Introducing Expressive Individualism
In many ways, ministry in the 21st century West really is the best of times and the worst of times. Some unhealthy churches have fully capitulated to the rise and triumph of the modern self. Others have effectively rebelled against its influence.
Few demographic tribes are more likely to “amen!” a critique of attractional church methodology than 9Marks readers. But are we guilty of cultivating individualism, too?
Summary of Carl Trueman’s, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self: Cultural Amnesia, Expressive Individualism, and the Road to Sexual RevolutionBy John Benton | 9Marks Journal: Expressive Individualism in the Church | 03.18.2022
Haven’t been able to read through Trueman’s book? Check out this 5000-word summary.
Strange New World is a remarkable combination of depth and readability, clearly presenting the arguments from his earlier work without sacrificing essential background information or insightful analysis.
The new self we are to put on is Jesus Christ, who represents God’s new humanity. It is not that we thereby lose our individuality. But who we are is brought to completion in him.
Expressive Individualism and the Church
Like our sinful natures, expressive individualism is something that will inform our intuitions and our understanding until the day we die. So what do we do about it?
Preach the Word. Apply it to your people’s lives. Tell them who they are in Christ. Remind them where they are in his story. The Word will do the rest.
Our context makes the Christian life of singleness all the more challenging, and the healthy pastoring of single people all the more urgent.
Pastor, you’re not a therapist. You hold a longer-term position in the lives of your people.
What happens when a member’s “inward quest for personal psychological happiness” contradicts the teaching of Scripture? Who decides whether that’s true?
What can unearth and uproot and undermine the unbiblical assumptions that animate identity politics and threaten to tear apart what God has joined together? I would submit a simple, perhaps surprisingly obvious answer.
The world is awash in self-identity and the need to express it far and wide. So what do parents do?
We all need to cultivate that certain unmessianic sense of non-destiny which will make us better citizens of the kingdom.
Have our youth ministries been complicit in expressive individualism’s cancerous spread within the body of Christ?
Expressive Individualism and the Internet
The liturgies of assembled, embodied, gospel worship point us toward one set of beliefs and values, while the liturgies of Internet membership point us toward a different set.
How should Christians in general and pastors in particular think about discipling amid the proliferation of social media?
Gender, Sexuality, and Expressive Individualism
In some circles, cultural arguments receive precedence over scriptural ones—as if they alone have the final say on the truth or falsity of a particular biblical interpretation.
If you want to help your church know what to make of the LGBTQ movement, as well as their own personal temptations, you’ll want to understand the soil out of which it grows.
Pastor, your job is to honor and celebrate the embodied persons that God created every man and woman to be, and to teach your congregation to do the same.
Elder Meditation: “An Elder Must Not Be Quarrelsome”
So how do you know if you’re principled or just a contentious jerk?
A prideful and insecure heart will destroy a ministry, but a humbled heart can serve the Lord and his church well.
The Bible expects us to discern quarrelsome people. But how?
What can we learn from the book of Proverbs about what it means to be quarrelsome?
So how do we tell the difference between fighting the good fight and just argumentative?
A quarrelsome, contentious person wants to argue and fight the right issues, but they do so usually at the wrong time and in the wrong way. Does this describe you?