No True Christian

Why is it, I wonder, that every Christian I encounter thinks they are True Christians, while most others are not?

A recent survey in the States revealed that belief in God is in decline. Ken Ham of Answers In Genesis decided this is because:

We live in a day when the religion of secularism (naturalism)—with its belief that there is no God, morality is relative, my happiness is all that matters, and we’re simply the products of evolution—is taught as fact in public schools and through the media.

I suggested on Ken’s Facebook page that the reason more people are rejecting the idea of God might have a lot to do with Christians themselves; that Christians’ own public performance was a complete turn-off for many people. I meant by this the way evangelicals in particular:

  • align themselves with Christian Nationalism;
  • actively campaign to restrict LGBT+ rights (and in some cases to have gay people executed);
  • are obsessed with abortion;
  • disregard almost totally Jesus’ actual commands and instead –
  • waste their time online maligning atheists and other minority groups;
  • are downright unpleasant to those who don’t share their views.

Silly me! I was told by a real Christian called Tim Bodnar that Christians who behave like this are not real Christians (despite believing they are):

If we are to know fellow believers by their fruit (or as you say, “public performance”) – we then know that their fruits show them to not be the Christians they claim to be.  That’s why our relationship with Jesus Christ is a personal one.

When I pointed out to Tim that this was nothing more than the No True Scotsman fallacy, he told me – passively aggressively but oh so lovingly – that ‘it isn’t difficult to grasp’ what’s going on; Christians who aren’t real Christians are the same as people who impersonate police officers. In any case, he said, Jesus had it covered.

Maybe it’s a good thing Christians refuse to look to themselves to learn why others are increasingly rejecting their God and their beliefs. After all, if they were to make their worn-out old fantasies more attractive, more people might fall prey to them. ‘True’ Christians are to be applauded for discouraging, albeit unwittingly, belief in their non-existent God.

A Christian Writes

A Christian commenter writes –

…there is only one issue of primary importantance. That is is Jesus the Son of Man and the Son of God and my/your Savior. If so, every other issue pales.

Neil, you and many other atheists seem to think Christianity is broken up into a multitude of pieces that do not agree and do not get along because of disagreements on doctrine and practice. That is actually untrue. When it gets right down to it, only the one issue is important. And that means there are billions of Christians in fellowship. That is the church.

If you missed that in your time as a Christian, I wonder if you really were or whether you were merely religious. Now, among the religious there are significant differences and divisions. Religious Roman Catholics disagree with religious Baptists, and Pentecostals with Greek Orthodox and so on. But that is religion. Christians in all those denominations agree and can have wonderful fellowship when it is about Jesus.

And I respond –

This is nothing more than the No True Scotsman fallacy: ‘those who don’t practise Christianity in the way I (or my sect/church) approves of are not true Christians; they’re merely ‘religious’.’ Having thus discounted those who ‘disprove’ the rule, the rule now gives every impression of working. Brilliant!

You assert that ‘only one issue is important… is Jesus… my/your Savior?’ No, he’s not. He’s nobody’s. Just because Paul and those who came after him decided he was doesn’t mean he is. He’s long gone. Dead. Even so, he doesn’t claim in the synoptic gospels that he came to be anyone’s personal Savior. For synoptic Jesus the only thing of ‘importantance’ was working towards the Kingdom of God on Earth. ‘Seek ye first the Kingdom of Heaven, and his righteousness, and all these other things shall be added unto you.’ For some in the early church, the ‘only issue of importance’ was obeying Jesus’ commands, including, presumably, seeking first the Kingdom on Earth (1 John 2:3-6).

The evidence shows, however, that Christians have never managed to do this (not even after discounting those they disagree with). Just look at Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. The church has been an unholy mess since the very beginning. It continues to be to this day: take a look at Christian Research Network, which denounces fellow Jesus-lovers on a daily basis.

You delude yourself if you think the ‘true’ church, then as now, is in complete harmony, enjoying blissful love-ins with Jesus while everything else, differences in doctrine and practice included, conveniently fade away. But then, you’ve already bought into one of the most perfidious delusions ever foisted on human beings so I don’t suppose another one matters all that much.


No True Christian

WeekendA favourite response of Christians to any criticism is, ‘it doesn’t apply to me. I’m not that sort of Christian. The people who do or believe or think those things are not true Christians.’ This the ‘no true-Scotsman‘ fallacy.

  • You get it when you point out how God’s People™ agitate in Africa and Europe to deprive LGBT people of rights, protection and safety (unless of course you’re talking to a Christian who thinks this is a loving thing to do.)
  • You get it when you challenge Christians about Westboro baptist church’s activities, (the latest of which is claiming that Ebola is God’s punishment for Obama, which must be why he’s smiting poverty-stricken Africans.)
  • You get it when you mention those Christians who believe mumbo-jumbo that’s slightly different from theirs.
  • You get it when you ask them about any of the other deplorable things Christians do in Jesus’ name.

‘These other people are not true Christians,’ they say. ‘Their theology isn’t the same as mine; they’re misinterpreting the Bible; I wouldn’t do those kind of things; you’re picking out extremists.’

And do you know, Christians, those very people you say are not true Christians would say the same about you.

So what defines a Christian? Isn’t it that you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour, profess him as such, and avail yourself of the salvation you think he offers?

Indeed it is. And it’s precisely this that you have in common with the Westboro baptist church, with those who peddle the absurd, with those who seek to damage LGBT people, with those who use their positions to abuse others and those with different ideas about what being a Christian is really all about.

You and they have bought into the same fantasy: they, like you, have accepted Jesus; they, like you, have his Holy Spirit in their hearts. That they do things you don’t approve of, or regard as embarrassing or despicable, doesn’t alter that fact. You’re all in it together; they represent Jesus just as much as you do; are as much a part of the ‘bride of Christ’ as you are. The zealots, extremists and wackos are your brothers and sisters in Christ, and if you’re right about Jesus being your Saviour – which of course you’re not; I’m being generous here – you’re going to be spending all of eternity with them.

So time to knock the ‘no true Christian’ excuse on the head – it’s going to be so embarrassing for you when you get to heaven.