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Monday, March 9, 2015

Am I really a Christian?

Last week, a friend sent me a link to an article by Ana Marie Cox titled "Why I'm Coming Out as a Christian" (You can view the article at http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/02/28/why-i-m-coming-out-as-a-christian.html). In the piece, Ms. Cox asks "Who do I need to prove my faith to - and why should I try?" Good questions! She talks about her reluctance to publicly declare her religious affiliation because of what President Obama has been subjected to from some conservative elements within Christianity relative to his own claim to be a Christian.

My own experiences in this regard caused me to really connect with the thesis of this article. Over the last year and a half, I have spoken out and written extensively on the subject of Christian attitudes towards gay people and homosexuality in general. As a consequence, my own status as a Christian or a "converted" individual has been called into question by those who disagree with me. Although I would be dishonest to say that such challenges do not hurt, I also cannot say that they were unexpected.

Christians have a long and extensive history of trying to exclude each other from the ranks of the "true believers." Fill in the blank: "You can't be a Christian if you believe/don't believe in ______" (the trinity, tithing, the sacraments, the immortality of the soul, the devil, etc.) or "You can't be a Christian if you ______" (are circumcised, eat pork, celebrate Christmas, rely on doctors, etc.) or "You can't be a Christian if you are a _______" (liberal, socialist, Democrat, Catholic, Mormon, etc.) Moreover, most Christians have developed some means of excluding any member of their group who doesn't conform to whatever the group standard happens to be (excommunicating, shunning or disfellowshipping). In short, Christians have generated a number of ways to verify whether or not someone really is a Christian.

Nevertheless, my experiences have also taught me that the answers to Ms. Cox's questions are: "I don't need to prove my faith to anyone, and I shouldn't have to try!" The bottom line is that God knows whether or not I belong to him (II Timothy 2:19). Also, I know that no person, place or thing can separate me from the love and the grace that I have obtained through Jesus Christ (Romans 8:31-39). So, you can spend the rest of your life trying to figure out whether or not I'm a Christian and marshalling your arguments for why your conclusions in this regard are correct (if you really want to waste your time in that fashion) - God and I already know.

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