Take the 2-minute tour ×
Christianity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

My parents are both Christians. When we were kids they always took us to church. Does that make me a Christian?

share|improve this question
7  
Colloquially, it is common to hear people say they were raised Christian or born into a religious family, but that has nothing to do with their own faith. In fact, most people I know who say that are not themselves Christians. –  Jon Purdy Aug 30 '11 at 20:58
    
As a tangental theological point: I found out the other day many believe you can born into Judaism. –  Jenny Thomson Sep 1 '11 at 23:36
2  
To the questioner: have you considered accepting an answer? –  Wikis Dec 9 '11 at 18:48
add comment

5 Answers 5

No.

God knows each one of us as a person, not just part of a family. This is clear even in the Old Testament:

Ezekiel 33:20 (ESV)
Yet you say, 'The way of the Lord is not just.' O house of Israel, I will judge each of you according to his ways."

Looking at the Gospel in the New Testament, we see that again each of us is an individual to God:

John 3:16 (ESV)
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

God saves whoever believes in Jesus from perishing. Only by believing, yourself, can you be saved.

share|improve this answer
    
+1 for a great answer! –  daviesgeek Aug 30 '11 at 22:25
    
Good answer, but wrong (I believe) explanation. Even those who are baptized at birth are done so not 'at birth' but later (at least 40 days.) The belief itself is not enough, but what follows from the belief, including 'enduring until the end' (as is repeated many, many times.) Thus while you cannot be born a Christian, you can effectively be 'born a Christian' if you were baptized as an infant. –  RiverC Aug 31 '11 at 17:26
add comment

No.

As Nicky Gumbel says on the Alpha course, "If you were born in a McDonalds, would that make you a hamburger?"

Furthermore, the Bible makes clear that we are all judged on our own standing with Jesus, e.g. Acts 2:21: "... everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."

share|improve this answer
3  
+1 the Gumbel citation made me laugh! –  dancek Aug 30 '11 at 12:31
4  
That actually happened a couple of blocks from my office. courierpress.com/news/2010/dec/01/… –  a_hardin Aug 30 '11 at 20:12
1  
+1 for an awesome quote!! And a great answer!! –  daviesgeek Aug 30 '11 at 22:24
4  
This quote reminds me of the old saying: "God has no Grand-children" –  James Khoury Aug 31 '11 at 2:01
add comment

It depends what you mean by "Christian". The term has been used for millenia to refer to Christ's followers. However, one can follow Christ for a time, but never have truly believed in him, and eventually fall away. On the other hand, I typically associate "Christian" with someone who is truly saved. The term can mean different things to different people.

In fact, there have been some terms coined just for these types of discussions. One such distinction people have made is between the "invisible church" and the "visible church". The visible church is made up of, essentially, people who self-identify as Christians. Those whose parents are Christians and take them to church every Sunday would fall into this category.

I would even go further to argue that there are certain privileges afforded children of believing parents. These children may have the opportunity to hear the gospel and scripture on a regular basis. The may see modeled how a Christian marriage and family should look. The may learn how to pray. They may have the loving support of a church body.

However, these privileges are earthly privileges.

On the other hand, is the invisible church. This is made up of all people who truly belong to the Lord, both living and dead, whether or not their parents are Christians, and whether or not they were in church this past Sunday. The privileges afforded these people is beyond compare.

One thing you will find made clear in the New Testament time and time again is that salvation is through faith alone in Christ alone.

In Jesus' day, it was thought that being a descendent of Jacob was sufficient for salvation. Paul rejects this explicitly at several points in the book of Romans. In Romans 2-3, he argues that Jews are not automatically saved, and again in Romans 9, he says "not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel" and "This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring." (ESV). It is clear, then, that it is your own faith, not that of your parents, that causes you to be numbered among the saints.

share|improve this answer
1  
+1 for mentioning the invisible church. –  user116 Aug 30 '11 at 23:22
add comment

YES

We see that John the Baptist was a Christian from the time of his birth.

Luke 1:66 (NKJV)

66 And all those who heard them kept them in their hearts, saying, “What kind of child will this be?” And the hand of the Lord was with him.

So it IS possible. But in reference to your question, your parents are Christian, so what does that make you? The answer is:

You're Holy

1 Corinthians 7:14

For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy.

A Christians children are Holy because the parents have been blessed as a believers. Does this mean that you have already been saved from God's judgement? Unfortunately not. Because we know that each person will be judged by their own actions and not the actions of others.

share|improve this answer
3  
Christian is a follower of Christ. How someone was a follower of Christ before Jesus appointed as the Messiah (Christ)? –  user14 Aug 30 '11 at 21:02
1  
Because Christ created everything. Christ was the one that gave the law to Moses and spoke with him as a friend. Christ was the one that walked this earth in Genesis. A christian is a generalized title for "children of God" –  Jonathon Byrd Aug 30 '11 at 21:08
2  
I disagree. Christ means "one who has been anointed, symbolizing appointment to a task". Jesus' task was to give his life as ransom (Matthew 20:28). Jesus appointed by holy spirit when he baptized (John 1:32-34) and started his task a the promised Messiah. Of course Jesus had prehuman existence (I don't believe in Trinity doctrine) but as the Word (John 1:1,2) –  user14 Aug 30 '11 at 21:35
    
John the Baptist was not a New Testament Christian in that he died prior to the atonement. –  Narnian Aug 31 '11 at 18:06
1  
Two different things... He certainly was a follower of Jesus, but he lived in the pre-atonement world. Abraham was a God follower and looked forward to the Messiah, but he wasn't a New Testament Christian. John the Baptist is considered an Old Testament saint. –  Narnian Aug 31 '11 at 18:26
show 2 more comments

Catholic teaching is that you must be born again to be Christian, "unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God" (John 3:3-5). This second birth is the sacrament of baptism, where we are joined to Christ as members of his body (1 Corinthians 12:13, Galatians 3:27).

Baptism can be given to newborns, older children or adults. Baptism of little children is based on the faith of their parents, who promise to raise them in the faith. Baptism of older children and adults is based on their own profession of faith.

It is possible for those who have become Christian through baptism to later leave the faith by their own choice, thus becoming apostate, so baptism is no guarantee of salvation.

share|improve this answer
    
This Catholic teaching has persisted through any protestant denomination that I am familiar with. The mechanism and ritual may vary, but the theory persists. -- Although Calvinist derived protestants believe once saved, always saved. –  Chris Cudmore Sep 20 '11 at 18:43
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.