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Thread: Who is "in" the Body?

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    tWebber
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    Who is "in" the Body?

    What definition of Christianity is used, on a practical level, to decide who is included and who is excluded from the Body of Christ?

    I wonder how often we accept the definition which includes Wesley, Calvin, Luther, Pentecostals, Finney, Billy Graham, and Billy Sunday, etc., then switch to some other definition when confronted with contemporaries.

    I suppose a follow up question would be how many things can be dropped and still be Christian?

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    Professor Cerebrum123's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by simplicio View Post
    What definition of Christianity is used, on a practical level, to decide who is included and who is excluded from the Body of Christ?

    I wonder how often we accept the definition which includes Wesley, Calvin, Luther, Pentecostals, Finney, Billy Graham, and Billy Sunday, etc., then switch to some other definition when confronted with contemporaries.

    I suppose a follow up question would be how many things can be dropped and still be Christian?
    At minimum I'd say the Nicene Creed. For your follow up question, the answer would be "none".

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    See, the Thing is... Cow Poke's Avatar
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    I think we have to allow for stages of development.

    Somebody can "be saved" without even knowing that the Nicene Creed exists. Similarly, somebody can know the Nicene Creed by heart, and not "be saved".

    In the sense that "Christian" means "Christ follower" or "imitators of Christ", there are people who have accepted Christ as Savior, but don't grow to follow Him daily.

    1 Tim 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.

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    tWebber 37818's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cerebrum123 View Post
    At minimum I'd say the Nicene Creed. For your follow up question, the answer would be "none".
    The Nicene Creed includes "begotten of the Father before all worlds." Which I reject. So according to that then, I am not saved - so not a actually a Christian. Yet I believe in the interpretation of the Trinity believing in the eternal Sonship and personhood of the Holy Spirit! That the three Persons are the One Yahweh being the only true God.
    . . . the Gospel of Christ, for it is [the] power of God to salvation to every [one] believing, . . . -- Romans 1:16.

    . . . that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: . . . -- 1 Corinthians 15:3, 4.

    Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: . . . -- 1 John 5:1.

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    Professor Cerebrum123's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cow Poke View Post
    I think we have to allow for stages of development.

    Somebody can "be saved" without even knowing that the Nicene Creed exists. Similarly, somebody can know the Nicene Creed by heart, and not "be saved".

    In the sense that "Christian" means "Christ follower" or "imitators of Christ", there are people who have accepted Christ as Savior, but don't grow to follow Him daily.
    Well, I kind of hoped this would go without saying, but yeah.

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    Theologyweb's Official Grandfather Jedidiah's Avatar
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    Acts 16:30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

    There is a difference between being saved and understanding everything about Christianity. I have been saved for some 40 years and I do not claim to understand it all.
    Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

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    tWebber Adrift's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cow Poke View Post
    I think we have to allow for stages of development.

    Somebody can "be saved" without even knowing that the Nicene Creed exists. Similarly, somebody can know the Nicene Creed by heart, and not "be saved".

    In the sense that "Christian" means "Christ follower" or "imitators of Christ", there are people who have accepted Christ as Savior, but don't grow to follow Him daily.
    Eh, I think I agree with Cerebrum on this one. I doubt he means that someone needs to actually know or have heard of the Creed, but that the Creed itself pretty much spells out the essential beliefs of the church for someone to label themselves "Christian", and most of what's in it is essential to be included in the body, I think.

    "We believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible."

    This seems pretty self-evident. If you don't even believe in God, the creator of all things, then what's the point of calling yourself a Christian? There are, of course, some oddball people who call themselves "Christian" who don't believe in God, but that's just silliness. They've made Christianity a social club they want to belong to. The word "Christian" loses its meaning if you don't accept some of Christianity's core views.

    And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father by whom all things were made;"

    So yeah, as a carry over from belief in God, you also obviously need to believe that Jesus existed, and that he was the Christ. Also, the above denies some popular heterodox views present at the time of the creed's composition, including things like adoptionism, monarchianism, subordinationism and the like. Basically it's spelling out a Trinitarian view necessary for heterodox belief. This one is a little tricky for me (probably because I came out of a cult that was somewhat adoptionist in it's views). This would deny that the Latter Day Saints, Jehovah Witnesses, The Way Ministry, Oneness Pentecostalism and the like could claim to be "Christian", but I can see individual members, through pure ignorance, still being "within the body of Christ" even if the cult they belonged to is not (especially Oneness Pentecostals). Concepts like the Trinity and the nature of Christ can be complicated to understand, and a great many Christians are ignorant about the debates that led to what the church finally accepted as orthodox belief. And even today, there are orthodox theologians who disagree on particular nuances.

    who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man,"

    Again, this seems like a no-brainer. Acceptance of the incarnation, the realization that God became man for our salvation, is pretty much Christianity 101. If you don't believe or even understand this point, the rest doesn't make much difference. This also ties into a Trinitarian conception of God, though, and so I suppose that one could ignorantly hold to something like adoptionism and still be within the body, but it makes a mess of the rest of one's theology.

    and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried, and the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father."

    This is absolutely integral to calling oneself a Christian. Belief in Jesus' death and resurrection is absolutely foundational to the Christian worldview. There's no reason to call yourself, or even pretend to be a Christian if you do not accept this doctrine. Of course, there are those who do call themselves Christian who do not accept it, like John Shelby Spong, and John Dominic Crossan, but they're not.

    And he shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end."

    Expectation of Christ's return, and his judgement is, again, pretty foundational stuff. I suppose that one could also be ignorant of this fact and possibly be in the body, but I think it's pushing it. Aunt Gertrude, who didn't understand the second coming, or the final judgement, who believed that everyone goes to heaven when they die...was she a Christian even though she didn't understand, or was ignorant of foundational Christian doctrine? After all, she was a regular church goer for 80 years, and she tithed and prayed... I don't know. That's pretty tricky. Who is and who is not a Christian at that point? I know lots of people who have a very wishy-washy view of Christianity...they have heard the phrase "Jesus Saves", but don't know what it means. They essentially believe that if you're good enough...that you haven't killed anyone, or done something truly vile, that you're probably going to a place in the clouds called heaven ruled by a God named Jesus, where you'll meet all your old dead friends and family, and live forever in bliss. That's not Christianity though, and I have a hard time believing that someone who has that watered down a view of Christianity is a Christian, and is in the body.

    And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, who proceedeth from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, who spoke by the prophets."

    Again, more Trinitarian language. Definitely necessary for orthodox belief. Whether absolutely necessary to be included in the body...? I don't know. I think that talk about the Holy Spirit's role in the body is understated even within the orthodox community of believers, which is a dang shame.

    And we believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins. And we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen."

    Acknowledging that you're part of a body is pretty important in determining who is in the body. That you must acknowledge and confess your sins is also a foundational belief. You can't be a Christian if you don't believe you're a sinner in need of redemption, and being baptized in the Holy Spirit is what we're discussing...You are not part of the body if you have not received the Holy Spirit. There are a lot of people who call themselves Christian who have not received the Holy Spirit, and they're Christian in name only. The part about looking forward to the resurrection of the dead, and the life to comes goes along with my thoughts above.

    So, yeah, I think the Nicene Creed is a good summary of required beliefs that one must accept in order to be "in" the Body.
    Last edited by Adrift; 02-11-2018 at 04:30 PM.

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    tWebber Adrift's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jedidiah View Post
    Acts 16:30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

    There is a difference between being saved and understanding everything about Christianity. I have been saved for some 40 years and I do not claim to understand it all.
    Ah, but then there's Romans 10:9,

    Scripture Verse:

    If you declare with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

    © Copyright Original Source



    Who is right, Luke or Paul? Or are they both right, and "Believe in the Lord Jesus" would include things like believing that God exists, that Jesus exists, that Jesus is the Christ, the incarnate Word of God, that we are sinners in need of redemption, that Jesus was crucified for our sins, and was raised from the dead? That's the question that's being asked, I think. Anyone can declare they believe in the Lord Jesus. What the OP is attempting to do is figure out what it means to believe in him.

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    tWebber Thoughtful Monk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by simplicio View Post
    What definition of Christianity is used, on a practical level, to decide who is included and who is excluded from the Body of Christ?

    I wonder how often we accept the definition which includes Wesley, Calvin, Luther, Pentecostals, Finney, Billy Graham, and Billy Sunday, etc., then switch to some other definition when confronted with contemporaries.

    I suppose a follow up question would be how many things can be dropped and still be Christian?
    Ultimately, God choses who is in the Body of Christ and who isn't. In some ways, its a waste of time to try figure out who is in and who is out. The exception, I'll make here is regarding teachers - you have to be very careful not to follow a false teacher.

    Awhile back, I went through an exercise to figure out what I thought were the essentials. For what it's worth, here's my list

    1. I believe in God, eternal and existing outside of time, perfect, holy, and in three persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit).
    2. I believe Christ Jesus is the Son and:
      1. Christ Jesus is God Incarnate as a man.
      2. Christ Jesus was born of a Virgin
      3. Christ Jesus lived a Sinless Life and is the example of how I should live my life
      4. Christ Jesus Worked Miracles
      5. Christ Jesus’ Death Provides the Only means of Atonement for the Sins of Humanity. In other words, Christ Jesus is the only way to God.
      6. Christ Jesus Physically Rose from the Dead and Was Seen Alive by Many
      7. Christ Jesus Ascended Bodily to the Father
      8. Christ Jesus is Coming Again

    3. Salvation is a gift of God and not earned by any action of man.
    4. The Bible is the only reliable revelation of God to man. In the original manuscripts, it is inerrant, inspired, and perfect. Despite all the copies that have been made since it was written, no error that changes a major doctrine has occurred. It contains all the principles I need to live life faithful to God’s will. Other books may contain elements of truth but they are not reliable because of the falsehoods they contain.
    "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6

    My time to be on TWeb is unpredictable. It may take a few days for me to see your post and respond.

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    See, the Thing is... Cow Poke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cerebrum123 View Post
    Well, I kind of hoped this would go without saying, but yeah.
    I think it's pretty important, and I've even adapted the way I ask the question. I used to be pretty binary in "there are only two kinds of people - saved and lost". Then I heard Paul Little ask a more general "... or are you still on the way?"

    I've found that to be much more helpful, as people seem more receptive to that --- kinda of "no, I guess I'm not a Christian, but I'm on the path...." and you can help them find the way.

    It really kinda bothers me that we try to force people into labels - I mean, for what purpose?

    1 Tim 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.

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