Wednesday, December 16, 2020

The Psychological Man. . .

So much of our present culture is enamored of the idea that the real person, the genuine person, is not a physical reality but a psychological idea.  This inner psychological conviction is the true foundation of who a person is and, although it lives in a physical and biological entity, that outward biological identity must yield with everything to the psychological self.  Whereas once the self turned to things outside to help frame and understand this identity, now these things have become enemies of the psychological self -- religion, morality, government, even education.  Raw and pure emotion has become that which is prized above truth and fact -- indeed fact must give way to feeling.  Integration was once thought to be solution for the problem of identity but not that integration is a threat the autonomous self.  For example, Bruce Jenner could only become Caitlyn Jenner once it was agreed that the psychological self was not only more important than anything else but the only thing that really mattered.  Sex is now something you are and not merely something you do so that how you see yourself and how others see you is through the lens of that felt identity (not appearance or biology).

This new idea of the psychological self is not exactly new -- its roots lie deep in history -- but what is new is how this is working to change everything we thought we knew about the individual and community. While we can see hints of this in the voices and thoughts of others and they have certainly contributed toward its development, no one today has read the authors or known the history of how this evolved.  Right now we are beginning to see how, in a very rapid way, how the full implications of this psychological self are working themselves out among us -- even contributing to the chaos and anarchy that appears to be happening and threatening to our lives.  What is happening is nothing less than the complete overturning and overhauling of the values and beliefs that previous generations passed on to us and on which they built our free society and our very notions of what is real and what is not, what is good and what is not.

In this reality, words are not only central but the most important things.  Words must be policed because they are not neutral nor are they merely external.  They are both the facts that matter and can be the most threatening weapons of all.  Because of this, there can be no guarantee of individual freedoms and those notions of freedom, however sacred to us and our history, cannot be allowed to threaten this notion of self.  The government then becomes the authority that polices speech rather than the institution that protects the right.  So churches cannot be allowed to object to homosexuality, for example, or same sex marriage.  Religious freedom becomes not the right to expression but the mere protection of a thought left without its expression, a right to private worship.  It is in this that the threat to the Church exists.  Where it was once thought the role of the Church was to explain itself to the world, the world now must be explained to the Church.  What happens next is now unfolding and how the Church will respond -- or if it will respond -- is currently what is in play.

But do not read my words.  You can read it in much more depth and erudition from Carl Trueman.  Read part one, the Rise of Psychological Self here.  Read part two, the Impact of Psychological Self here.  But, by all means read it.

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