Ideological Seductions

Persecution is becoming one of the hot issues of our day, as Christians around the world, thankfully, are rallying around those who are being martyred for their faith. But it's not the only risk we face as believers. More subtle, but just as dangerous, is the threat posed by the ideas and "isms" that vie for belief, and for authority over our minds. Christians are not immune to intellectual seduction. If we take our eyes off of Christ and allow the values of modern culture to shape our worldview, we're just as vulnerable as anyone. And, as author and professor Jay Budziszewski points out in his book, The Revenge of Conscience, ideological seductions tempt Christians on both ends of the political spectrum. Among those who think of themselves as political liberals, one such idea is perfectionism. This is the view that human effort alone can cure the evils of our time. Some perfectionists put their faith in education, psychotherapy, or political and economic reforms. But they all share a common failing: the belief that we can have heaven on earth by our own hand. This view may sound attractive, but it ignores the realities of sin and pride. The message of Christianity, of course, is different. The Bible teaches that sin can only be erased by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ. The cure for sin will never be complete until we are at peace with God. And we ignore this truth at our peril—as history teaches. Dictators and tyrants have haunted human society for centuries, stacking human bodies higher than Nimrod stacked bricks at the Tower of Babel, but they came no closer to heaven on earth than that ancient king. Christians who think of themselves as conservatives are certainly not immune to seduction either. For them, one of the greatest temptations is "traditionalism"—the ideas that "whatever is, is right," and that whatever has been done should continue to be done. Change for the sake of change is foolishness, of course. But the Bible insists that we cannot place our trust in traditions or customs, for what God is doing is beyond imagination. Perhaps the best illustration of the danger of traditionalism in 18th- and 19th-century America was the evil of slavery. Even some Christians defended the practice at one time on the basis of tradition. But every evil eventually calls itself tradition. In our time, some have tried to call tradition to the defense of abortion. In 1992, when they re-affirmed Roe v. Wade—the case that legalized abortion—pro-abortion members of the Supreme Court said that abortion should remain legal because "an entire generation has come of age" depending on it. In other words, never mind that abortion is immoral and wrong; what matters now is that women are used to it. False worldviews of the day have been a threat to people of faith in every age, which ought to remind us of the need to be alert, and to recognize the risks of intellectual seduction. To help you steer clear of these temptations, I recommend Jay Budziszewski's penetrating new book, The Revenge of Conscience. It's a valuable resource, reminding Christians of that most important lesson—that it is loyalty to Christ, and not the ideas and isms of our day, that really matters.


Chuck Colson


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