My uncle is a Christian; that’s the label he would choose
Believing in the bible, and Rush Limbaugh, and Fox News
He never liked Obama, and he thinks the man should go
He’s a literal creationist; the bible tells him so.
My sister is a Christian; she’s the east coast liberal sort
She’s a feminist (and active, I am happy to report)
Loves the “wall of separation”—as a lawyer, she should know
And believes in same-sex marriage, cos the bible tells her so
My neighbor is a Christian, and she has been all her life
She’s married (I’m delighted!) to her lovely Jewish wife
The congregation blessed them, with their faces all aglow
God himself looked down and smiled; their bible tells them so
My parents both are Christians; they are elders in their church
They know the bible’s history, through scholarly research
They put no stock in miracles—that stuff is all for show
But follow Christ’s example, cos the bible tells them so.
Another Christian uncle—I assume he was, at least;
A minister for decades, till he ran off with a priest—
I don’t know if he still believes, or maybe he’s let go
And did he make his choice because the bible tells him so?
I met another Christian—that’s the first thing that he said
And suddenly, these questions started floating round my head
He’d really told me nothing—he’s a Christian, yes, but, so?
What’s it mean to be a Christian? Cos the bible doesn’t know.
Just a reminder that “Christian” is a big tent–nearly as big, and nearly as meaningless, as “believer” or “theist”. I know it bugs me when writers tell me “what atheists believe”, so I’ll try not to paint with the same broad brush.
Mind you, what I really want to do is find out how closely aligned individual members of a faith community are to the actual tenets of that community… and further, how much they are aware of that alignment. In other words… Three layers: official doctrine, member understanding of official doctrine, and member actual belief.
Step one would be collecting all the possible self-labels, to see which doctrine is supposed to line up… there are thousands, and not all mutually exclusive.