INDIVIDUALISM

The garden of Eden with the fall of man
(from here)

Original sin is not something we understand as well as did those Americans who founded our nation.  How can we say that with confidence? Our Constitution and publications like The Federalist Papers provide the proof. Whereas large numbers of us now scratch our heads when our leaders won’t do what they promised to do, the framers of The United States Constitution and writers of The Federalist Papers took it for granted that men could not be trusted with power. Therefore, our society, largely ignorant of the cause, is now relapsing into paganism.

How does original sin work in us? Well, before we go into that, let’s consider what a variety of references have to say about the subject.

Original sin is a theological concept, one debated among Christians, but there is probably more unity on this subject than not. Here the gist of it.

Original sin is an Augustine Christian doctrine that says that everyone is born sinful. This means that they are born with a built-in urge to do bad things and to disobey God. It is an important doctrine within the Roman Catholic Church. The concept of Original Sin was explained in depth by St Augustine and formalised as part of Roman Catholic doctrine by the Councils of Trent in the 16th Century.

Original sin is not just this inherited spiritual disease or defect in human nature; it’s also the ‘condemnation’ that goes with that fault. (continued here)

Have you ever heard someone say: “I am a good person?” Jesus knew better.

Mark 10:17-22 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

17 As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments, ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.” 21 Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 22 But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.

Since Jesus is God, He is good, but that young man did not know that. So Jesus taught him by pointing to what that young man had set before God, his possessions. Then he began to understand the nature of his own sinfulness. What he owned he wanted so much that it owned him.

How does original sin manifest itself in us? Consider the nature of nature of individualism. We can make individualism about self love, or we can make individualism about the love of God and neighbor. We can make individualism either about a haughty pride in our self or respecting the worth of others.

Here is the definition.

individualism
a (1) : a doctrine that the interests of the individual are or ought to be ethically paramount; also : conduct guided by such a doctrine (2) : the conception that all values, rights, and duties originate in individuals
b : a theory maintaining the political and economic independence of the individual and stressing individual initiative, action, and interests; also : conduct or practice guided by such a theory

When we make individualism about our pride in our self, then how do we look at the world around us? Doesn’t everything exist for “me”? Do not “my” interests become “ethically” paramount? Don’t all values, rights, and duties originate from our concerns about “me”? Will the great “I” consider any political or economic theory relevant that does not conform to “my” purposes?

What if we make individualism about respect for the worth of others? That requires a virtue that is difficult to learn, humility. Consider how the Apostle Paul told us to put humility into practice.

Philippians 2:1-4 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

 

Look out for the interests of others? Sounds noble. Wish I was noble, but when I consider how I drive my car, I know I don’t automatically think of others as more important than me. That requires significant effort. When I reflect upon how I spend my time and money, I know I spend relatively little time looking out for the interests of others. Is what Paul suggested even possible for me? Yes, with God’s help, it is. Because God loves us, if we want His help He will give us the grace to resist sin.

Unfortunately, many of us refuse God’s help. Even though God made the universe and all that is in it, including each of us, we still have the urge to think it is all about “me” not Him. Pride compels each of us to love “me” more than anyone else. So, without the aid of the Holy Spirit — without the salvation Jesus gave us — in pride each of us will sin. In pride, each of us will make individualism about pride in our self instead of respecting the worth of each other.

7 thoughts on “INDIVIDUALISM

  1. Very true about what the founding fathers not trusting human nature and writing into the Constitution. As the famous Brit of that time, Dr. Samuel Johnson said, “With respect to original sin, the inquiry is not necessary, for whatever is the cause of human corruption, men are evidently and confessedly so corrupt, that all the laws of heaven and earth are insufficient to restrain them from crimes.”

    Btw, love Santa-alteration on Thomas Paine. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. wise counsel as always Tom—the whole notion of individualism is indeed having eyes on us, ourselves rather than on Him—or those He’d rather us focus upon—maybe issuing blinders at birth might have been an interesting concept 🙂 but then we’d miss the watching after others as necessary unless we could just turn our whole head with the distraction of the periphery….
    ode to the horse……

    Liked by 1 person

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