“I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires.” – Susan B. Anthony

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I don’t like seeing that argument brought up all the time. Often it’s a little… overused in a way that doesn’t actually apply.

Say we have a group that has a list of three rules. 1) You must wear pink on Wednesdays, 2) you have to club baby seals every other weekend, 3) Fridays are casual Fridays.

If your group follows those three rules for the most part, but then gets bigger, and part of your group stops wearing pink on wednesdays but still goes clubbing baby seals… you can clearly point to something and say “These people claim to be part of our club but aren’t following the essential rules we set down. They’re not true members.”

That’s not a fallacy. That’s the definition for membership of a group being ignored by supposed members of a group.

The fallacy comes into play when you have an amorphous group, and you subsequently redefine how membership in that group is allowed. That’s different from a predefined definition.

Sure, one can argue that all it takes to be a Christian is to claim belief in Christ, but when the Bible specifically says that anyone who believes in Christ will slowly be transformed into producing good works… it’s not a No True Scotsman to say that people calling themselves Christians but living terribly and treating people like shit aren’t *true* Christians. Heck, it even specifically says that just claiming belief isn’t enough–that on Judgement day there’ll be a lot of people who claim to be Christian but don’t get into Heaven because they didn’t have true belief, as true belief would have led to them helping others and actually expressing sacrificial love.

However, scripturally speaking, a person doesn’t really have the right to make that judgement call, because we don’t know what’s going on inside a person’s head, and because we all do stupid stuff sometimes. However, it’s perfectly admissible to call out a Christian on unchristian behavior, and there’s guidelines for how to do it in Paul’s letters.

Of course, it’s hard to make a list of what makes someone a “true Christian” because then it starts sounding like a requirement and goes against the doctrinal idea that faith is the main thing. But then that starts getting into theological arguments between people reading Romans and people reading James.

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