saw your response, I thought it was so well done, I linked to it too. Thanks for your great thoughts ~

 

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