For example, let me point you to two articles. The first is by Anthony Bradley entitled "The New Legalism: Missional, Radical, Narcissistic and Shamed." The article a follow-up reflection, prompted by a Tweet Bradley had sent out that said:
Being a “radical,” “missional,” Christian is slowly becoming the “new legalism.” We need more ordinary God and people lovers (Matt 22:36-40).The second article, entitled "The High Calling of Everyday Ordinary Living", is by Bob Robinson and is a reflection upon Bradley's concerns about the "new legalism" of being a "radical Christian."
I think these articles are describing something important. I'm particularly struck by Bradley's observations about how "radical" often gets fused with our narcissism, how the most terrifying thing in the world is being normal and ordinary.
I do think there is frequently a neurotic panic behind the push to being a "radical Christian." Consequently, the drive toward being a "radical Christian" can often become more about self-esteem enhancement, in religious guise, than anything else.
And yet, I find these Protestant critiques of "radical Christianity" to be lacking. Specifically, I think their positive recommendations are often too generic and insipid.
For example, Robinson concludes his article by pointing us to James Davison Hunter's notion of "faithful presence." Hunter's work and the notion of "faithful presence" has gotten a lot attention lately. And I'm on board. But my complaint is that the notion of "faithful presence" struggles to connect with Jesus' language about "taking up your cross." Too often "faithful presence" unpacks as "just be a good person wherever you are." Which is fine. Who would object to that? But if that's the case, if all "faithful presence" means is niceness, family life and the Protestant work ethic, then why bother with Jesus?
What is needed, in my estimation, isn't a generic call to "faithful presence"--be nice and a hard worker wherever you are--but a way to get the radicalness of something like the Sermon on the Mount infused into "everyday ordinary living."
And that, I would argue, is the genius of St. Thérèse.