Radical Christianity

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Middle English, from Late Latin radicalis, from Latin radic-, radix root — more at root
14th century

3 a: marked by a considerable departure from the usual or traditional : extreme b: tending or disposed to make extreme changes in existing views, habits, conditions, or institutions c: of, relating to, or constituting a political group associated with views, practices, and policies of extreme change d: advocating extreme measures to retain or restore a political state of affairs

Webster online

Sounds like Christianity to me. Is there such a thing as being a Christian without being “radical” or radically different than the world? It seems to me the biggest problems the church has ever faced in its history stemmed from times it didn’t look any different than the world around it.

0 Responses

  1. And yet…Christianity has had a remarkably civilizing impact on society. One could argue that Christianity was one of the most shaping influences of Western Civilization.

    That’s part of our job, isn’t it? To shape culture and advance the borders of God’s kingdom in our time? To pray for God’s will to be done “on earth as it is in heaven”?

    So, how are we to be radical and different if the world around us looks more like Christianity now than it did, say, 1,000 years ago?

  2. Christianity is probably the most significant culture shaping influences of the Western world.

    Are you saying the world looks more like Christianity now than 1000 years ago due to widespread Christian influence? I don’t think we need to be trying to “out radical” other Christians or set the bar so high as to say, “You are not really a Christian unless you are this extreme.” I think we do need to remember where our home really is and that we are called to be different and to be salt and light (both things that heavily influences anything that is in close proximity to them.

  3. Yes, Matt, that’s precisely what I’m saying. Things like slavery, child abuse, human sacrifice and the oppression of women — all frowned upon in most parts of the world now because of the spread of Christianity and Judeo-Christian ethics.

    As to where our home is…well…let’s talk about that.

    Our home is with God. And God is where? Beyond the azure blue, concealed from human sight? No, God is here, beside me, above me, within me.

    If more people believed God is right here right now (rather than way over there or way back when) more people would live as salt and light and participate in the ongoing process of renewing all things.

  4. John,

    Peter talks about being aliens and strangers here. Our home somewhere else is not saying we believe God is over there somewhere. It is saying we don’t make a claim to the evil and darkness that characterizes the way of the world. People have misread that one.

  5. I agree with you to a great degree here. My concern is that many Christians see the evil and darkness that characterizes much of the world and run away from it — content to wait until God takes them away to their home far away.

    The call for Christians is to see the evil and darkness and run towards it — participating with God in overturning the evil and darkness, redeeming it and making it new.

    This call has been heard and acted upon by Christians for nearly 2,000 years now (since Peter wrote his letter). While there is still much work to be done and evil and darkness continue to characterize many places, much work has been done in many areas (art, music, family systems, etc.).

    Back to our original thought: Christians must continue being radical, but we must be careful not to think that being radically different from the world around us automatically makes us radical Christians. It may just make us weirdos.

  6. Similar to Rob Bell’s Nooma video “Bullhorn man”? I don’t think purposely obnoxious is a good thing and I don’t think different for the sake of being different is a good thing. It is an identity issue. We have been made different and are calling the world, through Christ, to also be different – darkness to light, lies to truth, death to life, etc.

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