The Mises Institute ran an interesting article this week (which is rather long) on different theories about why intellectuals support and campaign for socialism, Marxism, and related concepts and policies. It prompted me to think about the ideological aspect of spiritual warfare, which came to my attention a few years back when I read Michael Green’s I believe in Satan’s Downfall. In one of the chapters, the author discusses all the -isms that place themselves between God and man, acting as gods and distorters of truth. Christians may argue over which -isms should be included in the list. However, it seems reasonable to accept the basic premise that a number of ideologies are the means by which the god of this age blinds people to the truth of the Gospel.
In reflecting on this matter, I have been struck by a few points. Firstly, our arguments, in and of themselves, while useful, are not sufficient to remove the scales from people’s eyes. Repentance and revelation involve the grace and power of God. Each person’s Damascus Road moment may not be as spectacular as St Paul’s; nevertheless, the work of God is in each.
Secondly, where collective prayer is involved, we must have unity. If we pray from different directions, our prayers will not be optimal. To change the metaphor, it would be good if we all sang from the same hymn sheet. Herein lies a real, but not insurmountable problem: genuine Christians are on both sides of political and other spectrums. It can be difficult to broach certain matters because of the fervency with which private beliefs are held. However, if we are to pray in unity and in truth, then we must seek answers from God as to the root power behind these “doctrines of demons” and, knowing the truth, must confess it to each other in honesty and frankness.
I have a few thoughts on the means by which the principalities and powers use ideology against the Gospel in the West. If the reader will indulge me, I should like to preface my exploration of the topic with a slight tangent that may prove helpful. Some years back, at university (where I attended a charismatic, evangelical Anglican church), I heard a sermon in which the author said, “Money is not neutral.”
This striking aphorism has stayed with me ever since. In reflecting on it, I came to the realisation that there are things in life that, though of themselves inanimate, behave in such a way as to have the semblance of a life of their own. This may be because they are so expertly used by the powers of darkness, and because they occupy crucial places in human life and society. Perhaps this explains why ancient pagans devoted particular gods to these “domains” or believed that those gods were present in items and activities carried on in those domains.
Three things that seem to me to have particular “pagan attributes” of this kind in the West today are: money, alcohol, and sex. Each of these things has such a place in our culture as to cause noticeable problems when one tries to act as if these things should serve the purposes of God and not have us as their slaves.
To take but one example, it is surprisingly difficult to steer a line of moderation in social contexts regarding alcohol, avoiding both serious drunkenness on the one hand, and total abstention on the other. In social contexts such as “a night out”, the nature of peer pressure (or whatever other force is at work) means that one must be quite deliberate and careful in maintaining a sensible limit on one’s drinking. Harder still is to suggest to someone else that he or she has had enough (not that I recommend being a busybody).
To return to the issue of -isms that prompted this post, I believe that ideologies function in a similar way to the operation of the “not neutral” inanimate things. Although concepts, they seem to have a life of their own in the way that money, sex, and alcohol call to people as if they were sentient. These ideologies seem to be targeted at the link between God and humanity. Stat-ism puts our governments in the place of God. The pro-choice movement attacks God’s decree that all human beings are made in His image. Religious plurality and multiculturalism and anti-Semitism attack the claim that the God of Israel is the one, true God, who has appeared in history as Jesus Christ. Hyper-empiricism attacks the link between heaven and earth, gnawing at the meaning God attaches to our existence. Nihilism, existentialism, and relativism make each man his own god, decreeing what is and what is not. The culmination of this evil is the Man of Sin, the Son of Perdition sitting in God’s Temple, holding himself out as if he were God. As Derek Prince pointed out long ago, the root evil of the end times deception is the ancient Greek claim, “Man is the measure of all things” (Rules of Engagement, Chapter 21, “Humanism: Forerunner for Antichrist”) – at least as far as the West goes. (Incidentally, that book has a chapter, “Preparing to Reign with Christ”, that may be of interest to readers who are engaging with the Millennial question.)
So, in drawing this lengthy post to a close, and seeking to make some practical recommendation in the face of the ideological war that is plaguing the West, I return to the conclusions drawn earlier. We must pray for truth regarding the root of these supernatural strategies; we must pray against those strategies; and we must pray that the Church will be of one mind so that we may pray in unity and have freedom of speech to discuss these things amongst ourselves.