After recently reading “Radical,” by David Platt and “Crazy Love,” by Francis Chan a little bit ago, I’m coining a new phrase that I hope never finds expression in the church nor in the generation of Christians coming. I’m calling it “Fadicalism.”
Although I very much appreciate the voice that God has given to brothers like Chan and Platt, calling the U.S. church to radical, American-dream-rejecting, surrendered, abandoned, and very biblical faith, I am concerned about how such messages will be received by a generation that is already looking for adventure and on the bandwagon that is social justice right now. Don’t get me wrong – I love that the Church is coming back to center in putting feet to the gospel, but it is all too easy to jump onto the next movement be it church growth, seeker-sensitivity, or whatever you want to name it. We’ve seen countless people take a biblical idea, put a slogan to it, have a conference about it, then sign up thousands of people to go after it. Church history has been full of these kinds of movements (albeit without the conferences), and God has indeed used these movements to advance the kingdom.
However, here’s what I find lacking in the latest message for the Church – a call to suffering. Yes, we should live radically, forsaking the American dream, praying for the nations, stewarding our money and resources for the global mission God is advancing. Yes, we should forsake lukewarmness and compromise, and genuinely ask of God what he desires (and obey it!). The stories that are used are so motivating. They make me long for God to show up in real and powerful ways like the testimonies given, but what about the suffering? What about the cost involved? This kind of lifestyle is not a cakewalk, yet it is demanded of every Christ follower. I think of Bonhoeffer’s line in “Cost of Discipleship” – “When Jesus bids a man come, he bids him come and die.”
To forsake these things and pick up the cross of this kind of Radicalism while sexy in hindsight is to choose a life of suffering because Jesus is everything. He is the joy that is before us, the pearl of greatest price, the treasure in a field. He’s the motivation for forsaking all the trinkets and Siren songs that are pitched our way. Sometimes I felt these books were trying to sell me on all the great sights I’ll see along the way to the destination when it seems that the biblical motivation is the destination, namely Jesus himself (Phil 3:12-18). It’s as if a cruise director invited you to come on a trip leaving behind your sinful, boring lifestyle at home for adventure on the high seas. “It’ll be tough, for sure, but here are some examples of the cool things people before you saw on the way. Don’t you want to experience that too? See, it is a trip worth taking.” Rather, wouldn’t the right call to action be simply to say, “It’s going to be hard as hell. Storms will come. You will wonder what on earth you just did. You will have less than your peers. You will not get respect. People will think you’re a fool. You may accomplish nothing that you can quantify in this life, but the destination? Oh, it’s Jesus!!! He’s so worth it!”
I don’t for a second doubt the sincerity of Platt or Chan. I wish I had an ounce of their faith and obedience. I do, however, issue this word of caution to the generation of students hearing their message (and the individuals who will market to them). Please don’t turn radical, Gospel-driven living, into a fad. Please don’t market FADICALISM.
Oh and by the way, before you reject these books, do yourself a favor and read them. They are simple, clear, and convicting to say the least.
God help us from becoming Fadicals!