You may ask, "Well, if they believe in Jesus Christ, then they are saved, right?" Wrong. Many variations exist of both "believe" and "Jesus Christ." Only one edition is true, but many exist. A modern "Christian" requirement is to accept just any version someone expresses, but my take for the fellow evangelist is quite regularly, "no," "I don't know," "maybe," or "I don't think so." Most people who call themselves Christians, aren't.
When I'm writing here, I've been saying for thirty years, and it's only gotten worse. What motivates me to write it now are three factors: (1) the question of whether people are really Christians, whom I love dearly -- I'd like to see them in heaven, (2) recent attempts to find churches for various people and even myself when I'm traveling, and then more in my face this very moment, (3) looking at the two men across from me at the airport gate with their Christian gear on. Both are male mid to late fifties, both with Christian tattoos and black Christian tee-shirts. There is something cultural here now, I know.
Both men talk with a strain of faux earnest street jargon and a sugary high authenticity cadence, if you know what I mean, dude. One tattoo is a sun burst decorative lion that takes up the whole outer right calf. That, I suppose, is "the Lion of the Tribe of Judah" pigmented onto hairy leg skin. One black t-shirt has the decorative Andy Warhol styled ink print of Roman Catholic Jesus' head with the oversized crown of thorns, framed by two lines with the words "Reckless Love" in urban grafitti font. The name Jesus in all caps comes on a back with candy striped circus poster font. Both wore high top Vans™ and baggy skate boarder shorts. I heard one say, "It was like, like God was talking to me."
The dictionary defines "reckless," "without thinking or caring about the consequences of an action." Jesus didn't suffer on the cross without thinking or caring about the consequences. And that little analysis is just. like. me., confining their creative, free expression into my little box unlike the size of God. God is BIG, like their expressions. Furthermore, "reckless" is a play on words! Some plays on words shouldn't be used. They often still are today, but they shouldn't be.
The kind of suffering Jesus endured on the cross might be considered reckless it was so extreme. However, "reckless" activity is always associated with something like one might see on the cover of a Harlequin romance with half a man's shirt ripped off. Teenagers need lecturing for being reckless. A reckless behavior would be jumping off a cliff with the expectation that an angel would swoop under and deliver you. That's what Jesus didn't do. WJDD.
Not a single explicit verse of scripture could repudiate what I just described. Many applied scriptures, however, do prohibit such representation of God, Jesus, or sacred things. Almost all the Bible requires application. Not a single explicit verse of scripture prohibits wearing a Ronald McDonald outfit with orange wig while preaching on Sunday morning. Many verses of scripture, if applied, prohibit wearing such clown costume for such occasion. Christian designers and marketers shouldn't be thinking of a way to get Jesus' name into the Jack Daniels logo.
Everyone understands associations today. What do you associate with a red baseball hat with two lines of white block print? Something about Jesus wouldn't work in the messaging there, no matter what someone thinks of Donald Trump. Everyone today understands the ramifications of "black face." It is as simple as kindergarten exercise in matching with the line drawn from the hammer in one column to the hammer in the second. The hammer doesn't match with the blue balloon, and everyone knows it.
Two dangerous simultaneous contradicting propositions coincide: just one Christianity exists and yet you can't criticize one that isn't. A kind of consensus exists that it would be reckless to do so, and today it isn't just reckless, it is criminal. It is hate speech. This kind of unwillingness to judge, a paralysis, even disallowance, of discernment, characterizes an era of genderless bathrooms. The whole world sits at a four way stop, unwilling to go. Compliance is necessary for important issues like the material of straws and propriety of pronouns.
I say unwillingness to judge, rather than inability. People judge. Memes right now run wild judging the folks in Wuhan for wearing masks but then also eating bats and rats for their magical properties. The emperor with no clothes still works as a metaphor. Labeling not Christianity as Christianity leaves people with a false sense of security. They are the very ones that will brag about their version of Christianity at the Great White Throne before Jesus says, depart from me. It would be better for them to know about it now. Jesus won't say, I'm going to have to agree to disagree.
What are the varied versions of Christianity? How many versions are there? The acceptance of disagreeable doctrine is so rampant today within the broad parameters of what it means to be a Christian, that it has become commonplace to have at least four views of about everything. There are actually far more than four, but attempts are made to reduce the number of views to representative ones and the views are argued in a way to indicate that any one of the four won't exclude someone from Christianity. Perhaps a four view book on exclusivity could be written for the purposes of including every exclusivist.
Christians themselves know there are multiple versions of the Bible. A chief argument for Moslems with Christianity is that only one version of the Koran exists, evidence that their religion lacks corruption. That's a laugher -- one version of Islam! We Christians have many! We coexist. Christians could argue back and probably should to be honest, multiple versions of the Bible go along with multiple versions of Christianity. Christians are proud of their diversity of doctrine. "We don't stress over the details!" However, it's not just details anymore. There are vast chasms of difference between acceptable versions. This only promotes further assent to doctrinal divergence, which reproduces apostasy like possums.
A one Christianity can't exist in the compulsion of many. I understand the pressure to capitulate. Let's not and say we did, is very powerful. Someone gets to have his own version. Anyone who confronts that version as false thwarts "freedom." Human choice is sovereign. This has spawned a variation on grace and sanctification where Jesus will cover for all the behavior outside the lines. Jesus gives that freedom. I can be me, and wherever that clashes with Jesus, He's already atoned on the cross. This results in less judgment, and that feeling of freedom from judgment is a new version of love. Everyone is nice to everyone no matter what the lifestyle, except for one that judges someone else for doing something wrong. This leaves the only unacceptable version of Christianity to be actual Christianity.