What Kind of Christian Are you?

When asked, “What kind of Christian are you?” I typically respond with, I’m a regular, Bible-believing Christian. No extras.”

This usually prompts clarifying questions such as “What kind of church do you go to?” “What's your church denomination?” “What does your pastor teach about ______?” (Fill in the blank with any controversial topic, from the end-times to homosexuality to whether Christians should consume alcohol).

So, what kind of Christian am I?

Many believers who follow the teachings of scholars and theologians will call themselves after those men. When someone says, “I’m Methodist,” it means they identify with the doctrines of John Wesley. When someone says, “I’m a Calvinist,” they’re affirming an alignment with the (flawed) interpretations of John Calvin. I could go on with the claims of Southern Baptists, Presbyterians, Lutherans...you get the point. These identity statements have stoked centuries of hatred and division in the body of Christ.

Herein lies the issue. Every religious denomination and sect has a founder (e.g., Martin Luther is the founder of Lutheranism). Well, there’s only one Founder of Christianity and that’s Jesus Christ. Our faith should not come with a list of ingredients. Furthermore, the apostle Paul—under the anointing of the Holy Spirit—rebuked believers who credited their faith to the name, character, and interpretations of mortal men.

"When one of you says, 'I am a follower of Paul,' and another says, 'I follow Apollos,' aren't you acting just like people of the world? After all, who is Apollos? Who is Paul? We are only God's servants through whom you believed the Good News...It's not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What's important is that God makes the seed grow."

- 1 Corinthians 3:4-7

Paul warned the Corinthian church about the sin of sectarianism (religious discrimination) and pointed to Christ as the source of their salvation (1 Cor. 1). The Savior never intended for His followers to harbor animosity or superiority or pronounce judgment against fellow believers. Only the wisdom and knowledge that comes from the Lord will be exalted (Ja. 3:13-18). And I refuse to be deadlocked into a narrow, earthly view of eternal things. Thus, I maintain: I’m a regular, Bible-believing Christian. No extras.

What kind of church do I attend?

Religious folks brace yo-selves for my controversial response to this question. When you read the New Testament (particularly the Book of Acts), you find only one kind of church. It's not “Evangelical,” “Baptist,” “Episcopalian, "Nondenominational," or Reformed”—there was no such thing in the first century. The only church you will find in Scripture is Pentecostal. The Church was birthed when the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost (or Shavuot). Christianity is a Pentecostal faith established on the proclamations, testimonies, and exploits of Jewish apostles. When we accept that Jesus is not the Founder of a Western, intellectual, seeker-friendly, megachurch, celebrity pastor movement, it’s easier to live out what’s written.

From the Upper Room to Paul’s missionary journeys to the exile of John, we read about radical salvations, miracles, and spiritual warfare. And, yes, baptism in the Holy Spirit and fire with the evidence of speaking in tongues! The early Christians also practiced laying on hands which led to an impartation of spiritual gifts, healing, and deliverance. This is our inheritance in the faith and I choose to worship with those who believe in the continuation of these things.

The 21st-century American Church doesn’t resemble the Acts 2 Church because the faith has been hijacked over the last 1,800 years. Men who sounded smarter than the average Christian (and read their Bibles more than the average Christian) were very successful in their reformation campaigns. They infiltrated seminaries and pulpits with ritualism and high-minded doctrines that rendered believers ineffective. Christians who are unskilled in discerning prophecy, who've never cast out a demon, or who believe salvation comes by repeating a “simple prayer”—these are the product of passive, inoffensive, sanitized interpretations of the Gospel.

Who are my heroes in the faith?

By now you know I don’t make identity statements based on whose ministry I follow. However, like anybody else, I have my go-to preachers and apologists whom I believe possess an authoritative revelation of Scripture. My (short) list includes the likes of David Wilkerson, Leonard Ravenhill, and A.W. Tozer (all deceased). Also, I confess I'm not the star-struck type. In the presence of well-known, accomplished individuals my heart doesn't skip a beat. Mankind is capable of making the most profound statements in one moment and uttering the dumbest thing you’ve ever heard in the next breath. A man or woman of depth, conviction, and wisdom may earn my respect, but I’ll never call them my “hero.”

When acts of obedience become revolutionary, history-making feats, I consider it basic on the part of humans and extraordinary on the part of God. When Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to those Catholic church doors, it wasn’t so much heroic as it was a rebellion against the status quo of works-based faith. Protestant revivals and the rediscovery of God's grace were inevitable byproducts. Nevertheless, Luther was a flawed man (antisemitic in latter years) and there’s no reason to “celebrate” him. He was a planter, a waterer; all the glory goes to God for making the seed grow (1 Cor. 3:7).

Whatever legacy Christian scholars and theologians intended to leave, I think we can agree that much anti-biblical nonsense passes under their names today. Thus, I encourage believers to get rid of human idols and stop using the names and ministries of flawed people to form identity statements. Rather, imitate the acts of the Berean Christians (Acts 17:11). Discipline yourself in reading, fasting, and prayer. If you're born again of the Holy Spirit, you can receive revelation directly from Him (1 Cor. 2; 1 Jn. 2:27). When you earnestly seek the Kingdom of God, He will set you free from the bondage of religion and the approval of mankind. Only then will you be able to give an authentic response to the question:

What kind of Christian are you?


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