St. Stephen's Musings

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:: St. Stephen's Musings

:: Tuesday, July 29, 2003 ::

The Difference between You and a Philosophical Construct

After serendipitously finishing the latest issue of First Things last night, I have been inspired to muse a bit more about the nature of personhood vs individualism. The articles by Gilbert Meilaender and Alan Jacobs about memory, personhood, and narrative theology are excellent reads. I should have somethng up later this week on this...

For now, I invite you to check out Tripp's blog where a robust discussion is going on about this, and other related ecclesiological topics. Check out the comments box at this post, and then jump up to the comments at this post.

In one exchange, Megan wrote, "I believe that the individual's relationship with God does not require a church. And that the individual's relationship with God is everything. Church may feel good, and it certainly may help us defend time to attend specifically to our relationships with God, but ultimately, Church is a luxury, not a necessity, in my (humble?) opinion.

.... I think each individual's path to God may be laid with a mixture of orthodoxy and heterodoxy. The only thing that can be judged, and only God can judge it, is whether the individual is truly striving to follow God and embody God's will in the world."

Cliff responded: "As I'm sure you know, the concept of the individual is a particularly modern notion, philosophical construct that was thought up only relatively recently. The "individual" as we understand it today, was not even understood as such till Descartes."

"And even then, it didn't gain its full force until Kant's Groundwork. Prior to that, the concept of the person--which included the inescapable corollary of the community--was the only way humankind was understood. I submit, it is the only Christian way to understand personhood."

One thing I should have noted (or better emphasized) in a recent post is that every person's journey is, as Megan said, "a mixture of orthodoxy and heterodoxy." In the end, only God will be able to judge the human heart.

However, this does not prevent us from being able to know and participate in the that which God has in fact revealed. How we function, interact, and grow *in community* is what this judgment will be about (Matt. 25), not a judgment of our "individual" lives. As the saints say, "We are saved together but we fall alone." More soon....

Update: Rick writes a bit about individuality and what it means for the concept of "self-worth."

:: Karl :: 4:11:00 PM [Link] ::

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