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Can you behave like a Christian without being one?

David Ignatius’ editorial in today’s Washington Post offers his insight to the absence of civil discourse today and posits a solution. It began the morning Jerry Falwell saw a newspaper headline announcing the Supreme Court’s decision on Roe v. Wade. At that moment, for Falwell, at least, the goal of Evangelical Christianity was no longer the saving of souls; it had become the amassing of power. There may be other ways to explain the teflon presidency, but this satisfies me, as a convicted binarist. [I don’t think that’s a word.] I’m an Either-Or kind of guy. Sometimes Neither-Nor. But never Both–And.

How else to credibly explain Mitch McConnell or Lindsay Graham, among others, about to swear on the book they  profess to hold above all others that they will seek justice, despite their baser instincts. Both have prejudged the Senate trial a sham whose decision has already been written and merely awaits its moment of publication — as if it hadn’t already been. Which for me poses the question, How can they call themselves Christians?  Their every action suggests otherwise. Every community is peopled with those bearing Christian witness, while ignoring the testimony of scripture, which outlines in great and, as far as I can tell, abundant clarity the message articulated by Jesus while he was with us, leaving aside the matter of where he may have gone and whether he might return. I can distinguish the message from the messenger and accept its merit without assigning the label of “Truth”.

If, as seems apparent today, it’s possible to claim the label of “Christian”, yet act contrary to those beliefs I was taught as a child — which substantially “took”, I think — then it must also be true that there are those among us who act like Christians without actually intending to, because they either deny the label or have not yet heard its “good news”.

The question, “So what of Agincourt?” might be left unanswered. “Agincourt? So what?” Or I might newly entertain notions of Christianity as both label and practice and their four possible combinations, as they walk the streets of my fictional place and interact with all the zeal that we are capable.

By the way, the original title for this entry used the word “act”, which on reflection implies theater, playing a role, rather than behaving, which is what I had intended.


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