The first question, actually, should be: What is a real Christian? Once that has been established, which might take a few millennia and several hundred denominational rifts—actually before that has been established, let’s move on.
Some Christians believe that when a person starts following Christ, they have the ability to stop sinning, not immediately, but eventually. This doctrine of entire sanctification, however, has thrown the 100-year-old Church of the Nazarene, which began here in L.A., into a “theological crisis.”
“A lot of the folks who have been around the church awhile thought of themselves as being characterized by things they don’t do: You don’t smoke, you don’t drink, you don’t go to dances, and in some parts of the denomination, you don’t wear makeup or go to clubs or some parts of society,” said Thomas Jay Oord, professor of theology and philosophy at Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho, and co-author of Relational Holiness. “That kind of Christianity loses steam really quickly. It’s not something you can give your whole life to.”
That comment is from a short piece I have in next month’s Christianity Today, online now. Which brings us back to the headline question: Can a Christian really stop sinning?