As is so often the case when dealing with public controversies, one has to repeat oneself over and over again. Those who are impatient with reading things carefully, or thinking clearly, or seeing the big picture, will so often twist and distort what you have said, that all you can do is keep repeating yourself, and hope that some of it sinks in.
So let me once again seek to clarify myself, not just on one particular recent controversy, but about other similar matters in general. The particular issue is of course the arrest of Tommy Robinson. The more general discussion has to do with supporting others, working with others, and so on.
Allow me then a few more brief words about Tommy Robinson if you will. I do this to at least make clear my own position about him, and others like him. And my position goes something like this: Some folks consider Tommy to be perfect, a saint, a superstar. But I realise he has made mistakes, he has sometimes not been as wise and prudent as he could have been, and so on. He has even admitted this himself.
Other folks think that he is just a troublemaker, a racist, a redneck, and that he fully deserves his punishment(s). But I see him as someone who really does care about what is happening in his country, and who is greatly – and rightly – concerned about creeping sharia and the horrific rape gangs there.
So he is neither a complete saint nor a complete sinner, at least in terms of what he is saying and doing. He is one guy trying to stand up against some really nasty things, and I sure wish there were many more like him out there. He is willing to stick his neck out – and pay the price – while most other folks are apathetic wimps or lousy cowards.
Perhaps more importantly, let me address another issue that keeps arising here. I have had numerous critics challenging me, saying he is not a Christian, etc., so why support him? They foolishly say we cannot support such folks, and we could not have him speak in our churches, etc.
Well, dah… Um, I never said he was a Christian. As far as I know, he is not one (I am happy to stand corrected here). So it goes without saying that we should be praying that he does become one. It would be absolutely terrific if he becomes an on-fire, Spirit-filled, born-again follower of Jesus Christ.
However, in the meantime it seems to me that we can rightly applaud his courageous stance and his willingness to speak up, while most folks are silent. In this regard he puts most of us to shame, even most Christians. I am more than happy to sing his praises in this respect.
That does not mean I think he is perfect, or a saint, or someone who can do no wrong. So I of course can only give him qualified support. When he does good stuff, I will make mention of that and encourage him along the way. When he does that which I am not too thrilled about, then obviously my support tapers off at that point.
In the same manner I can more or less support all sorts of other people who clearly are not perfect and who are not Christians. They are doing a lot of good in various areas, but in other areas I may not be so supportive of them. Plenty of folks come to mind here. Consider just a handful:
The Dutch politician Geert Wilders is one case in point. He is not a Christian, his party supports things like homosexuality, but he has done a tremendous amount of good warning Europeans – and anyone else who will listen – about the dangers of Islam and stealth jihad.
The same with Melbourne conservative columnist and non-Christian Andrew Bolt. He often says things that are more true and more in line with Scripture than most Christians do! And consider someone like the Canadian intellectual Jordan Peterson who is doing such a great job of ruffling the feathers of all sorts of loony lefties.
Sure, he is not a Christian, and he is into evolution, etc. But he is one of the best public controversialists we have at the moment who is taking on the radical feminists, the gender benders, and so many others. I wish we had a lot more like him – and yes I wish they were all Christians as well.
But God can use non-Christians. He is even able to use Balaam’s ass if he chooses. He is not restricted to just using his own people to get truth out there. He can even have the stones cry out as Jesus said. But see more on this here: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2017/12/01/time-rahab-awards/
And non-Christian conservative commentators like Brendan O’Neill from the UK also comes to mind here. So too do various Jewish conservatives, such as Ben Shapiro and Dennis Prager in the US, or Melanie Phillips in Britain. I sure am glad they are there, speaking out and taking a stand.
I repeat: to support such folks does NOT mean of course that I support every single thing about them, or every single thing they say or write. No one is perfect and without blemish, and I do not fully agree with anyone – not even myself at times!
But some folks want you to only support those who are perfect. In which case, we will be supporting no one of course. Such folks do not exist. We live in a fallen world and we deal with fallen people. So there will always be a mix of good and bad in everyone, and that includes what they think, write or say.
As one friend of mine put it when I wrote about such matters:
The reason you have to say such things is because a major proportion of society is infected with hero worship/hatred. Most people, even many Christians, engage in such a polarised view of visible public figures they cannot conceive of assessing them on a point by point basis, they assume you operate as they do. Eg., you either love Trump madly or you think he is the devil incarnate. It makes me not want to speak with the person exhibiting such views because it broadcasts a lack of objectivity.
As to being willing to work with other people who are not fully onside, I have written plenty about this previously. It is called co-belligerency. We work with others on limited campaigns, etc, even if we do not fully agree in other areas. See these pieces for more on this:
And let me finish by mentioning a related matter. Often I will have Christians attacking me for getting into various public debates, or appearing on various secular radio or TV programs to debate certain folks on certain issues. They think it is a waste of time and that I should just say no to such invites.
My short answer is this: I will do what God calls me to do, and ignore the armchair critics. Of course the leftist media is a cesspit. Of course they want to use and abuse me on these shows. And in terms of just a secular strategy, conservatives can certainly discuss whether they should boycott them altogether.
I am not just a secular conservative – I am also a Christian, and if God leads me or others to go on such secular programs, then we will do it in obedience to the King of Kings. If God is guiding us to do these shows, then we had better do them. And if God is in it, then of course it is never a waste of time. Sharing truth in the public arena in that case is not unproductive. God is able to use the seeds planted there for good.
So what if we get sneered at and abused in the process? Getting truth in the public arena is vitally important, and that is a good reason to go and do these programs, and endure all the hate and vitriol. Sure, we must always be prayerful, careful and discerning as to which public debates we enter into, and which we decide to forego.
That I seek to do as I get these sorts of requests. After prayer and thought, I make a choice: some I go on, and some I knock back. But why does the following story keep coming to mind in the light of such constant criticisms?
A woman once approached the great evangelist D. L. Moody to air a grievance. The woman said to him, “Mr. Moody, I don’t like the way you do evangelism!” “Well, ma’am, let me ask you, how do you do it?” Moody asked. She replied, “I don’t!” Moody responded, “Well, I like my way of doing it better than your way of not doing it!”
In sum, I will applaud and support someone like Tommy Robinson on various occasions. That does not mean I think everything he says and does is just peachy. But I am glad he is bravely taking a stand while most other folks cower in fear, or simply don’t give a rip.
In that sense, three cheers for Tommy.