Monday, October 08, 2007

I Never Define the Word Christian? Huh?!?! (More of "Turretinfan's" Ceaseless Nonsense)

"Turretinfan" has recently taken to claiming not only that I am not a "real" Catholic (because I don't answer every question about my faith the way he ignorantly
demands that it should be answered), but that I also have supposedly not "apparently" defined the word Christian anywhere. He even uses this as one of his excuses to not have a chat room debate with me. This anonymous fundamentalist anti-Catholic Calvinist giant of theological discourse and definition has, thus, written recently:
Dave has never, to this author's knowledge defined Christianity to the exclusion of other religions. . . . until Dave has provided some counter-definition for what is Christianity proper, . . .


Furthermore, and this is key, Dave has apparently never defined Christianity, yet he wants to debate (or at least informally discuss) the topic. Consequently, to call such an option a "golden opportunity to refute" (emphasis added) him stretches any reader's credulity.

(10-29-07; his emphases)
I guess TF is out to sea when it comes to using a search engine. I have a Google search on the top of my sidebar and there is also the "Search Blog" function at the top. How about this paper?:

Dialogue: Definitions of Christian and Christianity (vs. Sogn Mill-Scout)

Does that look like it'll fit the bill? I write there, in the very first sentence:
My own opinion on this is that a "Christian" is one who subscribes to the Nicene Creed.
I elaborate further down:
All three major groups (Protestants, Catholics, Orthodox; and Anglican, if that is regarded as distinct) subscribe to this, excepting the "filioque" clause ("who proceeds from the Father and the Son"). Orthodox think that this lessens the status of the Holy Spirit and deny that He proceeds [basically a logical and relational procession, not a creation] from the Son as well as the Father. They don't have this in their Creed and argue that it was a doctrinal corruption, not a legitimate development.
This is trinitarianism, which is orthodox Christianity, and always has been. Excluded, therefore, from the definition of what Christianity in its mainstream has always been, are non-trinitarian heresies such as Arianism (Jesus was created: present-day Jehovah's Witnesses, Christadelphians, or the Way International), Sabellianism (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three modes, not three Persons: present-day United Pentecostal Church or "oneness pentecostals), Mormonism, Christian Science, Unity School of Christianity, so-called "apostolic churches," etc.
Groups such as Seventh-Day Adventists, who deny the doctrine of eternal hellfire and assert soul-sleep, can still conform to the above, because it doesn't specifically mention hell, let alone an eternal hell, though this doctrine is clearly taught in Scripture and has always been a teaching of orthodox Christianity as well. Many classify them as "aberrational Christians," as opposed to "cultic."
Theological liberals present a whole panorama of aberrational and heretical beliefs (judged by the criterion of historical orthodoxy). I say that if they deny the Trinity, or the bodily Resurrection of Christ, or the Incarnation, or the general resurrection, or heaven, that they are out of the fold, by definition. Christianity has a doctrinal, intellectual content. It is not a wax nose which can be twisted in any direction, by whim or fancy. Any sort of fool can call themselves a Christian, but so what? Individuals don't determine the definition; the Church as a whole does. Despite the divisions, there is still this basic agreement, seen in the Nicene Creed, which was formulated by the early Church in one of its Ecumenical Councils, and is therefore authoritative.
Even for those who would deny its formal authority and binding nature (many Protestants, who assert Scripture Alone as their formal authority), they would still agree with its contents; thus it can ably serve as a criterion or standard for determining what "Christians" believe, and what Christianity is.
I understand that a "Christian" can possibly be, and often is, defined as a person who is in fact (of course, how one determines that is a whole 'nother can of worms)saved, or regenerate, or born-again, or a true disciple of Jesus, or of the elect, or one who has a personal relationship with Jesus as their Lord and Savior, or who is indwelt with the Holy Spirit; all of which are what I call "metaphysical" or "spiritual" definitions. This has legitimacy and a certain place in the discussion as well, but I maintain that no one can know this for sure of another person (perhaps -- with some of the above concepts -- not even of themselves), and besides, one still needs an objective, doctrinal standard in order to have a sensible, rational discussion, able to be participated in by all parties, and one which is comprehensible to outsiders.

Similar opinions occur in many other places:

[A]nyone who is a trinitarian and who adheres to the Nicene Creed is (doctrinally) a Christian (that is basically the official Catholic position on other Christians) ... (Introduction to my book Twin Scourges)

Christians of all stripes, who hold to the Nicene Creed (trinitarian, deity of Jesus, the bodily resurrection, etc.) (Thoughts on Amiable and Constructive Dialogue -- linked permanently on the sidebar)
[M]y own discussion list used to use acceptance of the Nicene Creed as the criteria of who was a Christian. (Dialogue on Sola Scriptura and the Church Fathers, Part Two)
Protestants are, of course, fully Christian by virtue of baptism and adherence to the tenets of the Nicene Creed. (Why Are Non-Catholic Christians Excluded From Receiving the Catholic Eucharist, or Communion?)

[T]here is also a significant core area of agreement among all Christians, apart from fringe, heretical, cultic groups. This would be that which is described in C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity or roughly synonymous with the Nicene Creed. (Dialogue With an Atheist on the Relationship of Christianity and Metaphysics to the Scientific Method [vs. Sue Strandberg] )

Protestants can legitimately appeal to the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds, and the Council of Chalcedon, upon which all Christians agree, and have always agreed. (Observations on Arminianism)

The primary goal of the Christian filmmaker is to promulgate -- with all the artistic means at his disposal -- truth, from a broad-based, biblically-grounded Christian perspective, or worldview (Philippians 4:8). Positively, this entails a presuppositional adherence to those theological doctrines agreed-upon by virtually all Christians, formulated classically in the Nicene Creed. (Christian Filmmaker's Creed)

I have consistently maintained that anti-Catholic polemicists who fight against the Catholic Church and claim that it is not Christian (and - usually - that Catholics can only be good Christians to the extent that they reject the "errors of Rome") are themselves fellow Christians, based on how Vatican II and the Catholic Church has defined that word (possessing a valid trinitarian baptism and belief in the Apostles' or Nicene Creed). (How Anti-Catholics Can be Catholics' Brothers in Christ)

There is such a thing as orthodoxy, . . . And every Christian group subscribes to some form of it. Most of us accept the Nicene Creed. The beliefs therein were won in a hard-fought battle with heretics on all sides. There is Truth and Falsity in religion. (The Relationship Between Christianity and Philosophy)

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