I have commented on redefining Christianity in the past, and I know I am not going to begin a new movement or forge into totally new territory with these comments. If, however, I can instill in at least one person the idea that Christianity can be viewed in other than a traditional way, then I plow forward.
What does it mean to be Christian in today’s society for me?
It means that the primary revelation of that which we call God has come to me through the teachings of Jesus and traditions of the Christian church. However, those traditions ought to be questioned, and rightly so, at every opportunity. The traditions deserve to be challenged; indeed we owe it to our descendants to question each generation’s tradition. We should always endeavor to understand the reasoning behind what has been handed down through the ages. Sometimes traditions will stand the test of time, and other times they will be allowed to wither. Often times, new information, new research and new insight will test the validity of ages-old traditions, and their importance will fade. That is a good thing. It is good because then each generation is forced to validate its reasoning for maintaining that which they pass along to succeeding generations.
When research revealed, for instance, that the earth is in fact billions and billions of years old, then our faith must be allowed to expand to include that fact as part of our story. To deny the truth of the facts, denies the power and ability of God. When texts were unearthed that were more ancient and therefore likely closer to the original texts of Scripture, we deny the work of the Holy Spirit if we deny their inclusion in the sacred text. Jesus is quoted as having said, “There are yet more things to be revealed.” As we mature and learn and study the texts of our sacred books, and begin to have revealed to us work of the spirit that moves us to follow different paths, we are accepting the work of God in our lives.
Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah, the Savior, all of which means the one who comes to save, has saved us. Through the teachings of those who have grown and matured in the Judeo-Christian heritage, we are led to a better way of life; a way of sharing compassionately with all, and a way to stand up to oppressors. “Christian,” in my mind, then means simply one who follows those teachings as a way of life.
I am Christian, and I benefit also from the teachings of many great prophets of the world. Prophets who, in the same manner as Jesus, shared their knowledge and insight into a way of life that builds unity among people, fosters care of the less fortunate and weak, and seeks to treat all people with justice. “Christian” does not mean Catholic or Protestant, it does not proclaim any particular allegiance to any one group; it seeks only, in my mind, to follow the teachings of a great Jewish prophet whose lessons are carried down through the ages in the Bible.