Ideologies and the Church
The purpose of this article is to show very superficially the nature of ideologies and their power to modify social behaviour. Although I have tried to avoid as much as possible the use of philosophical language, I believe the article is clear enough to be understood by the informed readership of our website.
The intolerance of Christianity is the result of ideas. To be more specific, this hostility is the outcome of a small number of radical ideologies that are refashioning the morality of the people. What is an ideology? Let me begin by saying what is not. Ideologies are not beliefs. Ideologies are produced; they are rigid and not open to compromise. We discuss them, we propagate them, and we are even capable of fighting for them. Just think of all the ideologies that have encouraged civilised nations to military warfare. Beliefs, on the other hand, are always there. They form the container of our lives. Beliefs (our basic presuppositions about reality) are already at work when we start thinking about the world around us. That is why we don’t usually create new beliefs. Rather we are happy to assume them, as we usually do with everything we believe about existence. So, when it comes to beliefs we simply rely on them. I should say here that I’m only focusing on popular beliefs. Of course, there are deep differences between the Christian and non-Christian worldview. For instance, the regularities that scientist describe as “laws of nature”, Christians call the actions and commitments of God to his creation (see, Psalm 104:14, 20 and Psalm 147:15 –18). This belief constitute the basis of the Christian’s attitude towards God and nature. However, despite the profound difference between the two worldviews, scientists not only acknowledge the presence of regularities in the universe, they must also depends on them for future scientific work. The regularities in the world therefore are not particular beliefs within the Christian community. Ideologies are different. They do not always correspond to the views of everyone in society. Often they express ideals rather than “theories” of different degrees of “truth”. Yet they have tremendous power and they inevitably direct the mind and behaviour of group members towards specific objectives.
The main function of ideologies is to advance the social representations of a group. Once we realise this, it is not surprising to find that ideologies are frequently intolerant.
The danger of ideologies is found in the power to substitute the world that we know for a world that comes from the thought and personal preferences of some. And, of course, if ideologies pull society in different directions, there will be conflict between different value systems, and the ideology that has more authority and support will tend to dominate and repress. Not long ago, society used to react to behaviours of immorality with a feeling of antipathy or repulsion. Today, the values of the past have no validity. We are losing respect for the sacred, the pure, and even good manners. For instance, under the influence of Radical Feminist ideology, the innocent gesture of a man who opens a door to a woman can be interpreted as a sign of male dominance. How dare you! A woman can open the door herself. No wonder men are beginning to feel frustrated and redundant. This ideology completely disrupts the natural harmony between man and woman.
That’s the power of imperialistic ideologies. I use this name to unmask the real intention of ideologies –that is –the demand of total submission to a tyrannical principle. It seems that Marx and Engels were right after all. In the hands of the holders of social power, through the State, ideologies are often instruments for domination, indeed they “manufacture history” according to particular interests. It is difficult to escape the conclusion that ideologies when used to exercise control and domination impoverish public life because they undermine freedom of expression and incite sectarianism.
A group of good friends can eat, laugh and enjoy each other's company, but as soon as they touch on current ideologies, the discussion becomes an intense debate. This is painful for coexistence. For that reason ideologies must be analysed and criticised and challenged. Furthermore, democratic governments have the obligation to protect members of society from angry militant ideologies. Unfortunately, not many people realize that what they support with enthusiasm and even under pressure are ideologies that demand uniformity at all costs.
I don’t doubt that sections of the population have been apathetic to these issues due to the fear of disapproval by others.
We are already seeing that mass acceptance of Gender ideology, Inclusive language, Safe-Schools program, and the impulse to suppress religious freedom is gradually becoming an attempt at forced conversion of people to a uniform ideology. Undoubtedly, a society that cannot allow theological beliefs and struggles to tolerate Christians must be sick. We need social changes. Today, the ideologies of society are becoming more and more antagonistic and amount to nothing less than a collective determination to completely destroy Christian values that still struggle for survival in society. But how did we get here? Our contemporary ideologies have developed under specific conditions.
To simplify the matter, I would say that all anti-Christian ideologies have a common attitude, a total disregard for established values. This includes the destruction of religious and social beliefs. The recruitment of interest usually begins in academic institutions. They reach public life through the media and propaganda. Once this is achieved, we have before our eyes the creation of completely new conditions for existence.
Now in response to the preceding points, Christians need to face these things courageously, though they are unpleasant. Sadly, the presence of authoritarian ideologies also implies some moral weakness in the political system.
Even if this is so, we can still do something. It is, therefore, the duty of the Church, not only to pray but also make efforts to create a new social atmosphere.
The best way, and the only way is the one that has worked in each period of cultural history –prayer and evangelism. The Church must overcome the fear of our contemporary environment and the fear of personal inadequacy. The moral landscape will see a moral transformation only when the Gospel is constantly announced as the power of God unto salvation. The Christian cannot be satisfied with conformity or being a silent member of the ideological crowd. We live in critical times that call for reactionary attitudes of prayer and Gospel proclamation. Our influence in society must like salt, light –preserving from moral decay and dispersing darkness with prayer, evangelism and godly actions. It should be remembered that the weakness of the church is the strength of radical groups combating democracy and decency.
One last thought. What is now happening in society makes clear the action of Christian parents in the home. Parents must constantly challenge the premises and purposes of ideologies. Silence about these issues is not an option for Christians. If there is interaction with Scripture at home, children will develop critical thinking skills, and be able to challenge intelligently and biblically, popular assumptions that are simply taken for granted by society. They also need to learn that disagreeing with authoritarian ideologies does not make them bigots. This is so, because their arguments are based on the rationality of God’s Word. The Bible does not forbid the practice of fair and calm examination of evidence for ideologies. What is forbidden is rash judgment, motivated by prejudice and insulting attitudes. Besides, if we want the next generation to be faithful to God and His Word, they cannot remain uncritical of the things that God forbids. Church, we cannot maintain the status quo.