What Makes A Christian?

As the papal election process goes on in Rome, many people are discussing the accomplishments of John Paul II and what sort of pope we may get next. Last night, we were discussing with a friend, a non-practicing Protestant, the recent survey that found that a clear majority of American Catholics disagreed with the Pope and the Church on a number of issues including contraception, birth control, celibacy, and the ordination of women.

Our friend added that many Christians pick and choose the tenets of the faith. For example, he said, who really believes nowadays in the virgin birth or the resurrection? He asked my wife and me, "With so many Christians deciding what they will and will not believe in, what makes a Christian?"

If you sweep away all the trappings that have encrusted the faith over the centuries, and try to get back to the original intent of the founder, what do you get?

As we argued, several elements emerged that we agreed were the irreducible touchstones of the Christian faith.

1.Baptism - Repent and be baptized. Wash and cleanse yourself of sin.

2.Shepherd - Take care of others. Look out for the needs and welfare of others.

3.Evangelize - Spread the good news.

4.Eucharist - Break bread together.

5.Community - Come together, pray together, celebrate together. Work together to make the world a better place.

6.Forgive - Let go of whatever hatred or debt is blocking your heart.

And last, but by no means least...

7.Love

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