Cultural Christianity? There’s a Better Way Forward-Part I

A good many people have the idea Canada is a Christian country. And many would casually think, “Well I may not go to church, and I’m certainly not a `religious’ person, but I was baptized as a baby, I have some vague ideas about Jesus, and I do live in Canada so I suppose I must be some kind of a Christian.”

Whoa! Not so fast. Such misguided thinking is dangerous. It will cause millions of people to miss out on knowing God in this life and put them in great danger for the life to come. For cultural Christians, while possessing an outward veneer of the real thing, are missing out on the historic Christian faith.

Now you might ask, “So, what is a cultural Christian?” I would describe such a person in the following ways: 1) This person might believe their birth in a “Christian” nation qualifies them to be a Christian. 2) He/she might have been baptized as an infant-and would consider this adequate to qualify them as a Christian, 3) Such a person may occasionally darken the door of a Christian church (at Christmas, or Easter for example) and conclude this makes them a Christian, 4) This person may possess no belief in Jesus, nevertheless they self-identify as a decent, moral person. So he/she feels entitled to claim the name of Christian, 5) A person might see themselves as a “spiritual” person with a vague belief in Jesus as a good teacher, but would reject many of the teachings of the historic Christian faith. Nevertheless they might use the term, “Christian” to describe themselves.

Why is cultural Christianity so hugely dangerous? Because it is a counterfeit. It deceives many into thinking they have something when in fact they have nothing. It distorts biblical Christianity and misleads millions of people about what it means to be a true Christian.

Picture with me that you’ve made a trip to Europe where you bought yourself a pricey Rolex. You paid big money to get this watch. But unknowingly you actually bought a cheap knockoff worth only a few dollars. But here’s the problem-since you think you have the genuine article you will have no interest in buying the real thing. So it is with genuine Christianity. If a man or woman embraces a false, knock-off version of true faith they will have no interest when they are exposed to the real thing.

True Christianity involves three issues: repentance from sin, a belief in Jesus that includes a personal receiving of Jesus, and the following of Jesus’ commands and teachings.

It may help us to view a passage of Scripture that describes this experience. The contemporary version, The Message, puts it this way in John 3: 17-18:

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.”

In Part II of this article we will explore in more detail how someone actually puts faith in Christ, and what their life might look like after that point. Eternity is going to last a very, very long time. Some issues are so momentous, so crucial-you and I simply must get it right.

Cultural Christianity may look genuine. In fact it is often the pathway most travelled. But God has provided a more certain pathway. Thank God there is a better way forward.

Published in the Guelph online paper: The Fountain Pen, April 18, 2016

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