For some, "Christian" (adj.) no longer includes Lutherans

Jason Norris jasonnorris at YAHOO.COM
Fri Oct 14 19:06:15 UTC 2005

The word "Christian" is used by people who are associated with a Catholic or Protestant church whether they attend every church service or just a couple of them a year. Some even claim the name Christian because parents or grandparents went to church, even if they do not.

Still others use it like a process of elimination; if I'm not Jewish or Muslim or any other listed religion, I must be Christian (or close to it).

Because of such a broad use of the word, many people want to clarify that they are not Christians in name only -- they are not "nominal" Christians. They are not religious, either, because that has a negative connotation to them.

George Barna (who is the George Gallup of religious research) uses the term "born again" Christian. To Barna, a born again Christian is not simply one who claims the name Christian (or born again, for that matter).

He uses these definitions in his research:

     "Born again Christians" were defined in these surveys as people who said they have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in their life today and who also indicated they believe that when they die they will go to Heaven because they had confessed their sins and had accepted Jesus Christ as their savior. Respondents were not asked to describe themselves as "born again" or if they considered themselves to be "born again."

     "Evangelicals" are a subset of born again Christians in Barna surveys. In addition to meeting the born again criteria, evangelicals also meet seven other conditions. Those include saying their faith is very important in their life today; believing they have a personal responsibility to share their religious beliefs about Christ with non-Christians; believing that Satan exists; believing that eternal salvation is possible only through grace, not works; believing that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; and describing God as the all-knowing, all-powerful, perfect deity who created the universe and still rules it today. Being classified as an evangelical has no relationship to church attendance or the denominational affiliation of the church they attend. Respondents were not asked to describe themselves as "evangelical."

Barna's web site is at should you wish to research this further.

     Jason Norris

> It wouldn't surprise me if some mainstream Christians avoided
> applying the word to themselves because of a popular
> identification of "Christian" with "fundamentalist Christian"
> and a certain pejoration of the word that comes with that, at
> least in the minds of
> some. But my guess is that the vast majority of mainstreamers
> do not feel any constraint in applying the term to themselves
> because it hasn't acquired a narrow, much less a negative,
> connotation for them, and they couldn't conceive of it as
> having one.

OTOH, part of identifying oneself as a Christian is recognizing and
stating that one is apart from the "world", thus embracing a "narrow"

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