When we first discovered the teachings of Jesus, we realised that there was a vast difference between what he taught and what the average church teaches. We wanted to call ourselves something that distinguished us from the counterfeits. But it wasn't fair that the genuine should have to give in to the counterfeit. The name Christian rightfully belongs to those of us who have tried to follow the Jesus of the Bible. So we just called ourselves Christians.
However, we also wanted to get away from the idea that we think we are the only true Christians in the world. People do not need to belong to our group to truly follow the Jesus of the Bible. We have gone so far as to add "some" (in lower case letters) to our name at times, in order to distinguish our tiny little fellowship from "the" Christians, which is an all-inclusive term.
This has led to problems for those who want to identify us specifically. A few terms have been invented for us over the years, often based on where we lived: Rappville Christians, Medowie Volunteers, Sydney Christians, The Australians, Nullarbor Walkers.
But recently it struck us that the term Christian could just as correctly be applied to people following false christs as it is applied to those of us following the historical Jesus of the Bible. Jesus himself said that there would be many false christs in the last days. And the christs of the churches are as false as anything you could get. But they do follow these christs, and as such it is still fair to say that they are "christians". A counterfeit christ is still a christ; and a follower of a false christ is still a "christian".
The bottom line is that names in themselves don't prove a thing. A rose by any other name is just as sweet; and people don't have to be around us for long to know that we stand for something very different from what the churches teach, with or without a difference in names. But just to make it a little easier for people to identify us from now on, we are going to call ourselves Jesus Christians, in order to distinguish our "Messiah" (which is what the word "christ" means) from the false messiahs of the false gospels.
Although the counterfeits also use the name Jesus (and even quote occasionally from the Bible), our emphasis on Jesus makes it more difficult to link us with airy-fairy theological concepts that were invented by various human leaders over the centuries. The question we hope to raise every time such teachings arise is this: "Did Jesus teach that?"
Did Jesus teach the prosperity gospel? Did Jesus teach that if we "ask him into our hearts" we are eternally saved, whether or not we obey him? Did Jesus teach that every other Bible writer is equal to him in authority? Did Jesus teach that we should join the army and kill for our country? Did Jesus teach that we should spend our lives working for money?
It's true that the false Jesuses of the churches teach these things, which is what makes them false messiahs; but the general public still thinks of the teachings of the historical Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the four Gospels, when we talk about Jesus. Unfortunately, they don't do this when we try to talk about what Christians believe. Christians and Christianity are naturally associated with the traditions and beliefs of the established churches; but "Jesus" is still, thankfully, associated with his teachings in the Bible.
So from now on, we are Jesus Christians, and proud of it!
(See also False Christs.)
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