Rules for( Radicals) Emergents

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.”

The Rules

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.


9 responses to “Rules for( Radicals) Emergents

  1. I’ve been reading this blog for a while now. As a life long Nazarene, I feel especially compelled to understand and listen to the various voices throughout the denomination. As I read through this post, I can’t help but notice the us vs. them rhetoric that paints generalizations of the so-called “enemy.” Even if you can legitimately claim someone as the enemy, the Scripture you revere with such dedication teaches to love the enemy- and this post is anything but loving.

  2. I did not write this post, Anonymous- but let me weigh in on your comment. I am amazed at the continual use of such words that are so similar to those who cannot articulate a biblical view. If you knew Scripture well enough, you would very well know that it is loving to correct and rebuke and reprove those who are in error in the Christian church. Apparently you have failed to learn that lesson.

    Oh, and by the way, I have experienced many of the tactics that are spoken about in this post. It is true- the emergents cannot do anything but attack and use similar tactics as Alinsky proposed- because they have nothing else to go by.

    As a lifelong Nazarene also, I will listen to the various voices in the denomination- and when they start preaching another gospel, I will just as quickly expose and reject their teachings. THAT is the loving thing to do also when it is called for.

    Please try to understand what Scripture teaches us about how to deal with false teachers and false teaching.

    By the way, my name is Manny Silva. What is yours? I see that you are from Tennessee.

  3. Jesus in Matthew [12:33-37] warns against speaking idle words as described by the good tree producing good fruit and the bad tree producing bad fruit. Jesus concludes that we will be judged and give an account of every idle word spoken. “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

    In another passage, Matthew [7:15-20], Jesus further explains and makes it clear how false prophets can be spotted using the same illustration of good fruit vs. bad fruit and warns against them. How can those who support the emergent’s by giving them a pass and not hold them accountable of their false teaching and then hold those who oppose their teaching to a higher standard of conduct is beyond me? Are we not going to be held to the same standard of conduct?

    To anonymous, true we are to love our enemy, but in doing so we are not to love or excuse their deeds or fail to rebuke their deeds in love as Manny points out.

  4. Perhaps anonymous should remember that the Bible often makes clear that those who are not with Christ are His enemies, and that includes people who teach unscriptural doctrine, especially with regard to the gospel.

    You can’t go playing the “Why-can’t-we-all-just-get-along?” card when there are people who have the end goal, whether intentional or not, of subverting sound doctrine. I’m seeing this far too often in the church-Nazarene and otherwise-where people’s doctrine gets ignored just because he or she is a “nice person” or a gifted speaker, or helps out with charity events, or propagates good works, etc.

    We are commanded to love our enemies; but we are also commanded to mark those who do not teach sound doctrine, and avoid them. Loving an enemy is not defined by pretending that no difference exists between us and them when they make statements that contradict the plain words of Scripture.

    To quote the great Baptist pastor Charles Haddon Spurgeon: “..under colour of begging the friendship of the servant, there are those about who aim at robbing the Master. “

  5. Well said. I don’t think Anonymous will return to refute this, but we can pray for him and many others who ignore obvious scriptural teachings.

  6. To Jon W in Idaho – please try to post something that makes some sense, or at least addresses specifics. But to ask what you asked does not make sense- so I did not approve it.

  7. Several weeks ago I visited a web-site out of curiosity that illustrates a good example of the use of idle words that Jesus spoke against in Matthew [12:].The question was posed for debate on resulting in 70 responses. The initial question “Did Jesus ever make a mistake?” was posted by Billy Cox November 4, 2011. I am not sure what they hoped to accomplish unless it was to show who is the most intellectual or a lack thereof. Neither time nor space will permit me to post all the responses to this question; however, for those who are interested in reading them go to their web-site, and type in the question in the search box. Here are some of the responses which I found appalling to say the least. How some, not all, can trash the name of Jesus is beyond me. I for one am glad they are not my pastor. Their rhetoric puts me in mind of the Scripture that depicts Satan who wanted to elevate his position above that of God’s. In contrast I see theirs is to pull Jesus down to their level or less. Here are some examples:

    Wilson Deaton responded: “Certainly. Mistakes aren’t sin. Humans make mistakes and Jesus was FULLY human.”

    Shea Zellweger responded: “define mistake? Choosing a traitor as one of your closest companions could be considered a mistake, but Jesus may have done that on purpose…” Shea also wrote: “I think it would be quite a stretch to say that Jesus never had any sexual (or emotional) attractions. Sure, none of the canonical Gospels record them, but they also don’t record his bowel movements, the time he spent learning to walk, or the times his siblings spent picking on him… should we assume none of these things occurred? There is no theological knowledge to glean from “And in his 15th year, Jesus didst see a girl who was fair of face, and he saith to hisself ‘she art a cute one,'” ergo we should not be surprised by its absence from our Gospels, but neither should we assume that its absence means it did not happen. That’s a pretty extreme argument from silence.”

    Marcus Kibbe response: “If consistency matters, to say humans make mistakes, Jesus was human, therefore Jesus made mistakes, logically follows to the conclusion that Jesus was a sinner as well. Packer is helpful here.”

    The idle words Jesus spoke of in Mathew [12:] can be summed up as words that does not minister grace or give instructions to them who hear them. It literally means a vain, thoughtless, and useless word that does no good. Jesus basically accused them of being wicked, injurious, and false in their understanding of who He was and is. If Jesus made mistakes as some eluded then their being saved is in question because perhaps Jesus made a mistake and He is not the savior, because the savior was perfect in every sense. Something for them to think about!

  8. Interesting, Lige. I spent a few days on several other threads last week, and was probably equally appalled by some things- so much so that I am writing a new post to comment on them. The links to those follow, but reader beware- not good for your health or sanity if not careful. It is so shameful what they have been writing over the years there.

    P.S. I have seen Marcus Kibbe’s comments often. I think his comment was actually in opposition to what they were saying- he usually is on the opposite side of things there.

    Regarding Roman Catholicism:

    Regarding Marcus Borg:

    I find it amazing how some pastors and theology professors can keep their credentials with the things they say there, but a biblical ineranntist may not be given his ordination.

  9. Ahh Bratcher and Naz Net I consider them enemies of the cross of Christ as well as scripture. But through Bratchers’s writings and those of both Nazarene bartender (not to be confused with a Holy Ghost bartender like those in the hyper charismatic camp). And Shea (lets tear down and confuse scripture) Zellweger and those other many interesting folk at Naz Net. Interesting to see how they operate. You take a bunch of them talking about the Roman Catholic church and they dont have a clue on the history or the current sop of the church of Rome but yet they run off at the mouth like they are some kind of authority on what Catholics believe. Then you have a few who comment in love and modestly then a moderator storms in and shuts the thread down once the real truth starts to come out. Simply amazing. If this is the pulse and future of the Nazarene denomination I say the rest of the denomination ought to start practicing the Muster drill and prepare the life boats. At least thats just my opinion. If Dennis Bratcher had any lower view of scripture….. well Im just not sure how much lower you could possibly go and still say you are a Christian.

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