Ideology: A manner or the content of thinking characteristic of an individual, group, or culture
- The integrated assertions, theories and aims that constitute a sociopolitical program
- A systematic body of concepts especially about human life or culture
- Visionary theorizing
Faith: Allegiance to duty or a person
- Fidelity to one’s promises
- Sincerity of intentions acted in good faith
- Belief and trust in and loyalty to God
- Belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion
- Firm belief in something for which there is no proof—for example, clinging to the faith that her missing son would one day return
- Complete trust
- Something that is believed especially with strong conviction: a system of religious beliefs
Both definitions from Merriam-Webster.com.
Ideologies have had a major impact on the history of the past century. More specifically, Marxian (communist) and fascist (especially Nazi) systems have fomented wars and exterminated large numbers of their own population all in the name of an ideology. Ideologies and faith are based on differing world views.
Ideologies not only have a world view (second bullet point) but they often also have a utopian-type goal (third bullet point). Marx described a bitter conflict between workers and their employers (capitalists) in which capitalists had leverage over workers and routinely used it to exploit their employees. And this violated an underlying sense of morality. Marx also forecast that workers would throw off the capitalist system and usher in a utopian communist system. In this utopia, all people would have ample material goods and would experience a transformation of their nature to become focused on the common good. In the process of taking on the common good, they would shed their desire to pursue personal interest. In contrast, fascists (especially Nazis) viewed themselves as superior people, destined and entitled under their moral standard to have ownership of and control over other states.
Ideologies inherently are based on abstractions, imperfect representations of reality. Some are better at capturing reality than others. Nonetheless, all invariably have implications that will fail. For example, Hitler’s claim of a German super race was shamed by American sprinter and long jumper Jesse Owens during the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Owens, an African American, debunked that myth by winning four gold medals in the very heart of Nazi Germany.
When things don’t conform to the ideology, there are various responses that can follow. First, the failure could be acknowledged. However, acknowledging failure is rarely done. Second, the failure can be ignored or explained away. That is frequently done in the hope that the failure will not get the kind of attention that would call the ideology into question. Third, the failure can be denied or knowledge of it suppressed, commonly with threatening consequences for anyone who doesn’t go along. Meanwhile, in response to persons who question the ideology and point to its failures, the remedy is remediation. The person is subjected to “re-education,” an attempt to force buy-in to the ideology on the part of the skeptic. When remediation proves to be unsuccessful, the consequences typically get harsher. At the same time, proponents of the ideology seek to mold the thinking of children and limit the impact of parents in instilling values in their children; indeed, some have even argued for children to be removed from their parents to remove conflict in the values formation process.
Today, we are routinely faced with the ideology of critical theory and its variants. Under the critical theory, there are those who have privilege and power and there are those who do not. The privileged use their power to gain at the expense of the unprivileged. It is basically a zero-sum game in which the winners’ gain matches the losers’ loss. Those who do not embrace the critical theory world view are censored and often intimidated. Note the parallel to the Marxist (and fascist) experience.
Alternatively, there is faith (fidelity, firm belief). It, too, is based on an underlying worldview. In this world view, there is a set of truths along with a trust that the life of the individual and that of others will be better if it is lived in keeping with these truths. The Christian faith is based on:
- The Judeo-Christian belief that there is a Creator (God) of the universe and all that is in it.
- That humans have been created in the image of the Creator, with powers to reason and choose; this implies that all humans have immense intrinsic value and dignity.
- The Creator has established an underlying and universal moral order, an extension of the character of the Creator; that moral order has been revealed by the Creator in a set of laws (such as the Ten Commandments) and teachings (by prophets, the Messiah, and apostles).
- Humans can choose to live by that moral order or not.
- When we choose to violate the moral order, we have sinned.
- The consequences of sin are eternal separation from the Creator (death).
- All have violated the moral order and face the consequences—death.
- Yet the Creator, out of love and compassion for each human, has provided a sufficient sacrifice to atone for the violation—the life of His Son (the Messiah).
- The Creator confirmed the sufficiency of the sacrifice of His son by raising the Son from death (evidenced by the empty tomb and post-resurrection appearances to many).
- All those desiring atonement for their sins and eternal restoration of a relationship with the Creator can do so by confessing their wrongdoings and accepting the sacrifice of the Son that was made for them. Confession must be fully honest: there is no room for spin or deception.
- In so doing, the believer is transformed from the inside out; the life of the believer has become greatly better, as have the lives of others through the believer.
- The believer can now dwell in the world of reality, not needing to rely on an imperfect world view, and trust in the promises of the Creator.
- Vast numbers of individuals over the centuries have testified to the liberating and life-transforming power of their faith—a change that came fully from within.
In sum, both ideologies and faith are based on world views. An ideology is based on the dogma that claims to represent reality, but, at best, is an approximation. True faith is based on underlying truth. The worldview based on ideology seeks to transform people from the outside in, while the worldview based on faith transforms people from the inside out.
For more on the ideologies of communism and fascism and experience under these systems, see Chapter 3 of my book, Capitalism Versus Socialism: What Does the Bible Have to Say?