In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis writes,
If individuals live only seventy years, then a state, or a nation, or a civilisation, which may last for a thousand years, is more important than an individual. But if Christianity is true, then the individual is not only more important but incomparably more important, for he is everlasting and the life of the state or a mere civilisation, compared with his, is only a moment.
Lewis uses the analogies of nations, but I would go even further and extend the rationale to any secular ideology or personal philosophy. After all, Christianity is based on the belief of a free gift of saving grace that will reward its faithful servants with eternal life. Hence, whatever -ism one places their confidence in (e.g., nationalism, individualism, conservatism, libertarianism, liberalism, vegetarianism, elitism, racism, or isolationism), it is imperative not to cast your gaze away from Christ, keeping yourself rooted in a life filled with faith. For the believer, Christianity must reign supreme.
Christianity and ideology do not mix.
Unfortunately, a very real and pertinent danger lurks in our midst in modern times whenever someone begins to mold Christianity in order to validate or justify his/her way of life. Clearly there are many dangers, but I can visualize two cardinal perils from this approach.
One. A person may gravitate toward a certain -ism because it shares Christian ideals, then embrace the -ism as its own infallible truth. In this way, religion is used as a mechanism to find truth and is not the source. For example, peace is a good thing. This is an idea that flows from the scriptures into our world. A perversion exists when an individual embraces peace and then begins to value religion because it also embraces peace—the idea flows to the scriptures from the secular world. The difference is very subtle but enables anyone to utilize Christianity as a faith of convenience, selectively using ideas and concepts while dismissing the wide-ranging whole.
The reader should ask himself a simple question: “Have I ever gravitated toward a religion because it shares certain ideals with my personal philosophy?”
Two. For many, it would prove to be an exceedingly difficult task to remove Christianity (or religion in general) from an individual’s life. As a result, it proves much easier instead to contaminate a person’s righteous core, giving him/her the pretense of “being right,” “being moral,” or “being religious,” all the while supporting immoral and vile ends. The abominable end result of spiritual corruption is religious pride, probably the most toxic flavor of the most dangerous sin. Christ himself noted this threat throughout the New Testament, where the practitioners of said philosophy were known as the Pharisees. The cancerous end result of Phariseeism is to segregate and judge based on a defensive high-handedness that draws a line in the sand and refuses admission to a cult based on erroneous criteria. The practitioners of this religious pride are so hazardous because they believe God has ordained their ideology and, thus, their mandates can be enforced without ceasing, questioning, and self-reflection. The entire dilemma is antithetical to Christ’s mission of grace and mercy and to seek and save those who are lost.
At the heart of every human being gradually comes to exist an unwavering, settled core that refuses to be swayed; this center vehemently revolts against any attempt to alter itself. This stubborn center is not insightful or reflective but fixated and superficial. It refuses to challenge itself and entertain new ideas and finds comfort in the perpetual maintenance of the same. This dynamic is responsible for some of the most reprehensible humans ever to have walked on the face of the earth. Thus, it becomes the responsibility of each of us not to allow ourselves to become prisoners of our own ideologies. We always run the risk of deviating from the ideal and wandering into our own realms of deception, both for ourselves and all those who value our opinions.
Consequently, I find it difficult to be a [insert secular label here] Chrisitan. A life of faith is the truth and forces each one of us to examine every facet of our lives, eventually conforming every part of our existence to mirror that of Christ. I believe the term “a Christian who happens to be [label]” is the more appropriate label. Christ’s agenda is bigger than all of us, and people will always look for something other than God to satisfy themselves. That something will invariably fail.
God can’t be put in a box, and if anyone believes they have achieved otherwise, I question what’s actually left inside their container. Religion cannot be molded to shape or justify our own dogma; we must allow ourselves to be molded according to Him.
Dr. C.H.E. Sadaphal