I grew up spiritually in a very traditional, Southern Baptist Church in the South. Baptist churches in the South were on nearly every street corner, as plentiful as McDonald’s and Burger King on a major city highway today. I was baptized as an 8 year-old and my mom was certain that my family rarely missed a church event of any kind. If I were to describe my faith-relationship, I would use the word “committed.” The word “radical” was rarely, if ever, used to describe someone’s spiritual pilgrimage in that day. The closest Biblical figure that comes to mind would be John the Baptist, the Nazarene, who preached “baptism for repentance of sins.” John was “counter-culture” in his day. He was a devout Nazarene which meant that even the food he ate and what he did not drank (alcohol), and the clothes he wore were defined by Scripture. But John also was defined by the message he brought and the specific witness he was sent to bring. John 1:23. John was a “radical” for his day.
As an adult and now a pastor, I would use the word “radical” to describe a local businessman who used to live in my area– he was certainly counter-culture. His life was 24/7 Jesus. There was no separation between what he did on Sunday or what he did on Monday-Saturday. When I first met him, he owned a pizza and sandwich shop not far from my church. On my first visit to his restaurant, he somehow learned that I was a pastor and treated me to my pick from his menu. We sat at a picnic table in front of his restaurant, and he shared his story of how Christ had brought him out of drugs, gave him his business, and now his agenda in life was to give Jesus glory for what He had done — even through his business. He had Jesus-signs all over the walls, the menu, even taped to the store-front windows. He had the gift of evangelism and was committed to sharing Jesus even with those who didn’t want to hear; he simply never stopped talking about Jesus. Jesus-conversation was his “normal.” His entire life was a witness for Christ– to the extreme, 24/7. He loved people, took the Scriptures literally, including the belief that we were in the end-of-days. He was passionate, in-your-face, and when you left his shop, you knew the man you had just been with was someone who lived what he preached. You might even call him a “radical” Christian.
My own life-changing event occurred some thirty years ago. I was “radicalized” after taking a small group Bible study called “MasterLife,” by Avery Willis. MasterLife was the vehicle God used to get me into His precious, holy and transforming Word. My life-change was so “radical” that I wanted to tell people about Jesus more than anything in my life, including my work. I was at that time a CPA (certified public accountant) and owned my own CPA practice with another man, both of us having left a “Big 8” CPA firm to start our tax practice. But the impact on my life was different than that of my radical friend described above. I was “sold-out” for Jesus, literally, at age 37 after knowing Jesus as my Savior since age 8 in my traditional, mainline Baptist Church. My radicalization resulted in the sale of my CPA practice, and entering seminary to prepare for a full-time preaching ministry. While in seminary, I remember one of my fellow seminarians asking me if I believed in miracles. My reply– Absolutely, I am here, and not still practicing the work I loved as a CPA. I made an extreme choice to follow an extreme Savior, a radical, Himself, Jesus Christ, the only Begotten God who commanded me to be His witness in “Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” You might call me an “extremist” for Jesus.
I have never forced Jesus or my version of Scripture upon anyone. The only weapon I have ever used to witness about Jesus is the spiritual weapon of Scripture. Hebrews 4:12.
I find the word “radical” very relevant for the time we live in. Radical is a word that, when combined with “Islam,” is used to refer to adherents of the “religion of peace” who no longer are peaceful but are brutally and grotesquely violent, all to the glory of Allah. A “radicalized Muslim” is a Muslim who commits terror in the name of Allah. Here is how the Clarion Project describes “radical Islam”:
Islamic extremism is driven by an interpretation of Islam that believes that Islamic law, or sharia, is an all-encompassing religious-political system. Since it is believed to be proscribed by Allah (Arabic for “God”) sharia must be enforced in the public sphere by a global Islamic state. As such, Islamic extremists consider it to be the only truly legitimate form of governance and reject democracy and human rights values.
Thus, the ultimate objective of Islamic extremists is the merger of “mosque and state” under sharia law. Those who favor such an approach are called Islamists. Their ideology is called Islamism, or political Islam. Related terms for Islamic extremism include radical Islam and Islamic supremacy.
In my book (Islam the Cloak of Antichrist) I quote a Muslim cleric who provides an inside-view from the perspective of a radical:
Special Dispatch No. 2845 … Egyptian Cleric Wagdi Ghneim on HAMAS’ Al-Aqsa TV:
“We Pray to Allah That We Be Terrorists, If Terror Means Jihad.”
“We are a nation that excels in the production of the art of death … I will die anyway, so I should be creative to make sure my death is for the sake of Allah.” Later, he said: “Brothers, we pray to Allah that we be terrorists, if terror means Jihad for the sake of Allah.”1
I recently finished a post on the “elusive motive” behind the killing of 14 in San Bernardino by husband and wife, Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, two shooters who left their 6-month old baby girl behind with Farook’s mother so they could gun-down 14 people at a work-event, Christmas party. Farook, an American citizen, was an environmental health specialist with the San Bernardino County health department. Initially, the FBI implied that the female radicalized the male, presumably after she arrived in America on a fiancée’ visa. However the latest on the radicalization of the two is that both had been radicalized for some time before Malik ever arrived in America:
“In late 2013 — before there is a physical meeting of these two people resulting in their engagement and journey to the United States — they are communicating online, showing signs in that communication of their joint commitment to jihad and to martyrdom,” said [FBI Director] Comey.
Why did my “radicalization” motivate me to sell my CPA practice so I could tell people about Jesus 24/7 and Farook’s radicalization motivate him to pick up an AK-47 and kill as many people as he could? Why did my friend’s rescue from drugs followed by his radicalization for Jesus motivate him to post Jesus-signs all over his store, all for the glory of Jesus, but motivate Farook and Malik to pick up AK-47s and kill the innocent, all to the glory of Allah? And how can Allah and God be the same if radicals from Christianity and Islam manifest their radicalization in such opposite ways?
Jesus is my model. Muhammad is Farook and Malik’s. The Scriptures are the divine word of God. The Qur’an is the literal speech of Allah. Which of the two would you desire to see more followers of? Christ or Muhammad?
How can Islam be a religion of peace if a radical Muslim becomes violent instead of peaceful when he is radicalized?
Jesus come quickly.
Footnotes to post:
- http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/2398.htm (accessed March 8, 2010). [↩]