"Christian" is not an adjective
Updated: Nov 11
I’m not going to lie. I hated English class.
Being home-schooled by a grammar Nazi pretty much instilled this disdain in me from an early age. I mean really, who cares about verb-tense, or prepositional phrases?
Well, all this changed for me around the 10th grade. I began to gain an appreciation for the things I had been taught and the way I had been taught them. English became enjoyable (except diagramming) to study and understand.
Grammatically speaking every sentence should have a noun and a verb.
For example, the word Christian is a noun. A Christian is a person who follows Jesus.
Follow is a verb, and Jesus used verbs all the time. Verbs like love, come, rest, learn, hear, etc. But somewhere along the line, we tried to make Christian an adjective instead of a noun, and just threw out the verbs.
“There is no such thing as a Christian Democrat”
“I love Christian comedy!”
“There is no such thing as Christian *Insert Noun*”
These are all phrases that we have heard at some point, and if we are being honest, we have probably used them ourselves. However, what I would like to submit, is that there is no ‘Christian’ anything.
Jon Foreman of Switchfoot said in an interview, “I am a Christian and I make music. The music is not saved. It is not Christian.”
More recently, in an interview with Jimmy Kimmel, Kanye West was asked if he was a Christian Music artist now, to which Kanye responded, "I’m just a Christian."
Whether we agree with these men on everything or not, they have the right idea.
This problem likely started around 300 AD, when the word Christendom was coined, which was just another word for “Christian culture” (For more in Christendom, click here). The western world especially exemplified the meaning of the word, and it may be the most evidently seen in the region that was once called the “Bible Belt”. In the elections of the late 20th century, some noted politicians claimed that they had been become born-again Christians simply to appeal to the conservative Christian culture.
Ethan Renoe, in her blog post, “Christian” Is A Noun, puts it like this,
“When Christianity became widely accepted across western culture and Christendom became the predominant form of belief and action, this made room for “Christian things” to emerge.
And this is where the problem lies. Going back to what Jon Foreman said, there are no Christian ‘things’ but only people that follow Christ, who do things.
And this is exactly the type of people that we ought to be, and this is the type of action that we should be showing to the world. We ought not to be seeking out a ‘Christian’ politician (we can see where that has gotten us) but we do need politicians who are followers of Christ. The same goes for every realm of our lives, whether we are plumbers, stay-at-home moms, or famous actors. We ought to simply be known as Christian who daily lives, going about their vocation.
By decreasing Christianity to an adjective we, as stated by Tullian Tchividjian, “fail to equip our people to apply their Christian faith to everything they do, everywhere they are.”
The world does not need more Christian sports heroes, Christian actors, or Christian business owners. The world needs more people who are following Christ, acting like Christ, and telling people about Christ, while operating in their daily lives for His glory.
May we be the ones that fix this!