an Ideological Option
Those outside of the Christian faith often view Christianity as but an ideological option among many such religious and philosophical options available to human reasoning, acceptance, or devotion.
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CHRISTIANITY IS NOT AN IDEOLOGICAL OPTION
Those outside of the Christian faith often view Christianity as but an ideological option among many such religious and philosophical options available to human reasoning, acceptance, or devotion. As they pass by the smorgasbord of human thought, many people believe that the objective is to select one, or perhaps a combination of many ideas, that they find preferable or palatable to suit their personal tastes. Having done so, they can then settle-in to a contented enjoyment of their belief choices, and advocate that others do the same.
Christians are partly to blame for this skewed perspective of Christianity as an ideological option. Christians have often projected the idea that Christianity is a believe-right religion an epistemological exercise in developing a belief-system that aligns with correct historical interpretation, orthodox theological formulation, and accurate doctrines carefully worded in a creedal statement of faith. The believe-right religion then becomes a do-right religion, as moral standards and ethical guidelines are formulated to correspond with the ideological beliefs, and to enforce behavioral conformity in deed and word.
It is time to recognize and assert, Christianity is not an ideological option. Mankind is not faced with a multiple-choice quiz wherein an individual must pick and choose one of several ideas to the exclusion of all others, or all of the above in an inclusive combination of belief tenets. Though the human race is indeed confronted with a plurality of ideological options competing for acceptance in mens minds, the Christian gospel is not one of those ideological options. Conservative, fundamentalistic Christian religion may project that Christianity is a superior ideological option that excludes all other options as inferior, fallacious and unbelievable, thus justifying their attempts to conserve their own belief as the only viable option of fundamental faith. Liberal and progressive Christian religion, on the other hand, may depict Christianity as an ideological option among a plurality of belief-options of equivalent veracity and validity, allowing the individual to choose one option, or a combination of several, or to inclusively incorporate all options as but differing paths by which to approach the one god of the universe. Both of these approaches, the fundamentalist that seeks to establish an absolutist belief statement that excludes all others, and the liberal that allows an inclusive eclecticism that merges all thought into relativism, mistakenly view the Christian gospel as an ideological option. The issue that the Christian gospel confronts us with is not a choice of an ideological option, but the choice of life or death.
Allow me to illustrate in the form of an analogy, admitting at the outset that the correspondences in all analogies break down sooner or later. The reader will soon detect that the details of this analogy have their breaking point.
The correspondence of this analogy to the availability of life in Jesus Christ through the Christian gospel is self-evident, but allow me to make some observations.
The natural man (cf. I Cor. 2:14) wants a plurality of options, whether it is medical treatments or ideological beliefs. Why is this so? Because the natural man views himself in the elevated position of being an autonomous arbiter, freely choosing what he determines to be the best option. Having deified human reason in his own cognitive abilities and opinions, the humanistic rationalism of fallen man insists on a multiple-choice from among a plurality of options. Thus he can play God in making the choice of acceptable or unacceptable. If a singular either-or choice is presented, this wisdom of the world (I Cor. 1:20) inevitably complains of exclusivism,
Singularity of solution does not of necessity imply exclusivism. Do we complain to the scientific physicist of cosmology, I cannot/will not accept the singularity of your Big Bang theory of cosmological origins, because it is exclusivistic.? I demand a spectrum of options from which to choose, or perhaps to form my own eclectic amalgam of opinions. No, for singularity does not imply exclusivism.
The message of the Christian gospel is that the singular God (God is one Deut. 6:4) sent His singular (only begotten Jn. 3:16,18; I Jn. 4:9) Son on a singular redemptive mission (cf. Jude 1:3) to earth in incarnational identification with man (cf. Jn. 1:14; Phil. 2:6-8). The Son offered up Himself (cf. Gal. 2:20; Heb. 7:27) as the singular (once and for all Rom. 6:10; Heb. 10:12) sacrifice to take upon Himself the death consequences of mans sin, and make His singular eternal life (cf. I Jn. 5:12,13) available to all mankind. That is why Jesus says, I AM the way, the truth, and the life; no man comes to the Father but through Me (Jn. 14:6). This is not exclusivism; but it is a singularity of life option. There is no other name given among men by which a man must be saved (Acts 4:12), declared Peter in the first sermon of the church. No one is excluded or cut out, for all men universally, without discrimination, are invited to make the either-or decision to receive Christs life. God is not willing that any should perish, but that all may come to repentance (II Pet. 3:9). Whoever will call upon the Lord will be saved (Rom. 10:13).
Jesus did not say, I came that you might have ideological options presented to your human reasoning with the assumed autonomous ability to accept, reject, or merge these in exclusivism or inclusivism, and thus to be contented with your choice. What He did say was, I came that you might have life, and have it more abundantly (John 10:10). I am that life (Jn. 14:6). He who believes in the Son has eternal life, but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life (Jn. 3:36). He who believes in Me shall never die (Jn. 11:26), i.e. shall not experience the second death (cf. Rev. 2:11; 20:14). The issue is life or death! The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 6:23).
The charge of exclusivism is only made by those who improperly consider Christianity to be an ideological option among a multiplicity of ideological options offered by men (not God) through the centuries. Such a charge of exclusivism will inevitably and always be made by those who refuse to accept Jesus Christ as the only life option, the singular solution to the sin problem, and the singular source of salvation that restores mankind to Gods intent. Unbelievers always demand other options so they can employ their deified human reasoning to be the final judge of what is acceptable or unacceptable, right or wrong, life or death. They want to play God. Concurrent with their charges of exclusivism, they will always argue for an inclusivity that gives equal credence to all belief-constructs or ideological options, claiming that all roads lead to the same religious reality with variant expressions. This always leads to relativism, allowing every individual to construct their own truth, and declaring truth to be whatever they perceive it to be. Again, setting themselves up as God.
The Christian gospel is not an ideological option alongside many others. Rather, the Christian gospel is the good news of the singular source of spiritual life in Jesus Christ, in contrast to spiritual death presently and in the hereafter. Exclusivity or inclusivity of ideological options is not the issue. The issue is life or death! Mankind has been offered an either-or, Yes or No choice of whether we will accept spiritual and eternal life in Christ, or reject Him. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life (I Jn. 5:12).
The only exclusion is that an individual will exclude himself from life, and consign himself to death, if he refuses to accept and receive the singular treatment option that is available in Jesus Christ. But that is your choice!