September 16, 2010

Believers and Practitioners

Do you remember the first Mac vs. PC ads that came out? I thought they were fresh, kind of clever, and really gave that feeling that somehow only nerds used PC’s. They caught on and become an instant hit. They became just the sort of thing that Christian culture likes to emulate... badly.

I remember the first time I saw this YouTube video. I thought I was looking at the most ridiculous thing I had ever seen. Now while it didn’t really capture the same fresh clever humour the original ads did; it seems to have properly expressed the feelings of many people.

There is a movement going on right now that is, for lack of better word, trying to rebrand Christianity. Christ follower is the term I have heard the most, but Jesus follower seems to be a close second. The branding appears to be caught up in what I would call a debate between 'being a believer' and 'being a practitioner'.

The argument goes like this. Christians are all about belief. They believe some things are true, other things are false, some things are good, other things are bad. Christ Followers on the other hand are more action orientated. They are not so interested in proper belief, they take things of faith and try to emulate Jesus’ teachings as best as they can.

According to many ‘Christ Followers’ Christianity has become an armchair faith one where people just sit and think about things; the proposed remedy is to stop worrying about dogma and doctrine and get out there and do some good.

As with most debates the truth lies somewhere in-between the believer position and the practitioner position. Or perhaps it is better to say the truth is found when we realize that they are both only half right. Neither position properly characterizes what we should be.

As the believer position states we should be concerned with properly understanding who God is, what the bible says, and what Jesus and the apostles taught us about right and wrong. But the practitioner position is right as well in that Jesus laid out a whole lifestyle that we are to follow after. One that requires us to turn the other cheek, walk the extra mile, love our enemies, and so on.

The problem with both of these positions is that they focus too much on one or the other. Right belief should produce right action, and right action should reinforce right belief. But somewhere along the lines for many of us, these two concepts become disconnected. It is not a question of either or we must do both.

Christianity is more than right belief, and following after Christ is more than right action. I am more than a believer and more than a practitioner, I am a follower of Christ, a Christian.


  1. lol! I didn't know there was a christian knock-off of the PC/Mac commercials! Too funny.

    I completely agree with your point. You need to do both well in order to call yourself a follower of Christ. Personally, to properly follow in Jesus' footsteps you would need to read at least some literature. It's not good to just go on what you 'think' is what your supposed to be doing.

    Keep it up :) Glad they are sorter too!

  2. I strongly believe what you say here Chris. Although it is important to produce good works, you must first have an framework in which you will work.

    There will always be metaphysics philosophers that will ponder each individual word in the Bible, but for the rest of us, brevity is key. Ethics, dogma, philosophical underpinnings.. although these are important, there needs to be a time when you stop reading and start acting.

    I'll most certainly need to start following your blog!

  3. Meghan- Thanks Meghan, I am worried we are getting closer and closer to forgetting we are supposed to 'love God with all our mind' too.

    Lee- Thanks for the follow, I'll hold you to that. And your right the amount of information out there can be overwhelming. The key is having a good understanding of the board story of God, and what he specifically is calling us to do in the time and place we find ourselves.