Radical Christian Views?
By Daniel L. Gardner
About 1/3 of the world’s population identifies themselves as Christian. Eighty-five percent (85%) of Americans Identify themselves as Christian. Do biblical Christians really hold radical, violent views?
Easter Sunday our family visited the local Chinese Christian church. One of the college students in my weekly Bible study was baptized and gave her testimony. Of course everything was done in Chinese, so being unable to understand the language we tried to sense what was going on.
The service following the baptism began with prayer and singing Amazing Grace. We sang in English alongside church members singing in Chinese (probably Mandarin).
The previous evening my wife and I had attended the local Korean Church which hosted an evening of singing. We listened for about an hour and a half as Christians worshipped God through song, prayer, and testimonies in their native Korean language.
After the service during the meal we visited with the pastor who is a missionary to Kenya. That was unexpected. If I understood him correctly, the pastor and his family have served as missionaries in Kenya for 14 years. They are furloughing in Starkville for one year.
The pastor told us the story about the ‘pocket gospel.’ Though I’d never heard the term, I quickly understood the phenomenon. Shortly after arriving in Kenya he became aware of some who preach the pocket gospel, i.e. they preach the gospel in the streets and then hold out their hands for money to put into their pockets.
‘Pocket gospel’ phenomenon is just one hurdle the pastor has had to clear to reach his audience. He has had to explain he did not come to get money from Kenyans, but simply wanted to teach them the gospel free of charge, that fellow Christians were funding his missionary endeavors.
Statistics indicate about two billion Christians in the world today, that’s ‘Christians’ in the broadest sense of the word. About 85 percent of Americans identify themselves as Christian. Americans forget we make up only a tiny proportion of the worldwide church.
Christianity has been a radical faith from the beginning. Consider that Jesus Christ was rejected by both liberal and conservative religious leaders of His day. None of them liked Him or His message which gained notable acceptance among common folks.
Consider persecutions many believers suffered during the first few centuries of the Common Era. Even today those who measure such things estimate no fewer than 170,000 Christians are martyred each year around the globe.
Easter or Resurrection Sunday is the day Christians cast aside their differences and unite to celebrate the seminal event of world history. The Christian faith is not bound by national borders, culture, or political ideologies.
Yet many in authority around the world fear Christianity. Marxists and communists have threatened to crush Christianity. Why? Because Christianity is about freedom and liberty. Marxism and communism are about totalitarianism and control of the masses…for the people’s own sake, of course.
I was alarmed to read about a report from the Missouri Information Analysis Center based on an unclassified report out of the Department of Homeland Security titled “Right-wing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment," dated April 7.
Buried deeply within the report were warnings about those who hold radical ‘Christian’ views. I’ll admit biblical Christianity is the most radical faith or ideology the world has ever known. And, many have cloaked ungodly ideologies and causes with ‘Christianity’ in order to carry out decidedly unchristian actions. But, their unchristian actions and words should be delineated from biblical Christian doctrine.
Sadly, debates over competing ideologies have turned violent throughout history. Christianity has suffered blame for many atrocities committed by zealots who were not even remotely following biblical Christian dogma.
Biblical Christianity poses no threat to any government. In America, believers may voice opinions or concerns as freely as their unbelieving counterparts. The Constitution guarantees that right.
Other nations have squashed that right under the guise of regulating what is best for all the people. Considering how many opinions and faiths there are in the world, that’s a mighty presumptuous governing attitude.
The powers that be in this old world have tried to stamp out or at least compromise biblical Christianity for 2,000 years. Yet, biblical Christian faith continues to find acceptance among common folks around the world, those open enough to consider the old, old story.
(Daniel L. Gardner is a syndicated columnist who shares his biblical worldview with readers across the South from his home in Starkville, MS. You may contact him at PJandMe2@gmail.com)
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