We’re living in an age when conversations on difficult topics are more and more rare and disagreements escalate into the hurling of invectives. A video on social media becomes viral, insinuations are made, and people are demonized before the facts are checked. How did we get here? And how shall we address this?
In an article for “The Catholic Thing” in September of 2016, Anthony Esolen blamed the rise of ideology. “Ideology is an ersatz religion. It rushes into the emptiness when one no longer is open to the divine.” I’ve heard that echoed more recently. When the message of God to the people He would redeem to Himself is not heard, when His Word no longer has the final say, when His Church, the Body of Christ, is no longer a mediating influence, everything is up for grabs. Politics then becomes the battlefield for what will be declared right and wrong, sacred and profane.
Please don’t misunderstand. I don’t want to paint ideology as wholly irredeemable. It is a part of most every life. We have beliefs about what is best for our nation. We have passions about the best way to accomplish something.
But without God’s guidance, God’s call to accountability, and God’s power for sanctified change and discipleship (read “Gospel”), ideology rules the roost (and ideology is a terrible tyrant). Esolen, again: “Ideology is impatient, unkind, envious, vain; obnoxious, self-seeking, touchy; believing the worst, rejoicing in iniquity; seething against the truth, tolerating nothing; restless, without real faith or hope in God.”
A return to the Word of God is the solution. Surely, in that Word we are chastened and that’s not an easy selling point. But, in that Word we are also healed. God confronts us in our sin for the express purpose of moving us to repentance. In that repentance we will find the wondrous message of God’s complete forgiveness and never-ending love. And in that Word God Himself is at work.