The etymology of the term radical (from the Latin radix, "root") is the best reason not to concede it to nostalgia. If we want to get to the root of anything we must be radical. No wonder the word has been demonized by our masters and co-opted by marketing hucksters, and no wonder no one in conventional politics dares use the word favorably--much less track any problem to its root.
It is both curious and revealing that the notion of discipleship, in turn, is so marginal in our churches. Curious, because discipleship is unarguably the central theme of the gospels. Revealing, because it shows how wide the gulf between seminaries, sanctuaries and the streets has become in North America. The prevailing expressions of faith among Protestant churches—evangelical decisionism, mainline denominationalism and fundamentalist dogmatism—are each deeply problematic in a society that is mired in dysfunctional politics, delusional economics and a distractive culture. Faith as discipleship remains the “road rarely taken” here at the heart of empire. We have yet truly to reckon with Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s famous warning, delivered under the shadow of fascism, that “cheap grace is grace without discipleship.”
Radical Discipleship is about nothing more and nothing less than laying bare the roots of the personal and socio-political pathologies of our imperial society and its dead-end history, even as we seek to recover the roots of our deep biblical tradition: namely, the messianic movement of rebellion and restoration, of repentance and renewal, a “Way out of no way” that has been going on since the dawn of resistance to the dusk of empire.