What Does It Mean To Be Radical?

Erik Cooper —  June 28, 2012 — Leave a comment

Do you know the original meaning of radical? Thanks to Rick Warren, I’ve done a little research.

The origins of radical come from the late 14th century Latin word radicalis, meaning “rooted.” It wasn’t until the 1800’s that an extreme British political party began using the word to mean “reformist.” Then in 1920’s America it became “unconventional.” And sometime in the 80’s surfer’s hijacked it to describe the perfect wave.

We all admire the idea of being radical. Different. Cutting edge. On the verge of losing control. And as true follower’s of Jesus Christ, we will naturally become unique. Against the grain. Counter culture.

But sometimes I wonder if our desire to be radical is driven more by a fear of being normal–ordinary, lost in the crowd–than by a longing to be rooted.

It’s no secret that I’m safe, so perhaps I’m simply looking for self-justification. But does radical have to mean “extreme,” or can it simply be expressed as faithful? Consistent? Grounded? Stable? Attached firmly to “The Source?”

I don’t want to make excuses for laziness, idolatry, lawlessness, or compromise. I’m just curious.

What if being radical is less about some “out there” thing you’re willing to do, and more about Who you’re uncompromisingly rooted to?

That seems pretty counter-culture to me.

What do you think?

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