I am what’s sometimes called a traditional or “historic” Christian. It means I’m trying to stand in a line that stretches back to the Reformation, to the early church, to the twelve Apostles, and to Jesus himself.*
One of the main beliefs of historic Christians such as myself is that the Apostles and early church were in a unique position to assess the life of Jesus and to either debunk his claim to be the Son of God, or promote it. They chose the latter (mainly because of the resurrection) — and were martyred for doing so.
This stance of identifying with the early church carries with it an assertion that is very unpopular in contemporary American society (and elsewhere): that historic Christianity is true.
Honestly, this mantle can be a burden at times.
Whereas it’s acceptable in contemporary culture to say of oneself, “I’m religious,” or “I’m a Christian,” or “I choose X while others choose Y, and we’re all OK with that,” the claim to believe that a certain view is actually true (as I do) contains an additional unpopular corollary: every other competing claim is false. Atheism, for example, is false if historic Christianity is true.
Now a critic might object along these lines:
Why can’t we all just get along?
Why can’t we work together toward a tolerant and just society that respects the views of all well-meaning persons? Hasn’t history taught us that such exclusive truth claims have often been the source of conflict, even war?
I’ll respond to the critic in my next post.
*In contemporary terms, I’m also an “evangelical” Christian. But that can mean a lot of things. I use the words “historic” or “traditional” Christian because those words point back in time to the beginning of the faith.