Well, if you consider a person a Christian a person who follows Jesus Christ teachings, then they must follow all of Jesus Christ teachings, among which is that He is the Son of God, and that He came to die for the sins of the world. Jesus Christ Himself taught us this. Christ is more than just a miracle worker, or a skilled physician, a good teacher, He is the Son of God. Jesus Christ said that we must be born again. Being a Christian is not about external behavior, but rather being born again.
But still, I think that you can interpret these things as metaphors. Obviously, you can’t be physically re-birthed. What Jesus means is you must renew your morals and wordview. He says that no one can come to the Father, he means no one can find enlightenment. When he speaks of the kingdom or heaven, he is referring to a peaceful, enlightened, utopian society on earth. When he refers to eternal life, he clarifies later when he says that he has come (with his message) so that we may have life more abundantly – so that by adopting these morals our lives will be more enriched and fulfilling.
Even traditional theist Christians admit that much of what Jesus says is metaphors. Obviously, you can’t be physically re-birthed. Obviously, shall not perish isn’t literal, because everybody dies. It’s just that theist Christians think their particular interpretation of these metaphors is the only acceptable one. The Da Vinci Code was baseless on most of its plot points, but it is true that Jesus was human one day and divine the next.
I’m really glad there is such a thing as middle.
I love the miracles, all of them. I believe God can do anything and that includes all the miracles. I believe it was God who did all these things using Jesus as his instrument so that all the world could be told the Good News of God’s love and forgiveness for all God’s children.
But my understanding of Trinity is on the lower end of the “scale.” I believe Jesus is divine in that he was perfectly obedient to God’s will. I don’t interpret John 1 as meaning he was personally present at Creation, but that God’s Word was embodied in him when he was born however many centuries after Creation. I pray through him rather than to him, as indeed Scripture directs. I preach living according to his teachings, which all flow directly from his commandment to love one another and which is really hard to do.
That being said, one of the people my congregation considers part of the family proclaims publicly that he is an atheist. While his wife lived, he brought her to church on Sundays but walked around the neighborhood during worship. He participates in all our social justice activities and educational events, and lives what I would consider a “Christian” life. I just keep remembering Luke 5:31 ” Jesus answered, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance.’” and know that he is one who does what is right, and that God loves him.
The concept Christianity is both a well define, but also very weak define religion. Both Catholic and Orthodox as well as various reformed forms of Christianity has well defined concept of what Christianity is. However all of these definitions are different and contradict each other in several ways. Added to this many individuals have their own more vaguely define version their believe in (as I understand you are one of those). Because of this (and other things), I don’t think that it make any sense to say that there is only one definition of what it means to be christian and follow the teachings of Jesus. This can only make sense if you believe that you know for sure what Jesus teachings exactly were (and thereby claim to know better than various christian fractions).
Because Christianity is (in my point of view) such vaguely defined concept there should be nothing wrong in claiming to follow what you believe to Jesus teaching and being atheist at the same time, if you believe theism was not a part of Jesus teaching. However, if you do so (claiming that Jesus were “just” a wise teacher), then I would questioning whether you form of Christianity actually is a religion, or rather an philosophy or an ideology like for example Confucianism.
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