By Irvin Himmel
The following was written by a noted scholar in the Presbyterian Church and tells the truth about the name Christian:
. . .It suggests at once to a Christian the name of his great Redeemer; the idea of our intimate relation to him; and the thought that we receive him as our chosen Leader, the source of our blessings, the author of our salvation, the fountain of our joys. It is the distinguishing name of all the redeemed. It is not that we belong to this or that denomination; it is not that our names are connected with high and illustrious ancestors; it is not that they are recorded in the books of heraldry; it is not that they stand high in courts, and among the gay, the fashionable, and the rich, that true honor is conferred on men. These are not the things that give distinction and peculiarity to the followers of the Redeemer. It is that they are Christians. This is their peculiar name; by this they are known; this at once suggests their character, their feelings, their doctrines, their hopes, their joys. This binds them all together – a name which rises above every other appellation; which unites in one the inhabitants of distant nations and tribes of men; which connects the extremes of society, and places them in most important respects on a common level; and which is a bond to unite in one family all those who love the Lord Jesus, though dwelling in different climes, speaking different languages, engaged in different pursuits of life, and occupying distant graves at death. He who lives according to the import of this name is the most blessed and eminent of mortals. This name shall be had in remembrance when the names of royalty shall be remembered no more, and when the appellations of nobility shall cease to amuse or to dazzle the world (Albert Barnes, commenting on Acts 11:26).
How strange it is that one would allow himself to be called a Presbyterian after acknowledging the truth about the name Christian. Indeed, the name Christian embraces all that ought to be included and excludes all that ought to be omitted. People wear religious names of human origin to designate that which they teach and practice that is not really Christian, and to distinguish themselves from others who have peculiarities that are not really Christian.
True Christianity is not hyphenated. We should all be Christians and Christians only, not Baptist-Christians, Presbyterian-Christians, Methodist-Christians, etc. The name Baptist covers what is peculiarly Baptist; the name Presbyterian covers what is distinctly Presbyterian; the name Mormon covers what is exclusively Mormon. Since the name Christian stands for all that is genuinely Christian, the wearing of human names indicates that one has accepted more than what is “of Christ.”
Let the Mormon lay aside his Mormonism, the Lutheran his Lutheranism, the Catholic his Catholicism, the Adventist his Adventism, the Methodist his Methodism, etc., and let us all take up and hold to what is manifestly “of Christ” and no more, then the name Christian will mean to us what it meant in apostolic times. Let us in fact be Christians, nothing more, nothing else, and nothing less. And let us exemplify what that worthy name implies in word and deed.
Guardian of Truth XXVII: 5, p. 147
March 3, 1983