Abolish the Adjective

By September 19, 2013From Steve's Desk

(Originally posted September 19, 2013)

I read a recent post on Facebook that referred to “radical” Christianity, and the author offered a clarification/opinion of what it is [decades of faithfulness] and is not [mission trips and conferences].  I offered my “two cents” of opinion/advice on the use of the adjective “radical” and this prompted a constructive interchange with a few readers.   Such interchange often helps sharpen my thinking on the issue under discussion, and in this case I’ve realized that I’m actually a radical abolitionist concerning the use of the adjective “radical” for Christianity.

Here are my two cents that I offered:

“The use of the adjective “radical” in connection with Christianity is either superfluous or an indictment of the Christianity that needs to be ‘radicalized.’  Be careful if you are tempted to enhance the meaning with the use of ‘radical.’

It should be enough to refer to oneself as a Christian, and even that shouldn’t really be necessary. As the former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said a long time ago when addressing a group of young women, ‘If you have to tell someone you are a lady, you’re not!’ So let your fruit do the talking and your faithfulness as a son of God will become apparent.

Radical concept!”

One reader commented on the utility of the adjective “radical”: I believe it differentiates between what common and cultural Christianity represents these days as opposed to biblical Christianity.”

My reply: “I agree with your phraseology that “common” and “cultural” Christianity is opposed to biblical Christianity. Indeed I would hesitate to call those “versions” Christianity at all. In my view, there is no other form of Christianity than biblical, and it would be wise for all “believers” to compare their professions of faith to actual expressions of faith that are commensurate with what Jesus advertised, for example, in John 14:12. Self-deception is a vicious trap. (See, for example, the warning by the Apostle John [1John 2:3-6].) Let’s drop the adjectives used for Christianity and begin living according to the ways of the One after whom the movement is named!”

Christianity is inherently shocking to the unbeliever, and even to the maturing Christian. I shouldn’t have to call you radical if I call you a Christian! Let’s work to restore Christianity to a place such that its inherent meaning allows us to abolish the adjective!