A good friend of ours, a respected psychotherapist, was conducting a seminar recently when she was interrupted by (supposedly Christian) hecklers objecting to the Biblical view of gender and sexuality she was presenting. With great presence of mind, she steered her way through the storm and landed her plane safely and with grace.
This is my question. On that occasion, who were the radicals and who were the traditionalists? The answer may not be as obvious as it seems.
The assumption today is often that any view which has been held by Christian teachers for two thousand years, give or take, is currently in need of revision and updating in light of the advances of progressive and enlightened modern thought.
People supporting this idea present themselves as courageous radicals, ready at all cost to upset the status quo and (to borrow a phrase from a Hindu context) slaughter any sacred cow that stands in their way.
This, to put it plainly, is garbage. But not only is it garbage, it is boring.
It is the same old, same old modern liberalism. It is not original at all. People picking holes in the Bible for its apparently outdated cultural views have been around for four hundred years. The issues change, but the basic idea remains the same. There is nothing new under the sun, as Solomon pointed out.
Neither is it profound. It usually comes in the form of mud thrown rather than arguments offered.
And it is certainly not daring or courageous. Why not? Because people like this are doing nothing more than pandering to what they see as popular in the current culture. They want to be accepted, to be popular, to be in the “in” crowd.
That day, the truly radical and courageous person was the one making the presentation. She was prepared to risk being criticized, misunderstood and even reviled for articulating what she believed.
The word radical is derived from the Latin word for root. A radical person goes back to the root of the matter. And that for Christians is, or should be, the uncompromised truth and unwavering authority of God’s Word.
And here is where serious study of the last book in the Bible comes in very handy. Revelation was written to a generation of Christians heavily pressured to give in to the demands of the culture in which they lived and compromise what some claimed to be the outdated views of God’s word. People had infiltrated the churches who were advocating that kind of compromise. Those who were radical enough to obey God, John warned, would pay a price socially, economically and perhaps even with their lives. But the reward would be far greater.
I wonder how far down that path we are today?
I tell you this. If we do not stand up for the truth, God will raise people up from outside the church who will. There’s a radical statement!
But it will be to our shame.
Brothers and sisters, let’s be radical disciples of the man who was prepared to offend traditionalism, spurn popularity and defy the culture in which he lived, even though it led him to the cross.
If we are radical like that, we will see an equally radical explosion of the kingdom. If we don’t, the church will die.
What choice is there?