As to the relevance/value/significance of whether we retain the label "Christian" (or not) as a self-identifier, of course there are big implications to that. People will react in a lot of ways, but in any case, I don't think your decision is essentially "neutral." Do you agree with that or disagree? Is publicly saying "I'm simply not a Christian" a form of side-stepping or is it a repudiation (the latter choice IMO being more dramatic or conclusive)?
I'd say it's neither. What occurred to me (the postmodernist thinker that I should be by now) is that I do know the assumptions of my primary social context. It is naive of me to continue to expect them to make the adjustments to include me in their definition of Christianity when I don't line up with those definitions. I changed. They didn't.
By being more straight-forward, I hope to respect that difference (to honor it) rather than to be in the role of repudiator or correcter. In other words, I see that I put some of my friends on the defensive unnecessarily by expecting them to accept my definition of Christian. What if we start with theirs?
I'd like to see what happens. I agree that it is not a neutral decision.
What's prevented me in the past from giving up the name is two-fold: First, I do feel Christian and that my life is an expression of Christian faith. Second, my children in particular live in a decidedly Christian sub-culture for whom admission to the club is monitored by the declaration that one is, in fact, a Christian.
What's happened recently, though, is that by letting go of the label, I can explain or nuance who I am rather than attempting to forge a blend between who I am expected to be and who I am. That's created some static I'd rather get beyond.
Another question... Is there some other "label" that is worth adopting? The admittedly clunky-sounding "Jesus follower" (or variations thereof) is where some people are going.
I like the idea of being label-less for a bit. Grad student of theology is working currently. :)
If our notion of justice doesn't come from an outside source, and if this notion at its best causes us to act in non-self-interested ways, where does it come from?
I think the need to definitively explain our inclination toward justice as being sourced in God is not because it is so, but because it's one explanation that we have come to accept due to the connection being made for us. And let me go on record as saying I don't mind that connection being made, necessarily. I don't think, however, that it accounts for all of humanity, therefore is not an exhaustive explanation.
Justice, in a western democracy, is not the same notion as justice in a Middle Eastern context, for instance. As one Muslim Professor put it, the west doesn't understand at all how deeply Muslims are committed to the value of "respect." They see their primary obligation to others as being the guardians of the sacred through ensuring respect, which may include violence. That's their version of justice. In Asia, the dominant inclination is to preserve face (to prevent shame). Historically, Japanese samurai killed themselves to protect a reputation. Is that justice? Is that inclination God-given?
I don't believe that if I experience it, it must be universally true or God-endowed. On the other hand, I'm perfectly fine suggesting that the drive for justice that I have is valuable and can be found in the trajectory set forth in the Judeo-Christian tradition, which is one reason I continue to be fascinated by and drawn to it.
Why does Jesus resonate so much with you? To what does his self-sacrificing life appeal? Why do you follow him rather than Donald Trump? Just your own preferences?
What else? There are many for whom Donald Trump really is the man worthy of emulation. Is capitalist success God-endowed since so many find that aim a worthy use of their lives (more than the pursuit of justice)?
Jesus resonates with me because his stories have catalyzed the most introspection and satisfying work. I'm challenged by his Sermon on the Mount and the way he embraced those outside the status quo. As long as I can remember, that vision of living has inspired me.
Lastly, you mention the cross putting things to rights. This is one aspect of Wright's book I'd like to explore in another post. If you want the first shot at it though (or anyone else), please take it. How does the cross actually put things to rights when we see that the world is not substantially more or less just than it was at the time of Jesus' death and resurrection?