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Published:September 8th, 2009 16:15 EST
Define "Christian"

Define "Christian"

By Tony Graff

Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick, a Baptist Clergyman and Author, once said that, "If Jesus should come back to earth now, hear the mythologies about him, see the creedalism, denominationalism, sacramentalism, carried on in his name, he would certainly say, "If this is Christianity, I am not a Christian."


It seems Dr. Fosdick could have seen the disillusionment the word Christian could bring about. Preacher Steven Anderson, another Baptist clergyman, had the gall to go up on his pulpit and tell his congregation that he was going to pray for President Obama to die and go to Hell as part of a long, very non-Christian rhetoric. 

People may disagree with Obama, not have voted for him, and may already have one way tickets to Canada since he`s been elected, but going so far as to tell a congregation and over the pulpit praying to God that he kick the bucket is crossing a line. Maybe not legally, but morally and religiously, there is something drastically amiss. Did he think God would seriously answer that one? Is this man a Christian?

Mr. Anderson`s actions haven`t been the first to cause doubt about what it means to be a Christian. I couldn`t even go to the State Fair without someone trying to persuade me on what it means, especially when they find out I am a Latter Day Saint. The dictionary wasn`t much help either. The American Heritage Dictionary defines a Christian as "one who professes belief in Jesus as Christ or lives the lifestyle based on the life and teaching of Jesus Christ; one who lives according to the teachings of Jesus." That either or part threw me off. Maybe Steven Anderson thought the same thing. I had grown up thinking it was the latter. I frequently heard the phrase "Going to Church on Sunday makes you a Christian as much as sleeping in a garage makes you a car."
If all the denominations of Christianity, which, according to this definition, must include the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, could set aside doctrinal differences, which we haven`t been able to do for several hundred years, and actually live in a Christ-like fashion, then stuff like this won`t happen. If all the people who claimed Obama wasn`t bringing change actually took some time to be more like Christ, then we would be the one bringing the change. The change we want to see. Jesus Christ could find reasons to love and care for publicans and the worst of sinners. Why can`t we find reasons to do the same for Barack Obama, who I`m sure isn`t all that bad? Or even do the same for door to door missionaries? Could we actually act Christ-like and do something nice to them, like Jesus would do? We got the bracelets asking the same thing. Pity we haven`t been paying attention.