When Someone Uses The Term “True Christian”……Run!

truechrist“Well of course you would believe that…if you were a true Christian”.

Have you ever heard that term?

True Christian?

Recently some of my Beyond the Pale posts have been geared toward making people aware of warning signs to be on the look out for when engaging in your faith.

Someone using the term “true Christian” is one of those warning signs.

Religious people like to use that term.  It helps clarify “us” as opposed to “them”  and keep clear what side God is on.  It’s a form of “team jersey” so to speak…

For example in a recent Charisma News article columnist Matt Barber uses the term to qualify who he believes to be a true Christian,

Let’s see if we can make this abundantly clear. Christians, true Christians—regenerate, Bible-believing Christians who strive their level best to maintain fidelity to the word of God and honor His commands—will not—indeed cannot—participate in, approve of, facilitate or encourage certain behaviors deemed by the Holy Scriptures to be immoral or sinful.

The Coming Christian Revolt

Of course it stands to reason that a guy that would distinguish true Christians from regular Christians would also entitle an article The Coming Christian Revolt!  

Pharisees Play Book

When Christians engage in this kind of language they take a page right from the Pharisee Handbook.  That religious group was constantly dogging Jesus’ steps testing to see if he was true to their beliefs and practices.  Like Mr. Barber’s criteria above they were looking to see if Jesus:

* maintained fidelity to the Scriptures

* facilitated or approved of behavior deemed immoral

* would be on their side when the “revolt” occurred

Jesus failed their criteria and tests on all accounts…

He frequently sidelined or ignored scripture in order to reveal God’s mercy and compassion.  How many times did Jesus say “the scriptures say one thing but I say another”?

Many times…


Jesus even addresses the issue of the Pharisee’s spiritual test head on at one point:

For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine and you say, ‘He has a demon. The Son of Man (Jesus) came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ Yet wisdom is proved right by all her children.”

Luke 7: 33-35

Jesus is saying that John came and passed the Pharisee’s morality test, but because he refused to join their team they smeared his name.  Jesus came in a different way and instead flunked their morality test. (Interesting to note that Luke says wisdom was proved right in both ways)  Jesus enjoyed good food and wine, hung out with corrupt officials and was a friend to those that the religious leaders had labeled sexually and morally corrupt.

Note Jesus wasn’t just witnessing to these people, he was their friend!

What really drove the religious leaders crazy was God in Heaven affirming Jesus’ “Way” and not theirs.  There is possibly no jealousy stronger than religious jealousy.

In the Pharisee’s eyes though he was not a true believer.

In today’s vernacular Jesus wouldn’t be considered a true Christian.

The Pharisees were so sure they had God on their side and were the arbiter’s of his will and yet when God himself showed up and stood before them, they rejected him, denounced him, and ultimately crucified him.

It scares me knowing if Jesus came back in the same manner today the same thing would happen with pastors and ministry leaders leading the charge.

Lets face it, Jesus wouldn’t be considered a true Christian…

In the following video clip Greg Boyd highlights one of these “tests” the Pharisees used to determine whether Jesus was true or not.  (Thanks Brook P. for sharing this today)

So be wary of anyone who distinguishes true Christians from any others…and if, on the off chance you find yourself being accused of not being a true Christian, take heart in the fact that you are likely sharing a seat with Jesus.