Being Christian

“It is almost universally assumed today that becoming a Christian means in essence the adoption of a new set of beliefs or the initiation of a new mode of behaviour. A Christian would be defined as one who ‘believes in Christ’ or ‘worships Christ’ or ‘tries to follow Christ’s teaching.’ Now it is far from my purpose to belittle either Christian dogma or Christian ethics. Nevertheless, it must be pointed out that to define the essence of Christianity in terms of belief or of practice involves the neglect of two principles that are fundamental to all sound theology. The former of these is that the act of God precedes and is presupposed by the acts of man: ‘Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us’; ‘Ye have come to know God, or rather to be known of God.’ The second is that what a being is precedes what it does; our actions are a consequence of what we are operari sequitur esse. It will follow from this that the Christian should be defined not in terms of what he himself does, but of what God has made him to be. Being a Christian is an ontological fact, resulting from an act of God.” — E. L. Mascall Christ, the Christian, and the Church p.77

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