Doug Pagitt’s conversation with Matthew Lee Anderson about “The New Radicals”

I talked with Matthew Lee Anderson about his cover story in Christianity Today called “Here come the Radicals” (link is to the article).

Matthew suggests that the “supperlative stressing” (my word not his) attitude of writers such as David Platt, Francis Chan, Shane Claiborne, and Kyle Idleman is not radical enough and actually a capitulation to the very situation they are trying to condemn.

I thought the article was going to be different from what it was when I started reading (I figured CT wanted to be king maker with these guys) and wanted to talk with Matthew about it as I found his perspective and critique intriguing.

He and I have some similar views on the issues raised in the article, but would suggest different remedies and approaches which is what made the conversation fun.

Here is our conversation in 4 parts:

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  • http://www.lovegodloveneighbor.com Grant Walsh

    Really appreciated the tone of this conversation with two guys from different places and convictions. However, I was very disappointed at much of their “rhetoric” (interestingly, as they critiqued the “radicals” rhetoric). For instance, Anderson finds disingenuous when these guys write books or give messages at conferences (i.e. leverage consumer goods to rant against consumerism). However, like the original CT article, Anderson speaks in broad terms without knowing the actual facts of the guys he critiques. For instance, Shane Claiborne often stays at houses of friends while he is on the road (not hotels), relies on generosity of strangers, travels in a bus using veggie oil, and when he flies he gets other people to commit to not doing things as to erase his carbon footprint (people who are willing to make the sacrifices so a voice gets to be heard to challenge others). He makes no money on books and gives it all away, makes his own clothing, etc.

    Further to the point, both these guys bemoan the fact that there are “radicals” writing books when the more radical thing to do would be to live their lives in obscurity. Should have MLK lived his life in obscurity? Or any other reformer – social, political, or religious? Shane Claiborne is a voice for thousands of us who are living a life of relative obscurity (for instance, I live in Kolkata, India and am working on human trafficking) and we love that there is a guy out front for us saying the same things we believe, or live, or want to communicate to the world. It is OK to have someone out front.

    Finally, Anderson is right when he says that the radicals would say that we are just trying to live out what the Bible teaches. Yes, that is true. Throughout the Gospels we get this rich picture of Jesus showing us another world. He talks about money at length (more than any other topic in the Gospels) and calls us to live a life of radical dependence on God and a radical love for others. He tells us to store up treasures in heaven, not earth and that we cannot serve God and money. He tells us to love our enemies and to give (stuff) to anyone who asks of us expecting nothing in return. He tells Lazarus to enter into glory and the rich man to depart because while he was on the earth he “had his good things”. And the context of Claiborne and the other radicals is the richest, most affluent country in the history of the world that usually glosses over these teachings or hyper-spiritualizes them…so, yes, we do think Jesus has something to say to USA Christians.


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