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Ranking the Radicals

I read with great interest about the new radicals ["Here Come the Radicals!" March]. However, I am troubled by our tendency to label anything that diverges from standard practice, as if to say, "Let's give it a name, allocate it a slot in our Christian belief system, set it apart, evaluate it, and assign it a grade."

Jesus asks a unique obedience of each of us. We are too quick to apply our own accustomed grid of faith and praxis. Let's give God thanks for those who follow a road less traveled.

Although I have been inspired by the "radical" genre of books, Matthew Lee Anderson put his finger on some of my reservations about them. Last year I wrote a book. The editor liked it, but he said that Christian publishers would never take a chance on a writer without a "national platform." This highlights the paradox Anderson notes: You have to be nationally known in order to speak out about the lowly Savior. How radical is that?

"Here Come the Radicals!" was informative but also odd. It talks about a "radical movement" but gives little evidence any such movement exists. What we have, rather, is another string of hot-selling books critiquing popular Christianity.

The oddest thing about the article is the superficial comparison to Keswick. These books and Keswick both stress more radical Christian commitment. But that's about as far as any comparison goes. It is not helpful to lump a bunch of popular books together, call it a "movement," and then compare it with a movement that has existed for over a century—and which has had shifting and diverse manifestations. Keswick may be (and has been) critiqued on several ...

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May 2013

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