Sorry for the elementary nature of this question. I'm a recovering former-Christian and after spending decades trying to make Christianity make sense, I've given up.
My wife is pretty much in the same place I'm at. Recently we were discussing if there is such a thing as a 'good' Christian. I thought it would be interesting to read some of the thoughts on this here at ThinkAtheist.
This is how I've arrived at this question: Let's say there's a scale of Christianity, and at the far end of the scale is Fred Phelps, of the Westburo Baptist Church and the famed 'God hates fags' preacher.
So what's on the other end of the spectrum? Is it tolerant, love-they-neighbor Christianity? Or is it non-Christianity.
I illustrate my point by saying that nearly all of my Christian friends denounce Fred Phelps, but with every one of them, I can ask them a few questions and they end up defending him. In other words, it seems that the difference between Fred Phelps and mainstream Christianity is that Fred Phelps is living a life more committed to Christian principles than the average Christian. If this is the case, then if a person doesn't want to be like Fred Phelps, then the only choice is to not be a Christian.
Does this make sense?
There can be good people who self-identify as Christians, certainly. Many of my family members are such. But almost without fail, there are some tenets of Christianity that they reject, if not consciously.
If someone were to follow all of the tenets of Christianity as set forth in the Bible, then no, I could not say that they would be a good person.
Thanks for the replies. I guess I'm trying to figure out if I want to be a good person... someone who wants to love his neighbor and do his part in relieving the World of human suffering ...does this mean that I must renounce Christianity completely?
I know it seems I'm straining at gnats here, but I'm trying to gain my footing again. Nothing I see in Christianity makes sense to me anymore. It seems that it's only an excuse for people to hate others who aren't like them. It's left me to wonder if it's possible for me to maintain my own 'special format' of Christianity where I can believe certain things by faith, but I don't have to live the traditional, dogmatic, intolerant Christian lifestyle. Or maybe I'm just fooling myself into thinking that's even possible.
i don't understand the dichotomy you've got set up between believing in some form of Christianity while being a good person and leaving Christianity altogether and not being a good person.
surely you don't believe it's true that you can't be a good person unless you believe in some form of Christianity.
and no doubt you can cobble together some weak tea version of Christianity that allows you to call yourself a Christian and not be a douchebag- lots of people accomplish this so it shouldn't be too hard- but then isn't it important to you to have beliefs that are true?
If nothing you see in Christianity makes sense, why do you feel the need to adhere to it at all? It's certainly possible to be a good, upstanding person without requiring a 'Christian' label. (In fact, some would argue that it is easier.)
You say that you want to believe certain things on faith. Which things? And why do you want to believe them if you don't know if they are true or not?
There are some aspects of my life that would be easier if I continued to appease those around me and played their game of Christianity. I am definitely one of those who would argue it's easier to be a good, upstanding person without the Christian label.
It's not really a matter of what I believe or don't believe. It's a matter of if I'm willing to make waves or tsunamis.
Thanks for your comments...
I would say that Christians are MOSTLY good people. Of course, this is due to their embracing of modern secular morality and their own cherry-picking (or ignorance) of what the Bible actually demands of them. People tend to be good when given no reason to be bad (we're communal animals, after all).
Even among those Christians who are "bad" I'd say that the majority of them honestly believe themselves to be doing the morally correct thing. Anti-gay activists, for example, don't MEAN to be ignorant fuckwits, it just ends up that way. :)
In general, there are very few humans who intentionally choose to be "bad" and remain so.