I Had the opportunity to speak with a 20-year-old Jewish man on a flight recently. But it really wasn’t a conversation. He did most of the talking as he meandered through a host of topics. He was nerdish, a little overweight, and seemed younger and more immature than his years. So I was a little surprised when one of the topics he broached was Hamas and the rockets they routinely fire into Israel. Realizing that most Jews are politically liberal and that they generally tend to support politicians who are anti-Israel, I was moved by those assumptions to begin asking him a host of questions. I’m fascinated, you see, that anyone can live their lives filled with gross inconsistencies. So I saw this encounter as an opportunity to perhaps gain some insight.
As I began, the conversation took on the feel of an interview. I purposed before we started that I would not interject any of my own thoughts, but rather would only ask questions. My intent was not to trap him, as we can sometimes do in this sort of interchange, but rather to understand how his mind dealt with its own inward contradictions. I asked far too many questions to delve into here, even if I could remember them, but there were a few that I’ll share as a basis for this essay.
The first and key question was, does absolute truth exist? I wasn’t surprised with his answer, nor was I surprised that his explanation for his point of view was inconsistent with most of his expressed opinions. He explained to me that there is only one truth which was that there is no truth, and then continued with a fairly accurate description of relativism. So, a little later, in hopes of learning how he would personally deal with it, I ask him if it was wrong to torture and kill a baby? His answer was fairly typical of anyone who understands the quandary that holding to relativism places them in. He could only affirm that it was wrong for him personally, but not in any universal sense was it wrong. It no longer surprises me that there are so many who hold this moral position. But I do find two aspects of it unsettling. First, that anyone could feel as comfortable with such a view as they obviously do, even though their comfort, I realize, is with an abstract idea. We can be sure that those who hold such a view still have no problem imposing their views of morality on others as if those values were absolute when they are themselves violated. But I propose that there is a root issue that not only brought this young man to his current worldview but which also brings to us the rise in false and wayward Christian teachers, denominations and local churches. And that root issue I’ll call radical individualism.
We all have a moral reference point, a somewhat stationary moral datum from which we judge a thing to be moral or not. Some of us are aware of that fact, others, like this young Jewish man, not so much. I suppose that whether we’re aware of it or not will depend on whether or not we knowingly established that standard according to some objective point, or if it was inculcated into us without our knowledge. But nevertheless, it is there. We can examine our own reference points by asking ourselves similar questions to the ones I asked this young man, like for instance, why is it wrong to torture and kill babies? Our answer will give us some insight into our own reference points. If you were to answer the question by appealing to your own feelings, then your feelings are your reference point. If you appeal to the consensus of society, or to government law, then what your society does and approves of is your reference point. But if your first reaction is to look past all the seemingly obvious reasons to not torture and kill babies, and point instead to something more absolute, timeless and transcendent, then congratulations you have an objective worldview, and as such, we can reasonably assume that the object to which your moral compass points is not somewhere between your ears. But knowing that it’s wrong to torture and kill babies, and realizing that you know this because of some standard that exists outside of yourself, is easy. In life, morals can be tricky, especially as social mores ebb and flow with the whims of culture from generation to generation. Add to that our own flesh and emotions, as well as our tendency to exalt the self, and reality is certain to become cloudy to one degree or another. And the more cloudy it becomes, the easier it is for us to be swept away by the zeitgeist that rules our time. As I discuss this, “radical individualism”, I’ll start with two parallel histories of it. First in government, which is a reflection of culture, and then in the Church.
The founders faced a problem in setting up their new nation. The question was, how could it be established that all would be represented in the republic while yet allowing that the government would retain power sufficient to govern? It was obvious that certain barriers would be needed between the individual and government. Suffrage would be the vessel for carrying most of these barriers, so a difficult question revolved around who could vote. That such a questioned was even asked then has the potential to dredge up indignation in the modern heart. That indignation demonstrates the extent to which we have been steeped in individualism. The vote has become sacred, even if most don’t exercise it, and less educate themselves on the ramifications of their choices. But the founders foresaw a problem that we in our present age have in large part lost sight of. They understood the dangers of democracy, and so wanted all who would be deciding the ultimate fate of this little republic to be invested in what would be best for it, and not so much for the individual. So it was perhaps thought, as goes the welfare of the nation, so goes the welfare of the individual. Or, as God put it, “…seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. ” (Jer 29:7) It was settled that the future of the nation would not be left to the individual as much as to the household by way of the male vote. Whether the thinking behind the male-only vote was based on one vote per household, or it was a simply a matter of the zeitgeist of that age, is a matter for further inquiry. But nonetheless, in God’s providence, the end effect sacrificed individualism in favor of the family unit.
It was settled that the future of the nation would not be left to individuals therefore as much as to the household by way of the male vote. Whether the thinking behind the male-only vote was based on one vote per household, or it was a simply a matter of the zeitgeist of that age, is a matter for further inquiry. But nonetheless, in God’s providence, the end effect sacrificed individualism in favor of the family unit. This was one barrier.
There were several other barriers also installed based on the concepts of groups trumping individuals. One of those “groups” was the electoral college, which would establish a barrier between the individual and the office that allowed for the most power in the fewest hands. Another barrier was inserted between the individual and the upper chamber of congress by way of the state being charged with choosing their senators. The reasoning behind this wasn’t as much based on inserting barriers as it was the result of understanding that the states were their own sovereigns and as such in need of representation in their own right. The effect, however, was still a barrier. But it also had the effect of adding yet another barrier between the individual and the courts by requiring the consent of the state-appointed senate for appointments to the bench. As we study these barriers, we can see that the founders had a healthy fear of pure democracy. They understood in their age the sad condition of the hearts of men and did what they could to protect the whole from the possibility of a mob-like majority of individuals.
As the name implies, the founding of the “United States” was a federation of groups, or states. Compared to the present, the pre-Civil War Federal Government played a minuscule role in the nation’s internal affairs. It dealt with issues that were necessarily beyond the scope and ability of the states to control; issues like conducting war, and international and interstate affairs. It might be said that the federal government didn’t as much have a relationship with the household as it did with the state within which the households resided. The average citizen in pre-war America considered themselves to be citizens of their states first and then the nation. After the Civil War, the American citizen was more likely to see himself as a citizen of America than his state. That conflict was, after all, a power struggle between two sovereigns, the State, and the states united. The central government from that point forward grew in power at the expense of the constitution and state governments. This eliminated a smaller whole to which the individual once belonged, as well as barriers set against an out of control federal government.
By the early 20th century the barrier that stood between the household and the senate was discarded by way of the 17th amendment, which in effect removed a barrier to the courts as well. It’s worth noting in the present how different our history might have been if the mostly conservative legislatures had had a say in the appointment of senators, and so subsequently judges. History recounts many reasons that this amendment was made. But whatever the reasons appeared to be on the surface, we can be sure that it was carried along, as most historical events are, on the undercurrents that were the shifts in the mindsets of individual citizens. The end effect was no doubt a movement away from republican and toward democratic governance.
The next barrier fell 7 years later in 1920 with the 19th amendment, which was a great leap forward for radical individualism. The household vote was abolished in favor of the individual votes within the household. This eliminated yet another “whole” to which the individual once belonged. The individual’s interests would now trump that of the family’s. This amendment had the effect of abolishing the family as it pertains to representation. The husband and wife were no longer considered one, but rather would eventually join, in the modern politics of identity, two separate voting blocks. Anticipating lots of challenges to my propositions concerning this matter, and given the extent to which feminism is permeated and often borne along by emotion, and given that expounding on this exceeds the scope of this piece, let me suffice to say that I am speaking in very broad terms with the intention of discussing the growing impact of radical individualism. My assumption in this discussion is that the reader is a conservative, and if my assumption is correct I only point to the national polls that paint the vast majority of single women as a reliable voting block for liberalism. But the mere numbers of single women are in themselves evidence of a seismic shift in worldview that has occurred since the nation’s founding. But not only this, anecdotal though it may be, this self-styled news organization posted a story on the conflict that this individualism has wrought on two households in particular. The story suggests that there are many households suffering from this malady, and I’m inclined to agree.
The mid 20th century was marked by explosive growth in reach and power of the federal government. The great depression opened the door for centralized government to take on the role of caretaker and husband. Franklin D. Roosevelt remained president for a decade and a year, during which time he was able to stack the bench with judges sympathetic to his cause. The constitution by design was difficult to amend. But as Roosevelt discovered, it was rather simple to reinterpret, and so reinterpreted it was.
In the mid-twentieth century, we began to see the fruit of the individualism that had been incubating in the previous generations. Religion was evicted from the federal government’s schoolhouse by judicial decree, which opened the door for the secular humanism that was already there to set up shop without obstacle. Divorce and illegitimacy were just beginning their meteoric climb. It was as if the individual was awakened from what seemed to it to be a long sleep in the catacombs of the “wholes” within which it had previously been confined and constrained. The sovereignty of the self was finally being realized, and the sky appeared to be the limit as every new generation was not only indoctrinated with ever more individualistic notions in the public schoolhouse, each set out on their own trek to discover what boundary it could test and destroy. And each test had the same score. They were all shot through with rot.
As I write this, the masses of self-sovereigns have fixed their gaze on another barrier that now stands between the individual and the presidency, the electoral college. For those who appreciate its purpose, there is at least some comfort in the fact that the nation is polarized, which means that a constitutional amendment is, at present, out of the question. But we shouldn’t take too much comfort. It would be folly to underestimate the craftiness of a liberal judge. One thing is for sure. We are marching toward a pure democracy. And there will most assuredly come a day when many of those now demanding it will wonder what happened to the protections that once guarded them against an all-too-powerful government.
Radical individualism within the Church has grown as well. But before I explore that, I’m inclined to first touch lightly on an age old question. This question involves the one and the many. It’s one of those philosophical questions that we often consider without realizing it. Like all questions of this nature, it doesn’t apply to the Church alone but rather to any situation wherein the one functions as a part of the many, like within a nation. But the question finds its source in the very essence of God. In fact, it illuminates the very fingerprint of God concerning his own being in the Trinity. As it pertains to this discussion, the question will involve the delineation between groups of people, like nations, cities, religions, families and households, who act corporately as one, and the individuals who make them up. These delineations are a pattern in the scriptures as well, and it is through the study of these patterns that we can gain extra insight into the scriptures as well as their application in our lives. Here are a few patterns that give us reason to decipher between the “one and the many”:
- The Trinity. God’s relationship with Himself can be seen within the God-head. There is more than one. There is hierarchy. There is love. There is oneness. There is One.
- The Church. The Church, so we are told by Paul, is one yet many. Paul uses the anaolgy of a human body with some individuals being hands, others eyes and so on with Jesus being the head.
- Marriage. God says that within marriage the “two shall become one flesh”. As the two become one, there is established an internal hierarchy. Neither the husband, the wife or the children are free to act independently of the family. There is a relationship in this oneness. There is equality in value in this oneness. Yet there are differing roles by design. Throughout scripture we see God calling the heads of the house to meet with him. Paul also often speaks in terms of households.
- Groups of people. We see a pattern also in God’s relationship with his creation as being conducted through leaders, all of which, with little exception, were male. We note a hierarchy in creation that reflects the hierarchy in the Godhead as well. There are obvious patterns too in God’s interactions with the centerpiece of his creation. One of those patterns is that collective groups play a more prominent role than individuals. A quick list of prominent individuals would be minuscule compared to the millions of people who make up the histories of the scriptures. There’s simply no getting around the fact that the Bible paints for the individual a picture in which God’s interaction with His creation is through groups. The individuals who do emerge, Noah, Abraham, Isacc, Jacob, Joseph, Judges, prophets and so on, carry out God’s plan and are either the heads of groups, God’s intermediaries, or are representative of man in a general sense. Yet, I am quick to point out that I am not suggesting that we are not individuals. We most certainly are, just as Jesus is, and we are accountable to our Creator as individuals. Such are the mysteries found in the question of the one and the many.
- The administration of justice. It’s clear that an individual is not to take action for the sake of justice. It must be the collective society as a whole. In the Old Testament law we can see God granting the governing authorities the responsibility to punish, but not individuals. In the New Testament, Paul speaks in Romans 13 of the “governing authorities” bearing the sword. These are not individuals taking revenge, but ministers acting on the behalf of God as one for the people.
Having been steeped in a world that sees the individual self as supreme, any suggestion that anyone, as an individual, is not as important–“important” being defined as having the weight of a sovereign–as the whole is an abomination. With these thoughts in mind, let us examine for a moment the Trinity. Does Jesus have reason to see Himself as lesser than the Father? Is he concerned with His value? Or with losing his personal identity? While such a thing would seem silly to most believers, to suggest that a woman is to be subordinate to her husband in our current age is seen as an attack on her value as a human being. She is to be seen as an individual, and an autonomous and independent individual at that.
And what are we to make of Jesus, who looking over the city of Jerusalem said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” Jesus does not speak to any one individual here but rather a collective whole as one. He says, “and ye would not”. We can also note that throughout much of the Old Testament God is dealing with “Jacob”, and not the peoples of the earth. So does this mean that God is saying that each individual in the group is somehow a lesser-than? Second class? Of course not!
Yet if we’re to understand anything about our cultural surroundings, we must understand everything in light of this post-modern era where the self reigns supreme. To see one’s self as a lesser part of a larger whole, which serves the interest of the whole, is to denigrate the value of the self. The self is the reference point, not only for all internal matters but it’s also the reference point from which external values are to be measured and subjected also. “Jesus is Lord” does not, nor can it, fit into this framework. External impositions, such as God’s law, are to be judged according to the self-sovereign. Good and evil, therefore, only apply to the self as the self dictates. Without grasping the supremacy of the self in this day, it will be impossible to grasp the morality of an individual who can only say that it is personally wrong to torture and kill babies. It must be understood that when the self is appealed to, that is the highest authority to which an appeal can be made. There is no god but self, which is one.
As is always the case, the Church must fight wayward mindsets. It has also always been the case that the Church never completely escapes syncretism with the culture it serves. We can see this as we consider the word religion, which not long ago carried a favorable connotation, but which has of late, fallen on hard times? Religion, in these new times, is considered a polemic. That concept, in light of the new radical individual, has been rejected and replaced with an exclusive, individual to individual, relationship. “It’s not religion”, so the mantra goes, “it’s a relationship.” So supposedly, what it has always been for the last two thousand years, which was both, it no longer is. Such is a familiar refrain.
The skyrocketing divorce rate in the Church near the end of the 20th century was also a symptom of the awakening of radical individualism. The concept of two becoming one has become an impossible concept. Ask anyone about their hopes for their daughters. They’ll tell you that they’re raising her to be independent. Independence is just another way of saying, a sovereign individual. Sadly, concepts like “independent” and “individual” do not work in marriage as God intended for marriage to work. There is no such thing as becoming one with another human being while at the same time remaining an independent individual. All that can be hoped for then is a partnership. But in that partnership, the self-sovereigns remain, and should the need arise, the partnership is easily dissolved. In fact, why get married in the first place since oneness is not the aim? Why not simply share a house and expenses while using each other as objects? The love of a car, or a home, is not so far-fetched… why not a partner? And besides, it feels right, and so it is also must be moral according to the highest authority, even for the Christian.
Perhaps nowhere, however, does radical individualism express itself more in the modern zeitgeist than in feminism, which now directs our attention back to the history of the Church, and feminism’s influence on it.
To examine this, we’ll need to go back into Church history a bit to dig up its roots. I’ll start with a website called, The Art Of Manliness which recently posted a series on “The Feminization of the Church“. They point to its beginnings in the middle ages. At issue was God’s metaphor for the relationship between the Church and Jesus being the husband and wife in marriage. But there was a move toward viewing the self as the bride rather than the Church. We can see this in the excerpt from the website. I added the italics.
But in the Middle Ages, female mystics, following the lead of Catholic thinkers like Bernard of Clairvaux, began developing an interpretation of the bridegroom/bride relationship as representing that which existed not only between Christ and the collective church, but Christ and the individual soul. Jesus became not only a global savior, but a personal lover, whose union with believers was described by Christian mystics with erotic imagery. Drawing on the Old Testament’s Song of Songs, but again, using it as an allegory to describe God’s relationship with an individual, rather than with his entire people (as it had traditionally been interpreted), they developed a new way for the Christian to relate to Christ – one marked by intimate longing.
This article defines the feminization of the church in terms of gender gaps in attendance. But even though that gap is pertinent, for my purposes of exploring radical individualism, I want to examine feminism’s historical influence on the corporate versus the individual aspects of Jesus and His bride. While I understand some women’s inclinations to view the individual self as Jesus’ bride 1000 years ago as significant, I’m quick to note that such notions were insignificant as far as it concerned the whole of the Church at the time. Yet it may well have been a seed planted in the midst of a zeitgeist that was hostile to such views. The concept of the individual throughout history was predominately one in which the one interpreted his existence in the context of the many. Radical individualism, however, would much later provide the soil needed to bring forth fruit from that seed.
Looking forward now to the 19th century, whether feminism was wrought by radical individualism, or whether radical individualism gave us feminism, I’m not sure. But I am sure that feminism has thoroughly infiltrated modern thought and theology, and that it, together with radical individualism, are key factors in the great falling away of our time. In my studies of societies, I’ve learned not so much to pay attention to the great social shifts, but instead to study the incubating mindsets from which those shifts were birthed. Many see the mid-twentieth century as a point in which one of these massive social shifts took place. And while that was the reality, it’s a mistake to ignore the moral shifts that brought it forth. The underpinnings of Western morality had been deteriorating for years and were in fact, by the 1950s, a top-down facade of morality in which the absence of the fear of God had turned a projected image of law-keeping before others into the basis for the Christian religion. For the children raised behind that facade, experiencing only the hypocrisy of image casting, they saw no good reason to retain even the image. All that remained with the onset of the 1960’s was a paper mache portrait of what once was, and this portrait was unable to endure the pressures of affluence and the birth control pill. Its collapse began a great avalanche which to date continues to tumble humanity toward some unknown bottom. The moral foundations must necessarily be constituted by a religious moral inculcation that includes the fear of God, and a reverence for His law. This truth was summed up in a now popular quote from John Adams:
Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.
And also by William Penn:
Those who will not be governed by God will be ruled by tyrants.
We can see the supremacy of scripture begin its slide in the early 1900’s. And like Roosevelt’s changing of the constitution, the scriptures would suffer the same fate. After 1800 years of Church history the smart men finally began to get an inkling that God had made a serious mistake in the patterns He had established up until their day with His prohibition against feminine leadership in His Church, and so we begin to see the ordination of women. The scripture that prohibited this was downplayed or reinterpreted. Interestingly enough, looking at the list of denominations that had finally “figured it out” is like looking at a who’s who list of the denominations that would lead the way into apostasy. They were also the first to realize that God had made a horrible mistake with His Stance on homosexual sex too, by, you guessed it, reinterpreting scripture. And so it stands to reason that homosexuality would also eventually be embraced by the nation and a significant portion of Christendom. These reinterpretations coupled with an individualistic mindset that interprets marriage as more of a partnership of self-sovereign individuals in pleasure and resources would pave the way for homosexual marriage. That those who “marry” the same sex are physically incapable of becoming one flesh, or producing offspring is of no import.
Of course, it wasn’t the ordained women who brought the fall of those denominations into apostasy. Such movements were mere symptoms of something worse, the usurping of God’s revelation by man’s “wisdom”. It should be understood that those ordinations were rare occasions early on. They were outliers in comparison to the rest of the society then. But deception is not stationary. Right or Wrong, very little of modern Western Christianity would be recognizable to the average Christian of that day. And even though a century prior to the present gave us the first ordinations of women, that period is still viewed today as prudish, narrow and closed minded, even to a conservative. But it’s worth pondering that within that hundred years God’s truth remained constant. The children of that early 20th-century generation would become the parents of the sixties generation. It would be this generation that would discover that, even though the culture had kept the law, it had lost its basis in objective reality for the law. “That’s how we’ve always done it” doesn’t hold up under the pressures that the radicals in this generation, with the jack hammers of the television set, mass production of the arts, and an elite class chomping at the bit to become the new gods of the nation, would apply.
One of the indicators of the way things were headed can be seen through the introduction of an iconic movie, Jesus Christ Superstar, in the early 70’s. It had Jesus in it. It had Bible stuff in it, so it was thought by many a Christian parent, it must be good. Never mind that it portrayed Jesus as “just a man”, which, not surprisingly, was how its creator, Tim Rice saw Jesus. But Jesus, in Rice’s view, wasn’t just a man, as much as He was a superstar man, like, say, John Lennon, who, rightly in my opinion, suggested in his heyday that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus. But the Beatles are not more popular than Jesus anymore, however, I’m sure there is some other superstar who now is. Such is the problem with painting Jesus as “just a man”, albeit a superstar man. And in keeping with the new zeitgeist, included in this production was a romanticized relationship between Mary Magdalen and Jesus. The movie is a prime example of the power of the arts. A tiny fraction of those who were exposed to this new “theology” would have sat through a dissertation on Rice’s view on Jesus. But millions flocked to the theaters to be infected with it.
This defanged, romantic, hippy, rock-star Jesus was a bell weather indicator of the Jesus who would be making his way into the Church leading it into many deceptions.
One of those deceptions is related to feminism as it involves the differences between men and women. Paul recognized these differences when he gave husbands commands to love their wives and wives directions to respect their husbands, which are very different commands. God made women with a desire to be loved and cherished, and men are commanded to fulfill that need. And so as feminism’s influence began to impact theology, we see a change in the Gospel as it transitions to an expression in terms of a personal relationship with Jesus wherein we are loved and cherished by God as individuals. But this love and cherishing are based on our own value as self-sovereigns. We are loved because we are worth loving. The self remains the center and the reason for God’s love, and as such, we deserve to be loved, and even if this world can’t see how wonderful we are, at least we can rest in the assurance that God does. (I’ll revisit this later with an example.)
But this is not how scripture paints the relationship. Actually, scripture paints the love as a much higher love than we see expressed in this post-modern era. The Bible says that we are loved by God even though we are totally unworthy of that love and deserve not only to not be loved, but God’s wrath instead. When God loved us he wasn’t looking at us and seeing our inward beauty. He loved us in spite of the fact that we were His enemies. This is a much deeper and more beautiful love than the feminine version of love currently being flouted. In fact, the “personal relationship” love so popular in this day obscures the much deeper love that scripture reveals. Gone is the great salvation which was given to us on a bloody cross. Now we have a relationship with a boyfriend-like being who cherishes us night and day and who wants us to have an awesome life, but who also is, evidently, unable to pull it off beyond an occasional parking spot and warm feelings.
Another deception brought to us by feminism and radical individualism is the assertion that individuals need to accept Christ as their Lord. This is the language of a self-sovereign, capable of judging the Creator God and concluding that entering into an individual-to-individual relationship with Him is the best course. It is a relationship in which the savior is worthy of worship because that savior, not only sees the value in the saved, and so loves and cherishes it, but is the only hope for the saved to live a trouble-free life. That the self-sovereign stands condemned before the God of the universe, and that his only hope is that that God would accept him, has no place in the modern mindset. We are assured instead that God is love–with love being defined according to our standards–and He would do nothing to hurt all us individuals who are, after all, made in His image. Any message that contradicts this one, like those that Jesus gave, are mocked and ridiculed as Hellfire and damnation messages. Unfortunately for those who “accept” Jesus, the true joy of salvation is often missing because it is a joy based on self-worth rather than on the Savior’s work. If we have any merit for God’s love, then it follows that we can lose it. Judging from much of what I read in this day, Christianity is defined by a state of being in which one is in a constant state of questioning, in which one wonders, tosses and turns night and day with one question, does God love me? And the ministers of our day sing a constant refrain, God loves you, God loves you, God loves you… just as you are. But deep down inside we know who we are, and deep down inside we’re not buying it, nor should we.
This brings us to, perhaps, the most twisted and damaging deception of all. This deception is based on a modern understanding of love, and I use the word “understanding” loosely because it denotes a cognitive action, and the modern “understanding” is anything but thoughtful. Rather it’s based on the feminine qualities of feelings and emotions. Good and evil is reduced to good and bad feelings. All things are judged according to how they make the inner sovereign feel. And since the light of Jesus exposes our evil deeds, and that makes us feel bad, it is to be deemed as unloving and evil. And since, in the same way, we feel bad making others feel bad, it’s also unloving of the self to shine the light of Jesus on anyone else. Better to jettison the whole repentance thing Jesus preached altogether, and to be more pragmatic by dreaming up something more “loving”; something that makes us feel better, like exchanging the Gospel for an invitation to a relationship based on our acceptance of Jesus, who, after all, has a better plan for our life than we do.
This love renders the Gospel dead on arrival. The good news of the true gospel is that there is hope for us, even though we stand guilty and condemned before a holy and righteous God. That is our state. We are Ephesians 2:1 through 4 without the Gospel. But since the most “loving” thing to do is to avoid this reality, because it makes us feel bad, we instead are told to focus our religion on things that make us feel good, like helping the poor, preferably with someone else’s resources. That is what qualifies as love in our day. And I would agree that it does qualify as a very deep love, for it is based on the deepest love mortal man can know in the flesh, and that’s the love of self through appeasing its desire to feel good about the self through works.
Pairing these two histories, let us now examine the present in light of them. We can sense the radical individualism by the social indicators that are based on our inability to connect with others. There’s a marked increase in the last half-century of divorce, declining church involvement, single parenthood and shacking up, to name a few. But the isolation that comes with this individualism also causes us to become our own legislators and judges in our personal little worlds. And while that might all seem well and good, the end result is a collective lawlessness; or, as the scriptures paint it, “Everyone [doing what is right] in their own eyes, because they have no King”, which is to say that they recognize no authority beyond themselves, especially where it involves libertine freedoms.
In the revolution that began the great casting off of restraints in the sixties, “Question Authority” was a popular slogan. And indeed even the founders understood that authority ought to be questioned. This is evidenced by their casting off the authority of England. But that authority was cast off because it was seen to be in violation of an even higher authority. The authority being questioned in the sixties wasn’t based on some higher order by which all of man’s existence ought to be governed. No, its slogan was based on the questioning of the concept of authority, and as such, anyone who presumed to impose it. The new higher authority that would be doing the questioning of authority, and the judging of it, would be the sovereign-self.
The rejection of a higher authority would also mean the rejection of an objective good and evil, at least in theory. That objective good and evil exists was initially assumed. In an interview with Tim Rice and Frank Lloyd Webber focused on their Jesus Christ Superstar productions, Rice opined that a follower of a superstar, like say, Elvis, would like everything that star does regardless of if it was good or not. This same sentiment was then applied to Jesus. But “good” was quickly becoming an open-ended question during the time of this interview. Who did Rice think he was to suggest that what some superstar might do was wrong? Such judgments were at that very time in the process of being relegated to the trash bin of opinion. The premise of the entire movie is now obsolete in our day of radical individualism and self sovereignty.
As we can see, with the increasingly feminized and secular society, good and evil were quickly becoming a matter of emotional subjection. Today, they are all but completely emotionalized by the culture as a whole. We are told that love is all that matters. But the love of which is spoken is never based on any objective reality. It’s based instead on personal feelings. But these feelings can be easily manipulated, and manipulated they are by the arts and entertainment media. Almost anyone or anything, with the right portrayal in movies put to emotional music, can garner a favorable emotional response from the masses. This is especially so if those masses have been feminized and whose internal compass continually points to a point inward, and as such, see themselves individually as final authorities. But being the final authority on all matters is to be without a mental gate through which emotions must pass. For years homosexuals have painted themselves in the arts as otherwise normal, fun and loving people who are being victimized by evil perceptions of their lifestyles. This elicits an emotional response without mental inquiry. Suddenly our society is fixated on how homosexuals are treated. And yes, this makes its way into the Church as well, where the biggest question that plagues the church would seem to be whether or not homosexuals are being loved? Why the sudden concern about a certain type of sinner, and not every sinner? Well, because Church people watch TV, and they’re sufficiently feminized.
But homosexuality is old news. The new victim is the “gender confused”. And while a sizable portion of Christendom has decided to reject God’s Word, and instead follow their “heart” and feelings on this matter, not all have. Yet even many of those who haven’t are plagued with feelings. Let us look at what a pastor of what seems to be a somewhat conservative church has to say about this new victim we’ve suddenly found in our midst. The article is by Marty Duren, a pastor from Nashville, TN. The title is, For God So Loved Caitlyn Jenner. Here is an excerpt:
I do not know how we demonstrate the love of Jesus to the transgender, gender confused and gender reassigned among us if we do not begin by trying to understand what they are going through or have been through. Contrary to prevalent response, condemning people at every turn is an ineffective evangelism strategy. Listening and loving works better.
The entire article is mostly an admission of not “knowing” much, and then an appeal to feelings. We can see that there is a struggle going on in the heart of this pastor, who doesn’t seem to know much, but who doesn’t like the way reality makes him feel. This excerpt begs for the defining of terms. To love the transgender why not do what the Bible said that Jesus did, which was to preach repentance? Why does anyone need to know what the sinner is going through? We’re all sinners. We already know. I wonder if he wrings his hands over what the porn addict, the wife beater, the liar, cheat, thief, adulterer or idol worshiper is going through? Of course not. There are no movies drawing up emotional responses to those kinds of sinners.
We can see in this video of an interview with Todd White an excellent example of the feminization of theology wherein we are the ultimate cause of God’s love. Man, or at least some people I must assume, have value worth Jesus dying on the cross for. White says:
“The cross isn’t just a revelation of my sin, it’s the revealing of my value. Something underneath of that sin must have been a great value for Heaven to go bankrupt to get me back.”
This, of course, exalts man and diminishes God. It also requires a metamorphosis of the word “love” as it pertains to the great salvation.
White’s sentiments are also echoed in a new phenomenon in “Christian” publishing. Popular authors are raising feminism and radical individualism, especially as it regards our relationship with Jesus, to a new level. The most prominent example of this is a book called “Jesus Calling”, which reads like a devotional, with the author, Sara Young, penning what Jesus is saying to his romantic interests. An excerpt:
I am the culmination of all of your hopes and desires. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last: who is and was and is to come. Before you knew Me, you expressed your longing for me in hurtful ways. You were ever so vulnerable to the evil around you in the world. But now My Presence safely shields you, enfolding you in My loving arms. I have lifted you out of darkness into My marvelous light.
This book has been especially difficult because most of what Young is saying that Jesus is saying can be found in scripture. But there is an undergirding idea here that appeals to the same feminized mindset that keeps the romantic novel business humming along; the desire for that perfect lover. This combined with the radical individualism that exchanges the Church for the self as bride and we’re off to the races. These sorts of books are, not surprisingly, almost exclusively popular with women. It also goes a long way in explaining why masculinity is vacating the modern Church.
And then there is the now ever-present vocal minority who assume a place in the Church that they don’t really have, the Christian left, or progressive. They seem larger than life given that they have the backing of this world and its “wisdom”. For the true Christian, it’s to be expected that his language might come off as somewhat scripted because he is likely to be weaving scripture into his speaking. The language of this minority of “progressives” in the same way has a scripted sound to it, except that they only allude to an alternate perception of scripture while weaving their extra-Biblical mantra of sorts into their speech. Here’s an example that comes from an article explaining why the “LGBTQI” will win the day in the Church due to parents of those in that “community”.
These parents and others are a force committed to radical love and inclusion. The same way Jesus was.
…Parents who have LGBTQI children and who know in the deepest places of their hearts and souls, that the only thing their faith requires of them, the only thing in line with the heart of God and the teachings of Jesus, is to unconditionally love their precious children. Period.
This language of “love and inclusion” begins to sound like a broken record, and is typical of any article explaining why God and the Church got it wrong for 2000 years on a whole host of issues. Its foundations, of course, feelings-based “love”, and not scripture. One could argue against it pointing to scripture. But since it feels bad to call sin what God called sin, and since to use logical arguments against feminized, subjective, feelings-based words and ideas is a fool’s errand. Besides, countering progressives gives the impression that you hate inclusion and love, so why bother?
let’s also look at an old word that has expanded into our world in new ways. “Community”. The heart of man does not fare well alone. It desires to connect with others. There’s an attempt to offset the isolation and loneliness wrought by a radically individualistic society by joining varying communities with religious-like zeal. It could be the black community, which evidently only requires one to be progressive, not black, to join. There is the already mentioned LGBT community, the “trans” community, the animal lovers community, the conspiracy community, the Man-Boy-Love community and even the politically conservative community, all of which have a Godless religious feel to them. But there’s also the community that we live in, which has been raised to prominence as of late in its own right. We are told that we have an obligation to our community. But it’s not in the same sense that such an obligation was once understood. No, our new obligation is to look to it for a sense of what is right and wrong, and then to conform to it as opposed to offending it.
In conclusion, I’ve attempted to introduce a combination of radical individualism and feminism into our understanding of the times, both in and out of the Church. That said I’d like to quickly make a few caveats. First, the Church of Jesus Christ exists by His power, not by ours. It is in no danger of fading into the sunset unless “man” gets his act together and becomes more pragmatic, loving and inclusive. The mature Christian understands that Jesus was the antithesis to the world when He walked the earth and was crucified for it, and is the antithesis today and that He will be the antithesis tomorrow.
Second, understanding a problem is helpful in dealing with the problem, both as it’s found in the Church as a whole, but more importantly, as it’s found in our own hearts. I’ve yet to see these concepts codified as I’ve done here. The greatest difficulty in writing it was on what to include without sounding like I’m simply ruminating on the woes of our times.
Third, I realize that there’s enough within to offend many, especially considering that it is my belief that women’s suffrage was a mistake. I’m eager to engage anyone who would like to take me to task on anything I’ve written. But before you do, please make every attempt to understand what I actually said, and perhaps more importantly, what I didn’t say, which is that women are lesser people. Truth always requires humility when we have believed a lie for a long time.
Fourth, I’d like to restate one more time that we are individuals, each and every one. We are not saved nor condemned as a group, and as such are accountable to God individualy.
Fifth, some of our human traits are more according to an understanding of the feminine nature, and some of the masculine nature. When I speak of these things I’m simply expressing the nature, and how we understand it, and not any specific person male or female.
And finally, if I have provoked your thought life by this time-consuming project I have been heartily rewarded.