Christian Identity

Posted: April 28, 2014 in On Being Apostolic
Tags: , , , , , ,

When we’re talking about “Apostolic Identity”, what exactly are we talking about? If you’ve been following these posts of late then you’ll know that my answer is likely to be, “I’m not entirely sure!” Though, I suspect it has far more to do with the external appearance of our North American religious constituency than it does with the actual Apostles. And it begs the question, “How should we be identified?”

Obviously identity is important. That’s why there are labels on cans in the grocery store. Labels are how you know the difference between the soups, the vegetables, the fruit, and whatever else they stog into a can. And for some reason you trust that what the label says is in the can is actually what’s inside. So, yeah…it’s hard to deny that identity matters.

But “Apostolic Identity”? If it really has nothing to do with the Apostles (which seems probable), and really does just reflect a desire to more like a previous incarnation of our movement, is that really the identity we should be aiming for? Is that really the best we have to offer? Is that really all that’s inside? Just a canned version of our movement’s earlier days?

Perhaps we should be looking at other markers. Perhaps we would be wiser to focus on something that has a solid Biblical basis, like, say Christian identity. Now that’s something we should be able to really get hold of, because there are some clear Biblical markers by which the Scriptures says Christians can be known! And this is kinda funny…because the things that some present as markers of so-called “Apostolic Identity” are not presented in the New Testament as markers of Christian identity.

Strange, that. Very strange.

So, how does the New Testament say that Christians can be, should be, identified? Well, there seem to be four major ways that Christians are known;

  1. Christians love one another. This really should be a biggie, because this is the one marker that our Lord Jesus Christ said would identify His followers! (John 13:35)
  2. Christians have turned away from immoral and unjust practices. The Apostle Paul said that the departure from iniquity was evidence of the Christian life. (2 Timothy 2:19)
  3. Christians demonstrate Spirit-produced characteristics; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)
  4. Christians do good works. (1 Peter 2:12)

Try those identity markers on for size! These most definitely will identify you as distinctive and different. These markers indicate a true Apostolic Identity. And I can tell you after a lifetime in the Oneness Pentecostal movement that dress codes do not produce these things, nor testify to them.

So, if what’s being touted as “Apostolic Identity”is primarily focused on externals particular to the North American Oneness Pentecostal movement, then someone should rethink it.

  1. Old man says:

    Dress code does matter, but does not make you a Christian.
    Many people dress up everyday for work, etc.
    Ex: if you are a police officer, you wear a uniform, you do not show up for work in what ever you would like to where.
    If you see a police officer in plan clothes , such as jeans, shorts, etc, you can not tell that they are a police officer.
    Portraying to one thing, but underneath is something else.
    A lot like the story of wolves in sheep clothing, and this is not to say that officers are wolves
    This is a parable.
    As goes a military man, mail carriers, etc.
    We need to be careful in how we approach this subject, people are very easy the run with topics like this and say its ok to dress how ever I want.
    If the world has dress code, way can’t the church, we represent a much great power, and boss than this old world does.
    Jesus ion the inside working on the outside.
    Yes I believe what the scripture Sayers, by there fruits you shall know they.
    Matthew7: 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
    It is important to love like Jesus, also to look the part as best as we can.
    We will be saying its ok for women to wear pants, and men dresses, and the bibles speaks against this.
    God Bless, Love And Prayers.

    • Dennis Munn says:

      Thanks for your comment…I really appreciate you taking time to write. I don’t usually publish replies without full names associated with them, but I’m making an exception because of the email address! 😉

      I’d like to point out that the issue being raised here isn’t that Christians shouldn’t be modest in appearance and attitude. (Paul’s teachings on those concepts will be addressed in other posts.) The point that’s being made in these posts is that we have no Biblical authority to declare that a person’s appearance testifies to their Christianity. The Apostles simply never made how a person dressed a marker of Christian identity. In fact, neither did Jesus.

      While it’s true that the dress codes you mention for the professions you mention do identify those professionals, that doesn’t support the idea that if one doesn’t dress a certain way that one is not truly Apostolic. Once again; in the New Testament, the markers of Christian identity were behavioral, not appearance-oriented.

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