Not infrequently, people ask me what variety of Christian I am. Some of them know why Christians have identifying labels and others don’t know the reasons behind them, but they all know that the labels are there.
I have been a part of different parts of the Church, so I have had a variety of labels stuck to me from time to time. I’ve also learned that the same words on the label don’t always mean the same thing to each wearer.
With those prefatory remarks, I will explain some of the the labels that I wear.
I am Evangelical. I believe there is some really good news about a Man dying on a cross, saving the world. It’s also very good news that He rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. I think everyone needs to hear this good news. I think God wants each one to respond in faith to this good news individually, though not just, or even necessarily, at a particularly point in time, but throughout their lives, evidenced by the works in which God ordained they should walk.
I am Charismatic. I believe that there are gifts given to the Church. They are distributed among the Church, so that some people have gifts that others don’t. They are all spiritual, but I don’t think that some gifts are supernatural and others are natural, because that is a distinction the Holy Spirit doesn’t need or make.
I am Catholic. I believe there is One Church. The whole Church has never accepted universal jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome, beginning with the earliest claims made in the 2nd century. I also do not recognize his universal jurisdiction, but acknowledge his place of honor in the Church as the successor to Peter’s office, and I love all my brothers and sisters who are in communion with the Church of Rome. I also entrust my children’s education to them. I think we are all part of One Church.
I am Orthodox. I believe there are certain things that have been believed always, everywhere and by all of the Church. I believe a good summation of those things are found in the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed (commonly just called the Nicene Creed). I also think they are found in the doctrinal statements of the Seven Ecumenical Councils of the early Church. I love my brothers and sisters who claim that certain churches within Eastern Christianity have the exclusive right to this label. For a significant period of my life, I used this label as a communicant in the Eastern Church. I think the Western Church is poorer without the contribution of Eastern theology and likewise I think the Eastern Church is poorer without the West.
No one has to wear their labels the same way that I do. The most important label is simply Christian. It says I am following Christ.