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Your definition for Christianity may not be Biblical and should therefore not be called Christianity

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With 1 vote and 3 points ahead, the winner is ...

halmoni
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Religion
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As I've spent more time getting acquainted with debate art. I find myself, on both sides, seeing arguments for or against Christianity that are not actually Christianity. I'm specifically saying, core tenants of the faith. To specify one, Jesus is not a created being.

To those interested in having this conversation, here's the premise I'll lay out:
The person engaging will outline their definition of what Christianity is. Basically, what are Christians required to do and believe to call themselves a Christian? We can save the optional stuff for another debate (e.g. baptism).

My burden upon the outlining of the other person is to use a Biblically based argument to show that the statistically observed lean towards incorrect assumptions (based on my observations, I'm not trying to be presumptuous!) are in fact incorrect. The fact that many, many Christians have the correct definition (I'm trying my best through constant study to be one of them) and this is the full motivation of adding the words 'may not be' in my title. To just show i don't think I have some unique view or special understanding. Not at all.

If I agree at the outset, awesome! Sorry to have wasted your time. I've done this only a few times with people, but have yet to find an area that we couldn't discuss.

I'm not looking to set something up to ridicule and try and puff my ego through some forced, unfair "victory". How silly and what a waste of both our time. If I'm making opinion based arguments, I fail.

Thus, we must assume the Christian worldview for this discussion. For example, but how do you know God exists, isn't a relevant question for the purpose of this.

If you're a professing Christian, I'd think you'd want to confirm if you're in line with Jesus' teachings. I sure do. If im misunderstanding, what a great way to surface it! It's something I personally do with those I trust who follow Jesus with my own theological understanding all of the time.

If you're not Christian, I just hope to better target the objections and arguments raised against Christianity for future discussions. I think there are some really good arguments and points of conflict out there and I want to explore them. I just feel bogged down by the incorrect assumption discussions mid theological debate across topics.

Round 1
Pro
I'd really love to start by agreeing to terms. What would be definitions you'd agree with for the following terms/questions?

Sin

Who is Jesus

What is the role of good works?

What is the role of baptism?


What's meant by believe in Jesus and you will be saved?

What's your take on the language of Father and Son for God and Jesus?

Thanks in advance!

Con
Hi! So I’ll be sharing my experience and my view of the Eastern Orthodox church since I am from Bulgaria and orthodox beliefs are what I am most familiar with, but please don’t judge the orthodox faith by my opinions.
Just to mention that we don’t base ourselves only on the Bible but also on the experiences and writings of the holy fathers and the saints.

Sin in our church is seen as drifting away from God. When you sin, you basically distance yourself from Him. I really like one interpretation from father Haralampos Papadopoulos, that in my experience is very true, which is that sin is missing the goal, like being lost or confused, making mistakes, etc. And the other side of sin is where you blatantly do evil things and have no remorse.

Jesus is the Son of the living God. Not created but born from Him.

The role of good works? You do good if you wish to do good. Doing good just because you have to won’t benefit you in any way if it isn’t done out of love. And if you do good out of love, you won’t care about what benefits you get.

What is the role of baptism? We call it christening. It’s a sacrament in which the Holy Spirit comes and cleanses you of the original sin if you’re a child, if you’re older, it also cleanses you of your own sins; you gain access to all the other sacraments and if you aren’t christened, you can’t go to Heaven.
What is meant by believe in Jesus and you will be saved? None of us believe that we’ll be saved just because we believe in Jesus. You work for you salvation. Which doesn’t mean that we think we are saved by our works but by God’s grace.

What’s your take on the language of Father and Son for God and Jesus? I don’t think I understand the question. Do you mean that God is a masculine figure? That we call Him a He?

Round 2
Pro
Hi! So I’ll be sharing my experience and my view of the Eastern Orthodox church since I am from Bulgaria and orthodox beliefs are what I am most familiar with,
--Awesome, such a cool the the internet allows us to do. Greetings from a Christ follower from America! 

but please don’t judge the orthodox faith by my opinions.
Just to mention that we don’t base ourselves only on the Bible but also on the experiences and writings of the holy fathers and the saints.
--Same with Christianity and anything that's my opinion. We just stick to the canonical Bible. 


Sin in our church is seen as drifting away from God. When you sin, you basically distance yourself from Him. I really like one interpretation from father Haralampos Papadopoulos, that in my experience is very true, which is that sin is missing the goal, like being lost or confused, making mistakes, etc. And the other side of sin is where you blatantly do evil things and have no remorse.
--thats an interesting and personal way to look at it. I like that. The way we tend to talk about it is more so in a context of the relationship between God or neighbor that was broken. It's a deep topic. I think we're both speaking in the same language but using different words haha. 


Jesus is the Son of the living God. Not created but born from Him.
-- I would contest born from Him. I would say the Father, Son, Spirit have existed together, in harmony, as unique persons forever. None created or born.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
John 1:1‭-‬3 ESV


So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”
John 8:57‭-‬58 ESV
God said to Moses, “I am who I am .” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”
Exodus 3:14 ESV

And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
Colossians 1:17 ESV

I believe these all support a common point, as I expressed above. 


The role of good works? You do good if you wish to do good. Doing good just because you have to won’t benefit you in any way if it isn’t done out of love. And if you do good out of love, you won’t care about what benefits you get.
-- That's awesome. And refreshing to not hear of these referred to as some requirement or some means to achieve status. I heard this the other day. I like it. An outpuring of agape love. 


What is the role of baptism? We call it christening. It’s a sacrament in which the Holy Spirit comes and cleanses you of the original sin if you’re a child, if you’re older, it also cleanses you of your own sins; you gain access to all the other sacraments and if you aren’t christened, you can’t go to Heaven.
-- this is where we differ a lot. We believe baptism to be optional. An outward expression of faith. 

If I may explore a few questions to better understand?
If Jesus had original sin, how did he die sinless? If it's the baptism, what if someone is baptized then immediately murdered before they can sin again. How would that be different from Jesus death? And please understand, im not like asking rhetorical questions like im just right. Im legitimately eager to better understand your position. Ive thought about this and have some questions ive thought of but not deeply investigated. 

Another thought. 

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Luke 23:39‭-‬43 ESV

It's not explicit, but it doesn't seem he would have been baptized. How then would he have joined Christ? If that's too assumptive (I think it may be) would that also imply then that all death bed conversions don't matter unless you were luckily baptized at some point in life? Wouldn't this also exclude anyone who's never heard of baptism? 

Finally, im curious how you square the effort/act/work of baptism with verses like 

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Ephesians 2:8‭-‬9 ESV

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
John 5:24 ESV

I don't necessarily expect you to have all these answers. Just an informal dump of some of the questions that come to mind. 




What is meant by believe in Jesus and you will be saved? None of us believe that we’ll be saved just because we believe in Jesus. You work for you salvation. Which doesn’t mean that we think we are saved by our works but by God’s grace.
-- Doesn't that statement directly contrast ephesians above? Again so you don't have to scroll around:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Ephesians 2:8‭-‬9 ESV



What’s your take on the language of Father and Son for God and Jesus? I don’t think I understand the question. Do you mean that God is a masculine figure? That we call Him a He?

-- Yeah. I would say it's 100% metaphor because the Father isn't confined to a physical body to start. God didn't create or bear Jesus. We can't truly understand three persons in one, so metaphor is to a sense required. 

God wouldn't have a gender. He's above that definition. I mean, literally the definition makes no sense given God exists outside of our Universe. 

Male - person bearing an X and Y chromosome pair in the cell nuclei and normally having a penis, scrotum, and testicles, and developing hair on the face at adolescence; a boy or man. 

What's more that would imply a literal aesthetic definiton to created in God's image for humans. That's not the case. 

Really looking forward to continuing our conversation!


Con
Hello again!  

Origins of Jesus – In the symbol of faith it is said: I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten, begotten of the Father before all ages. Light of light; true God of true God; begotten, not made; of one essence with the Father, by Whom all things were made; Who for us men and for our salvation came down from Heaven, and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became man. And He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered, and was buried. And the third day He arose again, according to the Scriptures, and ascended into Heaven, and sits at the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead; Whose Kingdom shall have no end.
And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, Who proceeds from the Father; Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; Who spoke by the prophets.
In one Holy, Catholic (meaning including a wide variety of things; all-embracing), and Apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism (in our case christening)for the remission of sins. I look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.
This symbol is a prayer in which the basics of the faith are laid out. In the early church days there were a lot of heretic claims, one of which was the origins of Jesus. On the first universal council in Nicaea in 325 the issue of whether Jesus was born or created was discussed because of Arius’ claims that He was created which the council deemed heresy. On the second universal council in Constantinople in 381 the Holiness of the Holy Spirit was discussed. Both councils were summoned because of the issue of heresy, which caused a lot of turmoil between the believers and led some of them astray. The symbol hasn’t been changed since.

Baptism – Of all the sacraments, christening is the most important. It is the door through which you enter the Kingdom and it gives you access to the other sacraments. This is usually backed by: Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit” John 3:5 NIV.
The sacrament is established by Christ himself after His resurrection. He commanded the apostles : Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” Matthew 28:19 NIV.
I don’t know if Jesus had original sin or not, never thought about it and I never found such information on the orthodox sources. All I know is He never sinned.
“what if someone is baptized then immediately murdered before they can sin again” – we have a sacrament called “confession”, you go to the priest you have chosen to be your confessor, you confess in the church in front of Jesus’ image, prayers are read and by faith that you will be forgiven  you are forgiven, so tha't an option, you don't have to die immediately lol. John the Baptist only baptized with water in the name of the one who was to come.

I also struggle with the thought that someone will go to hell without ever having the chance to hear of Christ or to be baptized. I read somewhere that for the people that never heard of Jesus, there would be different rules for entering, but such a point of view is rare and possibly controversial although I really hope that’s true because we haven’t done anything to be more deserving of salvation than those cultures that have chosen to live excluded from our version of civilization for instance.

Being saved by grace not by works – I view it as you aren’t saved based on how much money you gave to charity or how much you helped people and so on. This is so that no one boasts, no one has a reason to be prideful. I read somewhere that hell is full of kind or generous people, virgins and others with great virtues but all of them had pride and you won’t find a single soul in Heaven that has pride. Humility is one of the greatest virtues one can possess, maybe the most important one. As for “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” John 5:24 ESV
I say:
Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 7:21 NIV
“As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”  Jacob 2:26 NIV

What’s your take on the language of Father and Son for God and Jesus? It is logical to be a metaphor. But how God is constructed isn’t for us to know. This is an interesting question, no one here bothers to think that way. I tried to find some information in Bulgarian, but no, nothing at all. I think created in God’s image implies we are created to be as loving, as caring, as kind and so on.


Round 3
Pro
I am very much enjoying our conversation. It's fascinating to get insight into beliefs and a culture outside of the way I'm used to thinking. Thank you. 

I see a lot of places we're in high agreement. Others, and in mostly non-salvation related areas, we've got some disagreement but nothing major and nothing which affects the core message. Any i felt conflict with the core message from my point of view, I've shared with where in the Bible I'm founding that view on. 

That said, I've not really got anything else I want to specifically push back on.

You've been so forthcoming and gracious in your responses. From a Christian in America are there any questions I can answer for you about anything? Or any follow ups from things I've said?

Again, thank you for a stimulating and informative conversation! 
Con
What do you think about Christian meditation? Meditation is a practice which is common for religions like Buddhism and Hinduism. Does it have a place in the Christian lifestyle? I've never tried it nor have I looked into it in depth, so...

What do you think about youtubers (what they preach) like God is grey? How about Paul and Morgan, and Girl defined? Classically Abby seems to be "trendy" right now.

What do you think of progressive Christianity? Is it going too far? Or is it not? Where do you think Christianity can progress and where should it stay the same?

I once saw an interview with a nun who said that you either accept Christianity for what it is, or you don't, no matter how it was presented to you. Would you agree with such a statement? 

As a Christian, do you celebrate Halloween?

Is the role of the arts only to praise God? What do you think about Harry Potter? What about Narnia? Harry Potter is claimed to be satanic by the Polish Catholic church. And Narnia is supposed to be Christian fantasy. Does the fantasy genre have a place in the arts from a Christian point of view? 

I'm genuinely curious to know how you view those topics. I enjoy this conversation as well. 
Round 4
Pro
Quote
"What do you think about Christian meditation? Meditation is a practice which is common for religions like Buddhism and Hinduism. Does it have a place in the Christian lifestyle? I've never tried it nor have I looked into it in depth, so..."
-- The Bible speaks of a meditation where you fill your mind. The others are about emptying your mind. The Bible talks about meditating on the word of God. It's a different thing and definitely a different experience. I've done both and each for extended periods of time in my life before and after being saved. The Biblical model has something real going for it. 


Quote
"What do you think about youtubers (what they preach) like God is grey? How about Paul and Morgan, and Girl defined? Classically Abby seems to be "trendy" right now."
-- I'm sorry I haven't heard them. I would recommend checking out the Exploring My Strange Bible podcast by Tim Mackie. It's transformed the way I look at The Bible and Jesus' teachings. 

Quote
"What do you think of progressive Christianity? Is it going too far? Or is it not? Where do you think Christianity can progress and where should it stay the same?"
-- You would have to define that for me. I wonder if the "mega church model" is what you mean. I find i agree with a ton of what she says here, you might find it interesting https://youtu.be/_0QvXOtJ58Q


Quote
"I once saw an interview with a nun who said that you either accept Christianity for what it is, or you don't, no matter how it was presented to you. Would you agree with such a statement? "

-- the Bible does speak on those who know and knowingly suppress God. Part of her sentiment i agree with. But I also think that's way too broad. Maybe in each encounter but I can't go a day without seeing Jesus talked about somewhere. I was at my desk at work listening to a presentation when the switch flipped for me. The woman in the video I cited above said it was a drunk dude who randomly told her about Jesus. That was the catalyst. I think God seeks to draw unbelievers close all through their life. It's between them and God as to who repents and believes. 

Quote 
"As a Christian, do you celebrate Halloween? "
-- Let's say participate? My wife and I really enjoy doing the image based stuff. Dressing up, decorating the house in a "spooky" way. Taking the kids trick or treating and eating too much candy. It's all in fun and all for the sake of simply enjoying ourselves. I put no believe into anything other than I spend a bit of money to do something silly one day a year. 

Queue
"Is the role of the arts only to praise God?"
-- I would say no. It's a way to express ourselves. I think a love song about staying faithful to my wife is great. I think the rap songs I listen to from Christian rappers who talk about their journey with Christ and are evangelizing through song are great! 

Quote
"What do you think about Harry Potter? What about Narnia? Harry Potter is claimed to be satanic by the Polish Catholic church."
-- So, and you may have a follow up, please ask. I just got a Harry Potter tattoo a few months ago haha I really enjoyed the story. I think a book written to be a fantasy story of a made up world is fine. I think you can't base your worldview on it. If you think its real and cease worshipping God because you want to be a wizard, there's a problem. Just because subject matter doesn't talk about God doesn't mean it's evil. Harry Potter is a fictional story in which a fake Wizard in a fake world has a fake adventure against fake bad wizards and one really bad fake wizard. Why can't I as a God fearing Christian enjoy a fun story about something made up. That feels legalistic to me if it's simply judged by the surface and something Jesus himself preached against doing (the surface level legalism not Harry Potter haha)

And for anyone who says, but it'll lead down a dark path.  First, im not trying to find real witchcraft in the world because of a book someone wrote to entertain people. I would say that counts as altering your worldview. Second, they act like the Bible says we won't still keep sinning and defying God after we're saved. Now, if you notice someone is trying to find Voldemort for real, maybe tell them to stop reading the books. If someone says God isn't real because I read in Harry Potter that...  Then yeah, they should stop reading. I think you'd have an argument from Paul's perspective if by supporting the books you were causing others to stumble. Ive never once heard someone stopped believing in God because of Dumbledore. I am truly sorry if there are people like that. Im only saying I've never seen any. 

Quote
And Narnia is supposed to be Christian fantasy. Does the fantasy genre have a place in the arts from a Christian point of view? 
-- CS Lewis is an amazing author. Mere Christianity and The Great Divorce are unbelievable reads about Christian thinking. I see nothing wrong with using the brain God gave to tell a story which mirrors things we have in the Gospel. As long as the intention is correct. Which i laid out in Harry Potter. 

Awesome conversation. This is great and so cool to connect with someone from across the world!
Con
The Mega church video was very interesting. I always found them an interesting model to preach and wondered if the message could have gotten lost or if it was able to be sent across. I was referring to purity culture and such since the youtubers I mentioned talk about it a lot, some preach it, some are against it. I will definitely check out Tim Mackie. 
I asked those question because I have come across such claims very often. 
As for "I once saw an interview with a nun who said that you either accept Christianity for what it is, or you don't, no matter how it was presented to you." I think it is important that you approach each person in a manner which wouldn't turn them away from God. Because, unofrtunately, spiritual abuse happens. That's the picture I had in my mind when I saw the interview. 
I have no further questions. It was enjoyable having this conversation with you, so thank you!  
Round 5
Pro
Same, thanks for sharing about your beliefs, culture, and interests. It was a pleasure to get to know you even if just a little bit. 

May God bless you and may your eyes stay forever transfixed on His majesty. Go in peace. He is risen!
Con
Thank you! Wishing you the same! :)