A public figure recently called a public official “extreme” for his religious views. Who the figure and the official are doesn’t matter. I don’t want to identify those individuals. I don’t want to dive into the particular pool they belong to. I don’t even want to dip my toes into the waters of that pool. As I have told you before:
In fact, they are rather interchangeable. There was a similar incident more than a decade ago when a different public figure called a different (but similar) group of people “radical” for their religious views.
And my reaction to the “extreme” comment today is the same as it was to the “radical” comment then. I think that comment is ridiculous. I think both those comments are ridiculous. I think those comments are ridiculous not because I think they are incorrect. I think those comments are ridiculous because those terms are incorrect. Those terms are flat out inane, in fact.
When it comes to faith (or “religion” for that matter), there is no such thing as extreme or radical, not in the way those public figures were using those terms. There is only right and wrong. Either God said something or He didn’t. Either God told us to do/not do something, or He didn’t. To think/feel/believe He said/told us to do something He didn’t doesn’t make you extreme, radical, conservative, fundamental, liberal, or any of the other weird terms we use for such things. It just makes you wrong.
Or it might make you weak. That is the term Paul used for such a situation (people thinking God said something He didn’t). Not conservative or liberal, extreme or moderate, etc. Weak or strong. He does so in Romans 14.
That, then, is what such a person is: weak. Failing to correctly understand the will of God (and yet not rejected by God, who is gracious and kind and does not find fault with His children). And that is how they should be treated: they should be accepted. Not allowed to dominate. Not become the tail that wags the dog. But accepted.
That’s what they are if they are incorrect, anyway. If they are correct, if they have correctly discerned the will and word of God, then they aren’t weak. They aren’t even wrong. You are.
In any case, these terms are inaccurate and unproductive. They are also completely illogical (if there is a God who interacts with us, why would we not be extreme about Him?). And they thus ought to be abandoned. There is no such thing as “extreme” or “radical” in The Faith. Let’s stop saying there are.