Defining a (proper) Christian

“You can’t be a Christian if you do not come to church.” This advice was given to me loudly, from about 10 feet away, in the middle of my local library. I think that I was being chastised for referring to myself as an operational Christian, while remaining a metaphysical Hindu. (Hinduism does not require an all-excluding adherence. We are tolerant.)

Recently, I had withdrawn from church attendance. My explanation to the rector was that I preferred a contemplative one-to-one approach to God, accompanied by total silence (except for the sounds of the nearby sea and the occasional to frequent bird calls.)

The comment made to me was by a pillar of the church. While I am unsure of his authority to say what he did, the comment was intra-church. But, by what right could a member of a Christian church – especially its leader – claim that a member of another Christian church could not be a Christian … … ?

I know that when a man of the Greek Orthodox Church sought to marry an Italian woman, she had to receive a dispensation from her Roman Catholic Church. The dispensation, when given, described the man as a heretic (‘hereticus’). Does such a distinction apply today?

Or, are we all ecumenical now, and thereby free to accuse a fellow Christian, but of another church, of not being a proper Christian? Or, could a display of authority (and power) be a more compelling explanation? Could a hoped-for increase in electoral rights for one’s ‘flock’ also be a relevant issue?

For how much longer are the sectoral and religious ‘wars’ to continue? What is so special or superior about any one Christian sect, or any one religion?

Will God judge each of us according to the theology of the sect or religion we believe in as we draw our last breath?

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