Subjectivism and the Gospel

We live in a culture that values individualism. An increasingly new emphasis within this individualism is the primacy of personal interpretation. In other words, the important thing is what something means to me rather than what it means from some outside objective standard. How do I see a particular something? How is it significant to me? How does it express itself in me (notice the favored pronouns in preceding few sentences)? Christianity, and biblical scholarship, is not unaffected by this growing trend. It is not uncommon to find commentaries, journal articles, and pop theologies seeking to understand the scriptures from some new ideological perspective. The goal in all these attempts is to find meaning from a particular vantage point rather than meaning from an inspired, divine, and textual perspective. In other words, while these attempts ask, “What does it mean to me (“me ” being subject to one’s ethnic, cultural, socioeconomic, or sexual orientation)?”, they do not ask, “What does God mean?” Critics of the viewpoint expressed in this post will say discovering the intended divine meaning is an impossible task. However that is not the case. But to digress on that issue at the present time would take us on a course outside of that intended and, therefore, another post will be in order.

While many conservative Christians would claim to oppose this kind of subjectivism it has, nevertheless, crept into our homes, neighborhoods, churches, and workplaces specifically in the way we verbalize the gospel. I cannot tell you how many times I have personally said, or have heard others say, “Let me tell you what Christ means to me.” Yet the power of the gospel is not in who Christ is to me but rather in who Christ actually is. If there is any merit in my personal experience of Christ it is the fact that I have embraced the reality of Christ and not some subjective version. But it is easier to preach subjectivity. It’s easier to tell someone about “my” Christ rather than “the” Christ. Because to tell someone about “the” Christ does not permit them room to create their own personalization. The call is clear,”Here is who Jesus is, would you embrace Him?”


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