Thursday, May 14, 2009

Why Some Ideologies Attract True Followers

The well-known author, Solzhenitsyn, in explaining why many of Shakespeare’s villains only murder a small number of people rather than become mass murderers, indicates it is because of the their lack of ideology. More recently, historian Jamie Glazov in his book, United in Hate: The Left’s Romance with Tyranny and Terror suggests that wherever "believers" in a religion that purports to save others gather, there is an appetite for revolution. I must admit that as a carnal human being, I understand exactly what he may have in mind. As a Christian believer, I find myself often empathizing and totally understanding Peter as he drew his sword to cut off the ear of one of the High Priest’s slaves just before the arrest and trial of Jesus (John 18:10). I understand that is not Christ’s approach to resolving issues.

But Glazov should be heard a little further. He points out “The less brutal an ideology is, the less interest the average believer has in it.” In fact, those following Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot always grew significantly in number when the leaders mass murders peaked, according to Glazov.

Barbara Kay, writing in the April 22nd edition of the National Post points out something interesting about the left’s infatuation with Islam replacing communism as its driving ideology. She indicates following Marxism meant pursuing a utopia of many enlightened ideas. But why is the Western leftist now courting Islam? Kay seems to say this is very puzzling for the West is atheistic (well, certainly the leftist West is), sexually egalitarian, and obsessed with social justice. Islamists, she contends, are theistic (Allah is their god), patriarchal (not sexually egalitarian at all) and shariah-bound (which pursues cultural justice more than social justice). [The preceding and following bracketed parts are all mine.]

As if to answer Kay’s well thought out questions, Glazov takes us on what Kay calls “the believer’s totalitarian journey”. In a moment we’ll see how all this relates to the Christian, but for now, please stay with me.

In Glazov’s experience and observation, most believers in anything that looks like an ideological cause, normally start out with “an acute sense of alienation from (their) own society (and associated faiths, beliefs, religions, etc.),” says Kay. Even though they are secularists, they still seek some kind of redemption in their lives and are easily drawn to something like the “seculiar shariah” that comes along in the Islamic faith. There, suggests Kay, they don’t have to worry about being estranged from society as individuals, because individualism doesn’t exist.

This kind of believer isn’t really after truth, she says. He/she is more interested in a movement they can “submit” to. And, to get into this new ‘vast community’ that will adopt this ‘cultural orphan’ Kay says, he/she is willing to sever any of his ‘emotional ties’ to his rejected society or culture [or in my thinking, give up his/her independent thinking and rationality].

Of course, the new society the believer joins is not just satisfied with his/her joining it, but requires the new recruit to actually blame his/her old society for all the ills of the world. And by the way, don’t even think about quitting the new community – you’re dead meat. Doesn’t it make sense, Kay hints, that under these conditions the new recruit stops thinking? When asked to take certain actions as part of his/her responsibilities that most of us would find rife with logical or moral problems, the new recruit blindly misses them. For example, Kay suggests blindness to suffocation of free speech, arbitrary imprisonment, terror bombings, stonings, etc. Perhaps, I would add, even female genital mutilation and rape, as punishment.

Okay, so we figured out how the leftist orphan feels and thinks as he/she joins this newfound adoptive agency called Islamism. But what does all this have to do with Christians? Good question. The answer is several things.

First, I think we, as informed Christians, need to be aware of how the Devil works. More specifically, we need to be aware of what attracts men (and some women) to movements that are outside their original society. Secondly, we need to be aware, once they get inside their new movement, of how they think and behave in relation to truth, illogical thinking, or injustice in certain aspects of life. I say this because we cannot neglect the fact that we too are being accused of not pursuing justice in other parts of human life, in their view.

Thirdly, is there anything in the process of their slowly becoming disillusioned with their own society and being drawn to an alternative society that we can learn from? For example:
a. Can we learn from the fact that ‘true followers’ are more interested in a movement they can ‘submit to’ rather than search for the truth. Now don’t get me wrong, Jesus Christ is the Truth and the Truth makes us free. But perhaps we have been more interested in presenting the Christian faith as one having the small-t ‘truth’ rather than more diligently promoting the concept of total submission to Him as Truth.
b. Since true followers are prepared and want to give up their independence in order to join a new ideological community with a cause, how can we encourage Christ followers to keep their independent thinking among us but at the same time be prepared to fight for the cause of Christ? It appears to me that our independence in thinking creates more and more factions amongst us to the point where we are ‘divided and conquered’ by the Enemy.
c. Do we demand enough of our new recruits? How many times have you heard pastors say from the pulpit when preaching on tithing, for example, “the majority of you are getting a free lunch”? Many people accept Christ, get baptized, join the local church, and then sit back in their pews demanding to be entertained or at best, fed. Having observed many organizations in my lifetime, I must admit that no other type of organization consistently carries as much dead weight as the local church.

I have avoided talking a lot about how some religious bodies have great expectations and requirements of their members. The reason I did this is that they also tend to be those groups that have adopted doctrine that is not conducive to what most of us believe is scripturally based. For example, Jehovah Witnesses’ expect their members to either do so much door-to-door canvassing each week or stand at the corner holding up their Awake magazine. Failure to comply is heavily frowned upon, or used to be. Mormons are expected to give everything up for two years and serve as missionary elders. I’m not suggesting we become like that, but I think we let the ‘service’ baby slip right out of the ‘faith’ bathtub. Pardon my awkward analogy. I believe we need to rethink what it costs ‘church-wise’ to be a true follower of Jesus Christ (because the local church is indeed what God ordained to be the means He would use to reach the world for Him – there is no back-up plan). I think it is time for us to expect more of our members now. Instead, we seem to have taken the easier road of letting Christ do the pruning later.

At least that’s the way I see it. You may choose to differ. If so, please comment.

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