Churches have all sorts of ways of ring-fencing ourselves, locking people out, comfortably defining evil as Not-us, Them Over There; but at the heart of Christianity is inclusiveness. Jesus says “Go out and make disciples of all nations” which is impossible if you will not talk to them. All nations are the mission field. As the Jesuits recognised, they listen to you more if you make an effort to listen to them, to see what they value, to speak their language.
Then, there is salvation by grace. Between the saddle and the ground, the man realises that he has done wrong, and he accepts the offer of Christ. He calls on Christ as his saviour. He is in, immediately. However we might disapprove of him, he is one of us now, part of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Muslims have the same idea. The Shahada (testimony) pronounced sincerely to a Muslim is sufficient to make you a Muslim. Say “La ilah illa Allah, Muhammad rasoolu Allah”, meaning “There is no true god (deity) but God (Allah), and Muhammad is the Messenger (Prophet) of God.” Anyone may be included.
Some Christians talk of The Fundamentals- originally the verbal inerrancy of the Bible, the divinity of Jesus, the Virgin Birth, salvation by Penal Substitution (Jesus bears the punishment for our sin) and the physical resurrection of Jesus- but these are inessential. How could it be otherwise? One Christian might see that another’s belief is insufficient, and attempt to educate him, but Jesus admonishes her to first take the log out of her own eye.
A Christian is anyone who follows Jesus, in however idiosyncratic a way.
Christians cannot merely associate with Christians, or with people of whom we approve. Again we have Jesus’ example, associating with foreigners, colonial oppressors, prostitutes, pharisees- anyone willing to talk to him.
Let the one without sin cast the first stone. Inspired by Linuxgal.