Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Christian or Christ Follower?

A Fighting for the Faith podcast recently played a section on a Willow Creek seminar. The speaker began with a dissertation on whether churches were making disciples or just more Christians, with the obvious virtue being with disciples rather than Christians. Rosebrough stated that all the pastors there went to lengths to refer to themselves as Christ followers instead of Christians. Obviously they had caught the newest wave of growthism and were riding it for all it was worth. I shared the podcast with my oldest son and we both commented on Rosebrough's clarity of what is at play here by observing that referring to oneself as a follower implies that I am doing something, not just being something. Not more than a week later my oldest son and I were invited to attend a youth camp that St Paul’s, our old church 3 hours away, was having. This gives my son a chance to connect with his grade school chums and usually provides a nice weekend of Christian fellowship while camping. Part of the weekend included the new pastor of St Pauls coming out and spending two hours with the youth discussing Halloween, devils, angels and fear. This was a great interaction between the youth and pastor. Until the end, when pastor asked what the youth wanted and then he proceeded to describe his preferences. This was when he began saying some very familiar stuff, specifically that he doesn’t like to hear from people that say they are a member of this or that church, and did everyone know that even the word Christian is only mentioned three times in the bible. Ya, and he would rather we think of ourselves as Christ followers or disciples, "you know the term disciple is mentioned many times in the bible. At this point one of the boys that is a Latin student supplied the meaning of disciple as being a student or one who learns or studies’ implying that we as disciples should mark ourselves with our study of the Gospel and Holy Scripture. Its so handy to have a bright young Latin scholar around. When the term ‘Christ follower’ appeared my son shot me a glance, and I knew right then that he also realized where this pastor had been, none other than Willi Crick.
When I got home I referred to my Concordia Study Bible and lo and behold Christian is only mentioned 3 times. But you know what 2 of those 3 say? Huh, do ya? 1 Peter 4:16 says "However if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed but praise God that you bear that name". PRAISE GOD THAT YOU BEAR THAT NAME! PRAISE GOD THAT YOU BEAR THAT NAME! Then Acts 11:26 " the disciples were called Christian" my footnote says that the meaning of the term is apt for it means " belonging to Christ". How could anyone look at these references in Holy Scripture regarding the name Christian and discount it based on the quantity. Is it just a clever move to distance modern christianish types from the baggage that they fear the culture sees in the word Christian? Maybe, but its certainly devilish. The word of scripture is absolutely stunning on this one, it nearly institutes the name Christian. At first I thought it to be just a quirky gimmick that the growthers had come up with, after all what does it matter what we call our selves.... As for me, no thanks, I will praise God that I may be known as a Christian, if I had to rely on myself to follow Christ I would be lost in minutes. It is much more comforting to know that we "belong to Christ".
PS Blessed Reformation Day Everyone!

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