I have many evangelical "friends" (in an Internet sense) on WorldMagBlog. I have shared with them Dr. Gregg Frazer's thesis, with mixed results. Many agree with it entirely; many resist its implications vehemently, and many are on the fence. Here is an example of a note I shared with them on today's open thread:
Here again I reproduce p. 12 of Dr. Gregg Frazer (history/political philosophy at The Master’s College) PhD thesis from Claremont Graduate University where he takes all of the established churches in late 18th Cen. America (save the Quakers who had no creed), examines their creeds, and forms a 10 point lowest common denominator among them as to what it means to be a “Christian.” Question: [When it comes to defining "Christianity," h]as this test really changed at all? Is there anything you don’t agree with in this test?
I’ll recite the 10 points: 1) the Trinity; 2) God active in human affairs; 3) the deity of Christ; 4) original sin; 5) virgin birth; 6) atoning work of Christ/satisfaction for sins; 7) resurrection; 8) eternal punishment for sin; 9) justification by faith; and 10) inspiration/authority of scripture (i.e., its infallibility).
His research shows that of the “key Founders” (Washington, J. Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, G. Morris, Wilson, and Hamilton before his deathbed conversion to Christianity) they provably believed in one maybe two of these 10 points and hence were not “Christians” according to the late 18th Century understanding of the concept EVEN IF most of them presented their personal theology (which also happens to be America’s Founding political theology) under the auspices of “Christianity.”
I would note that one probably could disbelieve in points 4) (as the capital O Orthodox Church does) 8) (many Christians hope for a universal reconciliation) and 10) (many Christians also question whether the Bible is infallible even if they believe most of it was dictated by God) and still qualify as a “Christian.” However, the other 7 tenets (those found within the Nicene Creed) seem non-negotiable to Christianity’s historic dominant teachings.