So who’s a ‘good’ Christian?

WARREN Austin, who was US ambassador to the United Nations during the Cold War era, once urged warring Arabs and Jews to sit down and settle their differences “like good Christians”.

For once, during that time, Arabs and Jews were in agreement. They laughed jointly at Austin’s silly statement.

What’s a good Christian anyway? Outspoken atheist Ricky Gervais once posted a piece on his blog titled Why I’m A Good Christian
Gervais admitted he didn’t believe in God or the divinity of Jesus – two necessary tenants of the faith – but said “I do believe I am a good Christian compared to a lot of Christians”.

Piling misconception upon misconception, Gervais continued: “So many Christians think that because they believe in the right God, they are automatically good”.

Well no, Christians know they need God’s grace. None of us can be “good enough” to get to heaven. As Mark Twain said: “If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in”.

A few years ago, the American Humanist Association sought to replace the US national motto In God We Trust with the secular In Good We Trust.
The AHA stated that being good was “one of the most important of responsibilities in our one and only life”.

The organisation did not define what “good” was, or how it might be determined. In a secular world where morality is subjective, the definition of good is merely an opinion. In the end, In Good We Trust is meaningless terminology.

Dennis Wholey, author of self help books, said expecting the world to treat you fairly because you were a good person was a little like expecting a bull not to attack you because you are a vegetarian.

The book of Ephesians states: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God., not as a result of works, that no one should boast.”

Grace is a scandalous idea. It mocks our ideas of what’s fair. Most people believe that good people go to heaven and bad people go to Hell. It’s not that simple.

Brennan Manning, in The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out said he believed among the countless people he would meet in Heaven would include “the prostitute from the Kit-Kat Ranch in Nevada, who tearfully told me that she could find no other employment to support her two-year-old son”.

“I shall see the woman who had an abortion and is haunted by guilt and remorse but did the best she could faced with grueling alternatives; the businessman besieged with debt who sold his integrity in a series of desperate transactions; the insecure clergyman addicted to being liked, who never challenged his people from the pulpit and longed for unconditional love; the sexually abused teen molested by his father and now selling his body on the street, who, as he falls asleep each night after his last ‘trick’, whispers the name of the unknown God he learned about in Sunday school….”

“…There they are. There ‘we’ are – the multitude who so wanted to be faithful, who at times got defeated, soiled by life, and bested by trials, wearing the bloodied garments of life’s tribulations, but through it all clung to faith.”


63 thoughts on “So who’s a ‘good’ Christian?

  1. “Well no, Christians know they need God’s grace”

    Pretty much what Gervais said – belief in the right God get’s you into heave. By his grace


    • No that’s not not what Gervais pretty much said at all. He had no idea of what grace actually is. And neither do you it seems but I think that it’s a pretty hard concept for the non spiritual to understand. There is an assumption that union with God is attained by laboriously ascending a ladder of holy virtues. The reverse is actually true.

      The great saints and mystics accepted God’s love for them. They knew they were not perfect, and neither was anyone else. True saints did not get discouraged over their faults.
      spirituality is not about competency; it is about intimacy. Spirituality is not about perfection; it is about connection.

      The way of the spiritual life begins where we are now in the mess of our lives. Accepting the reality of our broken, flawed lives is the beginning of spirituality not because the spiritual life will remove our flaws, but because we let go of seeking perfection and, instead, seek God


      • Yep so all you need is God. Doesn’t matter what kind of person you are – bigoted, homophobic, misogynist whatever it doesn’t matter as long as you’re on God’s team you’re in.

        PS you might want to try that “listening” thing before you start lecturing people on what they do and don’t understand. 😉


      • Hi Bryan,

        Grace isn’t that hard a concept to get your head around. I know Lewis saw it as Christianity’s “point of difference” but how much is there too it really.

        But this “listening” sure does have you stumped. Look on the bright side your “lecturing” is top notch.


      • Oh a pissing contest. Fantastic they don’t have enough of these online.

        If you want to actually discuss anything please feel free to get back to me.


      • Hi Bryan,

        Yeah too bad for me hey. I can’t possibly imagine what a scintillating discussion on grace I’ve missed out on. But on the bright side I did win a bet with myself 🙂

        So why are you here ?


      • You won a bet with yourself? That seems a bit pointless mate. But I guess you win/lose whatever.

        Grace isn’t that hard a concept to get your head around

        So you say, but now you can’t even define it!!!!

        You made me laugh again Bubba!


      • Yeah yah got me Bryan obviously I’m stuck. So stuck that it’s beyond me to even google CARM or Joyner or the good ol Catholic Encyclopedia or even get that awful Yancey book down from the shelves and thumb through it.

        Such an achievement of yours you must be so very proud. Probably the most you’ve accomplished all weak.

        Seriously why are you here ?


      • Yeah obviously you are stuck Bubba. Can’t answer the question about something you said was so simple. Then again I’m not surprised. But your attempt at sarcasm to deflect your obvious ignorance is amusing.


      • Yeah like I said you got me. I can see how you’d be so proud of such an accomplishment that you’d keep bringing it up, but wouldn’t the Christian thing be to move on ?

        And why are you here ?


      • The law of cause and effect is proven in other fields, and so it seems in scripture. This is where, to me, grace plays a part

        Without God’s grace, we have:-

        Your sins will find you out – Numb. 32:23.
        For He will repay Everyman for what he has done -Matt. 16:27.
        Cast your bread upon the waters and you will find it after many days – Eccl. 11:1.
        I have not done without cause all the evil in Jerusalem, says the Lord God – Ezekiel. 14:22-23.
        Galatians 6:7 – Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
        Job 4:8 – Even as I have seen, they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same.
        2 Corinthians 5:10 – For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things [done] in [his] body, according to that he hath done, whether [it be] good or bad.


      • Let me take a wild guess – censorship oh so very bad when those naughty atheists do it.

        Absolutely fine when Bryan does it.

        While we are asking for definitions Bryan do you understand the term hypocrisy ?


      • Hi Bryan

        You’ve asked that before and it was answer. But I guess you weren’t listening.

        Big surprise there.

        And why are you here? You could be doing a lot of things in a lot of places so why are you doing this ?


      • Fun as it would be to answer this question every couple of months I’ll just let my previous answer stand.

        Buy how about you? Want to have a go at providing an answer>

        Why are you here?


    • I like this defintion of grace themost: “elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action.” Beats the need for favor from authority every time.


      • The theology of grace – the defining characteristic of Christianity – is that we cannot will ourselves into being good people. We need the understanding that comes from God’s grace.

        Jesus’ teachings were subversive because they threw away the notion that we could get the Heaven – either heaven on Earth or somewhere else – by our own efforts.

        Jesus went up on a hillside and preached the powerful Sermon on the Mount.. This included the Beatitudes ,where the poor in spirit, the mourning, the meek, the merciful, the suffering, the peacemakers and afflicted are blessed—not the rich, the happy, the haughty and the educated elite.

        Jesus gave a paradoxical picture of what the Kingdom of God really looks like on Earth, and challenged his followers to accept it as fact.


      • “The theology of grace – the defining characteristic of Christianity – is that we cannot will ourselves into being good people.”


        “Many people have strong moral commitments without any religious foundation. Morality belongs to all of us as human beings”


    • I’ve admitted I’m stumped Bryan. Now I can see why would want to revel in your moment of triumph (rare as they are), but wouldn’t the Christian thing be to move on?

      And do I have you similarly stumped ? I notice you haven’t been able to answer the simple question – why are you here ?


  2. Made this Bulgarian Squirrel cry.

    I mean really, how many of us have got it all together? I certainly haven’t…..but I’m trusting in the One who has promised to never leave me or forsake me; to be my Help in times of need.


  3. Morality is subjective in secular society? I’m pretty sure that’s not the case. Morality may be having troubles finding a reasonable balance as it seeks to more naturally define itself outside of religious control, but it tends to boil down to what is seen to be the most beneficial for the group/society/species.


      • Everything may seem permitted initially, but a social order will redevelop as people realize and come to a consensus of which acts are harmful to their society/family/self. The morality surrounding drinking and driving would be a modern-day example that can give some insight into how this happens.


      • So take away God and there isn’t one single reason for people to try and get along with each other.

        Really ?


      • I just wrote on another thread that in various cultures all over the world there are equivalents to the 10 commandments. These standards seem to be programmed into our human condition.

        Something else comes to mind. In the Shrine of God the Parent faith there seems to be no concept of good and evil. Rather, the Joyous Life is defined as charity and abstention from greed, selfishness, hatred, anger and arrogance. Negative tendencies are not known as sins in Tenrikyo, but rather “dust,” as a metaphor, that can be swept away from the mind through daily service and ritual.

        Daily service is a spontaneous action that is an expression of gratitude and joy for being allowed to “borrow” his or her body from God the Parent. Such an action ideally is done as an act of religious devotion out of a wish to help or bring joy to others, without any thought of compensation.

        It can range from helping someone to just a simple smile to brighten another person’s day. Examples of common daily service activities that are encouraged include cleaning public places among other such acts of community service. Doing the work that others want to do least are considered sincere in the eyes of God.


      • It’s only a vexing question if you restrict it to the human world. The rest of Creation, to which “everything is permitted” would stay on track whether God was dead, alive, or on holidays in Bali.
        Isn’t there a law against vexatious litigation – philosophical or otherwise?


      • Good question. “where has perfect social order evolved?”

        Here’s another: What’s a perfect social order?


      • There is no perfect social order that I am aware of, it’s an ongoing process determined by the significance of different factors upon and within a society. Of course, there are countries and groups that claim to have the perfect social order, but if they truly did, I don’t think they would have to try to convince others about it.


    • Was Ivan all that clever anyway? “If God is dead then everything is permitted.”.
      Free Will permits everything too; and it relies on God being alive.

      The only difference is the over-the-top punishment liability.
      So all in all we’d be better off if God were in fact dead.
      Wouldn’t we?


      • Well God forgives just about anything any way and it’s always easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.

        AS the very old joke goes “When I was a child I prayed every day for God to give me a bicycle. Then I realised that’s not how he works so I stole one and prayed for forgiveness.”


  4. God Found Me in a Buddhist Meditation Center

    Annika Stewart, Oct 1, 2013

    I found God in a Shambhala Buddist Meditation Center. Pretty weird place to find him, but he knew I was searching, had been for years, and he showed me his presence in the middle of some Shambhala Chants. I wonder if any of the Buddhists knew of this presence in my heart, but I felt it. I sat there with my feet numb from sitting cross-legged meditating in silence for thirty minutes, but my mind had never been so loud. They rang the gong to symbolize the end of the meditation session, and then they began the Warrior Chants. They chanted to the son of Rinpoche, thanking him for the earth, and for goodness, and honestly it all felt very familiar to me: like prayer.

    Then something familiar returned to me: guilt. If I was “praying” to the son of anybody, shouldn’t it be to the Son of God? I felt a sense of panic, like I was doing something wrong.

    What was I doing in a Shambhala Center anyway? The truth is I’d been on a spiritual journey for years. I’d felt that God had left my side. I questioned: If there is an almighty and ever loving God, then why have these things happened to me: abuse at the hands of a family member, chronic depression and anxiety, financial strife, and loss of friends?

    I abandoned my Catholic faith in which I was raised, and set out to find a new religion which made more sense to me. I didn’t work too hard at it, I just dismissed most of the beliefs of Christianity, although I never doubted the presence of a higher power. I always said, “There has to be something in this universe bigger than me, but I don’t know what.” I called myself agnostic.

    I remember first battling with my faith as a teenager. I questioned why people follow the Bible over any other book that was written by man. I asked my grandpa one Sunday morning why he didn’t just worship the words of Hemingway, since he was a man too. I don’t think I ever wounded my grandfather so deeply. I remember sitting in the van that Sunday, while my whole family went inside to church.

    At 26 I wrote a poem called “Inquiry to God” asking him why I didn’t feel the kind of connection I thought I was supposed to feel to my Catholic faith, why people kneeled when they prayed, why Jesus was supposed to come back and save the world, and why Jesus died for my sins, if I just enjoyed that organic feeling anyway.”

    But life kept happening, and it’s a hard world to live in without faith, so I kept searching on my own. I read “The Secret,” and I thought if I just thought positively enough everything would be sunshine and rainbows, and sometimes it was. It worked often enough for me to keep doing it and rereading it at every major juncture in my life, but without faith, I felt lost. I had no personal connection to anyone.

    So I thought, ya know, Christianity isn’t my thing I’ll try Buddhism. So I googled a place, and I went. When I got there, the people were hospitable and the novelty of the place was enticing. It smelled of incense. When I went inside the shrine though, I felt uneasy. I thought it was just because I was new, so I went back a few times, but I realized, that it was God speaking to me. I haven’t been able to say “God” in so many years. I just said higher power. But now God has a name for me again.

    There was a shrine and instead of a cross there were pictures of Buddhists leaders. I found this uncomfortable, I wanted to know that God was with me, but I was in a place that God wasn’t recognized. The more I went back and the more I understood about the chants, the more uncomfortable I became. I started to ask questions, and I was told they were chanting to their lineage. Well, I want my prayers to go to God.

    It was all incredibly confusing. I called a friend and explained to her that I felt that God had left my life, and that I’d had to do everything on my own, and what right did he have showing his face now and asking for my love.

    She said to me, “Annika, your life is a perfect example of one of God’s miracles. How many times were you supposed to die? How many times have you been beaten down in life? If God wasn’t working through you, you wouldn’t even be here.”

    She didn’t know it, but when I hung up the phone I was crying. All of those years, I’d been chasing God away, looking for some “higher power” to fill me up and make me ok, and he’d been right there with me all along.

    There are things that I will take from what I learned at the Shambhala Center, like being compassionate, but I know now, that I want a relationship with God in my life. I still don’t know the path I’ll take to form that relationship with God, but I can pray again, and that feels safe and good in a way that is stronger than I remember.

    God speaks to people at strange times. He spoke to me in the middle of a Shambhala Buddhist Chant.


  5. Woman from Hindu Priestly family found Jesus and serves Him
    October 14, 2013

    Elamma Antharjanam was born and brought up in a Hindu Brahmin (priestly) family in India. Her childhood name was Saraswathi Antharjanam. Her father Subrahmanyan Namboothiri was a main tantri or poojari (head priest) of around 250 temples. Her mother was Savithri Antharjanam. Brahmin women are called by name as Antharjanam. It means A woman who stays within the house.

    Subrahmanyan Namboothiri and Savithri Antharjanam got married when they were children (child marriage was commonly done at that time). But they had no children. After 30 years of their marriage they got a girl child. That was Saraswathi, later became Elamma Antharjanam. .

    Saraswathi was very fanatic in her religion. She used to take up very early in the morning, take bath from the temple pool and doing worship (poojas) before the idols at the temple. When she was an young girl, she was applied a tattoo in her hand according Hindu deities, which can be seen till today.

    Also she was a severe Asthmatic patient since her childhood. She suffered a lot due to the Asthma. Poojas as well as the treatments and medicines did not give her good result.

    One day a woman named Kamalamma, a Hindu Nair lady, who became Christian and suffering persecution from her husband and the community wanted to pray for the teenaged girl Saraswathy. She first refused the offering of her prayers; because she found her not as a good woman because of changing her religion from Hinduism to Christianity.

    But her wheezing was increased due to the Asthmatic attack and she lost the power of breathing and was hospitalised. When Kamalamma visited her at the hospital she herself asked her to pray for her .

    While Kamalamma prayed over her, she saw a man with a small lamb on the left shoulder and a stick on the right hand standing infront of her. With a smile, he gently moved His hands over her head. He said, “Believe me my daughter. I am your Lord. Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another god” (Ps 16:4).

    At once Saraswathy confessed all her sins and accepted Lord Jesus as her personal saviour and Lord. And she was totally healed from Asthma.

    Paul Ciniraj Ministries.


      • Me too!

        Jeremiah 29:14

        13-14 “When you come looking for me, you’ll find me.

        “Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” God’s Decree.

        “I’ll turn things around for you.


  6. New Age astrologer found Jesus after a co-worker prayed
    By Mark Ellis

    She was deeply embedded in the New Age movement, taught astrology, and was the head of the Atlanta Astrological Society. But a co-worker’s prayers and an unexpected compulsion led to a dramatic shift in her spiritual journey.

    Her father was an agnostic and her mother a nominal Christian. Several experiences as a young person convinced Montenegro she might have ESP abilities. After college in Florida, she moved to Atlanta and took a class on “inner light consciousness,” in response to her burgeoning curiosity about the supernatural.

    “They took us through various techniques like chanting, psychic healing, and meditation,” Montenegro recalls. On the last evening of the class, instructors told her she would meet her spiritual master. “Your spiritual master will be with you the rest of your life,” they informed her.

    During her meditation, she saw a wise, kind-looking man. “From that point on I thought he would be always with me, protecting me,” she says.

    After the class, she attended a Tibetan Buddhist center in Atlanta where she learned to do meditation, then began to immerse herself in New Age reading material. Books by Carlos Casteneda, Ram Dass, and Jane Roberts were heavy influences, along with “The Tao of Physics.”

    “It was all jelling for me,” she recalls. “I thought I had been given gifts and I wanted to put them into practice, so I studied astrology seriously.”

    The nominal Christianity of her upbringing had completely vanished at this point. “I was very hostile to Christianity,” Montenegro says. “I had the New Age Jesus, who was the avatar of the age of Pisces and was a spiritual leader, like Buddha.”

    One of her astrology clients invited her to work part-time at his company. “He wanted advice on his employees based on their birth data,” she notes. Nobody else in the office knew about Montenegro’s astrological duties. Her boss assigned her a vague-sounding title to divert attention from her actual role.

    At the company, she met a young man named Jeff McCord. “He befriended me and we would have conversations from time-to-time,” she notes. “I knew he was a Christian, but he wasn’t very dramatic about it.
    One day something happened that completely surprised her. “I had this compulsion to go to church,” she recalls, “but I resisted it.”

    As hard as she tried to ignore it, the impulse would not go away. She decided she would find a church. “I didn’t know where to go but there was an Episcopal Church downtown with a soup kitchen,” she says.

    Very tentatively, she found her way to the back row of the church, with plans to leave as early as possible. “I felt very out of place,” she notes.

    Then something strange happened. A formal procession began to walk down the center aisle close to Montenegro. “As a boy walked by carrying the cross, I felt this overwhelming love falling on me from above,” she says.

    “I could feel it coming externally,”Montenegro recounts. “I knew it was from this personal God telling me he loved me.” She was so overwhelmed she began to weep softly in the pew.

    “I felt this love but I didn’t understand what it meant.”

    Montenegro stayed for the whole service and went back the following Sunday. “I really didn’t understand what was going on, but I felt I needed to be there,” she says.

    “I started getting an impression that God doesn’t like astrology,” she recalls. “I ignored it, but then it became very strong.” She eventually made a huge decision to give it up.

    One night she read the dramatic account in Matthew 8 of Jesus on the boat with his disciples on the Sea of Galilee. “There was a storm at sea and Jesus rebuked the storm. For some reason, this had an effect on me.”

    Montenegro read and re-read the story several times and then a light came on. “Suddenly as I was reading it, I saw who Jesus really is,” she says. “God opened my eyes.”

    “Jesus really is the Son of God! He really is the Savior!” she exclaimed.

    She realized she had been on a spiritual path that took her away from the one, true, living God. “I knew I needed to be saved,” she realized. “I turned my life over to Jesus Christ at that moment.”



  7. I think faith is the silliest requirement of religion, because all the faiths require different beliefs, so each religion automatically excludes those of other religions. If only they could appeal to logic instead of all that wishful thinking and superstition, then maybe everyone could be included.

    Superstition is a function of a fearful. emotive, imaginative brain that has not yet worked out how best to use its growing intelligence to tame and modify those primitive impulses so as to understand and make a better world.

    Humanism represents the only lasting solution, and most democratic societies base their laws on it but it needs to be packaged so as to appeal to everyone. Unfortunately, if you are susceptible to the wonderment and excitement of “miracles” , then that vital intellect can still be compromised by the herd instinct and a primitive, communal fear, together with the need for answers and for an authority figure, as if from our childhood. ANY answers will do, even if they don’t make sense, just as long as they make us feel better..

    To a certain extent, the more unlikely a religious claim is, the more likely some people are to believe it. And the more unlikely it is, the more does faith become the prime and vital necessity, the badge of honour. In fact, to critical thinkers, the requirement of “faith” is the signal clue that an untruth is being promulgated and that it is not to be questioned.The thinker recalls the saying-
    “Error only, never truth, fears inquiry.” And to quote Oscar Wilde:-“A man who cannot think for himself cannot think at all.”

    Undaunted, believers recite their creeds and lists of beliefs, blissfully unaware of their similarity to Alice in Wonderland, who announced that she “always believed in six impossible things before breakfast”.

    She’s not the only one.


      • Jasonjaw

        You omitted to quote Mark 9:39 which follows:

        “But Jesus said, “Do not hinder him, for there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name, and be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me.…”

        This passage ties the two verses you have quoted in your link and disproves your claim that Christianity is not intended to be exclusive (at least from Jesus perspective).

        You need to read all that the Bible says on a subject not merely cherry pick the bits and pieces you want.


  8. Cogitations: “So who’s a ‘good’ Christian?”
    Since only God may judge, and since one must be dead before God will do so, does it not follow that, essentially, ‘A good Christian is a dead Christian’.?


  9. “None of us can be “good enough” to get to heaven”

    What in heaven’s name (yes, it can be useful even to atheists) leads people to imagine that when they are dead they won’t actually be dead?

    Dead means DEAD, folks. Yes, that’s right…..DEAD! no more life, no more consciousness, no more sight or hearing, no more memory, no more knowing, no more recognition of anything.

    Nothingness. Get it? A functioning brain is required for all that knowing.If your brain is dead, there will be none of it. Just decay.

    Nothing to be afraid of at all. Just nothing. No heaven, no hell.


    It goes against all commonsense, all critical thinking and all experience to talk of heaven.
    Life “after death” is a complete oxymoron.

    So, only death, which you will never be aware of, just as you were never aware of being under a general anaesthetic.

    But it does mean this life should be all the more precious to you, because it’s all you’ve got.


      • I don’t know, Bryan. Perhaps he is in the process of forming his own after-life, as oblivion. Perhaps he is afraid of any other future. Pity, when there’s really no need for fear.


      • No need to fear? Hmmm , that’s debatable.

        The day of destruction and judgment is surely going to come upon us suddenly. In just one hour, all material things of this world will lose their value, becoming absolutely worthless. We’re going to be left with nothing but Christ — yet we need nothing more. He is the living Word we need. It is Christ alone who is our peace and our safety. Reject Christ, and what have you left? I dare say, a whole lot of nothing; like the parable in the Bible “of the dumb carpenter who built a house but skipped the foundation. When the swollen river came crashing in, it collapsed like a house of cards. It was a total loss.”


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