Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Terminology Tuesday: Egoism

Egoism: The theory that humans do or should seek only their own individual happiness. Psychological egoism holds that as a matter of fact people seek always and only their own good. Moral egoism holds that it is right or good that humans should act in this way. Ayn Rand's novels provide a dramatic illustration and defense of egoism. Traditional Christian teaching, in contrast, has condemned universal egoism as a form of sinful selfishness, to be distinguished from a proper regard for one's self and its needs.1

1. C.Stephen Evans, Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002), p. 38.


Nick Potts said...

would you say that "health and wealth" preachers fall under this category?

Brian Auten said...

That's interesting, Nick.
I don't think so. Perhaps it's more like they cater to it.

For a more detailed description, see here.

Most health and wealth preachers I have seen truly think that it is God that wants all His children to be blessed. But they wouldn't espouse a philosophy that you should only do or can only do what is in your own best interest. Maybe it's the selfish gain element that they have in common.

Davitor said...

Would you still be Christian if you knew you wouldn't be saved?
If you can't answer yes, then i would also state this falls under egoism because you would not be believing or giving if you knew there was no reward of salvation.

Nick Potts said...

Brian, true. good insight, thank you!

Davitor, if I knew I wouldn't be saved why would I have started to be a Christian to begin with? also, what is the means by which I get saved? for my own gain or for the glory of someone else? the Bible says the latter is the primary.

Davitor said...

Yes Nick to be a Christian is to treat all as Christ never needing any reward of salvation.

Ex N1hilo said...

Salvation is not a reward to the one being saved. It is a reward to the One who suffered and died to save.

Remington B said...

Realize the comments here are several years old now, but Davitor's question is very interesting.

To consider whether we would "be Christian" even if we knew we wouldn't "be saved" it will help to cash out what we think salvation is and what the process of salvation involves.

First, let's consider the process of salvation. From the Reformed perspective one cannot be saved without being regenerated. Regeneration, justification, sanctification, glorification are a package deal. Together they are what it means to be saved and to be being saved. What exactly are we eliminating in Davitor's hypothetical? It seems like he has in mind the reward of eternal. The regenerate man will then act in accord with his new nature (while still struggling with the old nature - Gal 5:17). So if we are not "saved" in Davitor's hypothetical, would this also include not being regenerate? In which case, no we would certainly not "be Christian" (which I think he primarily has in mind "acting in Christ-like ways and following Jesus"). Or suppose Davitor allows us to have regeneration but not the reward of eternal life. Well in that case then yes, we can be assured because of God's work in us, that we would still "be Christian."

Now let's consider what salvation is. Salvation isn't primarily a nice present we receive (eternal life). The language of "salvation" wouldn't even fit with that understanding. When we receive gifts on birthdays we don't speak of ourselves as "being saved." The reason Christianity speaks of "salvation" is because we are rescued from something: the wrath of God. Salvation is reconciliation with God. Here the Bible is clear that we love God because he first loved us (1 John 4:19). And God's love is what initiates reconciliation, which involves things like regeneration, justification, sanctification, etc. So from this angle it's also clear that if God did not initiate a process of reconciliation with us, we would not "be Christian." Of course we could still perhaps perform good deeds just like a Jainist or a Mormon, but these good deeds would not be pleasing to God and would not be what it means to "be Christian" in the biblical sense. To be a Christian in the biblical sense means, primarily, to put our trust in Christ for his work of reconciliation. If there is no reconciliation, there can be no Christian.

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