Rules for Radicals, Pt. 3.

“Winston Churchill’s remarks to his private secretary a few hours before the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union graphically pointed out the politics of means and ends in war. Informed of the imminent turn of events, the secretary inquired how Churchill, the leading British anti-communist, could reconcile himself to being on the same side as the Soviets. Would not Churchill find it embarrassing and difficult to ask his government to support the communists? Churchill’s reply was clear and unequivocal. ‘Not at all. I have only one purpose, the destruction of Hitler, and my life is much simplified thereby. If Hitler invaded Hell I would make at least a favorable reference to the Devil in the House of Commons.”

Continuing our study of Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals, we are now brought to a consideration of the age-old question of ends justifying the means.

3. The third rule of ethics of means and ends is that in war the end justifies almost any means.

I find it interesting that Alinsky did not suggest the complete honor of all available means to accomplish political ends, but he did open wide the spectrum of available means. Not every battle in life is a war, however, which exposes the chief flaw of fundamentalist warfare. For the fundamentalist, all of life is a fight to the death. Everything is to be judged in terms of winning and losing, of defending the faith or succumbing to liberal theology. That’s why a man who is uncomfortable with the word “inerrancy” is labeled a liberal, banned from seminary posts, and normally shut out of convention life, even though he affirms every syllable of the Bible as true and authoritative.

It’s why a man like James Merritt, whom I respect and admire, can raise dubious accusations about my commitment to traditional family mores or my opposition to abortion and human slavery. I do not believe that drinking beverage alcohol is unacceptable Christian conduct, therefore I must affirm the ordination of Rev. Gene V. Robinson. “Non sequitur” is the sharpest tool in the fundamentalist shed, and it is brandished about the Southern Baptist Convention with frightening frequency.

For now, I’m unconvinced whether the current crisis in the Southern Baptist Convention rises to the level of a war or if it is just a momentary internecine skirmish. I guess that’s why I’m resisting the urge to roll out the heaviest artillery. Wade Burleson, C.B. Scott, Marty Duren, Art Rogers, and I have weekly conversations about the state of affairs in the SBC and the way to address our concerns. All four of those men have been pressing me to begin releasing to the public copies of the documents and information I have accumulated over the past few years. These men have seen what I’ve got, and they’ve heard corroborative testimony. For a solid year now I’ve been arguing for a strategy resembling Chernobyl rather than Hiroshima. Slow, steady leaks are better at building momentum than dropping a few megatons in the Southern Baptist Convention. Nevermind the fact that Hiroshimas can be rebuilt with relative ease, but not even a weed lifts its head within fifty kilometers of Chernobyl.

I guess I’m trying to weigh the collateral damage to innocent people that would be inevitable if every article of dirty laundry — mine included — was put out for the world to see. I wince when I read about the situation at Bellevue, because there seems something unholy going on there. Then I realize that some people read my blog in the same way, and I grow cautious about the tragectory we have set for San Antonio.

If a state of war justifies the use of any means to achieve victory, then I’m holding off on a declaration of denominational war. During the resurgence/takeover, some pretty ugly things got thrown around. People were accused without cause. Rumors were touted as truth, and sufficient time has not elapsed for the healthy and necessary critique of the conservative movement from within its own ranks. Old scars haven’t healed. Which is, of course, why I’ve tried to be meticulous with the facts. The other day I got an email from a higher-up in the SBC who — while he couldn’t approve of the tone I employ — willingly recognized the veracity of my claims.

“It’s not that you are telling lies,” he told me. “It’s that your telling truth that doesn’t need told.”

From where I sit, it looks like the SBC needs to deal with a rogue dictator or two rather than invade a whole country. Think Castro and Kim Jong Il, not Hussein and Mohammed Omar. Fighting communism requires a Cold War. Fighting terrorism requires ground troops.

Perhaps detente is close at hand.

To be continued…

3 thoughts on “Rules for Radicals, Pt. 3.

  1. It should be pointed out, Ben, that Reagan (and some say Reagan alone) understood the inherent weakness within Soviet Communism: it could not support its people and its military at a consistent build up rate. He successfully exploited this through our intentional arms race and it was this single strategy that actually won the Cold War.

    Detente did not win the Cold War. It merely prolonged it.

    While thermonuclear annihilation is not to be desired, neither is a prolonged series of denominational SALT II’s.

  2. Marty:

    Of course Kissinger didn’t win the Cold War. Reagan captured the policy that won the Cold War when he said, “In a day when the lion and lamb are lying down together….I’d rather be the lion.”

    I don’t think an arms race is on the horizon, however. Nobody is amassing armies. Nobody is building weapons.

    SALT I is about to take place in Jackson, TN.

  3. “Let the Devil take the hindmost with SALT. The Soviets are sissy boys. Train the cannon on China. They’re multiplyin. Better DEAD than RED.”

    —Charlie M….SOF

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