By Eddie Miles
One thing I like to bring up from the start in my debates with those who call themselves "Christians" is the fact that they may not really even be "Christians". In fact, I could be a "Christian" and not even know it. Even Christopher Hitchens could be a "Christian"!
I'm sure you're wondering why I use parentheses. The reason is that in most circles, to be "Christian" is to be "Christ-like" and it is literally impossible to know what it means to be "Christ-like". Let me explain.
(We're going to ignore, for the sake of argument, the fact that "christ" is a title and temporarily use it as it is commonly used: as Jesus' last name)
Now, these "Christians" would most certainly argue that Jesus was real and that he walked around turning water into wine (although he missed plenty of opportunities to turn sand into water, which could have saved many people from death by dehydration) and doing all kinds of magic tricks. But even if we grant that historical evidence supports the existence of a person named Yeshua who caused a stir for the Roman Empire (which is hotly debated), the absolute furthest that a theist could get is to believe that he existed. Everything about what he taught still has to be taken on faith in the HUMANS who wrote the books of the bible (and we don't really even know who they are) and those who compiled the books to create a jumbled-together picture of what Jesus did (who were leaders in government and obviously had agendas of their own).
So what does this mean for those who want to be "Christ-like"? It means that they might as well give up because it's impossible to know who is Christ-like and who isn't. A person could act as Jesus was portrayed in the books of the bible, which were chosen from among many contradictory accounts by people who had an obvious interest in things other than the accurate reproduction of Jesus' teachings. That's surely not sufficient.
For all we know, Jesus may have been a militant atheist campaigning against the pagan religions of the time, the Richard Dawkins of his day. Maybe after his atheistic teachings had lasted for generations after his death, corroding the order within the Roman Empire, the politicians decided to create a new, more relaxed Jesus by writing some books and saying "Look at this! You want to follow Jesus? This is what he really taught. Peace, love, and belief in Yahweh, who we are now endorsing! Oh... and render unto Caesar..." Sure, there's no evidence that this is what really happened, but it's no less plausible than the "official" story.
So, if you really have to believe in the god of the bible, that's fine. At least don't go around claiming to be something that you're not (or something that you may or may not be). For all practical purposes, "Christianity" as we know it doesn't even exist.