On Christian Radicalism

David C

I’m a physician that often bridges very dif­fer­ent worlds. Voca­tion­ally, my foci are in inter­nal med­i­cine and pedi­atrics. Geo­graph­i­cally, I grew up in the sub­urbs but was invited and lived "on the block". Eth­ni­cally, I’m Asian and Amer­i­can. Socially, I’m an intro­vert that enjoys pub­lic speak­ing (mainly as a plat­form for ideals). Polit­i­cally, I lean center-left but have deep Evangelical Chris­t­ian roots. Aca­d­e­m­i­cally, I’ve stud­ied engi­neer­ing, med­i­cine, and health pol­icy. Faith-wise, I am decid­edly Christian.

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3 Responses

  1. Dave says:

    I think your comment about how regardless of your initial motives you gained a lot from this move, points to two things that I have thinking about.

    1) American Christianity in general focuses a little too much on motivation, over action. We psychoanalyze everything we do to understand what was “in our heart”. I think this is helpful to an extent, but I think it too easily leads to a Christian schizophrenia. We care so much about wanting to do things for the right reasons, that many of us use our faulty hearts as an excuse for not doing anything. We then make ourselves feel better by criticizing those “radicals” by trying to demonstrate how their seemingly good acts are marred by pride. There is a notion that right actions stem solely from having the right theology. I think there is a priority place on our minds over our bodies, and we confuse our heart with our mind. I think our “hearts” are something much deeper in our beings, that our harder to access and interpret than we make it seem. Furthermore, I believe that our motives will always be mixed, in focusing too much on our motives before acting we fail to recognize that the one who changes our hearts and motives is not us. We cannot change our hearts through therapy, but through obedience.

    2) You hint at how you gained a great deal from living in the inner city. You better understand the heart and mind of Christ. Many times radical Christianity is presented as a matter of doing radical things in order to be Christian. We are presented with daunting examples of radical obedience and are paralyzed because they sound “too difficult”. I think there is something missing in our language about radicalism, which is the idea of invitation. Christ is not simply commanding us to gain obedient followers, but, in his love, inviting us into a new life, filled with blessing and opportunity. This blessing and opportunity is not health and wealth. This blessing and opportunity is what you have experienced in living in the inner city. We can resist Christ’s radical commandments, but are depriving ourselves of a life where we can see God at work, and deepen our relationship with Him.

    Just some of my reactions. Thanks for writing.

  2. Dave Campbell says:

    I love the leadership of a fully sacrificial movement, and the humility that accepts creative variance from said leadership. Very few are called to sacrifice so much, but your community of doctors need to hear of this type of lifestyle management. Face it, your sacrifice is minimal as compared to those in persecuted in oppressive, violent countries, great and admirably as your sacrifice has been. Even your ministry asks for measured and wise level of sacrifice, There’s always greater movements. The Holy Spirit is always impressing greater levels of sacrifice. Our language struggles to keep up.

    Thanks for your ministry and cultural leadership,

  3. Julie says:

    I found my way here through the ESN blog–appreciated this post a lot, especially bullet #3 re: humility of obedience (makes me think about the non-flashy, unintentionally radical components of the immigrant churches that I grew up in)

    “Even though there may be legit­i­mate crit­i­cism of the bom­bas­tic lan­guage and meth­ods of the contemporary/modern/chic/hipster forms of Chris­t­ian rad­i­cal­ism described here, the author’s sug­ges­tion of a response that hon­ors faith­ful obe­di­ence falls short of the exhor­ta­tions of the gospel, whose crit­i­cisms of wealth are cer­tainly rad­i­cal: as a dis­ci­ple, you will have no place to lay your head; let the dead bury their own dead; sell all you have and give it to the poor; it is dif­fi­cult for rich peo­ple to go to heaven; love your ene­mies; and fol­low Jesus even as he leads where you do not want to go.”

    I needed that today, thanks for writing.

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