Radical Jesus Freaks
Posted by Dr. Larry Taylor
In a superlative article entitled Bono’s Great Adventure, David Brooks speaks of the conversion of the U2 bandmates that lead to them embracing “a faith that simply bypassed the encrustations of 2,000 years of religious civilization and returned straight to Jesus; the helpless baby who was born on a bed of straw and shit; the wandering troubadour who put the poor, the marginalized, and the ailing at the center of his gaze; the rebel outsider who confronted the power structures of his society and took them all on at once.” (Brooks, David. Bono’s Great Adventure. The Atlantic. Vol. 330-No. 5. December 2022. p. 46)
This is the radical faith of pre-Constantinian Christianity, of the desert mothers and fathers, of Francis and Clare of Assisi, of Anabaptists in the Reformation, and of the Jesus people of the 60s and 70s. Sadly, it is not the faith of most occidental Christians today, be they evangelical, Pentecostal, fundamentalist, or mainline. Instead, our cultural narrative places sex, drugs, rock and roll and libertarian unrestraint on one side of the fence, and religion, judgmentalism, control, sexual repression, and authority of the other. Radical Jesus freaks became fundamentalist megachurch pastors supporting right-wing politicians.
Ever since February 27, 380, when the Eastern Roman Emperor Theodosius I (347 – 395) signed a decree in the presence of the Western Roman Emperor Valentinian II (371 – 392) that made Christianity the religion of the state and punished the practice of pagan rituals, the Christian religion has been encrusted with power, politics, wealth, and violence.
Radical Christians who bypass the “encrustations of 2,000 years of religious civilization” and return “straight to Jesus” still exist in Bruderhof communities, at the Simple Way in Philadelphia, in small inner-city faith communities tending community gardens, among Mennonites, Brethren, and Amish, and in the hearts and lives of sold-out Jesus-people who are living by the Sermon on the Mount.
With loving, serving hearts, they forgive enemies, turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, wash feet, oppose killing for any reason, protect and care for the environment. They stand against racism, homophobia, misogyny, antisemitism, islamophobia, and injustice, and work to alleviate poverty and end exploitation. They join God in making all things new by taking up the causes of the homeless, incarcerated, addicted, disabled, and mentally ill. They confront the power structures that perpetuate injustice. The speak truth to power.
And, they are known by their love.
About Dr. Larry TaylorRadical Anabaptist, Jesus Freak, Red Letter Christian, sailor, thinker, spiritual director, life coach, pastor, teacher, chaplain, counselor, writer, husband, father, grandfather, dog-sitter
Posted on November 26, 2022, in anabaptist, Christianity, creation, Jesus, Justice, Kingdom Life, kingdom of God, Peace Shalom Hesed, social justice, Spirituality, The Cross. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.
Hi Pastor Larry,
Should “and authority of the other” be “on the other”?
Just something to double-check, if you want to, thanks!
Sublime wisdom and much appreciated share, thank you and be love always 🙏