Being the Bad Guys

How to Live for Jesus in a World That Says You Shouldn't

from 10 reviews

How we came to live in a post-Christian culture and how to live for Jesus in it.

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The church used to be recognised as a force for good, but this is changing rapidly. Christians are now often seen as the bad guys, losing both respect and influence.

In our post-Christian culture, how do we offer the gospel to those around us who view it as not only wrong but possibly dangerous? And how do we ensure that the secular worldview does not entice us away with its constant barrage, online and elsewhere, of messages about self-determinism?

Author Stephen McAlpine offers an analysis of how our culture ended up this way and explains key points of tension between biblical Christianity and secular culture.

He encourages Christians not to be ashamed of the gospel as it is more liberating, fulfilling and joyful than anything the world has to offer. He also offers strategies for coping in this world, with its opposing values, and for reaching out to others wisely with the truth.

Stephen McAlpine is a blogger and former pastor who writes and speaks on issues of theology, culture and church. Having been a pastor for almost three decades, he has worked with church planting groups as well as outreach and ministry training initiatives. He now serves churches and Christian schools as a consultant, and blogs at

Product details


  • Part One: How Did We Get to Be the Bad Guy?
    1. Why This Sudden Hostility?
    2. Why the Surprise?

  • Part Two: What Does Being the Bad Guy Look Like?
    3. Binary Beige vs. Diverse Rainbows
    4. Loud Power vs. Voiceless Victims
    5. Self-Denial vs. Self-Actualisation

  • Part Three: Being the Best Bad Guy You Can Be
    6. Don't Renovate the Wrong House
    7. Faithful, Faultless and Fearless
    8. The City and the City

Free extras


Contributors Stephen McAlpine
ISBN 9781784985981
Format Paperback
First published February 2021
Dimensions 128mm x 192mm x 11mm
Weight 0.16 kg
Language English
Pages 144
Publisher The Good Book Company

John Anderson

Former Deputy Prime Minister of Australia

This is a must-read for anyone grappling to understand the staggering changes in our society as all the old certainties—and notions of how we relate to each other—are suddenly swept out to sea and replaced by a strident new authoritism that seeks to drown out all dissent. McAlpine is deeply perceptive and writes with the simple clarity that only a master of complex issues can provide. At last we can find a neat and accessible explanation of what is happening in our culture.

Gary Millar

Principal, Queensland Theological College, Australia; author of Saving Eutychus

Stephen McAlpine has written a book that we desperately need. It’s searching, sane, deeply biblical and, best of all, profoundly encouraging. If you want to understand what’s going on in our world right now, then you need to read this book. If you want to work out what it means to live faithfully at school, at university, at work and even at home, then you need to read this book. If you have ever felt like the ‘bad guy’, then you really do need to read this book. Perhaps I haven’t been clear enough: I think everyone needs to read this book!

Linda Allcock

Author, Deeper Still

With piercing insight, McAlpine skilfully draws parallels between the battles we face today in our culture and familiar Bible stories, impelling us to stand up courageously for the truth of the gospel against a tide of opposition. Through this book I have been forewarned and forearmed by the gospel, which he applies in a clear, radical, inspiring and relevant way. A timely wake-up call that has already proved invaluable in my personal witness.

Independent reviews

How To Represent Jesus In A Secular World

Amber Thiessen, 27 Jan 2020

Are we, as people who love and follow Jesus, ready to answer the questions of a hostile, secular culture, focused on determining their own identity. What about to answer those who are confused and uncertain, looking for a meaningful answer about who they are. Are we ready to engage with the suffering and struggling around us with the truth of life’s meaning, purpose and restoration through the gospel?... continue reading


"Stephen McAlpine brilliantly analyzes the culture we live in"

Jesvin Jose, 3 Feb 2021

Welcome to post-Christian reality! We are now seeing a new religion built on individual autonomy and personal fulfilment. And it’s a religion that’s hostile to the gospel of Jesus Christ. But we shouldn’t be surprised at such hostility if we know our Bibles well. Why? Because Jesus guaranteed such hostility.... continue reading

Challenging and thought provoking

Rachel Sloan, 18 Feb 2021

This is a challenging but necessary book. Very thought-provoking and one I'd recommend to anyone trying to engage with how the world sees Christians.... continue reading

Customer reviews

23 Aug 2022

“Being the Bad Guys”

To say I enjoyed this book is not really accurate. I appreciated it and was daunted challenged and the ultimately encouraged by it. Daunted by the fairly bleak outlook on non-believing society; challenged by the need to respond more to the call of the gospel, but ultimately encouraged by the thought from the Bible that greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world.
A book that is almost surely a must read for all evangelically based Christians.

10 Jan 2022

“Excellent and timely book”

This is an excellent book. It addresses the culture wars we find ourselves in and then looks at how a follower of Jesus should respond. From my perspective the book asks the right questions and points in the right direction for answers. There are questions posed that are (unfortunately) not answered, and some that might even be answered incorrectly. But the focus and emphasis are good, positive and (I believe) correct. This is a book that I would like anyone who claims to follow Jesus to read.

3 Sep 2021

“2021 Australian Christian Book of the Year”

No longer just quaint or irrelevant, Christians in Western society are once again regarded as “haters of humankind”. After exploring the ways a Christian worldview is unacceptable in contemporary culture and the complex situations in which this places orthodox believers, Stephen McAlpine gets down to business. There is neither reason nor time for indulging in despair or victimhood. Being the Bad Guys calls on Christians to admit our failures and embrace life as a creative minority. As a community on the margins, we can welcome the actual victims of contemporary culture as they look for grace and solace from its bruising brutality. McAlpine is fearless, feisty and fluent. This book is an overdue reset for Christians who have not yet realised that they are more like Daniel in Babylon than Solomon in the land of milk and honey.

7 May 2021

“The challenge and encouragement the church needs today”

If you, like me, have felt weary in recent times of engaging with culture and wider society, this book is a punchy, hearty reminder of how unbelievably good it is to know and follow Jesus. I’m so grateful for Stephen McAlpine’s winsome, heartfelt call to stick with Jesus even when the going is tough in the current climate.

But praise God that the book doesn’t then just send us back into our holy huddles - Stephen includes really practical suggestions for how we might (and should!) boldly respond to the cultural gauntlet that’s been thrown.

The two things together - encouragement and challenge - make this book such a helpful and timely read.

23 Apr 2021

“Much needed wake-up call and encouragement for Christians”

Stephen McAlpine rings a timely wake-up call for Christians today. A sobering reality is honestly and wisely presented: Bible-believing Christians are becoming the bad guys in a post-Christian culture that calls for looking within oneself and living autonomously to find meaning and purpose. The biblical belief of a God-given identity is increasingly being viewed as dangerous to living a life that flourishes. It has so helpfully showed me what it looks like, in the context of the current cultural tide, to live in accordance with Jesus’ teaching that ‘if the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first’ (John 15:18).

Wonderfully, the author gives Christians going against this tide reasons to hope and persevere with joy. Examples in the Bible where God’s people lived in severe hostility are used to model for us the way to live a life in integrity towards men and faithful to God, through which others can be drawn to the true Gospel. It grounds its readers in the certain hope of future glory promised by Jesus that gives joy in the present. It’s so inspiring and encouraging to know that, as God’s people throughout history did, I can live as ‘the best bad guy’ in this world.

Much in-depth thought and Biblical wisdom is put to paper simply and succinctly. It engages its readers so well that it can be finished in one go (almost what I did)! A must read for all Christians.

30 Mar 2021

“Absolutely brilliant”

Quite the best book I've read this year. With penetrating analysis Stephen McAlpine understands our culture and shows us how to live as "bad guys". A MUST read.

17 Mar 2021

“A superb commentary on contemporary issues”

Much of what I hear and read about being a believer in today's world often leaves me reeling and feeling despondent, helpless and hopeless. "Being the Bad Guys" (with its gender-inclusive use of 'Guys'!) not only provides a very helpful analysis of modern Western culture, it also proclaims the true truth as to who rules over all He has created, thus lifting our eyes to the One seated on the throne. McAlpine is a great communicator, using language and illustrations which are easily accessible. I was able to read his book in an evening, and his down-to-earthiness, warm pastoral heart and honest encouragement have remained in my own mind and heart as a result.

1 Mar 2021

“BEING THE BAD GUYS-Stephen McAlpine”

Up to the minute cultural analysis (Philip Schofield, J K Rowling, the BBC’s 100
genders for children… films you may never have heard of…); applied Biblical
exegesis (from Haggai – yes, Haggai! – 1 Peter, the Lord’s call to deny ourselves
and to carry our cross…); recognition of the pickle we’re now in as BAD GUYS
(but we’re NOT [yet?] being persecuted…); plus strategy for Christians/the
Church to witness effectively in the contemporary world… It’s great!

All on the cultural front line, in the trenches of the workplace, and in the thick of
the spiritual battle in community, society and denomination will find inspiration,
guidance and encouragement here. McAlpine has written a tract for the times…
Encourage your fellow believers and buy a copy for them too… They will thank you!

3 Feb 2021

“Punchy, needed, and hopeful reading for the Church today”

A more relevant, needed, and punchy book, I haven't read for some time. I couldn't put it down, and finished it within an evening. It is engagingly written, with a graspable main thesis that will provoke thought about our current cultural situation, but crucially will give some helpful pointers in how Christ followers and the wider gospel community can respond. Our generation need to deal with much of this, and reclaim the gospel DNA of self-denial....which is good news. Encouraging and exciting stuff.

2 Feb 2021

“A concise, surefooted, and hopeful guide to living well in a challenging world”

This is a concise and deeply encouraging examination of how Christianity has ended up on 'the wrong side of history', how we are to understand that repetitional shift, and how we are to live in a world with whose values we cannot biblically line up. Stephen McAlpine writes with clarity and plain conviction about positive and powerful ways in which we can face into our world, seek to live faultlessly and faithfully, while being fearless in our proclamation of the truth. This is a great primer on Christian living in a complex world, and is highly recommended. Extra kudos goes to the author for managing to weave in a helpful and enlightening China Miéville analogy!

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Being the Bad Guys | Stephen McAlpine |