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Can I really call myself a Christian?

Robert Ashton has been questioning the label that could be applied to his beliefs, and shares his refreshingly honest thoughts with us.

I was introduced to Network Norfolk by a fellow Quaker who felt it was time for him to step down as a contributor to the opinion slot and let a different voice be heard. I’m a writer, and so naturally agreed. For the past few years I’ve been regularly writing columns and sharing my thoughts on a wide range of topics with you, who I view as a Christian audience.

But my last submission did not pass editorial scrutiny and so was politely returned. To be fair it was promoting a book I’ve just written called "Where are the Fellows who Cut the Hay?" which is now with crowdfunding publisher Unbound so a little different from usual. The book explores social history and of course contains much about the church, which was central to life in England for centuries. But I must agree, it was not, as I was told; ‘really written from a Christian perspective.’

I was not offended nor was I surprised that the piece was turned down, but I was prompted to take a long hard and perhaps timely look at my relationship with Christianity and Quakerism. What do I really believe, I asked myself, and what is it that drives me to attend Meeting for Worship every Sunday morning?

Quakers are known for being liberal in their theology and inclusive in their approach. It’s said that if you asked 10 Quakers what they believed, you’d get 10 different answers. That’s a healthy approach, and without liturgy, there is no weekly recitation of the creed and so no reminder of what we’ve signed up to. It’s easy to go with the flow and never really ask yourself why you’re there.

My conclusion is that I cannot, hand on heart, describe myself as a Christian. I do believe there is an unknown force in the world greater than we can imagine that shapes and influences our lives, and my Quakerism is a personal quest to deepen my understanding of what we tend to refer to as ‘the light.’ But I really cannot agree that the stories told in the gospels are literally true.

Perhaps I have just disqualified myself as a blogger here, but I have been honest, both with you and myself. Why don’t you add your comment here, and tell me if you feel I should continue or step aside and let someone more comfortable with the word Christian take my place?

The image above is courtesy of pixabay.com

Robert Ashton 640CFRobert Ashton is an author, social entrepreneur and Quaker.

Visit www.robertashton.co.uk

The views carried here are those of the author, not of Network Norfolk, and are intended to stimulate constructive and good-natured debate between website users. 

We welcome your thoughts and comments, posted below, upon the ideas expressed here. 

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Martin Kentish (Guest) 23/06/2022 07:49
Interesting ditty Robert and appreciate your honesty. The article does make you think and perhaps thinking is something we should all do more of? 1 Thessalonians 5:21 "but test everything; hold fast what is good."
Peter Varney (Guest) 23/06/2022 07:55
the gospels stories are true - but this does not mean they are literally so, Jesus teaching comes to us in parables and metaphors.
James Knight (Guest) 23/06/2022 13:56
I was interviewed recently for a podcast, and was asked what a Christian is. This is the answer I gave, which is how I define a Christian to the best of my ability --

A Christian is someone who believes in and has a personal relationship with the one true God. The one true God is one God in three persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and all are equally Divine. The Son, of course, is Christ, who lived on earth as a man, died for our sins in an act of supreme grace, to give us the free gift of salvation, and rose from the dead. And then, here’s the other important bit, when He returned to Heaven he left us the Holy Spirit to live within us. And this is the key distinction St. Paul makes, that only those who have the Holy Spirit can say Jesus is Lord.

So, a Christian is someone who has accepted Jesus as their Lord and Saviour, has a personal relationship with God through the Holy Spirit, and who lives their life in accordance with those beliefs.

Dianne Cruickshank (Guest) 23/06/2022 15:16
Surely it all depends upon whether Jesus was actually raised from the dead, I Corinthians 15 verse 14. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.
If Jesus has not been raised then as I see it we may as well look to a superior being , or the Light , but I think to be called a Christian then we must believe Jesus is the long promised Messiah.

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