[CS-FSLUG] Extremism: A Hallmark of Christianity - EXCELLENT!!

Fred A. Miller fmiller at lightlink.com
Tue Jun 22 23:42:04 CDT 2010

Extremism: A Hallmark of Christianity

By Randall A. Terry



This label is nearly as bad as the Scarlet Letter in many American
Christian minds. Hostile unbelievers cast this insult like the first
"without sin" stone on anyone who dares to take an uncompromising stand
on issues.

The fear of being condemned as an "extremist" has been so effective that
many tepid Christian leaders in pastorates, seminaries and ministry
leadership positions have joined Christianity's enemies and launched
their own quiet, thoughtful, reasoned attack on "extremism."

The practical result of this is that battalions of young "Davids" sit
fidgeting on the sidelines, while the King Sauls of the Church explain
to the Davids why it is not God's will to slay the Goliaths.

            However, the charge of extremism - rather than an accusation
to be ashamed of - is actually an accolade to relish and revel in;
because without doubt Christianity is the ultimate extremist religion.
No other religion, no other faith, no other deity even comes close. I
submit that the war on extremism from inside or outside Christianity is
ultimately a war on Christianity itself.

            Consider the extremes of Christ's attributes and offices.

He is the Lamb of God; he is the lion of the tribe of Judah. He is the
Prince of Peace; He is the Man of War. A bruised reed He will not break;
He shatters the nations with a rod of iron. Jesus weeps; He has eyes of
fire. He does not lift up His voice; out of His mouth goes a two edged
sword. Christ is the Savior; Christ is the Judge.

            He made Himself a servant; He is the Master and Lord of all.
His kingdom is not of this world; He is King of Kings and all kings will
bow at His feet. He wore a crown of thorns; He offers a crown of life.

            He is fully God; and He is fully man. Those extremes nearly
tore the Church apart.

            Reflect on God the Father. God is love; God is a consuming
fire. God is light; God dwells in the thick darkness. Jacob He loves;
Esau He hates.

Let us ponder how extreme the mandates and the fruit of Christianity are
in our lives and relationships. The Bible demands that we love our
enemies; the Psalmist boasts of his perfect hatred for God's enemies.
Christ promised to leave his peace with us; yet he declared he did not
come to bring peace, but a sword. Christ brings unity to Gentile and
Jew; he divides a mother-in-law from her daughter-in-law. He commands us
to rejoice evermore; he adjures us to let our joy be turned to sorrow
and our laughter to weeping.

God's dealings with men and nations are equally extreme.

He will save the city for the sake of 10 righteous men; he destroys tens
of thousands for the sin of one man. One errant son loses Paradise by
one act; one obedient son redeems the world by one act. God forgives the
woman taken in adultery; he kills the man for steadying the Arc of the
Covenant with his hand.  He sends blistering drought in Elijah's day; he
drowns the world in Noah's. He brought the first son of David and
Bathsheba to the grave; he brought their next son to the throne. The
angels rejoice when sinners are converted; converted sinners will judge
the angels.

Biblical heroes are a study in extremes.

David is the sweet Psalmist of Israel wedding poetry; David is the
fierce warrior who presents Goliath's head to the king. Elijah stands
and conquers 400 prophets of Baal; he flees in terror at the word of one
woman. Abraham begs God for a son; then willingly offers him as a
sacrifice until God intervenes. Peter declares he will die for Jesus;
within hours he denies he even knows him. Timid Gideon begs God for a
sign; brave Gideon slays two kings on a stone. Saul of Tarsus kills
Christians; he is finally killed for being one.

The extremes of Christianity may startle us; they may make some
comfortable; but they are not contradictions. The tightrope walker that
balances his acts with a long pole holds but one pole. It is the
extremes of that pole that keep them in balance. Should he favor one
side of the pole and lop off the other, he could not maintain his
balance--he would fall.

This is the plight of modern divines. Having accepted the false notion
of Christianity's enemies that certain aspects of our God and faith are
extreme (and therefore extremely embarrassing), they have lopped off the
extremities that preserve them on precarious heights--and they have
fallen; fallen into the safety net of fallen man's opinions. But this
safety net is actually a snare.

Having turned from the Harsh Master who reaps what he did not sow, they
have enslaved themselves to harsher masters who sow the wind and reap
the whirlwind.

Our modern, sophisticated, would-be "heroes of the faith" slay no
tyrants, conquer no kingdoms, risk no martyrdom. Instead, they get
photos with tyrants, protect the status quo of the kingdom, and
frequently martyr the reputations of their extremist brethren.

By trying to blend the heat of God's mercy and the coldness of his
judgment, the "balanced" have exchanged their glory for the similitude
of a lukewarm, politically correct ox, fit only to be spewed out of
Christianity's mouth. By the forced blending of God's unapproachable
light and the thick darkness in which he dwells, the moderates of
Christianity have created the drab-grey-God who neither inspires wonder
nor dread.

They have balance; the balance of a fixed, lifeless statue.

One achieves healthy balance by remembering both the goodness and
severity of God; not by blending them into divine indifference. One
maintains balance by accepting the extremes of black-and-white; not by
creating a bland, grey divinity.

What Christianity's detractors both inside and outside the church must
accept is that Christianity /is/ extreme -- extreme to the wildest
degree. Perhaps nothing reveals this extremism more than the final state
of man. The righteous live in night-less light, the wicked are cast into
outer darkness. The redeemed dwell in perpetual joy; the rebels weep and
gnash their teeth forever. Those who die in friendship with Christ have
eternal life; those who die rejecting His grace have eternal damnation.
It does not get any more extreme than this.

Those who reject extremes must inevitably reject Christ and Christianity.

By rejecting the extremes of male and female, our seminaries have
created religious eunuchs and barren heralds; neuters that cannot
reproduce their kind. By castigating Christianity's extremities, have
castrated its vitality.

Please show to us the "balanced" moderate who has done anything great in
history. They have won no great battles, they have no tragic defeats.
They have no boast, they have no denials. They offer no heads of giants;
their songs are trite and predictable.

When moderates in the Church call for balance, they really want to lop
off the embarrassing extremes of Christ, His Church, and His history.
But by doing so, they make Christianity an embarrassment. It is no
longer, "These men who have turned the world upside down have come here
also..." but rather, "These men who want a place at the table have come
to discuss compromises."

Past enemies of the Gospel feared extremist Christians: "Now when they
saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were
unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of
them, that they had been with Jesus." Our modern leaders are learned,
but not bold. Now our enemies marvel that Christian leaders won't fight
for Christianity; they take note that they have been with Balaam.

These new champions - pitiful eunuchs - inspire neither dread nor
ecstasy, neither joy nor weeping. They inspire /nothing/, because only
extremes inspire people. Mediocrity, gray, blandness... inspires no one.
They cannot advance and conquer for Christianity, for they cannot even
defend her. They are safe, and they are irrelevant or worse yet; they
are relevant only as religious hostages to be paraded before enemies
like trophies from a conquered kingdom. By the waters of Babylon they
have sung skillfully. Unlike the three Hebrew children, they bow deeply.

Conquered brothers, captured sisters, be loosed of the chains of your
safe, grey, lukewarm, mediocrity. Cease giving succor to the enemy. Your
war on extremism is a war on Christianity itself, and you cannot win.
Come, battle demons with us. Relish the exhilaration of triumphs; curse
the hapless defeats. You can only achieve great victories by risking
great disasters.

Stop trying to give God a facelift; he doesn't need your plastic
surgery. Stop trying to amputate the extremes of Christianity you find
so embarrassing.

To the unbelieving rebels; behold the goodness and severity of God. If
you repent and believe the gospel, you will receive forgiveness and
mercy from the God who made you, and sent His Son to die for you. But if
you continue to rebel, and die outside of God's friendship, you will be
judged. If you spurn His mercy, you will drink the terrifying cup of His
wrath forever. And your accusations of Christianity's extremes will
taunt you for all eternity.

Finally, to young and old believers alike - who yearn for militancy in
the Church Militant - take this advice: flee the guidance of these
barren doctors of divinity. Go to them for the Sacraments -- yes -- but
do not follow their lead into the ghetto of mediocrity. /They/ /will
deliver you from extremes, but they will rob you of your strengths to
deliver/. They will inoculate you from the pain and anguish of
childbirth, because they will sterilize you. Better to be in anguished
labor for Christ than to be a quiet gelding for Jesus.

Rejoice in the boundaries of extremism. Rejoice in the God of extremes.
Find your balance in the extremes of Christianity. Boldly declare: "I am
an extremist!" and then live out that extremism to the extreme.

*Randall Terry, Box 23775, Washington, DC 20026*

"Gun control is like trying to reduce drunk driving by making it 
tougher for sober people to own cars." - Unknown

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