So, the question about Jesus' burial site is causing a wee bit of controversy. In some ways, I'd like to ask the question, "What is the bare minimum to be a Christian."

As I pointed out in a comment (that may be a little harsh), mere self-identification is too loose a standard. If I wanted to say I was an atheist, but still choose to believe in God, I'm kinda missing the point.

I should be clear - I don't want to draw a narrow box, and I do appreciate hearing from atheists, agnostics, and non-Christians. I just wonder if self-identification is too low a bar.

  • 1
    FYI, if I was to write an answer to the question, I'd suggest that the Nicene Creed has a pretty good historical claim to be the bar. It's original purpose, when Christainity was first legitimized, was to answer precisely that question. Since it predates Catholic / Protestant / Orthodox, yet addresses Monothelitism / Nestorianism / etc... I'd humbly submit its at least reasonable. Dec 19 '11 at 13:59
  • Even the Nicene Creed might cause controversy with our Eastern Orthodox brothers and sisters if the Filioque were included (and conflict with others if it were left out).
    – Dan
    Feb 15 '12 at 19:05

Unfortunately I don't think we can ask and answer that in a satisfactory way here. We have shied away from this question in our site definition and have intentionally avoided it on the main site.

One of the major issues is that different groups here will strongly disagree on the definition of "Christian"

For the sake of this site we have defined "Christian" as "Anyone who claims to be one." Thus a question on the "minimum standard" would be unwelcome because it sets up some kind of expectation of a definition beyond the site's definition thereof.

  • Fair enough. What about "Are there any Christians that would reject the Nicene Creed" Dec 19 '11 at 14:03
  • I'd have to see the question written all the way out. It would be borderline at best but may be passable.
    – wax eagle
    Dec 19 '11 at 14:14
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    @AffableGeek: Latter-Day Saints reject the Nicene Creed because it was not (and doesn't even claim to be) given by revelation, and because its description of the nature of God is badly out of line with both the Bible and modern revelation.
    – Mason Wheeler Mod
    Dec 19 '11 at 15:06
  • @MasonWheeler: in the opinion of the LDSes, not e.g. the Roman Catholic church, Anglican church, etc. Dec 20 '11 at 13:12

I wonder also if we should make a distinction between "Christian" and "orthodox" - not in the Eastern Orthodox sense, but in the "mainstream Christian" sense. The question could then be:

"What is the bare minimum theology of orthodox Christianity?"

What theological stances must a person hold in order to be considered Christian in its most basic sense? Roman Catholics, Protestants, and (Eastern) Orthodox all hold to a core set of beliefs that would exlcude, say, an atheist who wishes to sef-identify as a Christian. What would this core set look like?

Note: Historically, adherence to the precepts of the first seven ecumenical councils would probably be a decent starting point, so if there was a simple summary of these, it would probably form the basis of a pretty good answer.

  • This sounds a lot like asking "What does X say is the requirement for salvation?" which I think is already on-topic.
    – Flimzy
    Dec 25 '11 at 9:59

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