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We Got Radicals, Yes We Do; We Got Radicals, How About You?

This evening while channel surfing I stumbled across a report on Fox News centering on extremists in Islam from which so much of today’s terrorism flows. I caught only the last ten minutes. Most of it was the same stuff you’d see any other time of the day – “death to America” chants, burnings of the Stars and Stripes, rhetorical antipathies toward Jews and Christians and guns…lots of guns. But what struck me in the piece were the examples of how some in the Muslim (and I’m assuming Middle Eastern) media were promoting the extremist agenda with their programming. One incredibly disturbing example was a cartoon for children that showed a plane (with “made-for-kids” eyes and mouth on the front of it) just flying happily along until a Jewish man (his yarmulke for all to see) pushed a button which somehow transformed the happy face plane into a mean-faced plane that now was rushing towards the Twin Towers to meet its 9/11 destiny.

That is sad on so many fronts but what stood out to me being a teacher, and a religious teacher at that, was that everyone who felt this cartoon was okay (the creators, the TV programmers, the audience of adults and children) was taught to believe that this was okay. My assumption is that most, if not all of it, was under the guise of religion. That God believes these murderous thoughts, feelings and actions are good and noble. This is somehow his plan.

I’d like to throw some stones at them. I’d like to live with a heavy dose of righteous indignation toward their lemming-like following of teachings so ruinous. I like to show people why being a Christian is so much a clearer choice in contrast to Islam by using delusional stories like the one I’ve just told you. The only problem is Christianity has its own set of wackos preaching delusions that are just as ruinous. Many of these teachers, like their radical Islamist counterparts, are lauded by millions, watched on television and followed like rock stars (to which many of them live like such). While their teaching doesn’t promote violence or hatred against another group or race of people it still is a far cry from God’s heart. Maybe you’ve come across it…

It makes God your personal market-money manager who guarantees financial gain. It says that no one should ever be sick, be poor or be anything they don’t want to be. It promotes man as all-powerful teaching that life is all about the fulfillment of his destiny, dreams and desires. They see the “not yet” as the “already”.

Subtler cousins of this teaching equate following Jesus with the great American Dream, allowing you to choose Jesus like you would anything down the supermarket aisle – just buy it for when you need it, use it when you’d like, jettison it when it gets old, boring or just doesn’t “work” for you anymore – didn’t make my marriage stay together, didn’t improve my business, didn’t give me obedient kids. Still, it can all be yours for a prayer and an ounce of emotion. Don’t worry about denying yourself and taking up your cross, this is easy.

Friends, the sad truth is we have our own radicals. We have teachers who have a radically different version of what it is to follow Jesus. It is radically different from what we see predominantly around the world, in early church history and definitely (and most importantly) from the scriptures. Yet many embrace them. They’re given lucrative book deals, worldwide television programs and packed out churches, and, like their Islamic counterparts, are taking generations down with them.

So maybe the next time you click through your television programming and run across some slick, bejeweled and bedazzled preacher weaving the latest and greatest from God on the loom of prosperity and/or consumerism be reminded that Western Christianity has a terror of its own.

Picture of Yancey Arrington
Dr. Yancey C. Arrington is an eighth generation Texan, Acts 29 Network and Houston Church Planting Network fan, and Teaching Pastor at Clear Creek Community Church in the Bay Area of Houston. He is also author of Preaching That Moves People and TAP: Defeating the Sins That Defeat You, and periodically writes for Acts 29 and The Gospel Coalition.

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