Truth Unfettered is Dangerous

William F. Buckley enters the fray over evangelical Christians in Iraq. Buckley, a Catholic, brings a rare level-headed response from a non-evangelical on the issue. If you’re not familiar with the discussion, it involves the question of whether or not Christian aid groups, such as Franklin Graham’s Samaratan’s Purse and others, should be allowed to evangelize the Muslim Iraqis to whom they distribute aid.

To the prevailing mindset, this is one of the most dispicable crimes. To think that someone would be so bigoted as attempt to tell Iraqi Muslims that they are wrong in their beliefs. Buckley points out that this is not just a problem with dealing with Muslims–he writes, “Now the modern temper shrinks from anything confrontational, even between a father and his 12-year-old son caught smoking.”

Buckley also points out a parallel that I’ve noticed for quite some time. He likens the “harsh” comments by leading evangelicals to Ronald Reagan’s labeling of the Soviet Union as an “evil empire.” The words were appalling to the ears of the accused, but the noise that it made reverberated throughout the Soviet Union, and there were some who upon hearing the truth were given hope.

Those who have publicly labeled Islam as evil have taken their lumps. Franklin Graham, Jerry Vines, and others have been castigated (even by their evangelical brethren) for shutting down the lines of communication, and driving seeking Muslims away. I’ve even heard from many of my fellow seminarians that comments such as these make we evangelicals look backward and set us back in the lines of communication that we have established. Undoubtedly, calling someone’s religion evil, and attacking the character of that religion’s founder (as Vines did of Mohammed last year) does shut some lines of communication–just as Ronald Reagan highly offended the Politburo with his remarks.

I’ve long had the hunch that sometimes our society gets so involved with communicating effectively that they communicate nothing very effectively indeed. This is a whole other topic for another day, but the point is that sometimes the truth needs to be heard in its raw form, no matter what the consequences. Those who will become angry were already angry to begin with (most of this “offensive” rhetoric was post 9/11, mind you…), but there will be some, who do hear and are affected by the truth (the pravda, if you will). Like tiny fissures in the wall of a dam, they will not be noticed at first, until these small cracks grow.

Granted, the Apostle Peter tells us that we are to bear witness with gentleness and reverence (1 Pet. 3:15), but we must make sure that what we bear witness to is the truth, and not just to good communication lines.