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I Don’t Want to Be Called a Christian Anymore

helloI don’t want to be called a Christian anymore.

Don’t misunderstand me; I want everything to do with Jesus.

But when I see a so-called fellow Christian holding a sign that says, “God hates fags,” and someone asks me, “Are you a Christian too?” I want to say, “hell no.”  

When I hear Christian groups claiming God’s “justice” has been done in Newton CT, and New Orleans, or I listen to Mike Huckabee and Bryan Fischer blaming gays, contraception, and atheists for the slaughter of innocents, and someone associates my faith with theirs, I want to run as far away from that connection as I can.

If that’s the kind of nonsense associated with the name “Christian,” I want nothing to do with it.

So what choices does this leave me with? And what are the consequences of these choices?

A)  Dissociate myself with my nominal “Christian” identity.

  1. I don’t want anything to do with the name “Christian” if it associates me with hate groups or bigots. I also don’t want any association with the historical atrocities that have been done in the name of Christianity, ie: The Inquisition, the Crusades, Witch-hunts, etc.
  2. But I do want everything to do with the name Christian in association with people like Mary, Paul, Peter, James, Lydia, Phoebe, St. John, Augustine, John Chrystosm, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, Calvin, Knox, John of the Cross, Mother Theresa, Henri Nouwen, Fanny Crosby, Deitrich Bonhoeffer, Corrie ten Boom, C.S.Lewis, my mentors, my family, my friends at Cedarcreek Covenant church . . . You get the idea.
  3. Disassociating myself with the name “Christian” means removing myself from rich tapestry of faithful saints—or does it? The Scriptures use phrases like: “family of God,” “children of God” or “household of faith.”  And as we all know, families are messy.  I bear the family name Hill, and now Worl. There are many things that have happened in the Hill-Worl family that are sinful, hurtful, and treacherous in many ways.  Am I responsible for some of our bad history? Yes I am.  For better or worse, it is my family story.  I do not wish to dump the name Hill or Worl because of these things, for along with my family name is also a story of great faithfulness, courage, triumph, love and grace.
  4. Is it any better if I ditch the name “Christian” and go with “Christ-follower?” or “Jesus Disciple?”  How does that change anything?

 B) Disown those other “followers.”

  1. Maybe the easiest solution we tend toward is to simply point the finger at the hateful picketer on the corner, and say “Well, obviously they are not “real Christians.”*  Jesus says we will know a follower by the kind of fruit they bear.  What kind of fruit is growing? Hate, discrimination, disgrace. Aren’t we told we are able to decipher through the wisdom of the Spirit what is false teaching, and what isn’t?
  2. But does this make me a horrible hypocrite? Am I claiming to be a better Christian above all those “sinning” ones by drawing a line between us? I have done more than my fair share of misdeeds, while a Christ-follower, that I look on with great remorse. I can readily share the same sentiment as the apostle Paul did, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst.”  However, is there a difference between sinning followed by: repentance and redemption—and—unremitting hateful behavior, which continually produces nothing but pain and harm?
  3. If I begin down the slippery slope of drawing a line the sand and saying “These were real believers,” and “these were not,” am I not then entering into the self-righteous vocation of a Pharisee, the “holy” religion wardens of Jesus’ day. And if I remember my Bible right, Jesus had more than a few things to say against the Pharisees.  Does the Great Commission read, “Go into all the world and decide who is a real follower and who is not?”

What are my options?  Avoid. Disavow. Disassociate. Hate them for hating.  Is there another way?

Yes.

C) Confronting, engaging and praying is the best option I am left with. 

I will not disassociate myself from the name “Christian,” and yes, all the ugly baggage that comes with it. When asked if I am a Christian, I will happily and eagerly explain what exactly that means to me, including an honest examination of my family history.

 Engage. 

If I am then critiqued for the evil done in my family name, I will enter into that discussion and express on behalf of my family name our deep sorrow and remorse for those events.  I will express my genuine grief over deception, actions and speech that are so contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ. I will help examine what is false teaching and deception, and how Scriptures can become mishandled and abused.

Engage. Confront. 

I will ask God daily, hourly, “Have mercy on me, have mercy on us, Oh Lord, according to your steadfast love.” I will ask God to shine the light of truth and grace into deception and darkness. I will ask God to turn the hearts of men and women from hate to love. 

Engage. Confront. Pray.

What do you think?

Are you tempted to ditch the name Christian because of all the connotations and associations that come with it?  Have you?

What does that mean for you and what does that look like?

How do you confront, engage, and pray in these situations?

* It looks as though the Baptist groups have disavowed extreme hate groups that call themselves “Baptist” like the Westboro Baptist Church.  I believe disavowing is a solid option in many cases.

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18 Comments Post a comment
  1. Doug #

    Then stop calling yourself a Christian. I did it a year ago. However, while you’re on a crusade against hypocrisy and the history of persecution by the Catholic Church, why not distance yourself from Christmas, Easter and the rest of the pagan traditions that the so-called “Christian” church stole?

    January 4, 2013
  2. When we searc the scriptures lead by the Holy Ghost, we find that the carnal mind is the reason that we are sinners, unable to to manifest the love of God through what the world calls love. God’s wisdom, and nature if differant than ma’s wisdom. What is Love? God is Love. But, what is love? 2:John 6& John 14 that we keep Jesus’ commandments. But why does’nt every body know this? Because the word of God is hid from them that do not have a pure heart. 1 John chapter 2. He that hateth his brother is in darkness even unto now, because that “darkness” (hate) has blinded his eyes. It’s a devil from hell that is there to steal, kill, and destroy our life. Jesus died that we might know the truth, but the truth is hid to them that do not search for truth with all their heart.
    You are fed up because you don’t see alot of people living as Christians! Jesus said, many are called, but few there be that find the way. There won’t be many that have the desire to go on with Him. The parable of the sower warns us that there is only one type of ground that the seed will grow in.
    The world does not know they are lost. That’s why God created preachers! John 3:18. He that believeth not, is condemned “ALREADY”>

    January 4, 2013
    • Becca Worl #

      Thanks for your scriptures Robert! I appreciate it. I am fed up, I’m fed up with bad doctrine, and with extreme fundamental believers who preach hate messages and assume they know exactly what, when, where, how God’s will, justice, and judgement is delivered. My blog partner Jayson Bradley mentioned, rightfully so, that the more attention we give them, the more they feed off of this and the more media attention they acquire, and then, this is the “gospel” message preached to the world. He was good to remind me to stay away from actually drawing attention to particular people and groups. I think that I am more sad than I am fed up. I am sad that there are so many who are deceived, and that so many fall away.

      January 6, 2013
      • Becca,
        In the book of Phillipians 2:5-8 we are told to have the mind of Christ in us. In this scripture we are told not to make ourselves a reputation, along with other things. When we try not to make ourselves a reputation, we resist things that will stop us from being in the mind of Christ. The way that we are to know a person is in Christ, or in the antl-christ spirit is weather we keep the commandments of Christ. If a person does not keep Jesus’ commandments, they are not of God, but of the devil. 1 John 3:6-10.
        Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

        6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

        7 “But made himself of no reputation”, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

        8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

        January 7, 2013
  3. My sentiments exactly

    January 4, 2013
    • Still many thoughts in process for me though… as I think it will be for quite a while 🙂

      January 6, 2013
  4. Good post! I think if someone asked me: “Are you a Christian?”, I would turn it back and ask “What do you mean by Christian?” and that would give me a chance to really dialogue about what it really means to be a Christian.

    January 6, 2013
    • Thank you! I like your idea very much, “What do you mean by Christian” is a good way of opening deeper conversation. Thanks for that. Sometimes when someone finds out I’m a Christian and they offer this tasty morsel, “Well, I hate Religion.” I often, just for the sake of opening up conversation say something like, “I can see why.” or maybe even a brash, “Me too!” 🙂

      January 6, 2013
  5. JW #

    examples such as this fog the line of what it means to be a Christian. So many throw out the baby with the bathwater and end up saying a religious belief ends up in confusion and conflicting with society around them let alone the lack of character with those who say they are Christians. It becomes as a political debate creating divisions and disillusionment.

    February 6, 2013
  6. Julie #

    I feel the same way.

    April 23, 2013
  7. Erie #

    Thank God for this writing!! I have been talking about this for the past few days and approaching the situation with similar concerns. However, my spirit was never settled on actually doing so. This has helped me so much, i never thought I’d actually found something helpful by googling “I don’t want to be called a Christian anymore.” Thanks so much ❤

    November 30, 2013
    • Hi Erie,
      I’m so encouraged and thankful that you came upon this when you needed to. I think it’s awesome that you googled the title of my blog and this came your way, that makes me smile. Way to go Google!
      It’s always a challenge, our identity in Christ, and that alongside others who have/claim the same identity. Blessings in your earnesty and your searching…

      December 9, 2013
    • Becca Worl #

      Hi Erie,
      I’m so encouraged and thankful that you came upon this when you needed to. I think it’s awesome that you googled the title of my blog and this came your way, that makes me smile. Way to go Google!
      It’s always a challenge, our identity in Christ, and that alongside others who have/claim the same identity. Blessings in your earnest search…
      Becca

      December 9, 2013
  8. I can’t even describe how much I needed to see this. It hasn’t necessarily solved anything, but at least to know there are others out there who feel the way I do. Like Erie, I typed “I don’t want to be called a Christian” and this came up. I love God and I understand my path and relationship with Christ; but fundamentally I don’t understand the mind and hearts of those I supposedly share my faith with. I more and more feel distanced from other “Christians” and I don’t know why I need to hang on to the title. I just want to love God and follow Christ. And I want everything that loving God and following Christ entails, not what religious people tell me it ought to entail. Thank you for giving me more to focus on and thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    December 7, 2013
    • 1Jn 2:4 KJV
      (4) He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
      The scriptures warn us about who are Christians and who are not!
      1Jn 3:1-10 KJV
      (1) Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.
      (2) Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
      (3) And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
      (4) Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
      (5) And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.
      (6) Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.
      (7) Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.
      (8) He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
      (9) Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
      (10) In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.

      December 7, 2013
      • Becca Worl #

        Robert, thanks for the walk down 1 John for a bit, always a good place to be reading…

        December 9, 2013
    • Becca Worl #

      Mamafab :),
      I think this is so crazy cool that you and Erie both typed “i don’t want to be called a Christian” and this came up! How very cool. Thanks for your thoughts, and your comment, I appreciate it. It is a hard journey. As you just read, I came up with three essential options, I’m still landing on the third, although somedays I vacillate depending on my frustration 🙂 . You mentioned that you “want everything that loving God and following Christ entails, not what religious people tell me it ought to entail,” I believe Jayson Bradley wrote a great post that narrows in on that, search through his archive, I can’t remember the title. But I’m sure you’ll appreciate EVERYTHING he writes, it is the kind of critical thinking you would appreciate.
      Blessings,
      Becca

      December 9, 2013
  9. I just had to mention about mother theresa, she really was not what she was made out to be. She was an advocate for poverty not someone who alleviated poverty. Yes we can give her a Hi5 for caring about and living with the poor but the damage of entrapping them in their poverty or never using all her donations to create actual real hospitals as opposed to death hospices is one that we cannot ignore.

    May 19, 2014

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