My social media news feed is flooded with statements claiming all radical religious people are dangerous.
I can see why! “Extremists” or “radicals” as they are called are doing some atrocious things. Pillaging the poor, raping women, blowing up people who don’t think like them. They even kill each other!
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, therefore, is that moderate religious people must be good or at least better.
Some through social media are trying to lump all religions together. This doesn’t work! Not all religions teach the same thing and their founders are very different.
Let’s clear some things up!
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 (read more here) and historical literary styles, for now let’s focus on Jesus and the New Testament. That is indeed what a “Christian” is. Christ is the center of Christianity. It’s all about Jesus.
So what does a radical Christian look like?
Michael Bray or Robert Dear (pictured above) destroying abortion clinics? Jim Jones, don’t drink the Kool-Aid! Or what about “Christians” chanting “God hates…” at the funerals of American soldiers who died in war? Are these really “radical” Christians? No!
Here is what someone who fully follows the ways of Jesus should look like.
Radical Christians make the time and sacrificially give of their resources to serve those who are in need (Col 4:5-6, 1 Thess 4:11-12, 1 Peter 2:12, James 1:27). They have compassion, are gracious and forgiving. They bear the difficulties of life together (1 Peter 3:8, Ephesians 4:32, Colossians 3:13, James 5:19-20). 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. Real Christians serve the orphans and the widows. They help give voice to people who have none.
People who call themselves Christian that don’t act like Christ aren’t radical extremist Christians; they’re backslidden at best, most likely total heretics, variants from Christianity.
A radical religious person should be defined as someone who looks MOST like their founder. Christians should look like Christ!
The mass media should stop calling crazy heretics who call themselves Christian “extremist” or “radical” – they are neither.
By the way, this is what it means theologically to take the Lord’s name in vain. It has nothing to do with curse words. It’s doing something in the name of Christ that isn’t really of him.
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.