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Tuesday, September 27, 2011


I work with DNA. (Okay, my software works with DNA, but ...) DNA does not resemble the thing that it makes. It is, in form, simply a double helix of billions of bits of data that are used to define and shape whatever the thing is that it makes. Science tells me that the the DNA of a human and the DNA of a monkey are perhaps 95% alike. (Please, set aside the possible misleading conclusions to which you might jump from that data point.) Yet we know that monkeys are not humans. So, what makes a human as opposed to a monkey? At what point is it human ... or not?

Of course, my question isn't at all about DNA and humans versus monkeys. My question is about Christianity. While there are lots of things out there that call themselves "Christianity" and while they often resemble in many ways what people perceive to be "Christianity", there is that fundamental "5% difference" (or more) that makes them, in fact, not Christianity despite the similarities and even the claims to the contrary. So what makes Christianity as opposed to something similar but not?

I've been reading the positions of a pastor of the PCUSA, the liberal outcropping of the Presbyterian church. He claims (quite obviously) to be Christian. Is he? Where Christianity has always held that homosexual behavior is a sin, he claims it's perfectly acceptable. I do not point to that as "proof", but a starting point of divergence. Where Christianity has always held to Creation, he has jettisoned that as myth and actually has an Evolution Sunday. Indeed, he has tossed off all those Old Testament stories as not factual accounts, but myth, legend, epic texts, a loose account with some touches of fact and a large dose of prehistoric mysticism and superstition. The Bible holds that "all have sinned"; he believes that people are basically good and that, indeed, there are lots of people (essentially all children) who have not sinned. While the Scriptures plainly hold that sinful humans justly deserve God's condemnation, he argues that God is a kind God and condemns no one. While Jesus spoke clearly and often of Hell, he is quite sure there is no such thing. The New Testament holds the blood of Christ as the fundamental premise upon which we are justified, but he says that this is an archaic and barbaric belief and that Jesus died to show us a better way, not "for your sins" like some heathen-god-sacrifice thing. Paul says, "If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain" (1 Cor 15:14), but he assures his congregation that no resurrection took place. That's mere rhetoric, myth, a nice idea but not real.

At some point in all of that (and so much more), most of my readers would have concluded, "No, that's not 'Christianity'. That's something else." Where? When did it cease to be Christianity? I say "most of my readers" because a few would argue that it is Christianity simply because he professes "faith in Christ" although neither the faith nor the Christ in which it is placed resembles any of the biblical image. If this is the case, is there any point at which it becomes "not Christianity"? Or, back to the DNA analogy, are monkeys human simply because they share some DNA?


Craig said...

Is this the same gentleman that insists that God doesn't actually exist?

Miklós said...

"For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother." NKJV Mat 12:50

Stan said...


You know quite well the pastor I had in mind.


I understand what your saying, but would you argue that someone who does NOT do the will of the Father is not a Christian? I ask because I know that I have violated His will at times and would argue that EVERYONE violates His will at times, so ...?

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

What a great analogy! The "pastor" in your story shares some of the Christian "DNA" but he certainly is no more a Christian than is the ape a human. He obviously has made a god of his own choosing to worship, not liking the one of the Bible.

Craig said...


I thought so, but thought I'd check. He's not alone.

Stan said...

No, certainly not alone. One of the reasons I selected him as a representative of the question.

Marshal Art said...

I truly have no idea to what pastor you guys are referring. If anyone wants to email me and tell me, then I can be more firmly in the loop, as it were.

But the DNA analogy is a great one. And this issue is one I've more than touched on in many a discussion. I generally ask in not so many words, how far apart must one be from what Scripture says before one is no longer worshiping the One True God. I've yet to receive a decent answer, though I get answers similar to the passage Miklos cites (not that I mean to disparage Miklos in any way). Such answers only bring up more questions.

Miklós said...

Dear Stan,

Thank you for your question, it struck me, and I’m very happy, that you made me think deeper about this matter. It struck me because I think judgment about a person is at God on one hand and at the Church (Mat 18) on the other hand. How this latter should work in a global context I don’t know. I think the most appropriate verses are these:

”My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. The Test of Knowing Him Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” (1John2 1-7.)

It is a walk with Jesus and if I stumble I have an Advocate. If I continue going astray, that is trouble, and according to Mat 18 finally I might find myself out of the flock, i.e. not being Christian. So being Christian is not a step by step digital flip-flop, but a walk, an attitude, a direction.

”Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” (1John2 15-17.)

Your example for me indicates that there are people who try to win souls to Christ by searching conformity to the world and compromising truth. I doubt, that it brings any good fruits. I do not make judgment over him as a person regarding his fate, but I do not follow him.
Is this correct? I this an answer? : ))