Monday, January 25, 2016

The Rise of Religious Narcissism - By Bruce W. Davidson

We live in a very neo-Romantic age, in which feelings are considered more significant than facts.  This is why a man can claim to be a woman just because he feels like one and be taken seriously, even held up as a hero, despite the obvious biological evidence to the contrary.  The Achilles heel of this mindset is that feelings often lie, especially self-centered ones.  Unfortunately, this mentality has also spilled over into the religious world, where it has given rise to self-absorbed spirituality that can best be called religious narcissism.
In Altar to an Unknown Love, Beasley remarks that this trend "has been a longstanding development of subjective religion here in America: a kind of modernized emotion-based-existentialism which subjugates everything beneath the thoughts, feelings, intentions, and imaginations of the worshipper."  The foundation for this was probably laid by the pietistic brand of Christianity that became increasingly popular in the nineteenth century in the U.S., the U.K., and Europe…..

Subsequently, this therapeutic New Age outlook has given rise to a self-centered, highly emotional brand of religion, even among Christians.  Contemporary religious writers such as John Eldredge and Sarah Young are cases in point, since both come from psychological, counseling backgrounds.  Unsurprisingly, the Jesus who mystically speaks to them sometimes sounds a lot more like a pop psychologist or a New Age guru than the Jesus of the New Testament……….

Long ago, the American theologian Jonathan Edwards discoursed at length on the problem of religious narcissism, which he considered the essence of hypocrisy.  Many others have also been convinced that the Bible prophetically warns about this type of religion in passages such as 2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NASB): "... difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy... lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness[.]" 
The Apostle Paul is speaking here of the religious world, not the secular world.

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