Why I’ll Still Call Myself a Christian

Last week Anne Rice, the best-selling author of Interview with the Vampire and the subsequent sequels part of The Vampire Chronicles, stirred up some controversy among the Christian community when she posted to her Facebook status that she was quitting Christianity.  Rice had previously been an atheist and later became a Christian, joining the Catholic church.  In her recent decision, Rice states that she is still a follower of Jesus but refuses to be part of a community that is “anti-gay” and “anti-feminist,” among other reasons.

Many came out in support of Rice’s decision asserting that following Jesus and being a part of the Church are not the same thing.  Some wrote blogs stating they made the same decision years ago.  The comments sections of articles and blogs relating to Anne Rice were filled with discussions over the Church and Christianity.

I can understand Rice’s sentiment.  Many times, I have felt embarrassed by the actions of those claiming the religion of which I am a part.  I’ve watched different groups spewing out hate in the name of Christ, or others watering down His teachings until they were meaningless, and I’ve wondered how it was possible for us to be following the same Teacher.  Yet, I will not leave this group.

On all sides of my family, I have watched as family members have made poor choices.  Some of their choices have embarrassed me, and they served as a poor reflection of the family name.  Despite their choices, however, they are still part of my family.  I can legally change my name, but the fact still remains–we share the same blood.  There is no denying that we share a common bond.  And because of that family bond, I cannot help but care for and pray for the redemption of those family members, no matter how much I despise their actions.

As a Christian, I belong to another family, and whether or not I agree with the actions of every member, I cannot divorce myself from it:  “Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others” (Romans 12: 4-5).  And when I became a Christian, I didn’t join because of the actions of the Church; I joined because of the actions of Christ. He is the only one blameless, and because of His grace I can be forgiven.  Likewise, because of His grace, I can also forgive, even those within this same body.

While the debates rolled on over Rice’s decision, I couldn’t help but think that perhaps her eyes were on the wrong people.  Yes, there are definitely those who have embarrassed the name of Christ, and here’s the kicker–I am one of those who has brought embarrassment to His name on a daily basis.  Any time I lose my patience with my children and utter an unkind word, when I don’t love my husband unconditionally but rather base my actions on my feelings for the day, when I choose comfort over conviction, I have tarnished the name of Christ.  And because I know the depravity of my own soul, I cannot cast blame on others for the poor standing of Christianity in the world.

Instead, I choose to look to better examples, and I don’t have to look far.  I see members of my own church heading to Mozambique to build wells and bring clean water to communities who have only known filth.  I see those among the Christian community fighting to bring awareness and an end to sex trafficking within our own country.  And across the globe, I see those dying to be part of the name that Anne Rice has cast off.  When I look to these examples, I can only feel gratitude to a God who lets me be part of such a community, of which I am the least.

The Christian community is full of problems, but thanks to Jesus, it’s also full of grace.  And amidst of all the problems, the Church is full of members whose eyes are locked on Christ’s, whose hearts are tuned in to His purpose and are doing good around the world.  Rather than form my own island, I choose to look to the Teacher and the examples of those living right and hope that my actions will bring glory to His name.  I choose to accept His grace and extend it to others because it is united as one body that we can do the most good for this world.

Yes, I will still call myself a Christian.  I see the good and the potential for good that we are doing, and I want to be a part of this group.  I see that while I can certainly believe and pray to Jesus by myself, Jesus never intended for me to walk this journey alone but with other believers. Yes, I will still call myself a Christian–I’m proud to.

23 thoughts on “Why I’ll Still Call Myself a Christian

    1. Thank you for implying that I have some eloquence–it didn't feel that way when I was trying to write this morning! 😉

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  1. “When i say that I’m a Christian, I’m not claiming to be perfect, my flaws are far too visible, but God believes i’m worth it.” Anon author

    It’s too bad someone with Ms Rice’s intellect, didn’t join a Christian church, instead of a “religion.”

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      1. No, not at all. i was raised Catholic and practiced Catholicism for 35+ years. But in all my experiences in several Catholic churches, i never was taught the Bible. I know now i will go to heaven, and it is not a guess as to whether i did enough good or was good enough. I also know that the Pope is fallible, as no human is perfect, only God. I am sure that many Catholics will be in heaven with me. But for me, i have chosen to practice Christianity and not Catholicism.

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      2. " But for me, i have chosen to practice Christianity and not Catholicism."

        This statement is a little contradicting to me. I was raised a Southern Baptist, with blinders on my eyes, and thinking all Catholics went to Hell. I married a Catholic, and joined the church last Easter. I took the class to convert b/c I wanted to know the church from the inside out, and I was floored at the similarities between the two churches. I was taught a LOT from the Bible and how going to Heaven had nothing to do with doing or being good enough, but having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, which, in my opinion is the most important part of being a Christian. So I have to chose to practice Catholicism, which is the same as Christianity.

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      3. I think you both are actually in more agreement than disagreement–the basis of Christianity is a relationship with Jesus. While there are Christians in every denomination, It is possible for a person to practice his or her denomination without ever having that relationship, thus practicing religion instead of Christianity. I'm not sure of the intent of the original comment starting the thread, and based on Rice's desire to leave the church in order follow Jesus, I would assume that she is not practicing religion. I did have to wonder, though, why she didn't seek out another denomination. Some of her complaints seemed aimed specifically at the Catholic church; there are denominations that make no mention of the type of birth control couples should/should not use and are open to gay marriage, women in the clergy, etc. I wonder why she felt the need to lump Christianity as all being anti-this and anti-that when there could've been a denomination with whose views she was more in line.

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  2. Excellent post. Thank you for reminding me too that I am a follower of Christ not those calling themselves Christians. That part really spoke to me. It's good to know I'm part of His family – no matter how embarrassing some of our family members seem! Regardless, the Father loves all his children – thank goodness, 'cause I'm one of them!

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    1. Yes, thank goodness! The way this week has gone, I'm sure I've done more of the embarrassing than being embarrassed!

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  3. I really like the analogy you use about your earthly family and how you're still a part of them no matter if they embarrass you or not. It's impossible for us to be Christian without being part of the body of Christ.

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    1. Yes, I think those who have chosen this route are missing out on the blessings one can receive from being part of the body of Christ.

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  4. I agree, Jennifer. As a Baptist growing up, I never had a "personal" relationship with Christ. My heart was never in it. As a Catholic(and an adult now), my relationship has never been stronger.
    There are many things that I do not agree with in the Catholic church, one of which is birth control and I still decided to convert. I think that the Catholic church is SO big on following traditions, and that is one of them. But I think that no matter what religion you choose there will be things you don't agree with along the way(getting back to your post!). I agree, though, why wouldn't she try other denominations before just casting religion aside? There are many more options!

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  5. Yes, a Christian because of Christ, NOT the church. The church is just an earthly construction.

    Having said that, I do tend to stay away from churches. Whether rightly or wrongly, I've found no solace at any church I've attended in the past. However, I'm still young and the world is a big place. Or rather, my city is a big place. There's still time.

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    1. Finding a church that is the right fit can be very difficult and frustrating. I remember going off to college, and later in life when Matt and I moved to Oklahoma, and the search for a new church always brought with it an apprehension. There are so many different types of churches now, though, that I think if you want to find one, you probably could. But then again, I live in the South in Metro Atlanta; it's probably easier for me than a lot of people! 🙂

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  6. Jennifer, this is a great post. When I first heard about Ann Rice's decision, I thought, "Well, that makes sense. I understand that," because like you, sometimes I am disgusted and disappointed by the actions of some who call themselves Chrisians. Unlike you though, I didn't take the time to think the whole process through. And you are right. There is much to appreciate about Christianity — many, many more good things than bad come of the church. Plus, you can't help change the negative if you refuse to participate. Ann Rice's decision to leave the church is giving up, throwing in the towel. I found it more convicting that Rice had decided to rejoin the church, despite its obvious flaws, than I do her decision to leave it.

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