Some time ago a friend of mine (though we differ religiously) in conversation about the Bible, said to me: “You take the radical view.” Sometimes the word radical is given a meaning that is uncomplimentary, that the radical one is an extremist, goes to excesses, is immoderate, his judgment is poor, he is eccentric, unduly narrow, etc. That my friend meant none of these things, I’m sure. But let us note a definition of radical: “Proceeding from the root; original; fundamental; reaching to the center of the ultimate source; thoroughgoing.” A radical change is “one that is so thoroughgoing it effects the fundamental character of the thing involved.” In view of these definitions, if the position occupied by the church of Christ affects the character of error, then you might say we “take the radical view,” but as pertaining to the character of truth, no, for we believe in standing squarely on the truth of God’s word, and in the following paragraphs the reader can see why.
SOME EVERYDAY “RADICALS”
1. The Doctor. When the doctor diagnoses our case and prescribes a course for us to follow in order to avoid disease and death, do we look upon him as “radical,” unduly narrow, in insisting upon our following his instructions to the letter? Suppose he shows us that to vary from the prescribed course means death?
2. Medical Examiners. When the medical authorities set up medical standards are they radical? Is the law radical in upholding the standards? Suppose the doctor gives you a prescription; you take it to the pharmacist for filling and he tells you it makes no difference how it is filled; it won’t hurt you if you are honest. What if six different druggists say it makes no difference what ingredients they put into the medicine? What would you say? If the law demands that all prescriptions be filled exactly as they are written by all druggists, is the law radical? Are you radical, eccentric, unduly narrow when you insist the druggist fill the prescription exactly as the doctor has written it?
3. The Merchant. When you go to buy a pound of beans and the grocer gives you six-teen ounces for a pound, is he radical if he re-fuses to give you twenty ounces? If you purchase a piece of goods, and the merchant insists that the correct measure is thirty-six inches to the yard, do you consider him radical if he won't make a yard forty-six inches?
4. The Farmer. Suppose you were to insist that the farmer could raise a good crop of corn in zero weather, in the bleak winter time, would he be radical in saying it is impossible in view of the laws of nature? Suppose you insisted he could raise a crop of crimson clover from alfalfa seed, and he said it could not be done, would you consider him radical? Is he radical if he in-sists there is no variation from the laws of nature, but that every seed brings forth after its own kind?
IS GOD RADICAL?
1. Was God Radical in Old Testament Times? In Genesis 4 we read about Cain’s substituting in his worship to God. Was God radical in rejecting Cain’s worship because he did it not as God had commanded? Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire in burning incense in worship to God. Nowhere had God said “Thou shalt not get fire from another source,” but he had told them where to get fire for this purpose. Was God radical for consuming them when they did not do exactly as God commanded?
When God smote Uzzah for putting his hand on the ark when God’s law was contrary to this, was He radical? Was not Uzzah honest? his heart right? did he intend only good? Yes, but he violated a positive command and suffered for it (2 Sam. 6:6-7).
In 1 Samuel 15 we read that because Saul did not utterly destroy the Amalekites and all that pertained to them, God dethroned him. Was God radical in punishing Saul for saving alive a few cattle and the king of Amalek?
When the young prophet of Judah kept God’s law implicitly, until he listened to the lying lips of the old prophet of Bethel, and being deceived by his lie disobeyed God, was God radical when he allowed the lion to take the young man’s life in punishment for his disobedience (1 Kings 13)?
2. Is Christ Radical in His New Testament Law? The foregoing examples serve as warnings to us. Note a few things in the law of Christ. The promise of salvation is not to those who merely with their lips, or in their minds, call upon Christ, but those who do his will: “Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Mat. 7:21). The Holy Spirit teaches in Revelation 22:14 that those who obey God are the ones who will enter heaven. Paul teaches in Hebrews 5:9 that Christ is the author of salvation to those who obey him.
Christ forbids any changes in His word. This has been God's law always. Deuteronomy 4:2 forbids addition or subtraction. Deuteronomy 5:32 forbad the Jews to turn either to the right or to the left, but to keep God’s commands. In Mark 7:1-7 Christ condemned the traditions and doctrines of the Pharisees. If we may make changes, have any doctrines and organizations we want, why did Christ forbid and condemn them in his day?
In 2 John 9-11 we are told that those who transgress, go beyond, what God has commanded have not God or Christ, therefore lost. In view of the fact that those who take liberties with the word of God are lost, tough they may think otherwise, we have only one motive in op-posing denominations and their error―to save the souls of people in them. Friends, when you wear a name in religion, have a doctrine God does not authorize, you are lost according to John. Revelation 22:18-19 forbids addition or subtraction. Those who do so are lost. No de-nomination can exist without addition or subtraction, hence the Bible says all who partake of them are lost. Do not find fault with me for pointing this out to you; appreciate it and turn to the truth before it is too late.
If we may vary from God’s word, why did God warn us about the doctrines of men (Col. 2:8; Eph. 4:14)? Paul says to preach a different doctrine from what he preached makes one accursed (Gal. 1:6-9). No denomination can exist without preaching a different gospel from what Paul preached. If all religious bodies were to preach and practice what the apostles taught in the New Testament, there would be an immediate removal of denominationalism and unity among us would prevail.
What is the standard? Christ said we would be judged by His word (John 12:47-50). Seeing that we shall be judged by the law of Christ, and that he forbids any variation from His will, we should live as close to His word as we possibly can, for those who will not hear (obey) Christ will he destroyed (Acts 3:22-23).
ARE WE RADICAL?
Are we radical, or do we take the radical view, when we object to substitution in worship to God? God would not accept the substitutions of Cain, Nadab and Abihu. Why do people think He will accept them now any more than then? Do we take the radical view when we insist upon strict and complete obedience, lest we be rejected like King Saul? Are we radical when we insist upon pure seed instead of adulterated gospel? Luke 8:11 says the seed is the word of God. If one plants wheat seed, will it bring forth anything but wheat? If we want to raise a crop of corn, would we plant cotton seed and expect to grow corn? Neither can we plant the seeds of denomination-al doctrines and expect to raise Christians. It won't work; your commonsense will tell you that. The only way to raise Christians, and be pleasing to God, is to plant nothing but the seed of the kingdom, the unadulterated word of God.
Are we radical in insisting upon strict compliance with God’s word? Note Proverbs 30:6: “Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.”
Suppose a man has cancer of the liver and thinks he is all right? Does that make it so? Like-wise in religion: “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Pro. 14:12).
Roy J. Hearn