22 March 2007

On Christianity and Radicalism

I saw my dear friend Gye Nyame yesterday (and today, for that matter -- :-) ), and he posed this question: Is Christianity -- that is, the teachings of Christ and of the Bible -- fundamentally radical, or is it fundamentally conservative?

Upon reflection, I must say that this question is something of a red herring. I believe that Christianity, like many things, is a both/and, not a neither/nor. Here are some of my reasons for concluding this (please forgive the format; I'm still getting my thoughts together on this subject):

Conservative:
* Christ came to fulfill the Old Testament Law, not to destroy it (Matt. 5:17-19)
* Christ did not seek to change the political establishment -- indeed, he fled when his followers were going to make him an earthly ruler (John 6:14-15)
* Christ frequently quoted from the Law and the Prophets, the traditional texts of his culture; he appealed to tradition as an authority, even when going up against the Devil (Luke 4:4)
* Paul advocates the practice of women covering their heads in church because it is an established tradition (I Cor. 11:16)
* Paul commands that slaves should obey their masters, not that they should rise up against oppression (Eph. 6:5)

Radical:
* John the Baptist calls the religious leaders a "brood of vipers," and Jesus later does the same (Matt. 3:7-12:34)
* Christ calls out the religious powers that be in the temple during Passover week, condemning them with seven woes (Matt. 23:1)
* Christ makes himself a whip and drives the money changers out of the temple for making the house of God into a den of thieves (Jn. 2:12-23, Lk. 19:45-46)
* Paul proclaims the equality of all believers regardless of ethnicity, class, gender, or disability :-) (Gal. 3:28)

Christianity must question the status quo within itself, but it isn't supposed to condemn non-Christians. It is a religion whose founders cast out hypocrisy and sought justice. Although it draws on tradition, it does not deify them -- Christ, for instance, said the Sabbath was made for man, not vice versa.

When practiced in the spirit that Christ and the early fathers taught, Christianity can have the best of both worlds.

What do you think, dear reader?

1 comment:

marshwiggle said...

I think Christianity is both the easiest and the hardest religion to follow.

For example, I am to love all, but not pander to the poor or the rich. I am to love my neighbor, but for his benefit, not my own. It's not a love of tolerance where I accept you as you are, but a love where I accept you as someone God loves and pray for how He wants you to be. This is not to be because of my own dislikes, but because I know the end that awaits, and I want you to be right with God when it happens. If I love you, why would I not care what your eternal end was?

Your thoughts, sir?