The news media thrives on radical events. They never define the word radical. Synonyms listed in Webster’s Encyclopedic Dictionary are: basic, essential, original, drastic, violent, extreme, et al. Religion is easy to misrepresent and give a misleading meaning to it. The result is radical religion.
Every religion has an ultimate authority. Islam has the Koran for its ultimate authority. If the Muslim carefully obeys the Koran, he or she is a faithful Muslim. For instance, one of the more popular verses in the Koran during the alleged age of Islamic terrorism is 9.5. There are several translations given for that verse. “Sahih International: And when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, let them [go] on their way. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.”
The translation must then be interpreted. A good Muslim will obey the ultimate authority. The unfaithful Muslim (a professing Muslim, but unfaithful to the ultimate authority) will say something like this: “I know what the Koran says, but I believe……!” Either way it is radical religion.
The ultimate authority for Christianity is the Bible. Unfortunately Christians do not agree on the contents (what belongs in the Bible). Christianity may become a radical religion when Christians disagree over the interpretation of certain Bible doctrine. If the division is over biblical doctrine or theology, listen to the Word of God. “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10). However, the sin nature will potentially denominate the visible church on earth.
Dr. Benard Ramm, a Baptist theologian, wrote an article nearly 45 years ago published in Christianity Today entitled “The Continental Divide in Contemporary Theology.” He identified “three strands in contemporary theology” which were 1) the orthodox theology, which included all Protestant churches, 2) the modern theology, which included neo-orthodoxy, and 3) liberal theology. His final comment is worthy of attention. “Those who really know the cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith can differentiate the kind of theology which falls on the right side of this continental divide from that which falls on the wrong side.”
Cardinal doctrines are the fundamental or basic doctrines of the Christian religion. The Devil is the great deceiver and along with the sin nature, it is certain that the visible church on earth will not be un-denominated. However, every denomination of the Christian religion ought to have mutual agreement on the basics. Don’t be like the professing Christian who says, “I know what the Bible says, but I believe……” The question is what defines the basics? The Apostles’ Creed is one of the best definitions of the cardinal doctrines for Christianity.
Radical religion may be good or bad. It is good as long as the believers trust the ultimate authority. It is good if believers have and take seriously a basic creedal formulation from the ultimate authority. It is bad when professing believers turn doctrine into “but theology.” I know what the ultimate authority teaches, but I believe……!