The Destructiveness of Individualism

In one of his final sermons in office, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of the destructiveness of individualism.  Alexis de Toqueville, a French writer describing the new American experiment, said that the democratic movement would prosper unless the concept of community was replaced by individualism.  He remarked that the American experiment would be doomed to failure if individualism became a way of life.

There really is no difference between individualism and idolatry.  Individualism becomes a narcissistic inwardness  that leads me to become like Adam and Eve in their quest to be like God.   Adam and Eve’s individualism became destructive as they turned away from God to serve themselves.

Those who live in Christ dwell in the Body of Christ.  The Body of Christ is damaged by the destructiveness of walls called denominationalism.  Denominationalism in the extreme can be an institutional form idolatry.    I am learning that denominations are quite good at describing the same things with the same words but using different definitions and saying they are divided.  As I study and explore the Eucharist, I am beginning to wonder if it isn’t our language that divides rather than our actual beliefs.  I am being stretched by the dialog but I feel called to lean into what God is saying that transcends our individual views.

Individualism focuses upon what divides.  The Body of Christ is expressive of “one Lord, one faith, one Baptism” as a way of life and love.  As the Church moves toward the 500th anniversary of the German Protestant reformation (2017), Christians are called to seek that which unites in mission rather than that which divides.  

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