Tomorrow a new year of fresh outrage begins, and so I want to take a few moments to encourage those Christian preachers, writers, thinkers, and bloggers who are, out of biblical principle, sailing contrary to all the prevailing winds. It is harder to sail this way, but when you are done, more that is worthwhile is actually done — as in, you have actually gotten closer to where you wanted to be.
“Thought is not, like physical strength, dependent upon the number of its agents; nor can authors be counted like the troops that compose an army. On the contrary, the authority of a principle is often increased by the small number of men by whom it is expressed” (Democracy in America, De Tocoueville, p. 182).
There are two approaches to leadership and cultural influence. Neither is necessarily sinful or automatically virtuous, and both require wisdom to know what is called for at what time. One is the consensus building approach. At its best, it searches out those who were already in biblical agreement, networks with them, and builds strength in faithful numbers. At its worst, because it has a finger in the wind constantly, it is unable to distinguish faithful numbers from unfaithful numbers because, hey, numbers are numbers.
The other is the contrarian approach. At its worst, it is against “it,” whatever “it” might happen to be. No matter what happens, the beleaguered fellow is always the last Elijah standing, and no sign of the 7,000 faithful anywhere.
But at its best, this contrarian spirit is willing for two things. It is willing to stand against all odds, in the first place, and second, going back to de Tocoueville, it is willing to win against all odds.
Speaking as just one contrarian blogger, let me just say that I never want this to be taken as the function of a personality defect, being against everybody and everything because “I just can’t help it.” Rather, a true-hearted contrarian knows that in the long run stupidity never works. In the long run, the contra mundum approach is the only thing that the world can ever really accept — because the zeal of the Lord of hosts intends to see to it that the world accepts it. We know the names of the martyrs, and we rarely know the names of those who “successfully” killed them. God knows what he is doing. I believe it was Herbert Schlossberg who said that the kingdom of God moves from triumph to triumph, with all them cleverly disguised as disasters.
The centerpiece move on God’s part was the cross of Christ — the betrayal of Jesus, the desertion of the disciples, the injustice of the Sanhedrin, the cowardice of Pilate, the nails in the Roman soldier’s pouch, which was, all of it, the salvation of the cosmos. Let us never forget this is God’s signature move.
So if you have been privileged to write good sense in times past, just keep doing the same thing in the year to come. It does not matter if the mainstream follies are gusting up to 60 mph. The Lord will do what the Lord has always been pleased to do. It is your job to be faithful, not successful. And having such a cavalier stand is the key . . . to success. Remember the wisdom of this saying — nothing much was ever accomplished by a reasonable man. And remember also Chesterton’s observation that the one glimpse of paradise on earth is to fight in a losing cause . . . and not lose it.