Our massive cultural failure

Today, equality is not actually regarded as a matter of human dignity and value. That is very hard to defend. Rather, it is regarded as a doorway to freedom. Freedom itself is not regarded in terms of the inherent dignity and value of human beings, but rather as opportunity. Opportunity is not regarded as opportunity to do what is good and right, but to get what you want. We talk a lot about them, but the basic values of our society are not equality and freedom — they are pleasure and “happiness.” And these are interpreted in sensualistic terms. Our society is a society of feeling… Feeling is our master. That’s why we have so many issues about abuse of one kind or another: abuse comes out of frustration over feeling. That is why we are such an addictive society. Also, watch your commercials for automobiles and so forth, and see how many of them are predicated upon feeling. Feeling furs our society. It also runs our massively failing education system. It is the only acknowledge ultimate value. That explains why we do so badly in areas of learning that require sustained discipline — which doesn’t “feel good.” — Dallas Willard, Renewing the Christian Mind 

This is one of the finest summations of our cultural condition I’ve come across in a long time. But before we get on the normal bandwagon and do the cultural evangelical response of blaming liberals, Democrats, Hillary Clinton, or Barack Obama, know that Dallas Willard put this massively important paragraph in the second section of a long essay. The first section dealt with the loss of “evangelical” in the “evangelical” church in America. He indicts the evangelical church of losing the very definition of gospel. We’ve lost the development of character in the life of the believer, made the “gospel” something about “conversion” or “decision” and not demanded what Jesus did: follow HIM.

…what we’ve arrived at in North American is wall-to-wall nondiscipleship Christianity. — Dallas Willard

We aren’t producing disciples. We aren’t producing people who follow the character of Christ. As a result, we’ve failed to engage well in our society… and in particular our politics.

The essay is called “The Failure of Evangelical Politics” that is published in the new work called Renewing the Christian Mind. The essay was originally published in 2009 and is even more relevant today.

It’s an essay well worth your time and thought. But, you have to be willing to understand you might have been doing things wrong for quite some time. And therein lies the rub.


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