[*] who's been eating mine?

In an effort to leave no stone unturned from the weekend, Ms. Ellen left a few comments that are front-page worthy for response:
No: I'm agreeing that if someone doesn't want to be called a Christian, we should oblige him.

Is the opposite also true? If a person wants to be called a Christian should we oblige him?

If somebody said, "We are Christians in a very real sense and that is coming to be more and more widely recognized. Once upon a time people everywhere said we are not Christians. They have come to recognize that we are, and that we have a very vital and dynamic religion based on the teachings of Jesus Christ", would you say, OK?

Ellen 03.12.06 - 7:46 am #
To the first question, Ms. Ellen does something which is common is blog arguments: she misplaces the burden of proof. It is my suggestion to this discussion that the action of wanting to disassociate with the church by disavowing its common namesake is actually evidence against one's Christian status. On the other hand, wanting the name "Christian" attached to one's actions – while possibly evidence of one's discipleship to Christ – is by no means a conclusive bit of evidence that one is a Christian.

There is, by all means, more to it than that. I have spent a large portion of the 690+ posts on this blog talking about the matter of orthodoxy. My over-arching point, if I have one at all, is that there is far more to being a Christian than claiming to be one. But in that exact same measure, because the standard is high, claiming to be one is on the list – recognizing one's association with the church is certainly part of the qualifications.

To the second question she asks about a widely-published quote from Gordon Hinckley which is based on her first question. We could just write it off since I dispute her first point, but there is something else important to note: the definition of the Gospel. If some says that they "have a very vital and dynamic religion based on the teachings of Jesus Christ", is that what it means to be Christian? Or does Paul dispel that completely by saying what he says in 1Cor 15, in an echo of what Peter preached on that first Pentecost in Acts 2?

Because Hinckley's "vital and dynamic religion" denies essential tenets of the Gospel, his enthusiasm to be called "Christian" is mitigated significantly by his lack of enthusiasm for the actual Gospel.

Ms Ellen continues:

So I'll be glad to honor his wish not to be called a Christian as long as he doesn't try to glom the things those *who actually are Christians* represent.

Are you saying that you believe that those who prefer to be called "disciples of Christ" - or "Christ followers" are not Christian because they prefer to use those labels rather than share the label with anti-Trinitarians and Mormons?

Question: is the use of the term "Christian" in the Bible "descriptive" or "prescriptive"?
Ellen 03.12.06 - 7:51 am #
The LDS also call themselves "the church of Jesus Christ" and "disciples of Christ" – so by the logic of your hypothetical disassociatives, that label is lost to the faithless. The question is if the faithless co-opt our name, do we change it or fight for what belongs to us?

Look: my wife is married to me, right? She's married to centuri0n, and that makes her Mrs. Centuri0n (notice that her name gets caps). If I come home one day and there's some guy sitting at my place at the table eating my supper and I ask him, "who's been eating my porridge?" He'd have to have a lot of nerve to say, "it's not your porridge: it's mine. I'm centuri0n."

At the same time, he would also have to have a lot of nerve to say, "It may be your porridge, but it is mine also because I am also centuri0n." That is to say, he thinks there's enough to go around, and because he's slightly overweight (no jokes, Daniel), slightly balding and slightly sarcastic, he wants to say he is enough like me to be entitled to what I have. And while I might just let is slide over the porridge, I would absolutely draw the line when he wanted to share Mrs. Centuri0n (among other things).

I think it takes a lot of nerve for Hinckley to say, "Mormons are Christians, too," when the foundational principle of Joseph Smith's writings and office as prophet is that no other church is in fact Christian. To come back with "me, too" when one's foundational premise is "me, only" takes giant amounts of chutzpah. And as such, it cannot be conceded even in the least. For the record, and so nobody misses this point, I would say exactly the same thing about Roman Catholicism. Once you have said "me, only", you had either better be right or better be ready to admit you were desperately wrong.

And after all of that, if you are actually centuri0n, and someone is actually sitting down eating your porridge, you would be somewhat of a dope to look at the phony in your chair and say, "because you have co-opted my name, I'm changing mine to 'leibowitz'. NOW What are you gonna do?" If I were the phony centuri0n, I'd then kick leibowitz out of centuri0n's house – because the house belongs to centuri0n, no leibowitz. Why? Because chutzpah doesn't have limits. And if you think the same thing is not in store for Christians who will not fight for the namesake of our church, you had better think some more about it.

The last question Ms. Ellen asks, however, intrigues me. Is "Christian" either descriptive or prescriptive? I think it is both – when it is used in the historically-common sense. For example, I think the term is abused when we say we are selling "Christian t-shirts" or "Christian toe rings". But when we talk about "Christian message" or "Christian church" or "Christian missions" or "me personally, a Christian", we are using the term in a way which since the first century has described those who are willing to even lay down their lives for the sake of the Gospel and therefore Christ. Saying we are "Christian" is descriptive in the sense that it tells where we come from; but in exactly the same way, it is prescriptive regarding where we ought to be going.

Steve's posts from the weekend are next on my agenda. And then back to the marriage series.