What is required to be called a “Christian”?

Posted: 2011 10 19 by Paul S in Biblical manhood, Discipleship, Hardcore Christian Men

What is required to be called a “Christian”?

And does it really matter?

Since the Apostles were sharing the Word of Christ until today, people have tried to identify requirements to be a “Christian”. Peter argued against Paul when he evangelized Gentiles. During the growth and expansion of the Holy Roman Empire, the church leaders added requirements to recieve salvation. In the 20th century, many American churches added requirements to scriptural guidance for salvation. What I’m talking about is legalism.

Legalism is often based on tradition, not scripture. Even when it is based in scripture, it is changing or taking scripture out of context. I encourage you to remember that salvation is through grace. We do not believe in a works based salvation, and if we add requirements to  recieve salvation, we are taking away from God’s grace. In today’s Church, we still see this occurring. The rise of the evangelical church was largely because of this trend of legalism, but even with the effort to avoid it, we find legalism in the Church.


Some legalism is percieved by the listener but not intended by the speaker. I have heard people say, “Christians do this” or “This is how Christians worship,” unintentionally implying to those who do things differently that they are not Christian. Often these things are based on scriptural example of how something may have occurred. However, in many of these cases, the description of events in scripture is just that, descriptive, not prescriptive. When Paul and Barnabus have hands laid on them when being sent out, they are commissioned and prayed over. Many churches will use one part of this event as something that “Christians” do. In most cases the laying on of hands is a healing thing, but not here. Here it does seem to be part of the commissioning and the send out. So why do we use it so often for those who we are not sending out at all. Why do we as a church use participation in this as prescriptive, or required, for inclusion in the Church?

As men and leaders, we need to look at what we say and what we claim “Christians” do. We need to remember that Jesus does not require us to do acts and works, but to believe in Him and trust in Him. Scripture gives us plenty of guidance in how we are to worship, even without adding things, we mess up enough on our own. When we add requirements, we make it impossible for any to reach salvation, even ourselves. We also make it a club for the elite.

Until the Whole World Knows,


  1. Kevin says:

    When someone tries to add to, to what it means to be a Christian they are actually putting themselves like God this is what got satan cast out of heaven. The last part of your blog reminded me of the way that Christ describes the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 5:20 ” For I tell you unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

    • Paul S says:

      Thanks for your comment. I’m glad to know that what I was trying to put forth here actually made it through. I was having a hard time figuring how to put it down on paper.

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