In a two-party political system, everyone has to fit somewhere. Even in a multi-party system, they have to fit somewhere – it’s just that they have more options. In the United States, we give people two choices of party if they want to be electable.
During this political season, I have been told many times how to vote in the Republican primary. For many of my friends, there are once again two choices. I can vote for the T.E.A. Party-approved candidate or for the RINO candidate. This is because unless a member of the Republican Party is also supportive of the T.E.A. Party-within-a-party, they are Republican In Name Only. In other word, they might as well be a Democrat. In this political philosophy, Republicans can only adhere to the ideology of the party-within-the-party and be True Republicans.
A fraction of the Republican Party, though it would be unrecognizable as Republican to the founders of the Party, has declared the right to name those who are the party faithful and those who are not.
This is very much like the Church. There is also a fraction (or might we better call it a faction) of the Church who who look at the majority and call them ChINOs. Okay, I made up the acronym, but the sentiment is still there. Christians In Name Only. That’s the exact meaning of the more common pejorative, “nominal Christians”.
We, whoever “we” are, are the True Christians. The beliefs that make us uniquely the True Christians would also be unrecognizable to the founders of Christianity, but nonetheless we have the right to name those who are the faithful and those who aren’t. Our criteria may be a particular soteriology (theology of how salvation happens – this criterion has been popular for a long time), or a particular political ideology (this is becoming more common all the time).
I am here to declare that I am a ChINO. I am a Christian In Name Only. I am a nominal Christian. “Christian” means one who follows Jesus the Christ. I am a Christian In Name Only, because it is only that Name that matters.
The Creed does not declare a soteriology beyond this:
Who for us men, and for our salvation came down from heaven
And was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary,
And was made man,
And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate.
He suffered and was buried,
And the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures,
And ascended into heaven,
And sits on the right hand of the Father.
And he shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead:
Whose kingdom shall have no end.
Does someone even need to articulate this? No. If they are capable, they need only say “Jesus is Lord” (Romans 10: 9; 1 Corinthians 12:3). If their parents have declared this on their behalf, and have said, in effect, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord,” it is enough. (Acts 16:31) One is not saved by grace through faith in the correct soteriology. That’s Good News.
It should be all the more obvious that neither do they need to be affiliated with a particular political party or faction within that party, or hold to a particular ideology that may be more, or less, biblically derived. There are Christians Left, Right and Center. Jesus is Lord of all and the Savior of all who call upon His Name.