by Mike Ratliff
25 And he left for Tarsus to look for Saul; 26 and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. And for an entire year they met with the church and taught considerable numbers; and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. Acts 11:25-26 (NASB)
Back when I first started writing these posts and helping Ken and Ingrid on the old Slice of Laodicia blog deal with the continuous attacks from the Emergents one of the main topics that was continually in play was that those who were attacking every doctrine that was foundational to Orthodox Christianity refused to be called “Christian.” Instead they demanded that we call them “Christ Followers.” I refused to do that because their demeanor was not Christlike at all. Instead, they were bullies who twisted scripture and attempted to derail everyone’s faith by attacking their character directly. Some even attempted to take us offline by threatening our Internet Providers if they didn’t take us down. Who does that sound like? In any case, who are true Christians and what does that word mean?
In Acts 11:26 the word “Christians” translates the Greek noun Χριστιανούς (Christianous) the accusative, plural, masculine case of Χριστιανός (Christianos), which means “of the party of Christ.” Calling someone by the name of a teacher or leader was not unusual, as the followers of Herod were called Herodians, Ἡρωδιανοί (Hērōdianoi) as per Mark 3:6.
While some have said that “the term was first used by non-Christians” but that “does not have to imply that it was meant derisively,” that seems unlikely. The word was commonly used by non-believers, since believers spoke of themselves such as terms as brethren and saints.While Peter uses the term, he does so in the context of persecution. We must understand that as the term “Christian” was being applied by outsiders to believers, it contained an element of ridicule and that in this, it did not differ from the description Ναζωραῖος (Nazōraios) or Nazarene.
While most reading this have no issue with being called a “Christian,” there is also the issue we have before us where many can believe just about anything they want and still be considered Christians, however, that was not the case when the term originated. To be a Christian meant something. It immediately described one who acted like Christ, one who stood for righteousness, condemned false religion, and did not just “fit in” with everyone else. It was a term that invited persecution, not acceptance. It, indeed, meant to be a disciple. To be called a “Christian” is to be greatly honored, but it is a term that we must live up to.
I have studied the Protestant Reformation in great detail and how it resulted in a great backlash from the Roman Catholic Church that caused the death of thousands of Evangelical Christians who refused to recant as they were tortured then executed. Of course, the Roman Empire did the same thing during the 1st and 2nd Century to our Church fathers.
As 2020 comes to an end we are witnessing a multi-faceted attack on our culture and our faith by very wicked men. What is so sad to me though is how so many of these wicked people have found their way into our Seminaries, Denominational leadership, and church pulpits teaching a false gospel based in Cultural Marxism. They call it Woke. Some call it the Social Justice Gospel, but it is not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ at all. No, it is a Gnostic form of Christianity from the pit of Hell. What are we to do? We stand firm. We refuse to be part of it. We do not call them our brothers and sisters in Christ for the sake of unity. No, we tell them the truth. Yes, that is what a real Christian does. Let us do that no matter the cost.
Soli Deo Gloria!