The motto I hear in all they say is: “Things will never be right unless people like us are in charge.”
And then they argue character, they argue witness to the faith, they argue all these pious things. What makes them different, in their mind (as I understand it), from Marxists and Jihadis, is that they actually do have the true and living God on their side. The only difference, in that approach, between what they have and ideology, in their mind, is that they have the truth. And it seems an impregnable position: what Christian can argue with Christians who argue that God is on their side?
I wonder if the difference between truth and ideology really is that stark. Is it really down to one single thing, however preponderant?
It takes a certain kind of person to believe that, which is what all these alternatives have in common. It is a kind of focus, and so they can congratulate themselves on being focused, on having the world in focus thanks to their correctly adjusted worldview-lens.
Here is the thing about focus: it is a way of zooming in on something to the exclusion of everything else.
Ideology is knowledge in service to the desire for power. The higher good of knowing is subordinated to the lesser good of power. Power exists for other things. You cannot make power an end in itself, it is always a means. Evangelicals are taught that knowledge is not a means either. Knowledge puffeth up, they say, quoting Scripture. That is not wrong.
Wisdom is the larger category, and wisdom does not puff anything up. Wisdom is magisterial, not ministerial in relation to knowledge and power. Knowledge is an element of wisdom, one of the many considerations wisdom takes into account, including the ends to which power can be used. But that does not mean that knowledge is therefore to be subordinated to power just because both are means and not ends. There is a hierarchy of means also: one obtains the other, one enables the other. We can see what direction this goes when we consider that knowledge is a kind of power. That is clear, but the reverse is not true: power is not a kind of knowledge.
Knowledge subordinated to power is blindness. It is enslaved to power rather than having power as its servant and under its authority; and that is ideology. And so it does come down to character; that is my argument too. And that is why I find evangelical political pronouncements hard to bear.