Bannerman: No One May Call Himself A Christian Who Does Not Believe The Christian Faith

1. There are some men who object to all authorized creeds and articles of faith whatsoever, on the ground that they make the name of Christian and the advantages of Christian fellowship dependent on assent to certain positive truths or dogmas, whether more or fewer. There are some writers in the present day who hold the extreme position, that a man may be fully entitled to call himself a Christian, although he does not believe a single fact or doctrine of Christianity, although he denies the historical existence of the Christ of the Gospels, and the Divine origin of the system which He founded. “To declare any one unworthy of the name of Christian,” says Blanco White, “because he does not agree with your belief, is to fall into the intolerance of the articled Churches. The moment that the name Christian is made necessarily to contain in its signification belief in certain historical or metaphysical propositions, that moment the name itself becomes a creed: the length of that creed is of little consequence.… No man has a right to reject another from the Christian union on account of any abstract opinion whatever.” “A total disbelief of miracles and prophecy,” observes Mr. Hennel in his Christian Theism, “no more disqualifies a man for bearing with propriety and consistency the Christian name, than any other deduction from the exuberant belief which places Christ in the Triune Godhead.” Upon views such as these it is not needful to dwell.

James Bannerman, The Church of Christ: A Treatise on the Nature, Powers, Ordinances, Discipline, and Government of the Christian Church, vol. 1 (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1868), 316–17 (HT: Derek Rishmawy).

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One comment

  1. Seems like I recall Machen saying much the same thing in “Christianity and Liberalism,” that those who do not subscribe to the various core beliefs – the creation, the inspiration Scripture, the virgin birth, the miracles, the resurrection, etc. – have no right to call themselves “Christian.” They have an entirely different religion.

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