Re: "In Christ"

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Thu Apr 25 1996 - 19:58:51 EDT

At 1:30 PM -0500 4/25/96, wrote:
>If I understood what you wrote you were upset by someone closing their letter
>"in christ" and then signature? Is this a correct understanding of what you
>have written?
>If Not, then please forgive my intrusion and my response.
>If yes, then I have some thing to say to express myself on your message.
>I am new to this forum so please forgive me where inappropriate. Thank you.
>I am a True believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. He is my savior, Lord ,
>master, king, and Creator (as well as much more but space and time won't
>permit me to mention all that here).
>As a Christian, I know that I will be persecuted for my undying faith in the
>Lord Jesus Christ. It is a very small price to put on "so great a
>salvation"! Jesus said that we would be persecuted for our faith in Him and
>He is right. He said in the New Testament Book of John,(John 15:18-20a) -
>"If the world hates you, you know that it has hated me before it hated you.
> If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are
>not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates
>you. Remember, the word that I said to you, 'a slave is not greater than his
>master'. If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you..."
>Because of this relationship I have with the Lord and the love I have for His
>Word I respond to this adament response to closing a letter with "in Christ".
> The Scriptures record the phrase " Christ..." and it is theological
>expression...Yes. But it is also an expression of reality. As a Christian,
>the scriptures say that I am " Christ...". This is the safest haven of
>rest I know.
>Speaking of this in the book of Colossians 1:19-22a the Apostle Paul wrote:
>"For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fulness to dwell IN HIM
>[underline these last two words]. and through Him to reconcile all things to
>Himself, having made peace through the blood of His Cross; through Him, I
>say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. And although you were
>formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now
>reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you
>before Him holy and blameless an beyond reproach..."
>I can not apologize for such a use myself because it is an outward expression
>of something that is both true and binding to me.
>I mean no hard feelings and hope you understand, if possible.
>If this means I will be taken off this mail group than I understand.
>If you have any questions or comments just address them to Tom.
>In Christ,

I am going to respond to this in a way that I hope will not be
misunderstood, but that may be out of my control; I feel obliged as one
caring list-member, to say something about it.

(1) I believe that a snappish objection was offered in the first place to
the use of "In Christ" in a signature on a message to this list (I know
that several other or at least one other list, B-Hebrew, has been cc'd in
all this correspondence, but my own concern regards only B-Greek). I'm
surprised that anyone objected at all, and several have responded to say
that they are not offended. As for myself, I was not offended by the
appearance of that phrase in a signature on a message, but I have to say
that I really do NOT think it is appropriate in a general communication to
the list. I say this not because I find it offensive that one should openly
admit to being a believer but rather because I honestly believe that the
phrase is being misused when used that way. As I understand the way Paul,
in particular uses the phrase, it implies that the writer and the reader
share in common a spiritual bond to Christ. Here, however, there can be no
presumption that the reader is a believing Christian. Many, possibly even
most, list-members are, but there are certainly some who are not, and there
may well be agnostics or even atheists on the list--there is certainly no
requirement of faith for subscription to the list. If that is so, then a
salutation to another who is not a believer implying that the sender of the
message is in spiritual union with Christ, a union shared with the reader,
then is that salutation appropriate? And hasn't a non-believer who receives
that message a reason to be offended by the presumption that he is indeed a

On the other hand, I have a suspicion that some people have fallen into the
habit of using this phrase in a signature because they want to advertise
their own status as a believer. I don't say that this is the actual reason
that anyone is, in fact, using the phrase, but AS a believer (dare I say,
"a Bible-believing Christian"?), I think that sort of ostentatious display
of one's faith has a "Pharisaic" (in the Lucan sense) quality to it, and I
am not sure just who is supposed to be impressed by it: is it God or is it
other readers?

In sum, then, why use the phrase at all when you're writing to a general
public, some of which may be believers but others are as likely not to be?
Or does anyone think that the phrase has some other appropriate Biblical
sense? And THAT, at least, is a question that legitimately concerns B-Greek.

(2) Having just delivered a sermon on the use and abuse of the phrase, "In
Christ," I shall proceed to urge once again, as I have urged before, that
we PLEASE keep this forum altogether free from preaching (I meant to be
facetious in the opening phrase of this sentence, but here I am deadly
serious)! Contributors to this list have widely divergent theological
viewpoints and some have none at all. Preaching may gratify some readers,
but it is not likely to win any converts from those who do not believe
already and it is certain to offend those who are not believers. So what
purpose does it serve, in terms of THIS LIST? This list is for discussion
of the Greek text of the Bible, OT and NT, and occasionally we venture into
patristic texts. Respondents' theological views are going to affect their
answers, but hopefully the answers weren't formulated in order to promote
the theology for its own sake. Please, no preaching?

I present the conventional apologies to any whom I may have offended by
what I've stated here, but if I have done so, it is in what I think is the
spirit and purpose of B-Greek.


Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR

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