-Intelligent and worthwhile reads from the opposition-
Each week Reason in View posts a Monday Mention, a link to an outside article on individualism or related topics. These could be from Christians, non-Christians, liberals, conservatives, or others. The collection includes sources we think highly of—and other sources.
Inclusion is no indication of the source’s trustworthiness, one way or the other. Let the reader judge the individual merits.
These are sources helpful for understanding the ideological landscape, learning from others, publicizing the significance of the topics, and differentiating individualism from other views.
Writers and readers, please feel free to email suggested articles to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The influential New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, a Catholic, wrote:
“In the future, it seems, there will be only one “ism” — Individualism — and its rule will never end. As for religion, it shall decline; as for marriage, it shall be postponed; as for ideologies, they shall be rejected; as for patriotism, it shall be abandoned; as for strangers, they shall be distrusted. Only pot, selfies and Facebook will abide — and the greatest of these will probably be Facebook.”
Doug Stuart believes the “go-to-heaven-when-you-die gospel” is overly emphasized and overly individualistic. This article proposes libertarian social policy as a means to helping others and advancing the social gospel.
At The Objective Standard Craig Biddle writes,
“Individualism is the idea that the individual’s life belongs to him and that he has an inalienable right to live it as he sees fit, to act on his own judgment, to keep and use the product of his effort, and to pursue the values of his choosing. It’s the idea that the individual is sovereign, an end in himself, and the fundamental unit of moral concern. This is the ideal that the American Founders set forth and sought to establish when they drafted the Declaration and the Constitution and created a country in which the individual’s rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness were to be recognized and protected.
“Collectivism is the idea that the individual’s life belongs not to him but to the group or society of which he is merely a part, that he has no rights, and that he must sacrifice his values and goals for the group’s ‘greater good.’ According to collectivism, the group or society is the basic unit of moral concern, and the individual is of value only insofar as he serves the group. As one advocate of this idea puts it: ‘Man has no rights except those which society permits him to enjoy. From the day of his birth until the day of his death society allows him to enjoy certain so-called rights and deprives him of others; not . . . because society desires especially to favor or oppress the individual, but because its own preservation, welfare, and happiness are the prime considerations.'”
Marcus Borg argues that American Christianity is typically far too individualistic, because the focus is on where we, as individuals, will spend eternity.
Christianity Today favorably discussed the Pope’s famous tweet, “Inequality is the root of social ills.”
“Divine economics is about the common good rather than the individual good,” says Francis.
Tullian Tchividjian believes Christian Individualism is an oxymoron.
Stephen Nichols of the Ligonier blog laments American Individualism as leading to the preference to “worship alone.”
He writes, “American individualism, seeded in our very beginnings and cultivated through our celebration of the rugged individual, has come to harvest.”
A conservative source, George Marsden, recently wrote The Twilight of the American Enlightenment: The 1950s and the Crisis of Liberal Belief. The book associates individualism with sin, short-sightedness, and the rejection of God’s authority.
In a video by The Gospel Coalition, Tim Keller, John Piper, and Don Carson discuss the fact that individualism has “become a great evil bemoaned by cultural critics everywhere in the West.” The video points out that “Many preachers have joined the chorus by offering communitarian values as an alternative,” and it asks, “What if we’re drawing these conclusions from our cultural milieu rather than the Bible?”
Though only a moderate advocate of individualism (see this essay), Carson correctly identifies the topic as important. He explains, “The Bible does not go around condemning individualism.” He also points out Scripture’s many positive examples of individuals seeking their own benefit. He brings up the example of Caleb saying “Give me this mountain” (Joshua 14:12).
Mike Weishar of “Quiet Mike” argues that Rand’s ideas could not be further from Christianity. He writes, “What leaves me befuddled is how religious conservatives can embrace Ayn Rand so openly … It’s curious to me how they managed to nitpick the one thing from Rand that hurts society the most. Laissez-faire capitalism.”