I suppose there are a lot of ways to respond to that question…it depends on what you mean by “kind of Christian.” Baptist? Pentecostal? Lutheran? Or maybe there’s a whole different angle to consider: Perhaps you are a “good” Christian, or “back-slidden” or “nominal” or some other label that describes your current spiritual status.
But I have something different in mind. In a recent discussion on terrorism, a friend of mine said something to the effect of, “Yeah, well what about all those Christian terrorists out there like Timothy McVeigh…” (a few other names were added to the list). Apart from the fact that McVeigh (and most of the other names on my friend’s list) was actually pretty outspoken about being an atheist, I realized that my friend (and I suppose lots of other people) lumped him into a very broadly-defined category called “Christian.” This got me to thinking…
We’ve noted before that a significant number of Jews actually describe themselves as atheists. Our friend Hank Dannecker says that the vast majority of Jews he meets in Israel call themselves atheists. This seems odd to us, since in our context (a group of Christians who read the Bible) we define Judaism in relationship to God (“God’s chosen people” etc.). We’ve noted that Judaism can be both (and often, “either/or”) a religion and an ethnicity. I have come to the conclusion that the term “Christian” can be used in the same way.
Returning to my discussion with my friend, here’s the way I described it: If we define “Christian” in primarily ethnic terms – that is, someone who is born and raised in a Christian culture/family, etc., then Christians are no different than any other group (and we have our fair-share of extremists and nut-jobs). If, however, by “Christian” we mean “a follower of Jesus, obedient to the New Testament,” then we are talking about something entirely different.