There is a status getting copied around Facebook that says
“Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.”
It is true that being a Christian extends beyond going to church, but I think the claim has problems.
“Make you a” occurs twice in that sentence. Does it mean “form you into a” or “prove you to be a”?
Could I correctly paraphrase:
“Going to church doesn’t form you into a Christian any more than standing in a garage forms you into a car.” Making
or should it be:
“Going to church doesn’t prove you to be a Christian any more than standing in a garage proves you to be a car.”
Being formed into a car, by standing in a garage, is utter nonsense.
Being formed into a Christian by going to church is a less ridiculous notion. Professing the faith, participating in Christian worship, hearing the scriptures read aloud and listening to teaching is an obvious exercise in formation.
Does it mean prove you to be a Christian? How would you prove someone to be a Christian?
I believe that, were Christianity made a crime, church going would be used as evidence for prosecution.
If I was hoping to find a bunch of Christians on a Sunday morning, I’d look at church.
I stood in my own garage to test the second version, there is no credible proof that I am a car. If I exhibited some of the defining characteristics of being a car such as acceleration, braking, steering, and cupholders you might form an argument that I am a car. What defining characteristics of being a Christian would you accept if you do not accept going to church as one?
Further, the two verb phrases are different. “Going to church” is being compared to “standing in a garage”, an active phrase compared to a passive phrase. If we were talking about going to the gym, or going to school we’d know that the activity of going was relevant. Going to the gym is one way to get more physically fit. Going to school is a prime occasion for education. No one expects standing in a gym or standing in school to be causes of fitness or education, why should going to church be considered at all similar to standing in a garage.
If I was hoping to find a bunch of fit people on a Saturday morning, I might look at the gym. If I was hoping to find a bunch of educated people on a Monday morning, I might look at school.
What do you think?