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    What’s in a Name?

    Three things that deserve the label “Christian.” September 17, 2020 by Darryn Oldford
    Filed Under:
    Opinion & Critical Thought
    When I was little, you would usually see me with my nose in a book. While biographies and history books were fascinating, nothing sparked my imagination more than high fantasy. Heroes, adventure, magic—the more fantastical the world, the more interested I was. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis quickly became a favourite. And then came Harry Potter.

    I have no desire to revisit discussions that have been going on for the past 20 years. If you and your family do not feel comfortable reading the Harry Potter books, I won’t try to convince you otherwise. Still, the whole debate struck me as strange. Both the Harry Potter and Narnia books take place in a magical world, where good ultimately triumphs (spoiler alert) in the battle against evil.

    Narnia is an allegory, with direct parallels between Aslan and Jesus. One of the main themes of Harry Potter is that the only thing more powerful than evil is sacrificial love. Despite the overlap in moral teaching, The Chronicles of Narnia have been labelled “Christian fiction” while Harry Potter is considered secular. Perhaps it comes down to marketing, rather than an indictment of the content of these books.

    In my opinion, there are only three things we should ever label “Christian.” The first is people, those who have professed faith in Jesus and do their best to be a light to the world. The second is the church, which describes the believers who gather and not necessarily the building we gather in. While sanctuaries should be treated with reverence, they are only holy places because that is where we choose to come together and worship God. The third and final thing is the Bible, which provides direction and teaching from the mouth of God.
    Ascribing the label “Christian” to fantasy books or businesses does not sanctify anything, but rather markets a product in hopes you will buy it.
    Labelling these three things alone as Christian is the only way to keep from watering down the meaning of the word. To be Christian means to confess Christ as Lord. Ascribing the label “Christian” to fantasy books or businesses does not sanctify anything, but rather markets a product in hopes you will buy it.

    There is no such thing as a Christian business. A business can be owned or operated by Christians, use Bible verses or Christian symbols on their packaging or pray for their customers, but if the end goal is financial profit, it is not a Christian enterprise. I am not saying businesses should ignore their faith—1 Corinthians 10:31 says plainly, “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” What I am saying, however, is if it’s part of a marketing strategy to drum up support by paying lip service to the Christian community, while underpaying staff, destroying the environment or giving little to charity, it’s not Christian.

    Additionally, there are businesses in the world today that are masquerading as churches. If the pastor of a megachurch is more concerned about private jets than poverty, it’s clear that the Bible and faith have become products they are trying to sell, and not God’s kingdom on earth.

    In Scripture, the only time we witness Jesus being angry was when he saw the money-changers in the temple. It wasn’t a momentary decision to flip over the tables and drive the animals out; he spent time beforehand fashioning a whip out of cords. If you have ever braided something by hand, you would know that this is a lengthy process, which would have given Jesus time to think, pray and possibly get angrier. While driving the dove sellers out, he said—or possibly yelled— “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” (see John 2:16). While this anger is often attributed to the money-changers charging exorbitant fees, preventing some people from practising their faith, it seems clear to me, from the very words of Christ, that Christianity and exploitative economic systems are not supposed to mix.

    Labelling some fast-food restaurants as Christian because they put Bible verses on their wrapping paper has the added effect of pressuring Christians to eat there, because they are “on our side.” Keep the name “Christian” for the church, the Bible and people—and train people to seek out God in what they read and eat. God is too big to be confined to the pages of a fantasy book or a fast-food menu.

    Darryn Oldford is a senior soldier in Toronto.

    Comment

    On Wednesday, September 30, 2020, Christine said:

    Thank you so much for your article, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I think people are sometimes so scared to examine their assumptions about their faith that it's easy to label things as "Unchristian" so we can just dispense with the uncomfortable and justify ignoring it. God cannot be contained in a box - even a Christian box. God is much, much bigger than that. God speaks to and through humanity - not only Christians who have publicly professed their beliefs.

     

    On Wednesday, September 30, 2020, Rose said:

    Hi Darryn, I am truly blessed to read your article this morning as I am signing in to my army. The tag "Christian" immediately caught my attention. I've been in discussions and debates lately about the very topics you mentioned here labeling businesses, books, certain activities as "Christian" while clearly they are "for profit" businesses. How do you answer someone who says they own a Christian Bookstore or a Retreat Center of a Christian psychiatrist business? All three businesses I mentioned in my experience and observation, I might be wrong, are profitable businesses. Rose

     

    On Thursday, September 17, 2020, Concerned said:

    I think the same way when I hear the MSM ( often very political in its orientation) refer to the "Christian right", and how it supposedly votes in ( particularly) American elections. What?? As opposed to the "Christian left"? There is no such thing as "the Christian right", just as there is no such thing as "the Christian left" ( which you rarely, if ever, hear described in that fashion). Christians vote for every political party that exists.

     

    On Thursday, September 17, 2020, Juan said:

    Wholeheartedly agree, Darryn. My biggest pet peeve about this issue is in the labelling of "Christian" music. I couldn't, and still can't, get anything out of listening to most modern "Christian" music. I won't go into the lengthy list of reasons why. The music that speaks to me and to the issues happening in me and around me would definitely not be described as "Christian music". But that's ok. Its about finding God where he is rather than where we're told he might be.

     

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