This word is bantered about a lot these days referring mostly to Muslims. I suggest we take a step back and ask the question also about a different religion such as Christianity alongside Islam and compare the most conservative (or radical) views and their most common modern day expressions. What in your mind constitutes a Christian or Muslim extremist? (I will exclude from any discussion the Westboro Baptist Church as virtually all other Christians would quickly denounce them as wrong and an anomaly)
Jesus says love your enemies and do good to those who hurt you. Matt 5:44 & to turn the other cheek Matt. 5:39
Islam says O you who believe! Take not my enemies [the disbelievers] and your enemies as awliyaa’ [friends, allies, supporters, assistants etc.], showing affection towards them… (EMQ al-Mumtahanah, 60:1) & O you who believe! Take not for awliyaa’ [supporters, friends, allies and helpers] your fathers and your brothers if they prefer disbelief to Belief. And whoever of you does so, then he is one of the zaalimoon [wrong-doers, oppressors etc.]. (EMQ at-Tawbah, 9:23)
Are there verses in the Old Testament of the Bible which suggest a more violent approach to the enemies of God? Yes!
Do some of the earlier writings in the Koran have a milder approach in their dealings with outsiders? Yes!
Does the New Testament or later writings of the Bible suggest a change to the law of grace & mercy and a better way instituted by Jesus? Yes!
Do the later writings of Mohamed change into very narrow teachings with significant orders relating to forced conversions, violence, murder and jihad? Yes!
I could insert countless scriptures from the Bible or verses from the Koran but suffice it to say that almost anything “can” be justified from both with enough spin and I am pointing out some of the most obvious results of the two different religions when it comes to being the most committed.
In modern Christianity we consider the most radical (and honorable) Christian to be the one who goes to the jungles of Africa to live in a mud hut in order to be a witness for Christ or to bring the gospel to an unreached people group. The reason we believe this is because this “extreme” form of discipleship was carried out by only a handful of the New Testament believers, many of whom lost their life in efforts of love towards the lost which can even be the case today for missionaries in some parts of the world. And it would be hard to find any church-going believer who would denounce or criticize those missionaries because they generally consider them to be more committed or extreme in their beliefs than they are.
In modern Islam, at the largest and the most reputable Muslim universities, the later teachings of Mohamed are still taught right alongside the earlier teachings and those who are considered the most ardent or faithful followers of Islam embrace those more radical or extreme tenants of Islam. This is why you generally do not hear any broad denouncement of acts of terror against non-believers. Is it because they secretly admire them for doing what they are unwilling to do? Perhaps, but I think fear might play a role as well.
Do people cringe in fear when they hear an extreme Christian is headed their way? Perhaps, but not in fear of their life.
Do people cringe in fear when they hear an extreme Muslim is headed their way? Almost certainly and almost certainly in fear of their life.
Could any moderate pew warming Christian or even a recent convert be radicalized to become a missionary in a very short period of time? Yes, and they might actually go to try and bring good sanitation and the gospel to those in need in some remote part of the world or they might start a soup kitchen in the inner city of America.
Could any moderate Muslim or recent convert be radicalized to become a jihadist in a very short period of time? Yes, and there are countless documented cases of just that happening with them becoming Jihadist or martyrs.
Does modern day Christianity or the New Testament promote violence? No. Do most all Christians and the New Testament promote mercy and grace? Yes.
Do Muslims promote violence? Some do it openly and others are passive aggressive about it. There are some who are not invested in the violence but will rarely speak out against it. Do some Muslims promote peaceful “co-existence”? Yes, but there are plenty of documented cases where some of the formally peaceful were radicalized and become suicide bombers.
Do some Christians “cut out” or ignore core teachings of the Bible like homosexuality, gossip or fornication or maybe even mission work. Yes, but then they are aware of that fact or consciously try and spin it that they are not honoring what they view as some of the more restrictive or “radical” teachings in the Bible
Do some Muslims ignore or not practice the more extreme tenants of Islam such as Jihad? Yes, and in doing so they understand they are not honoring the later, and considered by some to be the most important, teachings of Mohamed.
Is it possible for Christians to be able to live peacefully in a non-Christian country? Yes, but I must admit it is becoming a challenge.
Is it possible for Muslims to be able to live peacefully in a non-Muslim country? There are documented cases of this happening for short periods of time, but history tells us that peaceful success is not generally the case in the long run.
Will all Christians become missionaries? No, but some will, perhaps you own neighbor.
Will all Muslims become Jihadist or martyrs? No, but some will, perhaps you own neighbor.
Why are Christians who become radicalized to the point of becoming missionaries not accused of hijacking the religion of Christianity?
Why are Muslims who become radicalized to the point of Jihad accused of hijacking the “peace loving” religion of Islam?
Martyrdom in Christianity means sacrificing so non-believers might live.
Martyrdom in Islam means sacrificing so non-believers will die.
Bottom line, it is possible for any Christian to become committed/radicalized to the point he might head off on peaceful missions worldwide where he might give his life in sacrifice to save others.
Bottom line, it is possible for any Muslim to become committed/radicalized to the point he joins Jihad and become a martyr as a suicide bomber attempting to take the lives of others.
As believers we must pray for Muslims and reach out to them with the gospel.
As governments, they may be required to reach out and touch radical Islam in a different way.