was Jesus a Christian?

i'm continuing the dialog with Ben, pastor at St. Paul's near UConn.
Hi Ben,
thanks for replying. i did listen to your message, but i wasn't enlightened much more. sorry. i'm a better text learner than oral learner. so here's some text to dialog over, if you think it's beneficial and worth our time and your readers' time.
the American Heritage Dictionary defines Christian

1. Professing belief in Jesus as Christ or following the religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus.
2. Relating to or derived from Jesus or Jesus's teachings.
3. Manifesting the qualities or spirit of Jesus; Christlike.
4. Relating to or characteristic of Christianity or its adherents.
5. Showing a loving concern for others; humane.


1. One who professes belief in Jesus as Christ or follows the religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus.
2. One who lives according to the teachings of Jesus."

if we stick with the noun, only Jesus himself perfectly lived according to his own teachings (def. 2). to my ears, if someone asks if Jesus was a Christian, i'd say he was the perfect one. and all Christians hold him up as their perfect role model. however, unlike Jesus religious contemporaries who ignored hte message of grace in the rest of the OT and tried to be more Mosaic than Moses by their own efforts, Christians remain aware of their weakness and need for grace not only for themselves but also for each other and those God is drawing to himself. that means i still call Ted Haggard my brother, that means i still call my other friends who have professed faith but still sin sexually, hetero or homo, my brothers and sisters. but i also tell others who are not yet in the family, how to get in, through Jesus, and i give moeny to those who are doing the same in different parts of the world. because i want to call them brothers and sisters, co-heirs of the gift of God.
now that results, unfortunately, in being called exclusive, because i believe God has the audacity to proclaim one way, one truth, and one life, not unlike most other religions. in fact, right now as i type, i'm listening to Ravi Zacharias, on our church's radio station webcast, list how all these major faiths are exclusive. is this audacious claim dumb? it is if one rejects out of hand any source of information outside of our natural abilities, positivism, which itself is self-refuting. so it's fine by me to be called exclusive and dumb if i repeat Jesus' claims. he was accused of the same, in so many words. Christianity is my crutch but i realized i'm a cripple. and no other crutch can hold one up.
perhaps i am jumping the gun, but i'll state my position clearly on other religions and God's action through them. God's book tells us that His Spirit remains in the world as a restraint on our sinfulness. He does other things too, but that is one job, and when He departs, things will get really bad. i'm drawn to historical treatments on genocides and current human rights abuses and the inhumanity of man is terrifying. and Christians have their share of the blame, but as Ivan the Terrible (the Orthodox) had his 10,000, Stalin (the atheist) had his 10,000,000. but those religions that have encountered Christianity they've elevated their ethics, but religion alone is fatal by the good it does. it can elevate one's pride in self, the opposite of Christianity's proclamation. We are called to acknowledge our weakness and deadness and inability.
i've had friends in North Africe discuss with Muslims their religion and the Muslim will acknowledge its too hard, but they don't have anywhere to go from there except give up or try harder. they need Jesus, and sometimes he appears in dreams to them, but they still won't give in. the issue is pride, idolatry of the self.

sorry i've rambled so much. i'm trying to address the claim that God is bigger than Christianity. everyone he saves, he rescues from outside Christendom. so in that sense, yes he is bigger. but everyone he saves he brings into Christianity. another definition...


1. The Christian religion, founded on the life and teachings of Jesus.
2. Christians as a group; Christendom.
3. The state or fact of being a Christian.
4. pl. -ties. A particular form or sect of the Christian religion: the Christianities of antiquity."

Jesus is God. hence def. 1 indicates that God's religion is based on the life and teachings he modeled and spoke through Jesus.

so, i commented, because i think you cloud the waters too much when you tell someone that God is bigger than Godianity, and that Christ wasn't Christ-identified. it's like Nirvana lyrics, sounding profound but not making any sense. so i'm still not getting how you are helping those who who inquire.
God is good


Ben Dubow said…
My sense is that you are more caught up on semantics than anything else.

A few questions for you:

1. What was Jesus doing prior to "Christianity"?

2. If God is not bigger than Christianity, how/why/in what way did God interact with his creation prior to the incarnation?

3. If God is not bigger than Christianity, than how/why/in what way does God interact with people of other faiths today?

4. If Christianity is not, at some level, a construct (and by this I do not mean to challenge at all the underlying truth of Christ, scripture, or the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit through the Church--all distinct concepts from "Christianity") than which "Christianity" is true Christianity? Roman Catholocism? Orthodox? Only Southern Baptists? Only Calvinists? Only Evangelicals? Many of these "christianities" hold theologies that are mutually exclusive... so which, in your paradigm, is God?

Just a few questions to mull over... I am interested in your thoughts.

jpu said…
Hi Ben,
I might be caught up in semantics…if only I knew what that meant…

As I reread your conversation I imagine you are trying to address an unasked question. is it “what about those who have never heard?” The Biblical and extra-biblical data I know of regarding that question is that Jesus enables those who haven’t heard but are predestined for salvation to hear and respond. Beyond that I can only appeal to God’s justice, holiness, mercy and love and leave it there. But for the inquirer who asks the question about how to get to God, I’d say, “here is the good news, what will you do with him?”

But I’m not very good at predicting where questions are leading so I’ll try to answer your questions.

1- apparently he was involved in the creating in the beginning, and he shows up in the OT doing these Christophany things. Other than that, I assume he was chilling with the the Father and Spirit.
2- I think the bible indicates He was setting up everything for Jesus’ appearance, which included the whole Exodus, 10 commandments, prophets, and everything else recorded in the OT.
3- He sends harvesters out (from the kingdom) to the fields to bring in (to the kingdom) the harvest of fields…he sends servants to invite anyone in the highways and byways to the party…he invites people to the wedding banquet (but they need the correct outfit, no wedding clothes no entrance. Jesus, alone, provides the clothes.)
4- I think denominations are like restaurant franchises. Most of them provide nourishment, some only dessert, some with E. coli, some only meat and potatoes. Generally the franchises view other ones as ‘weaker’ brothers, but don’t deny that ‘customers’ get nourishment at the other places. The really insecure proprietors claim that nourishment is only found at their joint.

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