What is a Christian? Who knows and who cares?
Any student of Christian history knows it has gone through many permutations none more so than in the last five hundred years since the Protestant Reformation. Is this good or bad? Yes.
The driving force behind Christianity’s longevity and mutability is fear. Mankind is paralyzed by the fear of death and the afterlife, and Christianity proposes to deliver us of this fear and provide eternal hope. The problem arises when the source of this hope, the Bible, becomes suspect as reliable. The only viable option is to re-interpret it or modernize it to conform to the current thinking of society. But what happens when it can no longer change without compromising its essence?
There are almost as many types of Christians as there are Christians when it comes to the multiplicity of beliefs and opinions on a vast spectrum of issues. Like snowflakes, no two Christians are exactly alike. The afflatus of American evangelicalism is subjectivism. It is an intensely personal belief energized by the Holy Spirit of God who indwells each believer. He is able to reveal private information through the Bible, sermons or most any other avenue if he so chooses. The consequences of this kind of experientialism is it opens the door for the disclosure of information to individuals even if it seems to conflict with biblical revelation. Interpretations becomes a matter of opinion “guided” by the Spirit.
Here are some examples: Divorce, materialism, premarital sex, homosexuality, female ordination, accumulation of wealth, working on the Lord’s Day, capital punishment, pornography etc… There are Christians who have found ways to justify practicing these although explicitly prohibited in the New Testament.
Note: I remind the reader of my motives for taking this position. It is to emphasize Christians repeated attempts to re-interpret scripture to suit their personal wants and desires. Making one text culturally mandated while another transcends the cultural morays of the time is sophistry. Either the Bible is to be taken as literally true and morally binding or else anything it teaches becomes relative. There is no biblical justification for divorce other than infidelity, and that precludes remarriage, yet evangelicals have rationalized the destruction of the traditional family unit for incompatibility and inconvenience. Even prominent leaders occupy positions of authority having been divorced and remarried.
It seems evangelicals and Christians will devise new meanings to indulge their proclivities and vices rather than abandon a worn out and irrelevant faith. Not because they love God and want to keep his commandments, as commanded (John 14:15-31), but rather because they want to get to heaven. Most of Christianity is fueled by tepidness by those unwilling to abandon it completely and relinquish their ticket to heaven. The result is a morally compromised faith.
Today’s new Christian is mostly self created. He or she has unlimited choices to customize his or her faith to however they want. No longer bound by physical locations, an internet faith allows one to “travel” to any church and fellowship with any believer worldwide who sympathizes with their brand of Christianity. One can pick and choose what sermons or podcasts they listen to in accordance with their values. A burgeoning group of eChristians who eschew traditional labels and prefer the monicker of “spiritual” over “religious” may become the next key demographic among those with faith based beliefs.