Monday, 28 April 2014

Different types of Christians

If you thought that all Christians went to the same type of church, acted the same way and wore the same clothes then (apart from being an inditement on the standard of Religious Studies teaching in this country) you'll be surprised to find out that there are different sub-cultures to the Christian sub-culture. Here are few types of Christians you might come across.

Academic Theologian
Perhaps considered dusty relics from the past, the academic theologian is found amongst (again) dusty tomes of old writers. Their importance can be in their intellectual ability and their flair for apologetics. They do come under some criticism: they can be seen as pedants that are to busy picking over some almost-forgotten two-hundred-year-old argument to be actually effectual.
  • Identifiable features: Beard, faded jumpers, flannel trousers, black shoes, glasses, smells of dust.
  • Bible Translation of choice: King James Version/ NIV Study Bible.
  • Words they might use: "hermeneutics", "the Magnificat", "the Protoevangelion", "heresiarch".
  • Books they might read: Matthew Henry's Bible Commentary; Systematic Theology; The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church; Tertullian: A literary and historical study; anything by C.S. Lewis.
  • Where you might find them: The Bodleian Library, The General Synod.
Christian Hippie
These Christians place importance in recognising God in His creation. They love to contemplate His glories in the sunset and think of his restorative powers when planting seeds. Hippie Christians see the early church as the ideal template and want to return to that type of communal living. This often means a simpler, ascetic lifestyle. They can seem a bit removed from modern society and be accused of retreating into a Christian bubble.
  • Identifiable features: Wistful stares into mid-distance; dirt under their fingernails; clothes from charity shops.
  • Bible Translation of choice: English Standard Version.
  • Words they might use: "creation care", "pro-life", "Christian community", "celibacy", "new monasticism", "Jesus Army".
  • Books they might read: Celtic Christianity; books with the word "Community" in them.
  • Where you might find them: In a New Creation Christian Community, Greenbelt or any woodland.
Hipster Christian
If Christian Hippies and Academic Theologians are removed from society, we can count on Hipster Christians to fill the gap. Often found in urban areas, they have a desire to be relevant and accessible to the not-yet-believers around them. They are well informed about popular culture and tend to very artistic and creative. Hipsters love to be cultured so tend to be well travelled; they will often do degrees in English Literature, Art or Philosophy. It can sometimes seem that Hipsters care more about what is cool than what is Biblical.
  • Identifiable features: Thick rimmed glasses, skinny jeans, moleskin notebook.
  • Bible Translation of choice: English Standard Version. On their iPad.
  • Words they might use: "authentic", "relevant", "white chocolate mocha frappuccino light blended coffee".
  • Books they might read: Love Wins; books by Tim Keller, G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis.
  • Where you might find them: A coffee shop, a mega church with good music or (if that's too mainstream) a house church.
Middle England Christian
This is what the church would be like if it were designed by Kirsty Allsopp. Think village fetes and morris dancers. Think little old ladies in pleated skirts. Think bunting. They are the picture-postcard, idyllic, quiet, country church. These churches keep the flour industry alive, with the copious amounts of cakes they bake, usually in aid of a charity fundraiser. The welcoming and quaint appearance disguises a more troubling undercurrent. These churches will cling onto tradition like the ivy in the four-hundred-year-old graveyard, and woe betide to anyone who messes with the tea rota.
  • Identifiable features: cardigans, either posh accents or rural ones, wellies, scones and jam.
  • Bible Translation of choice: NIV
  • Words they might use: "More tea, vicar?", "And did those feet in ancient times...?"
  • Books they might read: Anything by Maeve Binchy, The Gardner's World Magazine, the Book of Common Prayer.
  • Where you might find them: Country Shows, New Wine, on the church flower arranging rota.

It's all quite fun to look at the different types of Christians and laugh at their peculiarities. There is a slightly, quasi-serious note to this though. All these different types of people make up the Church. Not just their church, whether it be Anglican and parochial or new and relevant, but the global Church. The strange thing is, Jesus loves this Church - enough to die for it.

It's really easy, even as Christians, to look at other churches or types of Christians and brand them as judgmental or vain or insincere. However, we all fall short of the glory of God. This is whether we are dusty theologians or trendy hipster Christians or comfortable Middle-Englanders. We all fall pray to sin: we should not judge another Christian just because their sin is different to ours.

Furthermore, each of these different types are valued and loved by Jesus. Romans 12:3-5 says,
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 
They each have a part to play and if we were to work alongside each other then we could do so much more. Rather than poke the finger at what is wrong with them, celebrate what is good. Love the academics because they want to know about God and search for his wisdom; value the hippies for their love of God's creative power; admire the hipsters for their longing to reach their neighbours; enjoy the Middle-Englanders' hospitality and care. Praise God that we are not all the same and that he loves the variety found in his people.

Quick Questions
  • Which type of Christians do you relate to most?
  • Are there any other types of Christians I've missed off my list?

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