Radical Christianity – The New Buzzword

By | December 11, 2013

“Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches.” (1 Corinthians 7:17)

“This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.” (Isaiah 30:15)

“He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”” (Psalm 46:10)
1 blacksmith

The Village Blacksmith
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1807-1882

Under a spreading chestnut tree
The village smithy stands;
The smith, a mighty man is he,
With large and sinewy hands;
And the muscles of his brawny arms
Are strong as irons bands.

His hair is crisp, and black, and long,
His face is like the tan;
His brow is wet with honest sweat,
He earns whate’er he can,
And looks the whole world in the face,
For he owes not any man.

Week in, week out, from morn till night,
You can hear his bellows blow;
You can hear him swing his heavy sledge
With measured beat and slow,
Like a sexton ringing the village bell,
When the evening sun is low.

And children coming home from school
Look in at the open door;
They love to see the flaming forge,
And hear the bellows roar,
And watch the burning sparks that fly
Like chaff from a threshing-floor.

He goes on Sunday to the church,
And sits among his boys;
He hears the parson pray and preach,
He hears his daughter’s voice,
Singing in the village choir,
And it makes his heart rejoice.

It sounds to him like her mother’s voice,
Singing in Paradise!
He needs must think of her once more,
How in the grave she lies;
And with his hard, rough hand he wipes
A tear out of his eyes.

Toiling, -rejoicing, -sorrowing,
Onward through life he goes;
Each morning sees some task begin,
Each evening sees it close;
Something attempted, something done,
Has earned a night’s repose.

Thanks, thanks to thee, my worthy friend,
For the lesson thou hast taught!
Thus at the flaming forge of life
Our fortunes must be wrought;
Thus on its sounding anvil shaped
Each burning deed and thought!

Gene Edward Veith, in an article titled “Our Calling and God’s Glory,” writes:
“Whereas the doctrine of justification has wide currency, the doctrine of vocation has been all but forgotten. The word vocation can still be heard sometimes, but the concept is generally misunderstood or incompletely understood. The doctrine of vocation is not “occupationalism,” a particular focus upon one’s job. The term means “calling,” but it does not have to do with God’s voice summoning you to do a great work for him. It does not mean serving God by evangelizing on the job. Nor does the doctrine of vocation mean that everyone is a minister, though it is about the priesthood of all believers. It does not even mean doing everything for God’s glory, or doing our very best as a way to glorify God, though it is about God’s glory, at the expense of our own.

The doctrine of vocation is the theology of the Christian life. It solves the much-vexed problems of the relationship between faith and works, Christ and culture, how Christians are to live in the world. Less theoretically, vocation is the key to strong marriages and successful parenting. It contains the Christian perspective on politics and government. It shows the value, as well as the limits, of the secular world. And it shows Christians the meaning of their lives…

For a Christian, conscious of vocation as the mask of God, all of life, even the most mundane facets of our existence, become occasions to glorify God. Whenever someone does something for you-brings your meal at a restaurant, cleans up after you, builds your house, preaches a sermon-be grateful for the human beings whom God is using to bless you and praise him for his unmerited gifts. Do you savor your food? Glorify God for the hands that prepared it. Are you moved by a work of art-a piece of music, a novel, a movie? Glorify God who has given such artistic gifts to human beings.

Of course, that vocation is a mask of God means that God also works through you, in your various callings. That God is hidden in what we do is often obscured by our own sinful and selfish motivations. But that does not prevent God from acting.”

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u3FzAk5dgUc&w=853&h=480]

My suggestion to you is to ignore all passionate pleas to a lifestyle of radical Christianity.  Generally these pleas are made by celebrity Christians with a product to sell, be it a book or a conference. Their definition of “radical” seems to create two classes of Christians – the radical Christian who is living in a foreign country where you could die for spreading the Gospel, or the (yawn!) non-radical Christian who remains home, content to live the life the Lord has assigned to him.  While a life of obedience to Christ is radically different from the way the world, and unfortunately, many confessing Christians live, this is not the definition of radical being peddled by David Platt or John Piper.  While I don’t wish to discourage anyone from serving the Lord as a missionary, the reality is that for the vast majority of people this is not the case.  That is O.K.  You are not a substandard Christian, and don’t allow anybody to convince you otherwise.

Two great books that  I found convincingly crush the recent craze of “radical Christianity” as described by the neo-reformed celebrity culture are pictured below. God bless you as you seek to glorify God and enjoy Him forever in whatever your calling is.

1 mundane 1 vocation

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[…] about Platt and the “Radical” buzzword back in December 2013. You can find the article here. I also wrote about Platt in August of 2013. The article was titled “Truth in […]

[…] by frenetic energy expended on doing bold, missional things in far-away countries. You can read “Radical Christianity – The New Buzzword” for […]

I strongly believe you need to get a new hobby! The majority of your posts are intended to destroy the great work that God is doing through individuals that have a desire to see people impacted for eternity. A radical Christian lays down his life for his God and serves Him whether that may be at home or abroad. I hate to think that you would discourage that, but then again being an ordinary Christian is easier. I pray that Jesus is your Savior and LORD, and if He is would He spend all His time casting judgment on men that chose to follow Him?

M. Joy

The God of the Mundane is terrific. I will have to check out God At Work. Thanks for the recommendation.

Big Blue Fan in Asia

Excellent post. I agree completely, even though I’m one of those “Radical Christians” who moved to a dangerous area to work among an unreached people group, some of whom try to promote their own so-called religious superiority and power by using the terror of arson attacks, bombs, and targeted ambush killings. I didn’t move here to be radical, though. I came here because I truly believe this is where the Lord wants me.

Unfortunately, the leadership of the organization (with which I served at the time), made some “radical” changes of their own and ended up turning the gospel message into a sort of multi-level marketing scheme, in my opinion, in an effort to boost numbers (i.e., the more decisions for Christ and baptisms that are reported on the field, the more money will be given to support the cause from the churches back home). And they turned training sessions into merely memorizing the latest shtick of the current “successful” missionary.

I rebelled. Didn’t agree with either the ev methodology being pushed or the supposed training techniques. Tried to stand strong for the freedom to do ev as the Lord leads me as an individual. Held on for two years, but got increasing push-back from my supervisors because I didn’t produce the numbers they wanted. Was criticized and discredited until I couldn’t take it anymore.
It was killing me. Killing my soul. So I resigned.

The organization would have paid for my ticket back to the States, but I’m still here. Because I still believe this is where the Lord wants me now. Even though, to be honest, I know I’m wounded and hurting. But also in the process of healing.

I haven’t shared this part of my story publicly before because, in part, I don’t want to hear more criticism, such as: You can’t be a Lone Ranger Christian! But I say I’d rather be alone, with the freedom to follow the Lord as He leads me, than to be under the authority of people who try to deny me that simple freedom. And I don’t ever want to be a “professional Christian” again.

May we all live radical lives for Christ, wherever and however He leads us, and quit putting other Christians (whether they be missionaries or pastors or anyone else) on pedestals.

p.s. Pet peeve of mine – I appreciate that you quoted all of Psalm 46:10 at the top of the post. In my experience, most people ignore the last half of that verse when they quote it.

Thanks for your reply Big Blue. I admire you for having the courage to stand by your convictions. I am saddened to know that even in foreign countries, in missions organizations nonetheless, the sickness prevalent in American Evangelicalism has reared its ugly head. You sound to me like a Christian who is compelled by the love of Christ and I wish to encourage you in your endeavors. I will be praying for you and also your work. I have a heart for the people of the country you’re residing in. Your labor is not in vain. Let me know if I can help in any way.
God’s blessings on you!