Radical Christianity: Preparing the Way

People tell me my words are too strong. They want me to edit my language and thoughts. They want me to be “gentle” and “apt to teach” (2 Timothy 2:24). But I’m not a teacher. I’m a prophet. I want to tear people down, not build them up. I want to destroy, not create. And I want to do it with words of fire and brimstone. I’m tired of being censored.

david goliathAfter Moses told Pharaoh, “Let my people go,” God used him to strike Egypt with ten plagues (Exodus 4-12). Samuel hacked King Agag to death (1 Samuel 15). David accused Goliath of defying the armies of the living God and struck him dead with a stone (1 Samuel 17). Elijah’s prayer and sacrifice on Mount Carmel brought fire from heaven (1 Kings 17). Elisha’s prayer led two bears to kill 40 children who had mocked him (2 Kings 2). Daniel’s prayers led to visions of the future and made him warn King Nebuchadnezzar of judgment (Daniel 2-12). John the Baptist wore animal skins, ate locusts and wild honey, and called the Pharisees a “generation of vipers and hypocrites” (Matthew 3). Jesus Christ cleansed the temple of money changers (John 2). This is what I want to be like. This is the biblical heritage of words and deeds I’ve chosen.

Jesus chose John the Baptist to “prepare the way before him” (Malachi 3:1, Matthew 11:10). His hand-picked forerunner was a radical. That fact tells me much about his character. In these final hours, Jesus wants radical Christians who will prepare the way for his Second Coming.

reinhard-bonnkeWhere are the radical prophets and reformers now? Where are the people who will speak up, stand out, and “prepare the way of the Lord”? I’ve read letters and sermons by men like Reinhard Bonnke (Germany) and Angus Buchan (South Africa). These preachers get results, but they’re too mild for me. Leonard Ravenhill (1907-1994) was a revival author and preacher, but he’s been dead 20 years. He didn’t have the spiritual impact of men like Martin Luther, William Tyndale, or William Wilberforce either.

I didn’t know public radicals really existed in modern times until I saw Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” (2012). Here I was introduced to Pennsylvania representative Thaddeus Stevens (1792-1868). A radical politician and reformer, he campaigned against slavery and Freemasonry. Unlike John Brown (1800-1859), he was sane. Stevens was known in Congress and in the Washington area for his strong speech. Both supporters and opponents respected him for it, even when the latter publicly goaded him.

Thaddeus_StevensJust once, Stevens lessened his anti-slavery virulence during House speeches on the thirteenth amendment to the Constitution, which abolished slavery (1865). He knew the journalists were watching and listening in the gallery. Stevens, like any good politician, said, “I do not hold for equality in all things but only equality before the law.”

Up in the gallery, Elizabeth Keckley, Mary Todd Lincoln’s dressmaker and confidante, initially became angry. Her reaction surprised and introduced me to the level of respect radical reformers will always earn. In the end, Stevens got the better of his pro-slavery opponents. He said that they deserve equality before the law, just like blacks, even though pro-slavery people have inferior intelligence and emotion. Stevens widened the debate and made people see what legal equality really means.

jesus john-the-baptist holy-spirit dove baptismIf we want to see people saved and raptured in our world’s final hours, we must remove stumbling blocks and stones and lift up a standard of righteousness (Isaiah 57:14, 62:10). We must “prepare the way of the Lord” (Isaiah 40:3, Matthew 3:3).

 

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