A few days ago a friend cautioned me against "extremes," and I was reminded of this journal entry from 15 years ago:

Last night after a group discussion someone prayed that we be delivered from "extreme" views and beliefs and guided into the way between. After the prayer I said to her, "If you keep praying away the extremes, you'll be praying me away."

I could have also said, "You'll be praying Jesus away." Because Jesus is the most extreme person I know.

That reminds me of a discussion I started a while ago in the Jesus Radicals forum. Here's some excerpts...

I recently read this good quote by Blaise Pascal:
I do not admire the excess of virtue, such as valor, unless at the same time I see an excess of the corresponding virtue; [such as] extreme valor with extreme gentleness. For otherwise there is not a rise, but a fall. A person does not show their greatness by going to one extreme, but by reaching both extremes at once, and by filling up all between.
I know I am often disappointed by "radicals" of both the right and the left, maybe because they go to one extreme while abandoning the other (rather than "reaching both extremes at once").

And I see Jesus reaching both extremes, by being courageous and gentle (nonviolent), for example, or forgiving generously and holding an extremely high moral standard.

...Pascal's way of putting it appeals to me because I really don't like the idea of "balance." I usually hear balance used as an admonition against those who would "go to extremes," telling them not too go to far in any one direction.

Also, doesn't balance indicate division within us--in other words, "double-mindedness"? You have to have two sides to balance a scale, and usually people talk about balancing many parts of their life (like keeping a bunch of plates all spinning at once). But I hear us being called as Christians to single-mindedness. To focus on the "one thing needful." To hear God's singular will (for me at this moment) and do it, without weighing (balancing) it with any other concern. All this makes me want to leave the balancing to Aristotle (with his "golden mean") and follow Jesus' higher, more extreme Way.

For example: In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus makes some extreme statements, personally reinterpreting the Law, "You have heard that it was said... But I tell you..." Quite a radically "progressive" thing to do, especially with sacred Law. But he precedes all this with:
"Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them.

"For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

"For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."
Can you get more morally "conservative" than that?

...Jesus' adherance to the "jot and tittle" of the law, denouncing anyone who would relax "the least of these commandments" is very conservative and strict (morally). More extreme to the right than most conservatives. Saying it's adultery to even look at a woman lustfully. Promising hell to anyone who calls their neighbor a fool. Etc.

But then Jesus takes "an eye for an eye" (a conservative's favorite) and extends it to the other extreme with "turn the other cheek." Give to everyone who asks of you. Love your enemy. Do not resist the evil man. This is more to the extreme left than any leftist I've known is willing to go.

I think "do not resist the evil man" sums it up nicely. The evil is recognized and condemned (as "evil")--there's no excuses like "he grew up in a bad environment," "it's not clear what's right or wrong here," etc. But, even with Jesus' extreme condemnation of evil, he also demonstrates the other extreme of nonresistance and unbounded willingness to forgive.

I also liked this comment by a friend:
The call to "moderation" is too often used to subvert the radical nature of the Gospel that calls us to live completely and totally other than the State and our culture would have us live.

This call for moderation is also too often a disguised and philosophical justification of cowardice as well. In the face of evil, in the name of "balance and moderation" we will not oppose, but will sit back and watch because we dont want to be [labeled] "extremists."