Sunday, July 24, 2016


Underlying both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are the radical socialist political theories of another Chicagoan, Saul Alinsky, who has been quoted by President Obama, as having “the wisdom to see the world as it is, but also the courage to see the world as it should be” [Obama’s speech in Jerusalem in 2103]. Obama and Hillary have a vision for America, but it isn’t the American Dream, nor is it a particularly Christian vision. In his Rules for Radicals, Saul Alinsky has said, “Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical… 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.” [Saul D. Alinsky, Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals]. That is a far distance from one Nation under God.

Saul Alinsky’s  12 Rules for Radicals

* RULE 1: “Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have.” Power is derived from 2 main sources – money and people. “Have-Nots” must build power from flesh and blood. (These are two things of which there is a plentiful supply. Government and corporations always have a difficult time appealing to people, and usually do so almost exclusively with economic arguments.)

* RULE 2: “Never go outside the expertise of your people.” It results in confusion, fear and retreat. Feeling secure adds to the backbone of anyone. (Organizations under attack wonder why radicals don’t address the “real” issues. This is why. They avoid things with which they have no knowledge.)

* RULE 3: “Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy.” Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty. (This happens all the time. Watch how many organizations under attack are blind-sided by seemingly irrelevant arguments that they are then forced to address.)

* RULE 4: “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.” If the rule is that every letter gets a reply, send 30,000 letters. You can kill them with this because no one can possibly obey all of their own rules. (This is a serious rule. The besieged entity’s very credibility and reputation is at stake, because if activists catch it lying or not living up to its commitments, they can continue to chip away at the damage.)

* RULE 5: “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” There is no defense. It’s irrational. It’s infuriating. It also works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into concessions. (Pretty crude, rude and mean, huh? They want to create anger and fear.)

* RULE 6: “A good tactic is one your people enjoy.” They’ll keep doing it without urging and come back to do more. They’re doing their thing, and will even suggest better ones. (Radical activists, in this sense, are no different that any other human being. We all avoid “un-fun” activities, and but we revel at and enjoy the ones that work and bring results.)

* RULE 7: “A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.” Don’t become old news. (Even radical activists get bored. So to keep them excited and involved, organizers are constantly coming up with new tactics.)

* RULE 8: “Keep the pressure on. Never let up.” Keep trying new things to keep the opposition off balance. As the opposition masters one approach, hit them from the flank with something new. (Attack, attack, attack from all sides, never giving the reeling organization a chance to rest, regroup, recover and re-strategize.)

* RULE 9: “The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.” Imagination and ego can dream up many more consequences than any activist. (Perception is reality. Large organizations always prepare a worst-case scenario, something that may be furthest from the activists’ minds. The upshot is that the organization will expend enormous time and energy, creating in its own collective mind the direst of conclusions. The possibilities can easily poison the mind and result in demoralization.)

* RULE 10: “If you push a negative hard enough, it will push through and become a positive.” Violence from the other side can win the public to your side because the public sympathizes with the underdog. (Unions used this tactic. Peaceful [albeit loud] demonstrations during the heyday of unions in the early to mid-20th Century incurred management’s wrath, often in the form of violence that eventually brought public sympathy to their side.)

* RULE 11: “The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.” Never let the enemy score points because you’re caught without a solution to the problem. (Old saw: If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. Activist organizations have an agenda, and their strategy is to hold a place at the table, to be given a forum to wield their power. So, they have to have a compromise solution.)

* RULE 12: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. (This is cruel, but very effective. Direct, personalized criticism and ridicule works.)

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

New-Old Gnosticism

When I was very young, Brian McDuff and I were invited to preach mini-sermons at a Canadian Presbyterian Church youth event. I took the time to share the story of my own conversion.  McDuff’s response to me later was that he could understand Scripture because he was going to seminary, but I couldn’t because I wasn’t being trained in seminary.”  

That is not an uncommon attitude in some circles.  Some years later I attended his seminary.  Its professors were expert at demythologizing Scripture but had no apparent heart for its meaning.  Their application of the Wellhausen approach to the Old Testament left you with a pile of clippings instead of a workable document.

I recently received the same put down from an old friend who is quite a scholar.  In essence his view is a form of gnosticism; the claim to superior knowledge on the basis of much study and insight.  Solomon warns us, “My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh.  The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:12-13).  It is true that much study may give you “special knowledge” but there is also a danger.  If you think that special knowledge can lead you to safely contradict the plain teaching of Scripture and Tradition, you are not only wrong, but you are also foolish.

The truth of Scripture must remain plain and simple so that “he who runs may read it,” understand it, and be called to the challenge of surrender to the voice of God speaking truth through the words of Scripture.  Once you resort to an ingenious “deeper knowledge” of Scripture to defend current changes in morality, you are running against rocks of Charybdis and the dangerous whirlpool of contemporaneity will pull you under.

McDuff is always with us with his new-old Gnosticism.  “I have special knowledge and you don’t, so Scripture doesn’t mean what you and most of the Church thinks that it means.”  That is not only spiritually dangerous, but it also is arrogant.