Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The So-called "Nominal Christian"

Here is part of a post from The Rev. Dr. Leander Harding, a seminary professor of mine:

"I have become more and more suspicious of the concept of the nominal Christian. Our parish churches are supposed to be full of nominal Christians who are just going through the motions, of half-believers who are relying on their good works and who have not really surrendered to Christ and accepted the Gospel. In any parish church there are a few real apostates, and a few real scoffers and perhaps a few who genuinely hate God. Their numbers are routinely exaggerated. Most of the people who come to the church Sunday by Sunday know they are dying and are placing their hope in Christ. It may be an inarticulate hope, it may be a confused hope. Often there are huge brambles of misunderstanding that must be cleared away before the whole power of the good news can come in upon them. Often there is real darkness into which the light of Christ has not yet come and which cries out for a light-bearer. Yet, they come. When Jesus saw such as these gathered in their multitudes on the hill side, the sight provoked in him not contempt for the nominal but compassion, “for they were like sheep without a shepherd.” (read the whole thing here)

Here is a follow-up comment from a friend of mine:

"This quote directly addresses something I recently heard at a diocesan clergy meeting where a rector of a large church talked about how most of the people in our church were not true "disciples" but just "consumer Christians" looking to have their needs met. Now, I am not lauding narcissism or praising the "me-first" sort of Christianity. But I found this pastor's comments so contemptuous, so lacking in compassion. Shouldn't we praise God that there are actually people coming to church on Sunday, instead of lamenting their level of so-called discipleship? Anyways, I love Leander."


  1. When I see survey research on any subject from tithing, sharing one's faith in Jesus, to porn viewing, I have to say that "nominal Christians" are the bulk.

    When I read the Bible, I wonder what the broad way to destruction looks like EXACTLY in our midst...

  2. ola bashanda, you'll have to forgive me because I'm a little slow sometimes :-) Could you elaborate a little?