As I will argue, below, if a prerequisite of “true” Christianity is to follow Jesus, then nobody is a true Christian. The very reason for this also reveals our tacit acknowledgement that religious morality is subordinated to our innate human morality.
Nobody in their right mind, Christian or not, would fully obey Jesus. Do you know any Christians who abandon their worldly goods and rely on God to feed, clothe and shelter them? Of course not! But that's what Jesus tells us to do. How many Christians actually turn the other cheek; or love their enemies; or forgive transgressors 7 times 70 times? There's no question about it: nobody is a true believer in, or follower of, Jesus.
So how can there be billions of people who claim to be Christians? What else can it be? They're selective Christians: they cherry-pick what they want and ignore or deny the rest. It's a good thing the Bible actually contains some wise and virtuous ideas; otherwise Christians would be cherry-picking from slim pickings. Actually, there are so many contradictions in the Bible, it's not even possible to follow it absolutely.
So . . . ALL Christians are selective Christians. There are virtually no true Christians willing to commit to the instructions Jesus urged upon us. But that’s not surprising, it's the only way there can be any Christians at all. Show me a bona fide exception and I'll recant.
Once you accept this fact, certain other truths become evident. First of all, what do you think cherry-picking is? It's our true morality, deciding what is worthy of following. We use our true morality to cherry-pick what is acceptable from the Bible.
What we reject from the Bible tells us a lot about our true morality. How many of us (Christian or not) cherry-pick values like: the subjugation of women; slavery; battlefield excesses; or blood sacrifice (real or symbolic)? Almost everybody rejects these things despite the fact that they're encouraged, supported or condoned by the Bible – the holy, immutable word of God (although many Christians do accept symbolic blood sacrifice).
How can anybody deny that we use our true morality to overrule biblical morality and, thereby, decide what is religiously worthy? Our true morality decides what IS religious. If our true morality decides what is religious: why do we need religion in the first place?
And what, exactly, is this "true morality" I keep repeating? It's the morality born of experience and empathy. I know what hurts me (experience), so I know what hurts you (empathy). It’s a morality that crosses racial, religious and cultural divides because it’s a part of the human condition.
Science tells us that empathy evolved as a consequence of our need, as social animals, to cooperate. It's a natural part of the human condition. Basically, the Golden Rule, is a seed within us all that grows and matures as we gain experience which, in turn, informs our empathy. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you . . . because we all need each other to survive.
Hopefully, we won’t suffer the kinds of suffering and abuses that might subvert our innate morality. It takes a lot to corrupt our humanity. Physical, sexual or psychological harm might corrupt us but, perhaps, the most common threat to our morality is the religions that try to replace it.
Our true morality is an expression of our humanity and is vastly superior to the cold authority of religious morality.
I've just finished listening to an .MP3 recording of Sam Harris' "Letter to a Christian Nation". In it, he expressed ideas startlingly similar to my own ideas about how our innate morality overrules religious morality: he even uses the same term, "cherry pick". Instead of calling it "human morality", "true morality" or "innate morality", he calls it "moral intuition".
I want to assure you that my own ideas on this subject stemmed from the notion of "experience plus empathy equals morality". I researched that idea and found that there's many who believe that empathy evolved to facilitate cooperation (at least in primates). The linkage to selective Christianity actually "evolved" from prior essays that ended up merged because of my realization that our true morality usurps religious morality.