I saw several articles people posted on Facebook over the last couple of weeks that caught my attention – and not in a good way. I made a note for myself to revisit the articles after I had a chance to let them settle in a bit.
One article I saw was from someone who was saying that radical Muslims get off the hook, but radical Christians are persecuted. That we are more afraid to sit with a radical Christian than we are with a radical Muslim. That’s a bit simplistic, but that was the essence of the argument from the person who posted it. I’m guessing the author of these words thought he was a victim because of his beliefs.
He claimed that “a so-called radical Christian is likely to refuse to bake a dessert for a gay wedding. A radical Muslim is likely to shoot up a gay club or throw gays off of roofs.”
(This was commentary on social media so I can’t point you to a specific web address for this).
There is a problem in definitions though, among other things. A Christian who refuses to bake a dessert for a gay wedding isn’t a radical. They may fit into several other categories and labels, but radical isn’t one of them. As far as I know, there hasn’t been a cake maker who has gone and killed people because they were so upset about backing a cake for someone they didn’t like. There isn’t a comparison of this with someone who shoots people and destroys lives – regardless of their religion.
Secondly, this is dismissive of real radical Christians – the people who have no problem driving a car into a crown and killing a woman in Charlottesville, VA recently for example. These groups exist and yes, they are just as bad as any radical Muslim, or radical Hindu, or radical anything. (Check out a simple list of radical Christian groups here) These groups are real and are dangerous and have nothing to do with what Christianity is about but still steal the label for themselves. While that statement might not sound controversial – substitute Muslim for Christian and I wonder how it changes for some people.
Then again, I’m not sure what baking a cake has to do with Christianity either, but that’s besides the point.
I don’t understand this quest to become victims that has captured so many people’s attention and conduct. Everyone wants to be a victim. Especially from people who really aren’t victims at all. “They’re tearing down my statue of Robert E Lee – we’re a victim of historical theft.” BS.
A cake baker who doesn’t bake a cake isn’t a victim. It’s just someone who makes a bad business decision based on a bad interpretation of Scripture. In one sense, they are a victim I guess – A victim of bad scriptural interpretation.
But here’s the point. What is a radical Christian? Here’s a radical answer to the question – someone who actually lives out what Jesus taught. No, not the Old Testament laws that can be taken out of context and used as a bludgeon. How about this instead – A radical Christian is someone who lives out the Sermon on the Mount. (Read it – it’s in Matthew 5-7). A radical Christian is someone whose loyalty is to the kingdom of God first and foremost and in advancing God’s kingdom through radical inclusiveness and love. A radical Christian is someone who seeks to be a peacemaker in the midst of violence. A radical Christian is someone who practices forgiveness. A radical Christian is someone who doesn’t wait for someone else to change and do the right thing, they start. A radical Christian gives voice to the voiceless. A radical Christian feeds the hungry, clothes those who need clothing, houses the homeless, visits prisoners and the sick, and cares for orphans and widows.
A radical Christian in this sense isn’t really radical at all. They are just living out what they claim to believe. Yet, this way of living and believing is radical – it is far different from the radicalness we see around us. It is a radicalness that is polar opposite to the radicalness that believes in fighting and might makes right and control and separation and violence and fear and hatred.
That kind of radicalness is becoming more prevalent and easier.
It’s much more radical to pray for someone – even someone who is our enemy – than it is to shout that person down or cause harm to them. Causing harm to someone else isn’t radical – it’s just plain evil.
Maybe we need a new name for these type of Christians – ones who aren’t really radical at all.