The Counsel of Trent

writing is thinking

Monday, January 16, 2006

More on Defining a Christian

Here, I asked how we should define a Christian. I've got a little update. Sometimes I'll trace a word through the dictionary to see where that leads me. If I've got the time I'll used the OED of course, but for now I just used my little desktop dictionary. I don't have time to narrate the whole thing, but consider this tail:

Christian: A religious person who believes Jesus is the Christ
religious: Concerned with sacred matters or religion or the church
concern: Something that interests you because it is important or affects you
important: Of great significance or value
value (v): Hold dear, Regard highly; think much of, Place a value on
value (n): The quality (positive or negative) that renders something desirable

I find it highly interesting that the trail led right to desire. I've said for years that this was the key concept in what made some one a Christian as well as what made Christian faith rational. I think it's a nice counterpoise to the cognitivist position rejected in the early post. A Christian can share all of this beliefs with a demon, but not her desires. Being a Christian, then, is more a matter of the heart than the head.


At Tuesday, January 17, 2006 4:06:00 PM, Blogger David said...

Hi Trent,

Not sure how much traffic your new blog is getting, but I've been checking once every couple days for the last week. And let me say, I really enjoy the topics you write about here. Keep it up!

At Wednesday, January 18, 2006 12:38:00 PM, Blogger Trent_Dougherty said...

David, nice to hear from you. I the blog is getting a lot of views. Not many posts of course, but that's fine. People are busy and it's hard to know what to say to some of the things I write. I put them here because I used to do a lot of this thing: Writing an email to someone I say, oh, so-and-so would probably like to hear about this, so I paste that comment into an email from so-and-so. Then I get an email from someone else and I realize they would probably like to hear about his as well, so I look up so-and-so's email from my "sent" folder then copy and paste again to the email to the someone else. This was occuring several times a day and gettign too time consuming. The whole decidion for the blog was basically to be able to go to one place and copy a link when I wanted to pass on info.


At Thursday, January 19, 2006 12:24:00 AM, Anonymous Patrick Todd said...

Hi Trent. Thanks for your response to my post on Prosblogion. I think you dealt with my worry quite nicely. Of course one musn't follow all of Christ's teachings but only those that are relevant to oneself. So Christ could satisfy ICD by being committed to following his seemingly few teachings that applied to him.
- Though you don't think that Christ does, in fact, satisfy Christian, I'm still curious. Since you think that being a Christian entails* being saved (as you've indicated on your last Pros. post) - wouldn't this rule out Christ from being a Christian? In what sense could Christ be saved? He is doing the saving, after all, by virtue of the fact that he has nothing to be saved from.
This was more or less the response of friend that I was discussing this posting with. Thinking (I think with good reason) that the question "How should we define Christian?" amounts to the question "Who is saved?", she said, "well being saved means that one has trusted in Christ for the forgiveness of one's sins, and Christ certainly has not done this - and so it is hard to see how he could be a Christian."
Perhaps you don't need additional reason to reject that Christ satisfies Christian, but do you think this is a reason?

At Thursday, January 19, 2006 10:06:00 AM, Blogger Trent_Dougherty said...

Patrick, good to see you here as well. I often have some crossover blogging. And what a great post to remind me that one of my own answers could get round one of my own objections! I might have to add an addendum to the Prosblogion discussion. Re the point about the soteriological entailment, I think the relevance criterion might handle that as well. Or I could conceptualize salvation principally in terms of destination. This would fit the explicit motivation I mentioned that we don't want there to be any Christians in Hell. In response to your direct question, I *do* think that's a reason for saying that Christ wasn't a Christian. That is to say it's a prima facie reason: it count's in favor of that position. With regard to the final tally of reasons, the all-things-considered conclusion, I'm not so sure. As I said, I give a lot of weight to etymology and the basic meaning of the word "Christian" is "of or belonging to Christ." Does He belong to Himself? I'm inclined to think the Trinitarian answer is "No". The Son is subordinate in a substantive way to the Father and so does not belong to Himself. For now, on balance, I don't think it's very useful to count Christ as a Christian.

By the way, there are a bunch of Patrick Todd's on the Net, why don't you send me an email.


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