My Hope is not in any “ism”



Man-made ideologies always seem to break down at some point. But there are some eternal truths which have withstood the test of time. My hope is in those truths.

I watched a movie with a small group of friends recently about the persecution of Christians in formerly communist Romania. It was heart wrenching. Among the observations made in our discussion after the movie was the irony that communism (in that instance) ended up looking a lot like Naziism. It would have been easy at that point for the conversation to break down into a discussion about political or economic systems and which one is better. But this discussion did not go down that rabbit hole, because everyone in this particular group shared one belief: that every man-made system (political, economic, spiritual, or otherwise) will eventually begin to break down or disappoint in some meaningful way. It is an eternal truth about the “isms” of man. The only “systems” that last are ones grounded in eternal, spiritual truth.

Think about it. Communism, Socialism, Capitalism, Liberalism, Conservatism, Marxism… Pretty much all of the man-made “isms” fall short in some ways. All of them are merely people’s best attempt to create a system that works or to explain the complexities of the world in which we live. But, unless they are built on eternal truths, they will eventually disappoint. And, in some cases, the brokenness of people will turn those systems into something downright ugly.

In writing about this in the Bible, the Apostle Paul said it this way in his letter to the church in Corinth:

So where can you find someone truly wise, truly educated, truly intelligent in this day and age? Hasn’t God exposed it all as pretentious nonsense? …Human wisdom is so tinny, so impotent, next to the seeming absurdity of God. Human strength can’t begin to compete with God’s “weakness.” 1 Corinthians 1:20,25 (The Message)

Paul’s point here is this: God, in his weakest and lowest moment, is still infinitely stronger and wiser than man at his very best. He is pointing out that all of our systems for explaining the world around us (i.e., all our ideologies) are flawed, unless they are grounded in God’s wisdom. That was true when Paul was writing two thousand years ago and it is still true today. And, by the way, this even includes the theological “isms”. Again, man’s best wisdom will always break down at some point. The apostle Paul would therefore caution against even placing our ultimate hope in theological ideologies created by man.

That is a tall order in our current culture. We are living in a time of deep division, with everyone feeling enormous social pressure to join one tribe or another. And our tribes are formed around ideologies, i.e., man-made “isms”. But the Biblical answer to this is simple. Those of us with a Biblical worldview simply do not place our hope in any particular man-made “ism”. On any particular issue, we may happen to lean the same way as this ideology or that ideology, but ultimately, that is not where our hope lies.

What that really means is that, if I truly have a Biblical worldview, I don’t feel compelled to fly any other tribe’s colors. In fact, it actually specifically discourages me from placing my trust in the “wisdom” of this world. That doesn’t just change the image we project, it changes how we do all the important relationships in our lives. It changes everything.

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