A Few Thoughts about Collectivism versus Individualism


B1 Collectivism

C1 Collectivism, any of several types of social organization in which the individual is seen as being subordinate to a social collectivity such as a state, a nation, a race, or a social class. Collectivism may be contrasted with individualism (q.v.), in which the rights and interests of the individual are emphasized. (Source Further information is found there)
C2 Collectivism refers to moral principle or ethical system characterized by subordination of an individual to a group as the standard of value or good. It is any philosophic, political, economic or social outlook that emphasizes the interdependence of every human in some collective group and the priority of group goals over individual goals. (Source)

B2 Individualism

C1 “Rugged individualism”—extolled by Herbert Hoover during his presidential campaign in 1928—was associated with traditional American values such as personal freedom, capitalism, and limited government. As James Bryce, British ambassador to the United States (1907–13), wrote in The American Commonwealth (1888), “Individualism, the love of enterprise, and the pride in personal freedom have been deemed by Americans not only their choicest, but [their] peculiar and exclusive possession. (Source Further information is found there)


What is man (people, humanity, homo sapiens)?

B1 Many understand that this is the biggest question of life for the past few hundred years.
B2 You might want to research Immanuel Kant, Dostoyevski, Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Graham Greene, Morris West, Anthony Hoekema (Created in God’s Image), etc.
B3 My answer—we are created in the image of God, thus, are to reflect the thoughts, desires, words, and deeds, and the communicable attributes of God. Some examples of these attributes are mercy, love, compassion, anger, reason, commitment, loyalty, patience, good, impartial, belief, truth, forgiveness, etc.
B4 Some people teach that the chief end (purpose) of each person is: Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever (Source). Personally, I see the main purpose is to have fellowship with God (see John 14:23, Revelation 21:3-4, and Zechariah 2:10-11) and serve Him forever (see Matthew 6:24, Romans 6:16-22, John 12:26, and Matthew 11:30). We serve (John 12:26, Luke 15:29, Acts 20:19, and Romans 12:11). We are not slaves. See Purpose in Living and A Few Thoughts About Fellowship.
B5 Other teach that we are a spirit housed in a materialistic body. The spirit has the importance because of the intellect and reason. The materialistic body only hinders the spirit. The soul is immortal; the flesh is not. An example, I believe, would be Plato, etc.
B6 Still others teach that we are just materials, just a bag of chemicals, just a brain (there would be no mind or soul). Everything (emotions, reason, etc.) is chemistry and physics. Many modern philosophies believe this. An example would be Marxism, etc. Marxism seeks the perfect society with individuals as one, not the free individual especially with any sense responsible to a god.
B7 Some Christians see a distinction between image and likeness. Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness, to rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, and over all the earth itself and every creature that crawls upon it.” (Genesis 1:26 BSB)
C1 These teachers refer to “image” as the general form/shape of the human body and “likeness” referring to his spiritual nature (the nonmaterial part of a person).
C2 This seems possible but not likely as the words seem to be in parallel.
C3 Believer’s Bible Commentary mentions:
The crown of God’s work was the creation of man in His image and according to His likeness. This means that man was placed on earth as God’s representative, and that He resembles God in certain ways. Just as God is a Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), so man is a tripartite being (spirit, soul, and body). Like God, man has intellect, a moral nature, the power to communicate with others, and an emotional nature that transcends instinct. There is no thought of physical likeness here. In contrast to animals, man is a worshiper, an articulate communicator, and a creator.
C4 ISBE mentions: We have here simply a “duplication of synonyms” (Driver) for the sake of emphasis. The two terms are elsewhere used interchangeably.
B8 Humans today
C1 This image is severely damaged by sin. Sin is rebellion against God and His way of life. Romans 3:23 Williams For everybody has sinned and everybody continues to come short of God’s glory.
C2 The Lord Jesus is the exact and perfect image of God (since He is God).
D1 Colossians 1:15 Williams Yes, He is the exact likeness of the unseen God, His first-born Son who existed before any created thing.
D2 Hebrews 1:3 NRSV He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
C3 The Lord Jesus is the perfect man without sin or any imperfection. Philippians 2:6-8 AFV Who, although He existed in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 But emptied Himself, and was made in the likeness of men, and took the form of a servant; 8 And being found in the manner of man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
C4 By faith and trust into the Lord Jesus, we are new creations. 2 Corinthians 5:17 EMTV Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things passed away; behold, all things have become new.
C5 The Holy Spirit then works in our lives changing us and conforming us to the image of God. 2 Corinthians 3:18 NLT So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.
C6 We, who have believed in Jesus Christ, will someday reflect God’s image perfectly as God has planned. 1 Corinthians 15:45-49 NLT The Scriptures tell us, “The first man, Adam, became a living person.” But the last Adam—that is, Christ—is a life-giving Spirit. 46 What comes first is the natural body, then the spiritual body comes later. 47 Adam, the first man, was made from the dust of the earth, while Christ, the second man, came from heaven. 48 Earthly people are like the earthly man, and heavenly people are like the heavenly man. 49 Just as we are now like the earthly man, we will someday be like the heavenly man.

Does the Bible teach we are to be collectivists or individualists?

This article states it best, Individualism vs. collectivism—what does the Bible say? This is a quote:

Christians are told to benefit others, but to do so because it pleases God. Hebrews 13:16 says, “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” Community is part of God’s design. Love for others demonstrates our love for God and is a tangible way for others to experience His love (1 John 4:7–12). It is often in community that the work of sanctification is most fruitful, meaning sometimes our “collectivist” actions have a more “individual” impact. When community is functioning in God’s design, the intent is to be mutually supportive. But, again, the focus is on God.

On the other hand, individualism is also valued in the Bible. Jesus tells a story in Luke 19 that illustrates the responsibility of each person to properly steward the things God blesses us with (Luke 19:11–27). The servants were held individually accountable, not judged as a group. Jesus also tells a series of stories in Luke 15 that show the importance of a single lost coin, sheep, and son. The group is left for the sake of finding the one. When the coin and the lost sheep are found, everyone rejoices. When the lost son returns, his father throws a party for all. The rescue is individual and the celebration is communal. We have a personal, individual, relationship with God and are part of His larger family. We serve and worship God both individually and communally.

At times God is glorified when the community is put ahead of the individual, and at times God is glorified when the focus and energies are on the individual. The image of the church as the body of Christ helps make this clear. As Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 12, a body is made up of individual parts. The body as a whole cannot function optimally without the individual members, just as the individual members cannot function optimally apart from the whole body. There is both individualism and collectivism. It is futile to try to land on a solid, universal answer to the question about whether collectivism or individualism is more biblical. The question simply cannot be answered one time for all situations.

Christian author C.S. Lewis offers us this advice: “I feel a strong desire to tell you—and I expect you feel a strong desire to tell me—which of these two errors [individualism or collectivism] is the worse. That is the devil getting at us. He always sends errors into the world in pairs—pairs of opposites. And he always encourages us to spend a lot of time thinking which is the worse. You see why, of course? He relies on your extra dislike of the one error to draw you gradually into the opposite one. But do not let us be fooled. We have to keep our eyes on the goal and go straight through between both errors. We have no other concern than that with either of them” (from Mere Christianity, book 4, chapter 6).

1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 WEL For the people themselves tell us, what kind of welcome we had from you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 And to wait for his son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, who is delivering us from the coming wrath.

Christian worldview, collectivism, individualism


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