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Total Ideologies and Discernment

by on December 11, 2017

Total Ideologies and Discernment

Ideas come to us in packages sometimes known as ideologies. These ideologies contain mixtures of truth and error. Discernment is needed to know and detect the difference.

It is difficult to buy a piece of a package. The package may be incorrect and even damaging. That does not mean that all the ideas in the package are wrong.

It is myopic to accept or reject an ideology out of hand. We must learn to examine and discern the merits of the components of the belief system. We can accept the correct and reject the wrong.

It is wrong to become a slave to a total ideology. The Catholic system was a total ideology. Luther and Zwingli rejected that total ideology but then replaced it with their own total ideology – a system of belief consisting of correct and incorrect components. Their total ideology did not allow them the freedom of discernment in choosing direction for the lives of their followers.

The early Anabaptists rejected the idea of total ideology and replaced it with faith in God and His written and living Word through His Holy Spirit. That faith provided basis for discernment. Their rejection of reigning ideologies cost them dearly.

How easy is it for Anabaptists to fall into a total ideology? As Anabaptists today, we reject some packages and accept others. What we need to do is to examine the packaged ideas and discern and then choose the truth from the error. To accept or reject a set of ideas packaged in specific terms is to miss the good for the evil

It is possible, of course, to create our own isms and defend them as total ideologies and expect our people to accept them and defend them and use them to maintain our own brand of distinctives. These provide reasons for certain behaviors while rejecting others and so provide justification for a particular approach to life.

The world is full of isms. Ism brackets the word. It forces a set of definitions on an otherwise useful term. Communal is a useful Christian term. Communism is an ism with specific definitions that miss much of the Biblical concept of community.

Anabaptist is a useful term. Anabapt-ism is a bracketed term. Mennonite is a useful term. Mennonite-ism is a bracketed term. When the term Mennonite is arbitrarily (or for what ever personal or group design) infused with a set of beliefs and practices that defend certain ideas and behaviors, it then becomes an ism. The ism contains whatever the particular group decides to include as their definition of Anabaptist.

For us as Anabaptists, to accept or reject fundamentalism or liberalism, revivalism or pre-millennial-ism limits our use of potential useful parts of those packages and removes from us the freedom to accept truth because it is connected to some level of error.

(To confuse millennial-ism with millenarian-ism is another error that will confuse the discussion.)

The Anabaptist life is a challenging path. It requires constant discernment so that we do not buy into total packages that contain both truth and error.
It is far easier to buy total packages of our own making or those imported from the world of ideas than to accept and adopt Biblical definitions for life.

To reject to offered total packages is to place ourselves outside the comfort of acceptance by the systems. To be discerning is to place ourselves inside the protection of Scripture and the Holy Spirit.

To blacklist evangelicalism because of its inclusion of concepts that are not Biblical or, on the other hand, to subscribe to it as a packaged and prescribed path of Christianity is to compromise our heritage of discernment.

To be Anabaptist is to follow a blessed but difficult path. We are called to be salt and light with discernment and without compromise.

There are many kinds of beliefs in the world. Most of them contain some truth. Most of them contain some error. Spiritual discernment is desperately needed to know truth from error. Righteousness from evil. Godliness from ungodliness. Those who have been called to shepherd the flock of God need their discernment developed by diligent study in the Holy Scripture and by following the leading of the Holy Spirit so they and we do not fall prey to the easy path of total ideology.

May the Good Lord lead and convict us in these challenging days to call on Him and His Divine wisdom as we choose the truth and reject the error.

From → Christian Living

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