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October 03, 2005

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Well... what you say seems pretty true... society and our times moves very strongly towards individualism. This has been noted for some time now. Wasn't part of the Soviet (or Red) Revolution devoted to quashing the "private life?" More recently Pol Pot was disturbed by tendencies towards individualism in Cambodia!

Maybe the way ahead is more at cultivating the individual and thinking what the appearance of the individual means as a historical fact.

From my vantage point many people notice this sort of thing but most seem to want to replace the individual with a group and never pause to ask how or wonder if the individual is fulfilling some purpose regarding freedom.

Maybe another truer solution lies in considering that the indivdual is just as necessary as the group... neither can properly or healthfully develop without the other at the same time.

In your terms it answers the question, "who surrenders?"... "who becomes humble?" The individual surrenders, freely... and only freely... or else the danger is a destruction or deviation.

Mark, this was a great observation:

"From my vantage point many people notice this sort of thing but most seem to want to replace the individual with a group and never pause to ask how or wonder if the individual is fulfilling some purpose regarding freedom. "

It's fairly common for me to lay blame on our overly individualistic nature. But I believe that you are probably looking toward a more balanced view -- one that holds our need for individual responsibility and action in tension with our need to break free from ourselves and learn to live in true community.

I suppose that a complete surrendering of our individuality would be equally disasterous -- and would probably be abused in one way or another as a serious "cop-out".

Your thoughts

Hey Chris,

Great Post! It is interesting that that your post illicits comments on authority off the bat. You frame your premise in favor of a Vincentian or "Consensual" Universalism (catholicism. But this autonomous individualism is so ingrained in American nature that we imagine individuality to be swollowed up in surrender to what has always and at all times been beleived. This need not be so, what we have to learn is that "I" am not the locus of authority. This is a puny Papalism.

Great thoughts once again. The only problem with this argument is agreeing on what the "the trajectory of belief,which Christians in all places at all times have always believed." Isn't this more of a myth than actual reality?

Sure, I think there are a few things that fall in line with this, but not nearly as much as we would care to admit. The creeds, anything else.

The church doesn't have a good track record. We have been wrong about the earth being flat, how we have treated women, we have used scripture to justiy the crusades and slavery.

So many people who are now currently questioning what they believe I think stems from something besides just individualism. Sure, that's part of it. But I don't see the widespread arrogance that you are speaking of, I don't see people saying this is right, this is the way it has to be: that was people who went before us. We are saying we have found what we don't believe, let's find out together what is true. This lies behind the widespread deconstruction on topics like hell, homosexuality, etc.

Benjy said:

"Great thoughts once again. The only problem with this argument is agreeing on what the "the trajectory of belief,which Christians in all places at all times have always believed." Isn't this more of a myth than actual reality?"

Only if you're not Orthodox.

I'll comment more later.

FrMatt - as always, your thoughts are excellent.

"what we have to learn is that "I" am not the locus of authority."

Yes. That's right. And my 'hunch' is that's why we empower ourselves to either embrace or dismiss faith tenants previously considered orthodox (e.g. see Benjy's remarks above). However, I must say that it is important to "test" what we believe (e.g. the Bereans in Acts 17:10-12), yet we must at some point draw the line and choose to limit our self-appointed authority, don't you think?

"Only if you're not Orthodox."

Seraphim, you crack me up! I love you, man.

Benjy, I'm curious what has led to you thinking:

"'the trajectory of belief,which Christians in all places at all times have always believed.' Isn't this more of a myth than actual reality?"

Some thoughts: First the "myth of common trajectory" as Seraphim tells, is only myth to those not orthodox. The myth is in suggesting, that "The church doesn't have a good track record. We have been wrong about the earth being flat, how we have treated women, we have used scripture to justiy the crusades and slavery." None of these postions can be evidenced as having the witness of "antiquity, universality or ecumenicity" (to use the words of St Vincent). This old arguement is thoroughly modern, shallow and revisionist in it's origin. Just ask the revisionist Bishops of ECUSA.

Soecondly, We do have to test the spirits; the scriptures are "Jesus", and then the texts. We then have to limit ourselves to what such an orthodoxy circumscribes.

And finally, for those who have decided on what they do not believe, how can they decide on what is "true" if they are still the locus of authority rather than submitting to The Church? Such a proposiion is circular in its reasoning. And just who is refered to in the the "let's find out together what is true?" Who does this include? Because many Emergents and revisionists use the same language but fail to include the ancient witness of the church or those who are still orthodox. Such people are considered anachronisitic, or "modern" or IC, or something of the sort. So, if we want to reason together, lets include the entire church throghout the ages. The consensus lies there, in orthodoxy, not in a postmodern rethinking of the church that off-handedly discounts 2000 years of monumental minds and martyrs.

In testing the spirits comment I should have added "the great tradition", but I think i've already made that point.

I'll allow FrMatt misquoting me.. (he changed the O in Orthodoxy from a Capital to a lower case... lol)

Anyway, Chris I didn't want to eat up space on your blog.. so my 'further' answer is Here

Love ya ma

Seraphim

FrMatt, I think that postmodern, emerging church leaders do, in fact, appreciate the "2000 years of monumental minds and martyrs." What I sometimes worry about is that we draw on that for our own convenience or purposes, and fail to contemplate its deeper level of meaning.

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