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Not long ago, relativism defined the cultural conversation. Truth was “unknowable.” Perhaps it was somewhere “out there,” but anyone’s guess as to where was as good as the next.
This is no longer the case.
Today - Moment—one - Relativism - Phenomenon - Individualism
Today, we’re in a new cultural moment—one marked not by relativism, but by a new phenomenon known as expressive individualism. While relativism may label an assertion of external and objective truth as arrogant, expressive individualism calls it oppressive. The relativist asks, “Who’s to say what’s true?” The expressive individualist replies, “Me.”
Look across the landscape of cultural artifacts, and you’ll find the same motif time and again: Power and freedom are found in self-discovery. As Tim Keller notes, “The only heroic narrative we’ve got left in our culture is the individual looking inside, seeing who they want to be, and asserting that over and against everyone else in society.”
Relativism - Truth
So we really have moved on from relativism: Truth is now not only knowable, it’s been found. All you have to do is look inside yourself.
Many in the church can sniff out—even refute—relativism. We’ve been handed enough apologetic tools and basic reasoning skills to dismantle the notion that truth is subjective. Expressive individualism, however, is more insidious. It allows us to appear as if we’re worshiping God, when in reality we’re bowing to the god of self. It acknowledges the power of Jesus, but convinces us that he intends to use his power to further our own self-centered goals and aspirations. It agrees we can be certain about truth, but points to our own hearts as the source.
Everything - Sundays - Groups - Experience - Fire
When we center everything, from Sundays to small groups, on the individual experience, we stoke the fire of self-worship.
It’s sobering to think about the church’s collusion with this framework. Rather than pushing back against individualism, congregations often subtly encourage it. When we center...
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