December 4, 2012
This Western culture has been engaging in this literary deterioration for over a century. It is the process that has been slowly stripping the English language of some of its most unique and differentiating words. There is one in particular that has been dramatically affected. That word is Christian. It is one, which in its true sense, defines what all others cannot. The degeneration of English words and specifically the common misinterpretation of the word Christian are issues that cannot be ignored. If this continues, the English language will become filled with “air words” that simply take up space. This redefining shall start with the word Christian.

Keeping this in mind, the degeneration of a word can be defined as the following. I will use the word gentleman as an example to show how Christian has changed in the same way. A gentleman, originally meaning “one bearing a coat of arms and owning land” has changed into a more gratifying term. To call one a gentleman now would be praising him for his humble, sensitive or respectful attributes. Appropriately, nothing is wrong in saying that word in that context except that in doing so, the word essentially becomes more and more useless. For if the words respectable or sensitive already exist, why must another word be used to describe the same thing? When that happens, the word loses its original meaning to the same meaning that other words have already taken.

In turn, the same process has undermined the word Christian. The word originated soon after the death of Jesus, when the apostle Paul started one of the first churches of Christ. The word simply meant one who followed the teachings of Jesus Christ and put their faith in him for their salvation. One who was a Christian devoutly adhered to the instruction of the Bible. It was a term only used in statement, a proper noun. To say that one was a Christian would simply be stating a fact. To say that one was not a Christian was not an insult to their morality or ethnical values. There was a definitive line between being a Christian and not. This illustrates the fact that there was in no way, a partial Christian. No one man was a better Christian than another man. This is a common fallacy in today’s language because, if Christian is a word that only pertains to two types of people- those who are and those who are not- there would be in no way a middle ground or higher or lower level of being a Christian. One either is or is not. If one does not adhere as tightly to Jesus’ teachings as another might, he is most certainly not “less of a Christian”.

With this in mind, we can now look at how modern culture sees the word Christian and how it is viewed. From today’s perspective, Christian is a describing word. It can be used as an adverb in the sense of saying “That was a very Christian thing to do”. It can describe oneself as being morally upright and respectable. This has occurred as early as the seventeen and eighteen hundreds. Women would worry about being a “good Christian lady” when in fact, they might not of even have been a Christian. They were primarily concerned with looking proper and acting with chastity. It is now used as a term of describing one’s behavior. Should a person do something unrespectable or unlawful, it could be said that they were not being Christian. This can be said with no reference to their religious beliefs but only because of the aspect that one who is a Christian might not do that. This is one of the worst misconceptions that the word has grown into. ‘Christian’ is not a word for describing someone’s actions, behavior or morality. Christian is meant for fact and statement. Only to be used to describe one who has put their faith in Jesus for their salvation. When it is taken for describing something pure, upright or moral, it no longer pertains to its true meanings and just becomes another describing word for something good.

Furthermore, the word is used in vast, stereotypical, generalizations. Some of these include that if one is a Christian, one is a Republican. It is not that Christians must vote right because of their religious beliefs, it is that some of their beliefs tend to align more with Republican stances. They are not restricted to voting certain directions. The word often comes with the connotation of being like the stringent early American Christians. Many people see them as such and limit them to those standards. Though the Puritans were Christians, they brought zealous ideals and standards to the minds of Americans. The Puritan’s beliefs held them to standards of absolute strictness and a morality that denies anything pleasurable, fun or not directly correlating to God. That was because they wanted their only pleasure to be from God, and to rely completely on Him. Though the Puritans were Christians and believed this, they brought their own beliefs to unreachable extremes. This legalistic ideology is not what Christians represent. One is only expected to do everything to the glory of their God. This does not mean in any way that a Christian does not enjoy fun or taking risks. One other delusion about the word is that means a person is hateful of people unlike them. Christians have been said to “hate gays” and condemn all who do not believe what they do. Perceptions of a Christian being judgmental and condemning are often associated with them because of their evangelical purposes, trying to convert others to believe what they believe. Contrary to popular belief, Christian does not mean one thinking of themselves as being at a higher level that is able to decide what others need to believe. They see it as something like this: If a semi truck was flying down the road at a person and you had a chance to save them, wouldn’t you hurdle yourselves at them, in an attempt to save them? That is analogous to Christians. They believe that they know what can truly save a person and will often hurdle themselves at a person with all their beliefs in attempt to save them. That is what often brings this judgmental and “superior thinking” connotation about a Christian.

All previous example of today’s perception of the word Christian have been misconceptions of the actual meaning and have shown exactly what the word does not mean. But only through knowing the contexts of what something is not, can we truly understand what something is. Christian, at its most basic level, apart from all additional definitions, mere Christianity is having faith that Jesus Christ died for the salvation of the world. Christian literally means one of Christ. Once that is understood all other conceptions of Christians can be rationalized. It can be understood that because a Christian puts their faith in Jesus Christ that they follow and linger for his teachings. When that happens, it can be seen that a Christian would set out to vote for what he or she thinks is morally right. It can be observed that they ultimately do want to only gain their pleasure from God- though not ignore the beauty of the world. It can be understood that a Christian does not agree with the concept of gayness, as taught in the Bible but does not hate gays as they are called to love everyone. Christian, at its most fundamental meaning is quite a simple term but, when looked at it for its entirety and all that surrounds it; it is indefinable.

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