Disciples should stand out in a crowd today more than ever. A new religion has infiltrated the hearts and minds of not only American culture but of America’s churches. What was once simply an inherent trait of human nature running directly counter to the central characteristic of a disciple of Jesus Christ has now been formalized into a religion that is substantially outgrowing and undermining Christianity.
A religion is defined as “a particular system of faith and worship” or “the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power”. In the 1980s and 1990s, Baby Boomers were dubbed the “Me Generation” as conspicuous consumption, career ambition and narcissism precipitated an explosion of self-help books and me-first TV shows like Seinfeld. Millennials born during those two decades have become commonly referred to as “Generation Me” for their obsession with their own personal identity. However, Selfism didn’t attain the status of a full-fledged “religion” until prevailing social norms recently began to dictate required acceptance of each person’s power to define every aspect of his/her being:
- What they do with their own bodies
- god, if any
America is a Theocracy
In fact, it may be argued (as I do here) that Selfism has reached a major milestone in America – of a theocracy where it is now the official state religion. Mandatory adherence to the state-run religion began when public entities led the way (and private institutions felt compelled to follow suit) in regulating the absence of competing practices to legislating the imposition of conforming practices by:
- Schools – From removal of prayer from public schools to requiring reading of books promoting alternative lifestyles
- Politics & Activism – From (expected) tolerance by prosecuting physical hate crimes to (forced) acceptance of what the Bible calls sin, stretching the bounds to include verbal “hate crimes” for merely vocalizing that those acts are sinful
- Employers – From eliminating promotion of religious beliefs during business hours to disqualification from employment opportunities if candidates believe that marriage should be only between men and women
What began as compulsory adoption of Selfist principles by legislative and regulatory bodies has now morphed into voluntary promotion of deteriorating standards for social behavioral by private institutions across nearly all facets of society:
- Hollywood/Music – Television and radio stations not only permit, but eagerly air self-indulgent, indecent ads unfit for the eyes of young children (making it increasingly difficult to enjoy an NFL game with my son without a DVR to skip the commercials)
- Internet/Social Media – Self-infatuation evident in the rise of selfies, self expression on social media, alternative self-creation via video games and virtual reality, and makeover shows depicting rapid self-transformations
- Churches – Selfism has even penetrated the walls America’s churches as pastors concerned with growth acquiesce to our consumer culture by appealing to Selfist tendencies, writing checks Jesus may not cash of a better life, answered prayers, prosperity and cheap grace
Principles of Selfism
Who are the adherents, saints, bishops and pastors of this new religion? Considering the lists above, the leaders of Selfism are the most ardent proponents of its central tenets:
- Self is good
- Selfism assumes human nature is “good”, whereas Christians understand that mankind is inherently evil
- Left to their own devices, unaffected by those infringing on their “identity bubble”, people will do the right thing
- Values, ideals or standards imposed by those outside a person’s identity bubble are “bad”
- Self is god
- “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit” (John 3:6) is reversed by Selfists – Flesh is spirit, leaving no room in their religion for the Holy Spirit
- Selfism is a reincarnation of Eastern religions that teach inner divinity, a god complex whereby the “knowledge of good and evil” exists within each of us and self-actualization is the quest
- In the name of respect, compassion and understanding, each person’s self-constructed identity bubble is insulated from attacks by those claiming the existence of a superior God
Selfism’s Leaders & Priorities
Those ideas are promulgated most eagerly by a powerful contingent of leaders across Capitol Hill, Hollywood, media, academia and secular humanism. Those same individuals stand to benefit most from both self-promotion and promotion of Selfism because they have become the objects of worship in America today. Yes, celebrity worship is pervasive in our nation.
We aspire to be like the famous self-absorbed celebrities who tout Selfist principles at every opportunity. Countless TV shows and magazines dedicated to covering each waking moment of our nation’s most popular actors, politicians, musicians and athletes are filled with seemingly unassailable quotes and advice from those celebrities about Selfism’s top priorities:
- Self fulfilment
- Finding your true self
- Realizing your potential
- Seeking happiness
- Acceptance, not just tolerance
The only unpardonable crime against Selfism is any disruption of those pursuits. In fact, much of the controversy surrounding politics today involves any perceived attempts to draw ideological, religious or moral lines. Those worshipping at the altar of Selfism view espousal of any “truths” or absolutes as unwelcomed impositions of personal beliefs on those who have already defined all of that for themselves. Our Selfist theocracy even condemns and labels anyone questioning or infringing on another’s self-conceived notions or self-image as a bigot – and summarily vilifies them in the media. In contrast, those taking a stand for their self-conceived identity against any purported assailants are passionately supported by Selfists and praised by the media.
The Movement to #EndSelfism
Now that Selfism has become a theocracy, the rights of Christians are in jeopardy:
- to worship freely
- to express themselves honestly
- to refuse to comply with unbiblical principles
- to avoid exposure to the increasing filth pushed out by Selfist proponents who run our schools, governments and media
Efforts to protect Selfists from imposition of Christian values has escalated into imposition of Selfist values on Christians, increasingly violating their rights. #EndSelfism is as much about rescuing American culture from slippery slope of Selfism away from God as it is about the defense of our freedoms as Christians – which will deteriorate as the new religion of Selfism continues to grow and the religion of Christianity continues to decline.
Ironically, the movement to #EndSelfism must begin with the Church. There’s a self-inflicted reason why Christianity is in decline – not only in growth, but in influence, impact and perception. As this blog has argued since its inception 2 ½ years ago, the Church bears responsibility for its challenges because it:
- redefined “church” as a place rather than as individuals “belonging to the Lord” (ekklesia), contributing to building institutions and not disciples, the original purpose of the Church
- redefined its target “customer” in its pursuit of church members, rather than equipping members (the real “church”) to pursue the lost in the community (the real “customer”)
As we’ll discuss more in a couple weeks, most American churches have actually begun to practice this new religion of Selfism as pastors have become increasingly concerned about attracting and retaining congregants. In their fight for growth and survival, churches implicitly advocate Selfism as they cater to the selfish desires of churchgoers (e.g. for an “experience”) rather than challenging them with God’s desires (e.g. to “go and make disciples”). The celebrity crazy has even extended to pastors who attend conferences and stand in line waiting for autographed copies of books by megachurch pastors telling them how to employ Selfist principles to grow their own churches.
In an upcoming blog post, we’ll also show the path Christians and churches can take to #EndSelfism.
It’s Your Turn
How have you seen Selfism infiltrate your school, workplace and/or church?