Individualism as heresy?

An article by Fuller Seminary President  (and world-class Christian philosopher) Richard Mouw has been posted on Christianity Today’s online magazine. Entitled “The Heresy of ‘Individualism,’” the article addresses recent comments by Katharine Jefferts Schori, bishop of the Episcopal Church, denouncing the “individualist focus” of evangelical teachings as a “great Western heresy.”

The individualism evangelicals profess, says Dr. Mouw, not only is not a heresy, it is at the heart of the gospel. “Many of us in the evangelical world have devoted much effort toward remedying what we see as an unhealthy individualist focus in our ranks,” Mouw concedes; however, “we evangelicals never downplay the importance of individuals—as individuals—coming to a saving faith in Jesus Christ.”

This article brought me such joy. Amid all the fighting over “individual first” versus “society/community first” comes the true evangelical stance: the gospel is individualistic and at the same time it is so much larger than the individual. It’s not an “either/or” issue but a “both and” one. The Good News is the news of the Kingdom come in Jesus Christ. That news speaks a powerful word not only to the individual sinner but to a world of injustice and pain. How small is our gospel if its influence be over an individual’s sin only. But equally concerning is this: how empty and weak is our gospel if it does not transform the life of the individual. 

Thanks, Dr. Mouw.

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One thought on “Individualism as heresy?

  1. Eric Asp says:

    Good stuff, indeed. I, too, can be really disappointed with the classic Christian “either/or” positioning of issues. This, like so many other subjects of debate, needs to be treated with balance.

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