Avoiding Ideology

John ArmstrongThe Church

Tomorrow morning I drive to Dubuque, Iowa. I will share in a special evening, at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary, where a number of us will honor the life and work of Dr. Donald Bloesch, one of the greatest evangelical theologians of our time. Bloesch is not widely known to ordinary folks but he is profoundly respected within the academy.

I first met Donald Bloesch about thirty years ago. I began to read his work shortly thereafter. Only about eight years ago did we actually become freinds. I would now call Dr. Bloesch my mentor in many important ways. First, he has profoundly influenced my thinking on many levels. He has also helped me deepen my spiritual journey in terms of prayer and devotion. I believe I comprehend the centrality of Jesus Christ in Scripture better because of Donald’s personal piety and his crystal clear teaching on Christian spirituality.

Bloesch, like the earliest Protestant evangelicals, is a theologian of "Word and Spirit." He believes reason must always serve faith, not faith reason. This method has transformed my approach to theology and removed a great deal of hubris from my own systematic approach to theology. His seven volume magnum opus, Christian Foundations (InterVarsity Press), has recently been completed. Amazingly, he dedicated the seventh volume to this ministry and my renewal work. This fact occasioned my particpation in the April 12 celebration. These volumes, I believe, provide the discerning reader some of the finest interaction with catholic evangelical thought in the English language today.

One of Bloesch’s more important calls is for the church to avoid ideologies. Both the left and the right need his prophetic counsel desperately. He writes:

"The church in our time can only become truly prophetic when it awakens to the reality of the ideological temptation. Only when it successfully begins resisting the beguiling promise of ideological support will it be free to speak the Word of God with power and boldness."

This is precisely why the voices on both the left and right, in the currrent church scene, are generally muted when it comes to saying a truly prophetic word for the Lord.