What is a Christian?
To answer the question we must agree on what it is to be a Christian. There are as many answers to this question as there are theologians (probably more as some have more than one answer). If I am to boil it down to three options it might look like this.
1) A Christian is somebody who adheres to al the tenets, doctrines and dogmas of their particular Christian tradition. And here the list will vary from denomination to denomination and will include everything from belief in the virgin birth, six day creation, innerrancy of scripture to membership in a church, tithing and social action and correct living (which in itself is a subset of practical ethics that may include no swearing, sexual purity, no smoking, no drinking, giving to the poor etc.)
2) A Christian is somebody that believes that Jesus is the son of god and that the only way to god comes through confessing Jesus as Lord and saviour while believing this in your heart.
3) A Christian is a follower of Jesus.
This is of course an oversimplified view but if you are or have been around Christians for any amount of time I am sure you recognise at least one if not all of these. For me, I think the first option makes you a follower of men and invariably leads you astray. The second option is closer to home but is still narrower than what Jesus himself taught. So for me a Christian is simply a follower of Jesus.
Who has the authority to say?
As well as defining what a Christian is we need to clarify who has the right to decide who is and is not a Christian. And again the jury is out on who gets to have a say. Some will claim that it is the job of the church to decide who is and is not a Christian while others take it upon themself to loudly proclaim who is in and who is out. Personally I don’t think that anyone can tell you wether you are a Christian or not, it is entirely up to you.
I am a follower of the way
So Am I a Christian? Well, depending on what definition of Christian you use and on who gets to say the answer will be different. If you ask me, then I would telll you that I try to be a Christian by following the spirit of love and the still voice of my heart (that is where Christ dwells is it not?). I would also say that I have probably never been more truly Christian than I am today, I have probably never followed as closely to what I perceive the way of Christ to be. The more I study other religions the more I feel that the way of Christ is my way. I also realise however how much spiritual truth and light is contained in the wisdom of all our spiritual traditions. This is why I often refer to the perennial tradition, that is, the wisdom contained in all traditions. I truly believe that all truth is god’s truth no matter where it may be found and that the light of Christ shines not only in our Christian institutions but is infused in all of creation so that we may be without excuse.
To me it matters little what other people think, and it should not to you either. Only you can know the path you walk, and only you can know what the divine voice is calling forth in you. You can choose to follow a pastor, a churchleader, the voice of your peers or a denomination or you can follow the divine voice. I am following the way of Jesus as best I can because Jesus is my guru, I follow him.