Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Who is a Christian?

What is
“Christ is the first-born of God, his Logos, in whom all people share. That is what we have learned and what we bear witness to ... All who have lived in accordance with the Logos are Christians, even if they have been reckoned atheists, as amongst the Greeks Socrates, Heraclitus and the like.”

Justin (died 165) (quoted in Roots of Christian Mysticism)
Just to preempt a misinterpretation of the above, I don't believe the idea is akin to the dubious posthumous baptisms practiced by some groups - instead it is an acknowledgement of the universality of Jesus' message and a recognition by Justin (Christians) of its practicing and adherence to by others. It is not an imposed labeling of ‘good’ atheists as Christians against their will but an affirmation that being Jesus' follower is about following his words (feeding the hungry, quenching their thirst, welcoming strangers, clothing the naked, caring for the sick, visiting prisoners, … (Matthew 25:31-46)). In many ways St. Justin's statement is echoed in Pope Benedict's point made during the homily at Freiburg airport last October:
“[A]gnostics, who are constantly exercised by the question of God, those who long for a pure heart but suffer on account of our[, the Church's,] sin, are closer to the Kingdom of God than believers whose life of faith is “routine” and who regard the Church merely as an institution, without letting their hearts be touched by faith.”

Pope Benedict XVI