by John Henderson originally posted on Friday, November 25, 2011
Most political conservatives and liberal progressives who pay attention to news very much are aware of and even familiar with Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals wherein he outlines and describes ways that radical liberals can take over and reduce the current society to a pile of socio-political ashes upon which they can dance unencumbered by morality, Christianity, laws, and all order that doesn’t suit them. They remember the following remarks on his opening dedication page:
“Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history… the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom — Lucifer.”
In the short time I have had direct contact with those in the church who are either admitted emergents or express sympathy and support for its ideas, I have noticed certain behaviors that have become predictable.
Others I have discussed this observation with say they see the same things. We are not into a discussion about emergent versus biblical truth very long when those behaviors present themselves. It is as if they have some secret playbook for how they broach the subjects according to whom they are talking with.
Immature Behavior of Emergents
It is obvious that they talk among themselves just as we counter-emergents share back and forth. I am sure we are the baneful topics of many of their conversations and that does not bother me at all because we Bible-thumpers want everything in the open and have nothing to hide. The emergents and their friends seem to be the ones ducking behind big rocks so as to not be discovered. I also know that we are frequently referred to in withering terms, i.e. “jihadists,” uninformed, uneducated, ignorant, disruptive, beguiling, disingenuous, insulting, troublesome, and even dangerous.
They never approach us on a matter objectively. Their minds are made up and facts are only confusing. They come at us very subjectively, manifestly expecting us to come to terms with them on their grounds. They have it all figured out and neatly defined and packaged and we should not presume to mess with the plan. In short, they begin with chips on their shoulders and are offended if we inadvertently bump them off with some reference to truth and Scriptural authority.
It doesn’t take long for them to run out of substance and start to see their position crumbling in the face of Biblical authority. That is when the personal attacks gain steam. They boast of “conversation” but will not converse unless it is by their rules. They seem to think that John 3:16-17 should be translated: “God, as you understand him or as we define him for you, loves you so much that he sent Mr. Rogers to tell you that he loves you just the way you are. You are not condemned, actually, because everyone is god’s child and that means you will go to heaven when you die.”
There are many other immature behaviors they display, and it could be that they are frustrated, confused, and don’t know what they should say next. I thought it would a help for them if they actually had a reference manual similar to Saul Alinsky’s Rule for Radicals so they could stay better focused. Actually, they could adapt Alinsky’s rules rather easily to the emergent doctrines and agenda. They can begin with the simple outline of Alinsky’s 13 rules:
1. Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have.
2. Never go outside the experience of your people.
3. Whenever possible go outside the experience of your enemy.
4. Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules.
5. Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.
6. A good tactic is one that your people enjoy.
7. A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.
8. Keep the pressure on.
9. The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.
10. The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition.
11. If you push a negative hard and deep enough it will break through into its counterside.
12. The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.
13. Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.
Rule 5, Ridicule, is one of the most effective. One writer stated: “Ridicule in its most common guise, is expressed in clever but vitriolic ad hominem attacks.” Emergents are very good at that one. It helps get the focus away from the fact that they are unable to be rational and certainly do not have to deal with plain Biblical truth and the opponent is busied with defending against false accusations.
Rule 13 is also maximally effective for the emergent. Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it. It actually goes hand in glove with rule 5. Just like Alinsky, when a counter-emergent shows up and starts to cause much of a stir (of getting people to pause and reflect), they “pick” them as the target, “freeze” the target, get it into laser focus, and then give a face to the enemy, and hopefully a derogatory nickname as well, such as jihadist.
Once you get the counter-emergent polarized, you will weaken his influence with those you are trying to control and it will be easier to get others to look on the counter-emergent with suspicion and disdain without ever having to deal with the truth of the issues themselves.
Let us deal with only one more of those basic rules. This is just a starter, so you should be able to easily adapt the other rules on your own. That is Rule 1. If you are a narcissist, this will come naturally to you. What you actually are is not as important as what you want to make others think you are. It is more convincing if you believe it yourself because they will see the sincerity in you expressions. It is useful in your being disarmingly charming.
Find your way into prestigious positions: teachers at universities, pastors and associate ministers in significant churches, or even denominational and educational leadership. You will have to make yourself look like just one of the guys but still maintain yourself as a cut above them. That should not be too difficult to pull off. People love to admire their heroes.
You live in a society where all sorts of degrees are available just around any corner. People are always impressed with academic degrees. They are not as concerned as to where you got them as to the fact you have those letters after your name. PhD always sounds impressive, but any letters will do pretty well if you work at it a little bit.
People don’t even care about what subjects you majored in, but if you tell them you majored in theology, they will never check to see what theology you are talking about. You may have rubbed shoulders with others majoring in Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, etc. and picked up a lot of their ideas to mix with yours. Never mind that your “theology” may not actually be Biblical. Just call it Biblical, Wesleyan, Reformed, etc. anyhow and dare anyone to contradict you. The whole point is to build yourself into somebody that others see as far more than what you actually are. You are building an image, not reality.
This is open-ended so you can expand on this idea as far as you like. Just keep in mind that you must work inside the system. Do not attack it from without. You will be repulsed in a hurry by doing that. Dig your way under the walls, crawl through the windows, sneak past a crowd. Just get inside first.
Remember what Alinsky wrote: “What follows is for those who want to change the world from what it is to what they believe it should be.” This is the “world you want to change, not because there is anything wrong with it, but so you will be the one in charge. What you do after you are in charge is not important, either. After all, you are the scrounger that only eats away at what is already there, but no one should ever see you as that. You are not interested in change in a sense of making things better. You only want change just to be different. The consequences of your actions do not matter. Ignore or deny the coming Judgment and you will feel better about it all.
Follow this idea to its fullest and you might possibly be able to put some of the counter-emergents on the run. If you can’t do that, you can keep them off-balance so they have to keep regaining their balance and you have time to sick your real targets on them to strengthen your agenda. If you allow them to keep demanding Biblical truth, you will eventually lose, so do everything you can to keep away from that. If you do anything with the Bible at all either deny it as true, modify its meanings, or else come up with completely different meanings so you sound like a real evangelical. You can do that with denominational doctrinal statements as well. The point is not to be right but to change things into what you think they should be.
I cannot actually speak for emergents, but if I was one of them and was as disingenuous as they are, this is an approach I would consider taking.
Filed under: Emergent Church