As Christians called to be agents of good news in a fallen world, we find our method and our message within the text of scripture. By method, I don’t refer to the exact way we accomplish ministry in various contexts, but who we are and what we portray of Christianity in the process—our character. It is virtually impossible to separate the message of the Gospel from the messenger, so we are called to love God, our neighbors, avoid immorality and speak in a way that doesn’t revile God among unbelievers. That doesn’t mean, of course, that every person who calls him or herself a Christian doesn’t depart from the life of spiritual integrity—as we know, sadly, it sometimes happens. As well, scripture provides no place for a deceitful, manipulative gospel that drags people to the altar. These have nothing to do with the content of Christianity but are reflective of Christ-less living. It is the deliberate acts of love and communication of the Gospel as truth that reveal to man his own fallenness and make attractive the Christian faith.
But as I said, we screw up. We shouldn’t embrace our screw ups, but we do screw up. And because our worldview is one of exclusive claims and has a the moral bar set far above the bar established by the world we live in, unbelievers are often eager to profit from our failings. For them, our failings represent either evidence of an inept system—somehow proof that Christianity is not the truth it claims to be, or at least that the message is tainted and the truth denied. Be that as it may, Christianity is a perfect system in that it best accounts for life’s ultimate questions and brings to the world real hope and change through redemption found in the blood of Christ. These facts are true despite the despicable behavior of some who profess Christianity. Radical.
Speaking of radical, Saul Alinsky is one who sought to profit from the moral failures of Christians (or any other opposition group) so his system could actually justify deceitful and manipulative tactics. The tone of “Rules for Radicals” is essentially this: that if Christians can be shown to be hypocrites, we can lower the bar of morality and function with what appears to be a higher level of integrity within a system that requires much less. This can be seen explicitly in Alinsky’s fourth rule in his section on Tactics where he writes “Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules. You can kill them with this, for they can no more obey their own rules than the Christians can live up to Christianity.” (p. 128) This is followed by the fifth rule which claims that “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. It is almost impossible to counterattack ridicule. Also, it infuriates the opposition who then react to your advantage.”
Attacking Christianity is always easier when you point out and attribute to it that which plagues all humanity—our sinfulness—and argue in such a way that incites a response that appears at least to compromise the system being defended. And when you claim to be a relativist, political and otherwise, you—as an organizer—can position yourself as an authoritative, objective onlooker simply analyzing the bias and hypocrisy before you. This isn’t radical, this is cowardly and intellectually dishonest.
Christianity in the public square needs to drive home the fact that everyone has a worldview and an agenda. In the process, Christianity in the public square must also work diligently to remain truly Christian and not compromise itself in the eyes of the self-proclaimed opposition. We should welcome being held to the standards of our own “rule book” and not veer away from the dogma that defines us, because it is the dogma that sustains us. If we pretend to have this same worldview-less position, we open ourselves up to the failure that the unbelieving world is awaiting, because even if Christians in the public square aren’t quoting chapter and verse, the opposition is sophisticated enough to know that it is from there that we derive our principles for life. I think we should be more honest with ourselves, about how Christian we really want to be among non-Christians in culture today. Or is that too radical?