Brand new book, and one you will want to read. Steve Wilkens and Mark Sanford examine eight cultural stories that shape our lives and they are eight stories that we don’t want shaping our lives, and they are eight little foxes that can spoil the church’s vines. The book is called: Hidden Worldviews: Eight Cultural Stories That Shape Our Lives
The eight scripts at work in our culture, and in our church to one degree or another, are:
Individualism, consumerism, nationalism, moral relativism, scientific naturalism, new age, postmodern tribalism, and salvation by therapy.
What is the clearest sign of individualism in your world? your church? your ministry?
Join us in this conversation; better yet, get this book and read it with others and get more and more Christians aware of what is going on all around us. This is a worldview book, but not an apologetics one; nor do the authors think most folks are battling atheistic materialism or existentialism so much as … well, cultural worldviews that we inhabit. They call these “lived worldviews.” They are not supported by intellectuals so much as by practitioners.
This shift in the way “worldview” is used is about heart, about a story we inhabit, and about how we act — identity formation is inherent to this. What matters for this blog is the cultural worldviews themselves, and we’ll leave it to the philosophers to discuss the ins and outs of “worldview” language.
Big question for today: Who gets to be God? Who tells you what to do? Who constrains you? What constrains you?
Individualism: “I am the center of the universe.” That is, “the belief that the individual is the primary reality and that our understanding of the universe and lifestyle should be centered in oneself” (27). There is the utilitarian individualist who sees his own pursuits for happiness and success as contributing to society and there is the expressive individualist who pursues what he or she wants against the constraints of convention. The first conforms; the second one doesn’t.
We see this in a variety of ways, including: “My faith is between me and God.” “I don’t need church to believe in God or be a Christian.”
Self-centered interests are more pervasive than we care to admit. The authors think individualism today, which is more prominent than in the past, is a defensive action against large corporations. It is a way of guarding ourselves from economic and ecclesial powers, and a way of rebelling against mass culture.
What are the characteristics of individualism?
1. My end justifies my means.
2. I am my own moral conscience.
3. Freedom and fulfillment are rights for me.
4. Performance defines my value.
But, the authors know the values of individualism: it acknowledges our freedom and responsibility, affirms our need to make a difference, and recognizes the strength of what we choose to believe.
But…. there are potential problems: it is a flawed view of reality (self-sufficiency is not true; control is not true — we need others and God); it has a flawed view of human nature (we need to love); and it has a flawed view of freedom and achievement (too much of the performance doctrine is tied to what others think).