If Ideology is the Science of Ideas, Then Everyone Should Be an Idealogue – The Garrett Ashley Mullet Show
Ideology gets a bad rap. You may have noticed. But what is ideology? And for that matter, while we’re on it, what is an ideologue?
After giving these questions some thought recently, I am not so sure having an ideology and being an idealogue are necessarily bad things. And just because they’re so often presented that way, that doesn’t mean they should be, or that we should receive them accordingly with the typical standoffishness.
Why, just the other day I was watching a Meet the Press special on Moscow, Idaho pastor Doug Wilson talking about the rise – or I would say resurgence – of Christian nationalism. And before that I was reading a long timeline on Facebook of all the scandals Wilson should supposedly be cancelled for.
Whether he should be cancelled or not, much if not all of what Wilson is under fire for arguing is just plain and simple Biblicality. But if a Facebook post or a Chuck Todd lackey call what Wilson is advocating for ideological, or if they call Wilson himself an idealogue, it’s curtains for him. We may think no more about it, but the abra kadabra makes him go away.
Again, what actually is ideology? According to Merriam-Webster, it is “a manner or the content of thinking characteristic of an individual, group, or culture, the integrated assertions, theories and aims that constitute a sociopolitical program, a systematic body of concepts especially about human life or culture, or visionary theorizing.”
The 18th century French writer A. L. C. Destutt de Tracy is said to have coined the term to describe the “science of ideas,” and that is what it originally meant in English. However, within a few decades of its inception, thanks to Napoleon utilizing it mockingly, ideology stopped being a word to take seriously or use in a complimentary way.
Today, at its root, we use ideology to describe “a systematic body of concepts” particular to a group or political party. But really, now, this to my way of thinking is the same definition shared in common by “worldview.” And to say that you or I or anyone has one of those is not scandalous in the least. Or at least it shouldn’t be, so far as it goes, since no one really can help having a worldview except by being ignorant and stubbornly disorganized. Yet even with the ignorant and stubbornly disorganized, they choose to be or remain so because they already have a certain requisite view of the world which necessitates or allows that.
But what then is an ideologue? Cambridge Dictionary gives us an answer in “a person who believes very strongly in particular principles, and tries to follow them carefully.” If I could paraphrase, I might say that by this definition an idealogue is someone who is striving diligently for internal consistency. In other words, they are not play-acting, or being a hypocrite. That is, an idealogue is someone who has integrity of mind.
As I reason, therefore, if ideology is the science of ideas, then shouldn’t everyone be an idealogue?
Some very spiritual person might adapt the troubles the church at Corinth in the New Testament got into about following Paul, Apollos, Cephas, or – for the trump card – Jesus. Adapting this to the present discussion, they might say if they are a Christian that followers of Jesus ought not to follow principles, as if one can avoid doing both.
Thus we find ourselves defining all our terms, and coming to what a principle is. And here I will cite Oxford Languages to explain patiently, with gentleness and respect, that the first entry when you query principle is “a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning.” Moreover, I will tell you that the first usage example given in Oxford Languages is “the basic principles of Christianity.”
The next two definitions talk about general scientific theorems and the fundamental sources and basis of things. And those work too. But the big idea I am driving at is that one should not deconstruct Christianity to make it some vague, formless, shapeless, nebulous thing without substance. Moreover, one cannot do this, since the Christian is commanded in the Scriptures to “study to show yourself an approved workman who need not be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”
What we find in the end, then, is that the follower of Jesus must believe that Christ himself is the principle. And as such, the follower of Jesus must build their worldview on this foundation of Christ, taking every thought captive to the same, tearing down lofty arguments that set themselves up against the truth of God.
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