25 Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: 26 and when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.
Controversy is escalating, in the world and the Church. It’s easy to get upset. The use of the term ‘Christ-follower’ has bothered me so I looked into it. The results may surprise you, especially if you’ve been using this term with the best of intentions.
Thinking about controversy, and this one in particular, has made me feel as though I were living in the pages of E.H. Broadbent’s book, The Pilgrim Church. On page 265, there is a helpful quote by the Baptist pastor John Bunyan:
I will not let Water Baptism be the rule, the door, the bolt, the bar, the wall of division between the righteous and the righteous…The Lord deliver me from superstitious and idolatrous thoughts about any of the ordinances of Christ and of God…Since you would know by what name I would be distinguished from others, I tell you I would be, and hope I am – a Christian, and choose, if God should count me worthy, to be called a Christian, a believer, or other such name which is approved by the Holy Ghost.
The case can be made that Christ-follower is not approved by the Lord, as the following article explains, since anyone may be a Christ-follower by trying to become like Him.
By Lighthouse Trails Editors
So what we are witnessing is countless teachers, authors and leaders telling people they can become like Christ through a method that can be learned.
“Christian or Christ-follower. It’s a distinction that is being made more and more today, and often the latter term, Christ follower, is replacing the former term, Christian. Even many Christian leaders are making the switch. But just what does it mean? Emerging church leader, Erwin McManus says his “goal is to destroy Christianity as a world religion and be a recatalyst for the movement of Jesus Christ.” In McManus’ book, The Barbarian Way, he talks about being “awakened” to a “primal longing that … waits to be unleashed within everyone who is a follower of Jesus Christ.” McManus says that the “greatest enemy to the movement of Jesus Christ is Christianity [i.e., Christians].” A video on YouTube.com called “Christian No More” (by Christian Community Church) [link broken] exemplifies this view by portraying those who call themselves Christians as shallow church-goers who wear suits and ties, have Christian bumper stickers on their cars and prefer the King James Version. This belittling video is evidence that it is increasingly more popular to call oneself a Christ follower rather than a Christian.
“Interestingly, most of the leaders who seem to be downplaying the name Christian and promoting the appropriation of the term “Christ follower” are contemplative spirituality proponents….”
If you’re into mysticism, why aren’t you content to walk by faith? Isn’t it true that without faith it is impossible to please the Lord? Why are you going beyond the doctrine of Christ?
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
Why are you ashamed to be known as a Christian? Do you hope to win the lost by distancing yourself from folly or worse in the Church?
We will always be maligned. We need to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ though disgrace falls upon us and be grateful for the name He has given us.
1 Corinthians 15
15 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 5 and that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 6 after that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. 7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. 8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.