Column: Being a radical Christian


My social media news feed is flooded with statements claiming radical religious people are dangerous. I want to pause for a moment and think about this statement – religious extremism.

What exactly is a radical religious person of any faith?  I am assuming people who use this term are referring to those who wholeheartedly follow their faith system in all its teachings.  If they claim these people are dangerous, the implication is that moderate religious people are good.

I want to weigh Christianity against this claim, beginning with the premise that a radical Christian is a New Testament follower of Jesus Christ. So, let’s not get hung up on Old Testament stories here. Though I love academically working through complex Old Testament stories and historical literary styles, for now let’s focus on Jesus and the New Testament. That is indeed what a “Christian” is.

Radical Christians make the time and sacrificially give of their resources to serve those who are in need. They have compassion, are gracious and forgiving. They bear the difficulties of life together. Extremist followers of Jesus are not those who are murdering people or cursing out homosexuals. They aren’t those torturing or abusing anyone in the name of Jesus. A true extreme Christian example would be someone more like Mother Teresa or Dr. Martin Luther King.

A radical religious person should be defined as someone who looks most like their founder. Please don’t compare true fully committed adherents of this faith system to heretics who have twisted Christianity to accomplish a goal that does not at all match the heart of Jesus Christ. By the way, this is what it means scripturally to take the Lord’s name in vain. It has nothing to do with curse words.

So if you are a follower of Christ, the next time you come across a social media post claiming all radical people are dangerous drop a photo of Mother Teresa or Dr. King in that newsfeed as an example of true extreme Christianity.

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