the weblog of Alan Knox

What Kind of Christian Are You?

Posted by on Dec 8, 2011 in discipleship, personal | 27 comments

What Kind of Christian Are You?

I grew up in a background that included Southern Baptist churches primarily. I continue to attend a Southern Baptist seminary, and I’m part of a church that associates with the Southern Baptist Convention. Does “Southern Baptist” then, define the kind of follower of Jesus Christ that I am? No. Certainly my background and education has worked to shape me, but my goal is not to be the best Southern Baptist that I can be. While I appreciate many things associated with the Southern Baptist Convention, there are others that I think are not helpful to the church.

Today, I am often associated with the simple church or organic church movement. I’ve read (and reviewed) many books associated with these types of churches, and I’ve agreed with many of the things that I’ve read. Does that mean that “organic church” defines the kind of follower of Jesus Christ that I am? Nope. That doesn’t either. While I appreciate many of the things that I’ve learned from those who are part of simple or organic churches, and while I focus on the relational aspect of Christians sharing their lives together in Jesus Christ, I am not part of the movement.

I’ve also enjoyed reading and interacting with people who are Anabaptist, Reformed, Lutheran, Catholic, Methodist, Pietist, Presbyterian, Anglican, Charismatic, and many, many other “kinds” of Christians. However, I do not identify myself with any of those different groups.

My goal, then, is to identify myself with Jesus Christ without separating from any brothers and sisters in Christ who may identify with a particular group or denomination or organization or whatever.

The funny thing is, if I refer to completely identify with one group, it’s often difficult for others to interact with me. Perhaps it’s because I don’t fit many of the molds. I’m not baptist enough for many baptists. I’m not organic enough for some in the organic church movement. I’m not reformed enough or separatist enough or traditional enough or whatever else.

And… I’m okay with that.

You see, I’m fine with asking people to respond to me as a person in Jesus Christ and not as a certain denomination or organization or set of doctrines.

Often, people will assume I believe certain things or do certain things or refuse to do certain things because of my background or education or some other association. I like to surprise people, and then interact with them one-on-one instead of denomination-to-denomination or system-to-system.

So, whatever you think about me, I’m probably not that kind of Christian. And, when we interact with one another, I will try to treat you as a brother or sister in Christ and not like a system of beliefs.

Hopefully, this approach – either online or in person – will lead to encouraging and helpful dialog in which we both grow in maturity in Christ.


27 Comments

Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 12-8-2011

    Amen!

  2. 12-8-2011

    Alan,
    You nailed it! I have for years tried to figure out what kind of Christian I am and what you explain is the type of Christian that I feel I am most like. Thanks for helping me as I have struggled to fit in any kind of denominational mold.

    Honestly, there have been times when people have made me feel bad about not fitting in their mold, but I have grown to like who I am in Christ, not who I am in a certain “denominational idea”. My main reason is that I don’t want any name to pre-define who I am or seperate me from other believers. Southern Baptist to one person I know brings up images to them of a small church they grew up in down south that would not allow people of color in their doors. To another it means people who don’t dance or drink.

    I’m happy with letting Christ be what brings us together or divides us, not a denomination. I want my neighbors to be Christians, not ….ists.

    Kirt

  3. 12-8-2011

    “… when we interact with one another, I will try to treat you as a brother or sister in Christ and not like a system of beliefs.”

    Thanks for sharing this gem. I tried to respond to posts over the past few days touching on this, and had to delete them. I struggle with wanting to put people in boxes and relate to them based on these generalizations.

    You do exactly what you say here–and more.

    I remember the first time we met (at the church as family workshop you folks gave). It was one of the most emotionally confusing moments for me. You stepped away from the crowds, looked straight at me, and went into “intense listening I-accept-you” mode. I’m used to being somewhat ostracized for my views by (here I go!) “people like you” (you were a seminarian at a Southern Baptist church, after all). It moves me to this day to recall that moment.

    “Accept one another” “greet one another with a holy kiss” These things can touch our spirits and build bridges across deep chasms.

  4. 12-8-2011

    Swanny,

    Thanks!

    Kirt,

    So, there are at least two of us. I guess we should start our own denomination now… And, by the way, yes, I can see this in you also. That’s one of the reasons I love talking with you over coffee… always interesting, unexpected, and encouraging!

    Art,

    Wow… I can’t think of anything anyone could have said to me (about me) that would be more encouraging… and humbling. Because I realize that was a rare case. I’m often way too caught up in myself.

    -Alan

  5. 12-8-2011

    In the words of operation ivy, “all I know is that I don’t know nothin”……….

  6. 12-8-2011

    Alan,
    Thank you so much for this timely post (timely for me at least!). I have moved from camp to camp to camp over the last 5-7 years, and each time I get slightly comfortable, something happens to cause me to either leave the camp or frequent it less and less. I know this is God’s way of making his teachings through Paul come alive to me (I am of …). Now that I feel out there and all alone, God raises up you and an army of men and women like like you to let me know I am not our there and all alone! My closest brothers and sisters are reinforcing these same things to me and I praise God for you and the rest of them. I will keep these thoughts close! Praise be to God!

  7. 12-9-2011

    Mike,

    operation ivy?

    Craig,

    I’m glad you found this post helpful!

    -Alan

  8. 12-9-2011

    Operation Ivy is a punk band alan =D

    Well at least they were when I was growing up

  9. 12-9-2011

    Mike,

    I had never heard of them, but I listed to part of “Knowledge.”

    -Alan

  10. 12-9-2011

    =D

  11. 12-11-2011

    Great post Alan. I had to respond with more than a comment, here is my follow up post:
    http://jonjourney.blogspot.com/2011/12/im-not-that-kind-of-christian.html

  12. 12-12-2011

    Thanks for knowing your true identity. It reminds me of I Corinthians 1:13. Apparently the church started to do just what you mention…divide over petty issues, like which leader they liked better. To which Paul asked a simple but brilliant rhetorical question…”Is Christ divided?”

    Umm, no! Ok then, act like it! :) Awesome.

  13. 12-13-2011

    Alan-

    This is a honest question, not a challenge.

    What did Christ have in mind when he prayed that His followers would be united? And-what does it mean that those who claim to be part of His Body are and always have divided along sectarian lines down to the over 17,000 denominations and sects of Christianity that were created but men as the defined how they would separate from other believers?

    Does it mean that His prayer has gone unanswered? Or-that His prayer has indeed been answered in a way that we do not understand properly?

  14. 12-13-2011

    Jon,

    Excellent follow-up! I think it’s much better than my post.

    Michael,

    Of course, as Paul also wrote in 1 Corinthians 1, it’s also possible to use “Christ” as a reason to divide from brothers and sisters. I want to steer clear of that as well.

    Hutch,

    Honestly, I don’t like either of those options. :)

    Is it possible that Jesus did not pray John 17 in order to direct or request something from the Father, but to instruct his followers?

    -Alan

  15. 12-13-2011

    I don’t like just those two option either and I agree that there may or must be another option. I’m gonna check the context and meaning of the exact words used in the Greek that could give us that understanding as an option-any suggestiuons or help?

    It is interesting that the church of traditions has turned the idea of divisive completely around to mean someone who disagrees with a certain sectarians groups interpretations instead of what it really means a sectarian believers dividing from others. :(

  16. 12-13-2011

    Hutch,

    Jesus’ prayer in John 11:41-42 is obviously intended for those who were standing around him.

    It’s also interesting that both prayers (John 11:41-42 and John 17:20-21) include the “request” that those standing around or the world (respectively) would know that God sent Jesus. Has that part been “granted”?

    -Alan

  17. 12-13-2011

    Nice. Thank you for helping me through that Alan. I’d say His prayer has been and is being fulfilled on both accounts.

  18. 12-13-2011

    Good points alan

    I might have to use that explaination sometime =D

  19. 12-13-2011

    Hutch,

    “His prayer has been and is being fulfilled on both accounts.” Now, I like that alot.

    Mike,

    If you use that explanation, only give me credit if the other person agrees. :)

    -Alan

  20. 12-14-2011

    Ok alan hahaha

  21. 3-7-2012

    Alan, God’s is completely demolishing my futile concepts of categorizing people by their titles. You have helped in that process. Having said that, I hope as much as possible that we can begin eliminating denominational names, as a model to this fallen world.
    Simply Christian, in God’s ekklesia
    Tony

  22. 6-14-2012

    Some of my thoughts of what I see a real Christian is…

    http://2btrue.wordpress.com/2012/05/26/will-the-real-…lease-stand-up/

    Too many have associated their faith with denomination or church affiliation. “Are you a Christian?”
    “Why, yes…I go to St. Ignominious Presbyluthipalian.”

    Sorry…two big words, on slightly made up.

    Anyway, I suppose it is part of our culture that we associate ourselves with an organization as it is bigger than ourselves. Maybe we feel more important or feel we will be seen as more important if we tie ourselves in with that big church we go to. I’ve done it, being part of a large church (what I really like to tell about is how it got to be so large, but still…it’s a matter of association). Maybe we feel people will see us as “real Christians” if we show them our credentials…”I’m an active member of Mike’s Massive Mega Church.”

    In the end, it’s our lives. Do we live Jesus? Do we serve? Do we love? In the ultimate end, will God ask us what church/denomination we last served with?

  23. 6-14-2012

    John,

    I think that much changes when we recognize that our identity is in Christ alone. And, all those who are in Christ share that identity with us. Any other division is man-made.

    -Alan

  24. 6-15-2012

    Oh, that those walls might come down, that we can recognize each others’ identity in Christ.

  25. 6-15-2012

    John,

    I’m praying with you, especially for the walls that I build.

    -Alan

  26. 10-1-2012

    I agree! I have felt the same feeling when asked to “define” who I am. I grew up Evangelical, but I’m pretty sure the evangelicals wouldn’t claim me. I’m stuck in this middle ground of saying I’m a Christian but not quite fitting into any particular molds. If someone can define who I am that would be great! In the meantime, I’ll stick with your approach.
    thanks!

  27. 10-1-2012

    Krista,

    I know someone who can define you are you: Jesus. :)

    -Alan