On “True” Believers

As a rule, I refuse to debate over who is a “true” adherent of any religion. In my experience, everybody has a different opinion over who is or isn’t a “true” believer. Different people within the same religion say conflicting things about who is doing it “right”. Different sects and denominations say opposing things about which sects and denominations actually belong to their religion. There isn’t any sort of consensus that I have seen, and, as an outsider, I feel like I have even less to say about who is a “true” follower of a religion than those who are actually part of the religion. And since everyone disagrees with each other, I can’t just take anybody’s word for it that this person or that person isn’t a “true” adherent (unless that person themself says “no, actually I was just faking it”).

Besides, I don’t really see how it’s relevant to me who is or isn’t a “true” adherent. Why should I care any more about who is a “true” Christian, than a Christian would care about who is a “true” Muslim, or who is doing Scientology “right”, or whether someone is a “real” Satanist? Does “true adherent” have any real meaning at all to someone who thinks all the followers of that religion are mistaken?

Sometimes, people will say a particular group isn’t really part of their religion because of theological differences. For example, some Christians say that Mormons aren’t really Christians, explicitly citing a number of theological disagreements. Not being a Christian of any type, who am I to say that one group has the theology right and the other has it wrong? All of the different takes on Christianity look wrong to me. The only information I see here that is relevant to me is that Mormons identify as Christians, and some Christians don’t think Mormons are Christians. These can be useful bits of knowledge, if I want to avoid accidental rudeness. I’ll know better than to tell a Mormon they aren’t a Christian, and I’ll know better than to talk about Mormonism when explaining why I think Christianity is mistaken when talking to other Christians.

Much of the time, however, I see the “true religionist” trope being thrown around as part of a No True Scotsman fallacy. From rationalwiki:

The term was coined by Antony Flew, who gave an example of a Scotsman who sees a newspaper article about a series of sex crimes taking place in Brighton, and responds that “no Scotsman would do such a thing.”

When later confronted with evidence of another Scotsman doing even worse acts, his response is that “no true Scotsman would do such a thing,” thus disavowing membership in the group “Scotsman” to the criminal on the basis that the commission of the crime is evidence for not being a Scotsman.

However, this reasoning is fallacious, as there exists no premise in the definition of “Scotsman” which makes such acts impossible (or even unlikely, in the case of Scots). The term “No True Scotsman” has since expanded to refer to anyone who attempts to disown or distance themselves from wayward members of a group by excluding them from it.

This happens frequently with violent or extremist individuals or groups. For example, many Muslims say that Boko Haram and ISIS are not Islamic. Many Christians say that the Colorado Planned Parenthood shooter and the Westboro Baptist Church are not Christian. While I applaud those who condemn the actions of these people and think they are quite right to want to distance themselves from these people, saying that no one who is part of your religion could commit such acts is fallacious. They may have a very different take on the religion than you, they may not follow the religious tenets you think are most important, they may, in fact, be flaming hypocrites and/or reprehensible scum, but what gives you the authority to tell them they aren’t “real” believers? If your god exists, shouldn’t he be the one to say who is his true follower, and who is not?

There are also many less extreme uses of the No True Scotsman fallacy within religion. For example, I was recently told that I was never a “true” Christian, because if I were, then I wouldn’t have become an atheist. Apparently denying my experiences (and those of many, many others) was necessary for this person to hold onto their belief that once you become a Christian, you stay a Christian. I suppose there is no evidence I could possibly present to this person to show them that this belief is mistaken, since any example I provide will be immediately dismissed as “not a ‘true’ Christian”.

Outside of fallacious reasoning, I often find arguments over who is a “true” adherent of a religion to be simply absurd. There are people who say that no one who supports gay rights is a “true” Christian, and there are those who say that no one who does not support gay rights is a “true” Christian. Some people say Catholics aren’t “real” Christians, while others say that only Catholics are “true” Christians. There are any number of sects and denominations that claim they are the only ones who are doing Christianity “right”.

But I’ve never seen anything more absurd than people arguing over who is a “real” Satanist. Before the 1900’s, Satanism didn’t even exist as a religion. Satanism was an accusation for Christians to throw at people along with accusations of witchcraft. Devil worshipping was something for Christians to accuse pagans of doing, because, apparently, anyone worshipping any gods other than the Christian one must be worshipping Satan. Hell, I got a pamphlet just a few years ago that told me that, since I am not a Christian, I am apparently a Satanist. I never knew I had billions of fellow Satanists!

So, yeah. Satanism doesn’t have one central (un)holy book that all Satanists follow. It has no universal creed, no universal tenets. For centuries, Satanism wasn’t even an actual religion. It never originated as one single religion that branched off into different denominations. It has always been different groups or individuals with different beliefs, values, and philosophies adopting the name of “Satanist”. No one of these different religions or sects has any more (or less) claim to the name of “Satanism” than any other. Virtually the only thing that all Satanists have in common is that they self-identify as Satanists.

And yet we have Magus Peter Gilmore, High Priest of the Church of Satan (an atheistic Satanic religion), claiming that other Satanic groups are merely trying to “ride upon the coattails of the Church of Satan”. He acts as if the Church of Satan has some special claim to the word “Satanism”, just because they were the first well known Satanic religion. Whereas some theistic Satanists scoff at the idea of atheists calling themselves Satanists. In particular, Temples of Satan leaders say that the Satanic Temple (of which I am a member) isn’t a real Satanic group because of their “liberal and atheist views”.

All of this infighting within religions about who is or isn’t a “real” religionist is frankly ridiculous. It is, at times, petty, fallacious, absurd, disingenuous, utterly confusing, hypocritical, contradictory, or incredibly arrogant. Yes, there are real and important disagreements about theology within religions. No, not all (or even most) members of a religion are comparable to that religion’s extremists. But it is the height of arrogance to say that your group is the only one doing your religion “right”. It is fallacious to disown people from your religion just because they did something that you don’t like and don’t want to be associated with (but it is totally sensible to condemn their acts).

And I’m not going to take part in discussions about who is a “true” believer. I see it as irrelevant and a waste of time. I don’t see any use in it, and there’s almost never any consensus, anyway. If you want to say that some other Christian isn’t a “real” Christian because they’re doing Christianity differently than you… then okay. I’ll keep in mind that you don’t share their views. I am, in fact, aware that those who call themselves Christians espouse a wide variety of different views, beliefs, and positions. But I’m not going to agree with you that they aren’t really a Christian, any more than I would agree with some other Christian that you aren’t a “true” Christian.

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15 thoughts on “On “True” Believers

  1. Just found your blog and I’ll definitely be reading more over time. I wasn’t sure where the name of the No True Scotsman fallacy came from so that was cool to learn. I really like your point about how calling people from one’s own group who do bad things not a “true” member of that group is both an understandable effort to distance oneself and fallacious at the same time.

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    • Yea. I absolutely condone people condemning the violent extremists of their religion, even though it is often done in a fallacious way. Honestly, I’m happier with the moderates of a religion who condemn their violent extremists while saying they aren’t True Scotsmen over moderates who don’t condemn their extremists at all.

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  2. Hey sunshine ^.^ I love the article, though, I must take contention with the part on Satanism, specifically that there is no central book or tenet. There are various sects, yes, but the majority utilize the Satanic Bible, which is based off Laveyan Satanism. This also has 7 core tenets that are followed by the majority of groups. So, as a whole (with off shoot groups like any other religion or ideology) there is indeed a central book and tenets.
    Aaaannnndddd *drum roll* the 7 fundamental tenets of Laveyan Satanism are:

    •One should strive to act with compassion and empathy towards all creatures in accordance with reason.
    •The struggle for justice is an ongoing and necessary pursuit that should prevail over laws and institutions.
    •One’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone.
    •The freedoms of others should be respected, including the freedom to offend. To willfully and unjustly encroach upon the freedoms of another is to forgo your own.
    •Beliefs should conform to our best scientific understanding of the world. We should take care never to distort scientific facts to fit our beliefs.
    •People are fallible. If we make a mistake, we should do our best to rectify it and resolve any harm that may have been caused.
    •Every tenet is a guiding principle designed to inspire nobility in action and thought. The spirit of compassion, wisdom, and justice should always prevail over the written or spoken word.

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    • Hey Ivy. Glad to have you playing devil’s advocate, if that phrase even works when you’re debating a Satanist 😉 I had fun looking up info to make sure I got the details right in my response.

      The Satanic Bible has 9 Satanic Statements, not 7 tenets. LaVeyan Satanism also has 9 Satanic Sins and 11 Satanic Rules of the Earth. The 7 tenets have nothing to do with LaVeyan Satanism. They’re the tenets of the Satanic Temple (and only the Satanic Temple afaik), and I don’t think they even existed until sometime around 2012. The tenets, by the way, are pretty much our only formal doctrine (and to my understanding, they’re meant to be subject to change, if the need arises, rather than to be held dogmatically–we have plenty of examples of religious tenets that don’t work quite so well decades or centuries or millenia after their introduction, after all). Anatole France’s Revolt of the Angels (1914) is listed as canon, but my impression is that “canon” basically means recommended reading.

      I doubt that the majority of Satanic religions use the Satanic Bible, though I would be interested if you could cite a source on that. I don’t think the Satanic Bible would work very well for most theistic Satanists. Firstly, it was written by the founder of the atheistic Church of Satan. It also puts forward the idea that a (LaVeyan) Satanist is their own god, which doesn’t seem like it would be particularly compatible with a theistic belief in an external deity of some sort.

      And, even if most Satanic religions did use the Satanic Bible, that still wouldn’t make it an essential part of Satanism. Anton Szandor LaVey may have been called “The Father of Satanism” by the media, but the term “Satanist” was around for centuries before LaVey came along and wrote the Satanic Bible, and Our Lady of Endor Coven (a theistic Satanic group) was founded nearly two decades before LaVey’s Church of Satan.

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      • Dude! Yes! I just learned so much ^.^ My thought on the Satanic Bible came from 2 different history of Satanism books that I’ve read (which isn’t helpful for sources because be damned if I can remember the name of them -.-‘), and all of the Satanists that I’ve met (up until you).
        I was aware that there’s been a multitude of Satanic philosophies and deity based religions over the years, and that LaVey is pretty recent and definitely not the father of Satanism. It was again from what reading I’ve done, and it seems, when people specify, the go to in choice (granted it’s never been on Satanic specific forums)
        I would figure that everything would be living documents. Having comepletely unchanging ideals seems very odd for a philosophy/religion like Satanism.
        This is so wonderfully fantastic! I will be looking up the statements, sins and rules, thank you very much ^.^

        Liked by 1 person

        • I’m hardly an expert on Satanism myself, but there’s actually a decent amount of information on Satanism on wikipedia. I’ve also used religioustolerance.org quite a lot in researching basic information on other religions, and they have several pages on Satanism. I really want to read a new book called “The Invention of Satanism” that’s written by some scholarly experts on Satanism, but it’s like $35, and my local library doesn’t have a copy. Of course, there’s also the websites of various different Satanic religions, as well as various podcasts and youtube videos.

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  3. “But it is the height of arrogance to say that your group is the only one doing your religion ‘right’. It is fallacious to disown people from your religion just because they did something that you don’t like and don’t want to be associated with (but it is totally sensible to condemn their acts).”

    If I may give my two cents…

    I actually draw a distinction between saying “That person over there isn’t a true [religious-identifier noun]” and “That person over there isn’t doing [religion] correctly.” I can see how they would seem synonymous, and how this would seem like splitting hairs. I do agree that saying, for example, “they’re not a true/real X” is useless and inaccurate when it comes to groups like Christians. But at the same time, as someone who begrudingly accepts the label, I do believe there is (loosely speaking) a way that we’re Supposed to do Christianity, or one Christianity that is better and more right than other Christianities. So I while I wouldn’t say that homophobes “aren’t true Christians,” I do think they are failing hard at some (of what I believe are) key things in Christianity & prioritizing the wrong things in the wrong way (including my-take-on-Christianity as the metric that determines what is “the wrong way”), so in that sense I would still be inclined to say that homophobes are “doing Christianity wrong.”

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    • That’s an important distinction, Coyote, I’m glad you brought it up. To be clear, I don’t have a problem with people saying “That person over there isn’t doing [religion] correctly.”

      To make an analogy, it’s similar to the distinction between saying “Picasso isn’t doing painting right because his paintings don’t look like what they are supposed to represent,” and “Picasso isn’t a real painter.”

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  4. The truth is Alex, if we’re going to write and have any sort of coherent thought life, especially one which involves writing and expressing ourselves with regards to religion, we’re going to have to have a working definition of what it means to be XYZ, and to refuse interacting on the subject as you claim to do, claiming you refuse to debate on the issue “As a rule” just betrays a closed mind or some sort of tribalism. An example is your ability to write waves of material on the definition of one world-view (atheism) which would in so doing disqualify people who don’t conform to the view as found in your work, while also supposing you’re incapable of identifying other adherents to some set of beliefs or behaviors. Once again Coyote clarified, moreover I’d imagine you yourself must have already known their correction since in your material you’ve substituted “true” for “real” and so on, their reply explained when someone writes someone else isn’t a true this, that or whatever, what they’re saying is that the accused is failing (often willfully so) to fulfill a kind of duty or behavior that’s commonly defined as belonging to the world-view the accused claims to belong to.

    You’re apparently having two confused notions on the matter, the first being that because you don’t believe in the meat of a religion there’s no such thing as a “true” believer in said religion, which is easily gathered when you write “Does “true adherent” have any real meaning at all to someone who thinks all the followers of that religion are mistaken?” Well, yes, yes the words true adherent certainly do have meaning whether or not people are mistaken in their values or world-view, that’s plain to people everywhere. There’s most certainly a Christian behavior when someone strikes a Christian on their cheek, it’s in the religious teaching of Christ whose words every Christian claims to be following, so when someone strikes back rather than turn the other cheeks to their attacker they have most definitely failed with regards to their Christianity.

    Another mistaken notion of yours in my mind is that you’re after some sort of “consensus” before you’re able to define who is and isn’t XY or Z, which would be simply to excuse yourself from forming an accurate definition based upon careful study. There’s certainly no global consensus on every jot and tittle and to suppose you’ll be requiring one before moving forwards would be bonkers, however, if it’s a majority decision you’re after with regards to the core then the vast majority of both believing Christians and unbelievers are agreed that the Bible, more specifically the New Testament (barring some epistles and the Book of Revelations) would be an accurate benchmark by which to measure who is and who isn’t an actual/true/real Christian. The idea isn’t something revolutionary, and to be so sensible as to define exactly what’s what should come as standard to every thinking person, meaning, when someone says or writes how a particular person isn’t a true something, they’re saying they’re in fact “nominal”, meaning they’re the thing they claim to be in name only. In reality it’s not people outside of the atheist community who commit fallacies when they point out people aren’t adhering to their supposed faith, rather it’s the late great Anthony Flew and their No True fallacy which has been judged fallacious!

    Thomas Shirk describes why that’s so: This essentially means that if set (X) does not intersect set (Y) then an object (Y) is not an (X). How is this fallacious? It isn’t! Only when set (Y) is not demonstrated to be nonintersecting to (X) does the expression become a fallacy. In the NTS story, “Scotsman” is set (X). Drinking tea with cream is set (Y).. MacDougal drinks his tea with cream and is thus an object in set (Y). The fallacy is that the definitions do not clash; there is nothing definitionally nonintersecting about X and Y. So an object in set (Y) can also exist in set (X). The word “Scotsman” refers to a racial/ethnic category; it has absolutely nothing to do with how one takes one’s tea. This eliminates the first premise of the argument. By invalidating the premise, the argument becomes a fallacy.

    Your mistake is to believe that there’s nothing which makes a person either Christian, Muslim or Hindu and so on into every world-view except atheism, and apparently you’re only open to defining atheism because you’ve got a sort of tribal affiliation with the belief. It’s a mystery to me how you can believe both that you “can’t trust” people who admonish others for refusing to hold to a belief system’s core truths and commands they falsely claim to hold, yet you’re happy to trust in absolutely everybody by offering no resistance when they insist they’re something they clearly aren’t. Diplomacy does have its limits. Your ideas appear to imply religious beliefs and duties are like ethnicities which people are born into and incapable of not belonging a part of, thus a person is incapable of disqualifying themselves from being a part. Here’s an example brewing in my mind now, and one which nobody could surely contest, it being that you can trust me with regards to certain people being “false” believers in Christianity, although you believe there’s no trusting anybody on anything due to there being “no consensus.” Now, having gestured to person X, my next step is to outline their behaviors, one such behavior being their belief set, because although claiming to be Christian (i.e. follower of Jesus Christ’s teachings), they hold beliefs suchlike “There’s no God”, “There’s no Son of God”, “There’s nothing bar science and the natural world”, they claim nonetheless to be Christian, would you paralyze yourself by accepting their assertion that they’re indeed Christian?! If you wouldn’t then you’re equipped already to dismiss many supposed Christians.

    Similarly there’s Islam, about which there’s consensus enough (will there ever be enough for some?) to say a certain behavior is thoroughly Islamic, even so much so as to be named an Islamic duties. An example being “If anyone leaves his Islamic religion, kill them.” (Bukhari 52:260, Bukhari 84:57, Bukhari 89:271), that’s plain, unambiguous and binding in such a way as “turn the other cheek” is plain, unambiguous and binding. If to the above someone replies “I’m Koran only” the person already isn’t Muslim as Muslim is commonly and has been historically described, therefore you can dismiss their claim to being Muslim and understand their views as outside of the mainstream. Mormonism isn’t any different in that the belief is so alien to everything the bulk of historic Christianity professes to believe as to be unchristian. Just compare core Christian features and beliefs as held for over 1000 years before Mormonism began: Christianity is Monotheistic (Mormons however believe in infinite gods), Christians believe in God’s Grace (Mormons however believe they earn their salvation), Jesus in the mind of Christians (and “real” historians) is known as an unmarried Jew (Mormons however believe based on the weakest “evidence” that Jesus had not one, not two, but three wives!), thank you polygamist and chronic liar Joseph Smith for that historic insight into Jesus’ life. 😛 So, you can discount people not merely for failing to believe in certain things or holding sincerely to their supposed faith, but also for dismissing core elements of their supposed faith and teaching things which are clearly incompatible with it’s core features. Therefore, Mormons are not Christian (not even close), although if a person’s main concern is being a tummy rubber, and soothing any opposite voices because the owner’s of said voices are quick to anger or eager to take offense, then they’re constraint to name everybody Christian just so long as they’re angry enough.

    In concluding, there’s without doubt religious tenets, credal statements, behaviors, affirmations of the faith and an agreed upon fashion or consensus with which people are to hold to various world-views, meaning, when or if a person won’t conform to religious tenets, credal statements, behaviors, affirmations of faith and agreed upon fashions with which to hold to their supposed religion, or even preaches ideas in direct contradiction to the above, they’re considered an apostate or “nominal”, meaning they’re the thing they claim to be in name alone, that and not a True Believer.

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    • Hello OSC. I’ve been meaning to get back to you on our other conversation, but I’ve been particularly busy as of late. I don’t have time just now to write a write a thorough response, either here or there, but I did want to let you know I haven’t abandoned the conversation.

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    • There’s a difference between arguing over who is a “true” Christian, and coming up with a working definition of “Christian”. The latter conversation is indeed important, if one wants to be able to talk about Christians as a group. The former conversation I feel I have little of value to contribute to, not being a Christian myself. Furthermore, it confuses me, as I see people saying many different conflicting things. You say that there is a general consensus that Christians are people who follow the New Testament, but different people think different parts of the New Testament are the most important ones to adhere to, and differnt people interpret different passages in different ways. Who am I to say which of these people is doing it right, much less which are “true” Christians? I have no position on the importance of any particular passage, or the “correct” interpretation of any passage.

      Coyote made an important distinction between saying who is a “true” Christian, and saying that someone isn’t doing Christianity “right”. To further clarify, I would not want to get into a discussion about who is doing Christianity “right”, either, as I have no idea what the “right” way to do Christianity might be. But if someone told me that someone else wasn’t doing Christianity “right”, then I’d be willing to simply accept that, taking it as part of that person’s particular beliefs. But when someone says that someone else isn’t a “true” Christian, then it comes across to me as “You shouldn’t call that person a Christian.” If I was careful not to refer to people who are not “true” Christians as Christians, then I would never know who I could or couldn’t call a Christian.

      I’m not after any absolute global consensus of who is a “true” Christian. I would settle for a simple majority of Christians using the term in similar ways to each other, in order to infer the meaning of the term. But there isn’t even close to any consistency of that sort that I can see, except perhaps with regards to fringe groups like the Westboro Baptist Church.

      “Your mistake is to believe that there’s nothing which makes a person either Christian, Muslim or Hindu and so on…”

      Um, no, that is not what I think. I do not know if there is some inherent set of qualities which makes one a “true” Christian, a “true” Muslim, or a “true” Hindu. If there is, then I’m sure I don’t know what it is. But there is certainly a common usage definition of what Christian, Muslim, or Hindu means. People use these words all the time, and, as with any other word, the meaning can be inferred from the way others use the word. Not knowing how to differentiate “true” adherents from “false” ones, I go with the common usage definition. Or, I describe people as they would like to be described, because that is a respectful way to treat people. There’s a huge difference between respecting a person’s self-discription and claiming that they are a “true” adherent.

      “It’s a mystery to me how you can believe both that you ‘can’t trust’ people who admonish others for refusing to hold to a belief system’s core truths and commands they falsely claim to hold, yet you’re happy to trust in absolutely everybody by offering no resistance when they insist they’re something they clearly aren’t.”

      Well, it would certainly help if people generally agreed on what these “core truths” are that other people are not holding to. And I see nothing wrong with taking other people at their word until given a reason to do otherwise. I would not doubt someone if they told me they were a mechanic or a lawyer, or that they have family in Texas or Sweden. Why should I doubt people when they tell me their religion?

      “Your ideas appear to imply religious beliefs and duties are like ethnicities which people are born into and incapable of not belonging a part of, thus a person is incapable of disqualifying themselves from being a part.”

      Absolutely not. People change their religions all the time. Well, not all the time, but often enough. I have no idea why you think my ideas imply that.

      “[a]lthough claiming to be Christian … they hold beliefs suchlike “There’s no God”, … they claim nonetheless to be Christian, would you paralyze yourself by accepting their assertion that they’re indeed Christian?!”

      Perhaps they are a cultural Christian?

      As a side note, I am considering not continuing our debate. I am having trouble finding time to write the sort of thorough response that your comments generally merit. I actually started a draft of this response over a week ago, and it still took me this long to find time to finish it.

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      • ‘There’s a difference between arguing over who is a “true” Christian, and coming up with a working definition of “Christian”.’

        The above issue is you have so quickly forgotten who it is your response is in answer to. You are attempting to answer religious people when they claim XY and Z aren’t AB or C, though in so doing we’d best understand in what way the believing person means “true” if you’re to write an accurate reply, wouldn’t you agree? Believers say ‘Michel wasn’t a true Christian’, by which they mean to say ‘Michel’s viewpoints, conduct and overall behavior wasn’t as so defined by either Biblical Christianity or any modern denominations’. You tacitly admit to understanding this when you replace real for true and true for real in various places, meaning there’s no need to be dense when synonyms are in use. Once again: ‘they’re saying that the accused is failing (often willfully so) to fulfill a kind of duty or behavior that’s commonly defined as belonging to the world-view the accused claims to belong to.’ So, for you to reply ‘Aha! Can anybody be a true Christian when Christianity is false?’ Just betrays confusion on your part as to what they’re saying, meaning it’s not that there are two arguments, there’s one argument which is made two by your continued misunderstanding. Nevertheless, you wrote further: ‘Furthermore, it confuses me, as I see people saying many different conflicting things.’ You mean you “hear” people saying many different conflicting things. 😛 See, it’s doing a person no good when they either refuse or cannot gather the expression of others. Upon which point you’d counter my counter by saying you’re able to see conflicting things by way of being a lip reader (et cetera et cetera). We’d be here until Kingdom come arguing about what words you have seen and what believers mean by true. Moreover, being so diplomatic as you are, you’re really constraint to concede to the believing person’s use of the word “true” meaning “to believe in and adhere to various truth claims, religious tenets and authorities.” Which would mean when a person refuses to believe in and adhere to XY and Z they’re indeed no longer a true AB or C (regardless of what they insist upon). The facts of the above really aren’t controversial.

        To briefly outline an earlier point of mine, one which you yourself will admit to having totally misread: ‘having gestured to person X, my next step is to outline their behaviors, one such behavior being their belief set, because although claiming to be Christian (i.e. follower of Jesus Christ’s teachings), they hold beliefs suchlike “There’s no God”, “There’s no Son of God”, “There’s nothing bar science and the natural world”, they claim nonetheless to be Christian, would you paralyze yourself by accepting their assertion that they’re indeed Christian?!’

        To which you replied: ‘Perhaps they are a cultural Christian?” Now, my initial reaction to your sort of reply in person would be to say don’t be glib, yet in writing, and perhaps because these are complex topics, you have again missed the charge and answered in a way nobody really prompted you to. Perhaps because you’re thinking about Christians, rather than reading in more an abstract way, you’re missing the big picture. The above person does not conform in any way to the sort of view they’re attempting to depict themselves as, and as a consequence they’re unable to define their behaviors (views included) in any way as is commonly described, rather their view is internally incoherent. That would entail the person being unable to refer to themselves as culturally Christian, therefore you have answered a question nobody has asked. For which the question must be put to you once more: Would you refer to a person who conformed in no way to the thing they claimed to be conforming to, and even believed and taught things contrary to the thing they supposed themselves to belong to as the thing they contradictorily claimed to be? Would you commit intellectual suicide by claiming a person who in no way believed in X was a believer in X? You do believe in the law of noncontradiction presumably.

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  5. Speaking from a christian perspective, one thing is for sure, christians are never going to agree on everything. So many interpretations, so many different doctrines, so many denominations, we will never come to complete agreement. The sad thing is we seem to spend more time fighting and arguing over who is right and who is wrong, when actually it should not make a difference. I really do not think there is such a thing as a ‘true’ this or that. We all have our own interpretations and views, and we should be free to live according to those views, yet be accepting of others who hold different views. None of us have the complete picture and perfect interpretation on life. The one thing we are to do is love God and love others, apart from that we should be accepting and caring to everyone no matter what they believe.

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