In case you missed it, last week Pope Francis once again addressed a sickness within Christianity with words of truth. The sickness? The idolatry of ideology. The words of truth? That to worship our ideation of God is a corruption of religious faith. The idolatry of ideology (worshiping my idea of God, rather than worshiping the living God) promises certainty, whereas religious faith promises only a relationship with the quick and vital Holy One, whose continually-unfolding purpose is always at least one turn-around-the-next-corner further than we can see.
All moralistic, literalistic fundamentalisms lead us back to the safety of our own confirmed opinions about God, and judgment of others. Faith leads us into an openness to life as it unfolds– its griefs and joys alike– and into relationships with others.
Faith is harder and scarier than fundamentalism, and therefore rarer.
Much of the popular press turned Francis’ words (excerpt below) into an indictment of so-called “right-wing” Christianity, but that’s not what he said. More interestingly, Francis is putting into words the Christian vision of what humans are (we are limited), and the propensity we have, as humans, to think we’re NOT limited.
All ideologies, whether secular (political or economic) or religious, carry the danger that we will become convinced of their absolute truth– thereby giving us the rationalization to harm the people who disagree with us “for their own good.” Religious people– of all people– ought to know better.
I’m eager for what Francis will say next.
Speaking at daily Mass last Thursday, Pope Francis warned Christians against turning their faith into a rigid ideology. “The faith passes, so to speak, through a distiller and becomes ideology,” he said, according to Radio Vatican. “And ideology does not beckon [people]. In ideologies there is not Jesus: in his tenderness, his love, his meekness. And ideologies are rigid, always. Of every sign: rigid. “And when a Christian becomes a disciple of the ideology, he has lost the faith: he is no longer a disciple of Jesus, he is a disciple of this attitude of thought… For this reason Jesus said to them: ‘You have taken away the key of knowledge.’ The knowledge of Jesus is transformed into an ideological and also moralistic knowledge, because these close the door with many requirements.” “The faith becomes ideology and ideology frightens, ideology chases away the people, distances, distances the people and distances of the Church of the people,” Francis added. “But it is a serious illness, this of ideological Christians. It is an illness, but it is not new, eh?”