Science in Christian Perspective



1984 Symposium
The Future Becomes the Present

The Person in 1984

Hope College 
Holland, Michigan


From: JASA 33 (March 1981): 30-36.

George Orwell's Vision

Winston Smith lives with fear and longs for death. He is confused about the past and finds the future "unimaginable."1 Caught in the grim present without history purpose or norms - except the Party's current version of truth and reality - Winston receives neither comfort nor distraction from companions and friends.2 "There is no one to talk to. No one to share one's inner thoughts, confusion and doubts. No one to contradict or to confirm one's thoughts. No one can be trusted .3 Everyone must be regarded as a possible betrayer, unless it is O'Brien, an inner Party member, who "had the appearance of someone that you could talk to...."4

Winston is expected to be observable, to participate in collective projects, yet to be alone in the midst of people. All genuine community has been destroyed. A solitary stroll or private hobbies imply the heresy of individualism (Newspeak. "own life"). Intimacy has been reduced to collective devotion to Big Brother and to joyless, impersonal sex relations, the latter tolerated by the party as a concession to human weakness so long as no real pleasure is gained and no bonds of loyalty formed.5

Winston feels crushed in the Party juggernaut. The life it allows is mean, mindless and a cheat. What is worse, there is no way out. "We can't win," is one of the few things of which Winston is certain. So his moods are dominated by a pervasive sense of helplessness, hopelessness and confusion. He is confused because there is no way to validate either his memories of different or better things nor his skepticism of the Party's evanescent versions of past and present. By destroying human community the Party has eliminated the possibility of having one's recollections validated by another. In its on-going program of rewriting history to conform to the current twist in official doctrine, a practice in which Winston participates as a rewrite man, and in its destruction of all records to the contrary, the Party denies to its members the other source and validation of human memory. Life, the Party says, has always been exactly as it is today.

Winston is satisfied neither with his life, with the state of things nor with the Party's fluctuating version of truth and reality. He records his rebellious outrage in a personal diary, enters into an illicit love affair with another Party member and seeks to join the subversive underground. Predictably, he is tortured first into confessing every crime of consequence, then is brainwashed and benumbed by glib, authoritarian assertions of the subjectivity of truth, with the Party as its only reliable arbiter. Finally, he is terrified into betraying Julia, his beloved. We leave Winston a gin-soaked zombie, penitentially shedding tears over his belated discovery that he loves Big Brother. So prophesied Orwell.6

Christopher Lasch's Vision

Is this the way it is with persons in the U.S. today? Quite to the contrary, says Christopher Lasch.7 Persons, to be sure, are deeply troubled and in trouble. Not, however, as the result of a totalitarian invasion of persons. Rather, untrammeled self-centeredness and self-indulgence dwarfs and warps personal development and destroys human community. Lasch blames capitalism and the culture of competitive individualism it generates for this deplorable state of things. Individualism, says Lasch, has reached the extreme of war of all against all and the pursuit of happiness the dead end of narcissistic self preoccupation.8

In its dying throes, Lasch maintains, bourgeois individualism regards its narcissistic strategies of survival as emancipation from the repressive conditions of the past: the authoritarian family, repressive sex morality, the work ethic, and guilt-riddenness. The new moral climate arises out of self-absorption. Lasch labels the prototypic person of our time as "the new narcissist." 9 The narcissist, preoccupied with personal matters, lives for the moment. Cut off from past and future, his inner life is impoverished. Preoccupied with immediate gratification of boundless desires, he lives in a state of restless, unsatisfied desire. Permissive, he suffers from anxiety rather than guilt. Lacking a sense of meaning, the narcissist is a prime candidate for interminable psychoanalysis, to which he turns in search of a religion or way of life. Youth, beauty, charm and celebrity form the basis of self-regard, so that aging poses special terrors. Sexual promiscuity rather than repression is characteristic of the narcissist. Close personal relations are avoided, making it easier to exploit others as instrument for one's gratification. Appearances, not substance, are of pardmount significance - nothing succeeds like the appearance of success. The prostitute, says Lasch, now best exemplifies the qualities needed for success in American Society: she attempts to move others while remaining unmoved herself, she is a predatory loner who exploits the ethic of pleasure' and she symbolizes supremely the character of contemporary hedonism in which the most intimate encounter becomes the means for exploitation.10

This is seen as a dangerous world. In it, one must struggle continually to survive. It is not uncommon for this struggle for survival to take the form of hedonistic anesthesia, for the future holds out ever-diminishing possibilities and expectations. Life becomes a war of all against all. Success depends upon skill in the psychological manipulation of others for one's own pleasure and gain by skillfully exploiting the techniques of interpersonal relations. People become interchangeable objects whose significance is chiefly as instruments of satisfaction or frustration. It is as though the Marquis de Sade's radical individualism and its accompanying loss of individuality have been realized.11 Little wonder that such a society with its uninvolved bystanders allows fellow humans to be robbed, beaten, debauched and even murdered.12

Orwell's and Lasch's views of personal life today are grim indeed, and superficially quite unlike. Where are we and our contemporaries? With the terrorized captives of 1984, sated and alone, or among the fleshpots of narcissism? Do we find ourselves to be trapped in a meager, joyless existence under the control of an ubiquitous, ruthless, omnipotent state under constant threat of a dehumanizing rape of our most private thoughts and hopes? Or are we, as Lasch claims, stupified self-servers, resigned to trivial work shoddily done, and finding our satisfactions in leisure pursuits? The answer, it seems, is neither and both. On the surface, the two visions seem quite dissimilar. It is clear, however, that the end product of freedom that is given over to self-preoccupied, hedonistic, self-indugence is bondage to bewildered meaninglessness, a purposeless entrapment in immediacy which is as enslaving and depersonalizing as the totalitarianism of 1984.

Support for Orwell

Are we nearing 1984? In some respects, it would seem so. In a recent speech the chairman of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said, "The leaden weight of bigger and bigger government suppresses freedom and destroys economic incentive. "13 This might be dismissed as the routine protest of the business community against efforts to insure responsible operation in relation to consumers, worker safety and health and environmental quality. But Robert Crandall, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, builds an impressive case for the Chamber of Commerce chairman's charge.14 Crandall points out, for example, that at least twenty agencies regulate the conduct of business, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSE). While cleaner air and water and fewer mining accidents certainly testify to the need for these agencies, balanced against gains are thousands of highly detailed regulations which are confusing, costly, often ill-conceived and contradictory that contribute to a severe reduction in productivity. Lack of accountability encourages government regulators to set arbitrary standards without careful consideration of either cost of likely gains achieved. Our staggering economy and rising unemployment, Crandall argues, result in part from "the heavy-handedness of federal regulation."

Religious freedom is apparently under siege as well. The federal court decision to investigate the fiscal affairs of the World Wide Church (Pasadena, California) generated dismay not only among regular contributors to the World Wide Church but in much of the religious community. Yet the Jonestown tragedy provides impetus to those who clamor for the federal government to cull out those

Lars L Granberg has a BS degree from Wheaton College, and an MA and PhD degree from the University of Chicago. He is currently General Director of Interdisciplinary Studies and Peter and Emajean Cook Professor of Psychology. Now in his third period of service at Hope College, he has also served Fuller Theological Seminary as Dean of Students and Associate Professor of Pastoral Counseling and Psychology, and as President of Northwestern College in Iowa, also a college of the Reformed Church in America. His writing has dealt chiefly with Christian marriage andfamily life and with aspects of pastoral counseling and the psychology of religion.

religious imposters and spurious religious organizations that exploit First Amendment protection to gain tax exemption and the prerogative of freely preying on the lonely, the gullible and those who seek spiritual significance for their lives.
15 Nevertheless, the prospect of federal officials determining the credentials of religious leaders or associations is not a comforting one.

It is, however, the state's encroachment into family life that I find most disturbing. One court decision after another chips away at parental authority. Recently the U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ruled that parents have no constitutional right to be notified that their children are receiving contraceptive devices at public health clinics. The ruling was on a suit filed by Lansing, Michigan, parents to prevent the Lansing Tri-County Family Planning Center from giving contraceptives to minors. Giving contraceptives to minors without notifying parents is reported to be common practice at public health clinics in Michigan. The decision is under appeal to the Supreme court.

The issue, however, is what properly constitutes parental insufficiency? Is, for example, a biblical view of sex and the conviction that sexual chastity is valuable for human wellbeing a sign of sexual repressiveness, an indication that parents holding such views are insufficient to rear children well? Most movements aimed at improving marriage and the family seem designed to bring them into line with the favored theories of child care and psychopathology and so do such court decisions as the one handed down in Cincinnati, which denies to parents the right to know that a public agency is providing contraceptives to their children. This is another illustration of the trend to impose as normative and binding the liberal humanistic social philosophy and view of human nature that dominates the academic community and federal social planning.

1984? Hardly! It seems more accurate to recognize these movements of the government in part as the effort to deal with genuine abuses, and in part as the tendency of overzealous public servants to develop either a Big Mama bent or an ambitious attempts to extend their spheres of control. Milton Friedman argues compellingly that efforts of the public sector to do good have a way of consistently resulting in "brilliant achievements in mischief,"16 but there seems no ready alternative for dealing with serious problems that pervade our society. Moreover, the determined efforts of tens of thousands of Cubans, Haitians and Southeast Asians to gain admittance to the United States is clear testimony that our country is still perceived as an alternative to 1984.

Support for Lasch

Will these refugees from 1984 find, in place of security police, kangaroo courts, and severe food shortages, a nation of sybaritic narcissists such as Lasch describes? Have we Americans largely succumbed to the pursuit of personal advantage over others and virtually unrestrained self indulgence? Trends toward narcissism are readily observables
in our society, especially if we are satisfied with an exte perspective on the words and actions of our neighbors. A Campus Crusade leader asked one of the top student leaders at a major university, "What qualities do you think make a man a leader?" The answer he received was, "able to get drunk, take drugs, stay out all Friday and Saturday nights, have wild sex, and answer the telephone the next morning and sound coherent. That is my kind of man." Surely an answer designed to evoke a responsive nod from Christopher Lasch.

Untrammeled self-centeredness and self-indulgence dwarfs and warps personal development and destroys human community.

Drug use among the privileged as an expression of chic is apparently wide-spread. This practice can be seen, as Lasch does, as an expression of hedonism. But it may also be seen as a quick getaway from inner emptiness and boredom. Whatever the cause, these people contribute to a severe and growing national problem. We have been described as a drug-oriented society. At any given time, one of every seven Americans is taking a psychotropic drug prescribed by a physician. One of eleven adult Americans suffers a severe addictive problem. In 1975, alcohol treatment and related problems cost the United States 43 billion dollars.17 That same year, drug abuse and drug-related problems cost an additional 10.5 billion dollars. The total cost, 53.5 billion dollars, represented 2.5% of that year's gross national product. Nicholas Cumming's response to the extensive reliance on drugs and alcohol in our society is to propose:

It may be that the mental health movement has promised the American people a freedom from anxiety that is neither possible nor realistic, resulting in an expectation that we have a right tofeel good. We may never know to what extent we [mental health specialists] have contributed to the steep rise in alcohol consumption and to the almost universal reliance by physicians on the tranquilizer.18

The flight from stress, pain and the gnawings of emptiness generates other forms of addictions. Cummings continues,

In the United States, we have unfortunately created a legion of therapy addicts who constantly pursue psychotherapy, individual growth, and every new fad that emerges, in the firm belief, somewhat analogous to the Santa Claus fantasy, that the next encounter will produce the desired insight and state of narcissistic peace.19

Cummings is I believe, on target. Our society has bought deeply into a viewpoint that reduces issues of right and wrong to problems, problems believed to be mainly caused by the repression of desires and harsh superegos. A vision of ideal parenthood has been reinforced by frequent recounting of the disastrous psychological effect of parental mistakes. Experts in the solution of these problems long have counseled permissiveness as the proper alternative. Parents should let children express themselves freely. Throwing the sand out of the Kindergarten sandbox should be seen as the release of hidden tensions which could be explicated by experts.

Several years ago, Esquire Magazine ran a special section on the growing trend among married couples not to have children. "Child free" is the word these couples use to describe themselves. Some couples surveyed explained their decision on the ground of ineptitude: "I don't want to mess up my children's lives the way my folks messed up mine." Most couples, however, saw children merely as freedom destroying intruders and resource-consuming leeches.20 "Child free" served them as a flight from responsibility. Were such hedonism genetically based, lack of reproduction would at least have the virtue of not perpetuating it.

Little wonder that children who feel pushed out and neglected often lose respect for their elders and the authority they should properly represent. Little wonder, either, that people so irresponsibly nurtured seek relief from the pain of premature freedom in self-centered partying to cover over their growing loneliness, rooted in fear of personal intimacy. Many students of contemporary sexual behavior have commented on the widespread use of sexuality either as a counterfeit intimacy or in lieu of interpersonal intimacy. Lasch, for example, says,

The most prevalent form of escape from emotional co ruiplexity is promiscuity: the attempt to achieve a strict separation between sex and feeling . . . . The progressive ideology of 'nonbinding' commitments and 'cool sex' makes a virtue of emotional disengagement.

Hit and run sex will not, however, meet an individual's needs for intimacy and community. It will not alleviate loneliness. Robert Weiss maintains that each person needs two fundamental social arrangements: a sense of attachment, which is best attained in an intimate relation with spouse, family or lover, and a sense of community, which is best attained by a network of friends with whom one may share concerns and interests.22

It is the state's encroachment into family life that I find most disturbing.

Lonely people hunger for shared intimacy and often pursue it obsessively but ambivalently. They keep looking for that "right" person who will totally expunge loneliness through instant intimacy. But they not only fear rejection or exploitation by others, they also fear affection and the depth of commitment it invites. The lonely tend on the one hand to overwhelm a potential friendship with the unrealistic expectation that this person alone can take away loneliness.

On the other hand, the lonely one's gnawing fear of being exploited or abandoned often leads to a defensive, hence shallow, commitment to the other. Frustration and disillusionment become inevitable. Small wonder that large numbers of these despised, fearful, lonely people turn to authoritarian cults that promise security, an assured place in a loving community, deliverance from decisions, ("escape from freedom"), and even deliverance from self through drugs, mystical experience or identification with the community or with the leader, the cult hero.

The Decline of Modernity

What, then, of Christopher Lasch's vision of the person in 1984? Clearly it is nearer to the present state of things in the United States than 1984 totalitarianism. Lasch describes modernity gone to seed-modernity, "the overarching ideology of the modern period," that fosters autonomous individualism, secularization, naturalistic reductionism and narcissistic hedonism.23 Modernity assumes that currently favored methods of ascertaining truth are far better than those of earlier ages.24 It also assumes that people are free to create their own meaning and values.

With the self-sufficient self its culture hero, society has become atomized and personal relations shallow and utilitarian. Sex is reduced to a consumer experience with emphasis on technique. The inevitable diminishing returns from sex when it is treated as a thing in itself sends practitioners of casual sex in frantic pursuit of more and more exotic forms of sexual expression, forms that until recently were regarded in individuals as perverse and in a society as the mark of decadence, but which today are democratized as "alternate life styles." Little wonder that the manic confidence and promises of the Jim Joneses, or for that matter, of the pop-therapists, draw thousands into their webs. Sampson, in fact, lays heavy blame on psychology, which, he argues,

... has become the new popular ideology, religion and justifier for a variety of social programs ... including the role psychological thinking plays in confirming an individualistic, self-contained ideal. Excessive individualism leads to alienation and estrangement; it isolates person from person; it separates us from the very nutrient soil out of which we were cast in the first place. Interdependence is inbred early as we form our basic attachments to parents and others; yet we see the breakdown of those attachments espoused as an ideal in the island-like ethos of our contemporary culture.25

We see, then, that the significant portion of our population that consciously or tacitly operates on the premises of modernism finds itself trapped in, moving toward, or anesthetizing or distracting itself from a bondage of confusion and meaninglessness even more binding and depersonalizing than that of 1984. Freedom, interpreted as autarchic self-indulgence, has come full circle. An intense inner hunger for meaning, purpose and direction draws people voluntarily and eagerly into mindless servitude to demagogues and tyrants.

Clearly the Apostle Paul's description of the consequences of the quest for human autarchy speaks as accurately to evident trends in our culture today as it did of the Mediterranean world of his day." Consequently, Robert Heilbroner has been moved to predict a totalitarian future as binding as that of the most tyrannical Caesars. Reasoning from the continuing depletion of the earth's resources, diminishing productivity, inflation, a shrinking economy, and especially the apparent unwillingness of people to discipline themselves and forego their luxuries and pleasures, Heilbroner says,

A high degree of political authority will be inescapable in the period of extreme exigency we can expect a hundred years hence ... The deification of the state, whatever we many think of it from the standpoint of our cherished individualist philosophies, seems ... the most likely replacement for the deification of materialism that is the unacknowledged religion of our business culture.27

A grim prospect, indeed. And Heilbroner receives support for his conclusion from Francis Schaeffer. Schaeffer believes that the overriding value Americans place on their own affluence, comfort and serenity will push them into ready acceptance of a political order with a strong fascist bent. As Schaeffer sees it, economic and personal wellbeing will assume higher priority than personal freedom. In this state of mind, then, people will accept burgeoning state-ordered regimentation so long as it promises to et them continue to live in their perferred way.28

The Wheat and the Weeds

The foregoing, regrettably, seems to fit many educated, talented and affluent members of our society. The values of modernity filter into the consciousness of multitudes of Americans via the ubiquitous radio and television talk shows which promulgate self-indulgence, autarchy, and personal feelings and desires as the norm for morality. But is this all there is to say of significance concerning the person in 1984? Must we acknowledge Christopher Lasch, Robert Heilbroner, Ernest Becker29 and Herbert Hendin30 as the definitive prophets of our time?

Much as I respect their perceptiveness, I believe they have not fully shed the blinders of those they so penetratingly describe. A more appropriate paradigm, I believe, may be found in Jesus' parable of the Wheat and the Weeds.31 Our contemporary prophets have described our society's weeds with agrostological precision. They have said nothing of the wheat. To talk accurately about the person in 1984 requires consideration of the wheat as well. The religious revival of the early to mid-1970's affected thousands. The result caused some to speak of "the age of the Evangelical. " If there is extensive evidence of decadence, there is also impressive evidence of large scale efforts at Christian outreach and influence. The Christian Community, for all its shortcomings and its preoccupation with its intramural feuds, provides at least a modicum of salt and light in the world. Love of family, neighborliness and good will have by no means disappeared. "Let both (wheat and weeds) grow together until the harvest,"" instructed the Owner. It remains to be seen whether harvest time is upon us. Meanwhile, let us consider some indications that the wheat, the community of the Faithful, continues to exert a wholesome influence.

Consider first the family. Many have virtually written it off and seek effective substitutes. Serious family problem with their attendant human wreckage certainly are in evidence, but there are grounds for regarding the social scientists' epitaphs for the nuclear family as greatly exaggerated. Dennis Wrong tartly demurs,

One may readily doubt that the family is actually weakened as Lasch contends, even among the educated and affluent who are receptive to the advice of applied social science, let alone among workers and most sections of the middle class. Parents still control almost exclusively the child's life and growth for his or her first three years, the crucially formative period according to psychoanalysis. If the decline of the extended family was exaggerated by Parsons and his followers, as indicated by several sociological studies Lasch cites, it is even less credible that the nuclear family itself has been fatally debilitated, however much this outcome may have been desired by advocates of 'liberated life-styles' abetted by family sociologists and 'permissive' therapists. The family is a tough and resilient social formation not likely to succumb to the shafts of trendy shrinks and pop sociologists.33

The continuing efficacy of the family in spite of growing divorce rates and the in loco paren fis prerogatives assumed by the state and the public schools suggests that however entangled its roots may be with the roots of weeds, the wheat still flourishes. Other evidence may be seen in the humanitarian concern volunteered to the Hiroshima Maidens and the Ravensbrueck "Lapins," disabled victims of the hydrogen bomb and of Nazi medical experimentation. Transportation, medical care and a home with friends was provided which enabled these women to live productive lives.34 Neighborly concern and good will such as this is still taken for granted in rural areas and is by no means unknown in urban areas. Basic religious beliefs still are widely adhered to, as any number of recent surveys have attested to. A certain number of those seeking meaningful religious experience have turned to Eastern Religions or to the cults, but Evangelicalism gives evidence of flourishing as never before The readiness with which audiences spring up in response to religious radio and television programs gives evidence that spiritual hunger abounds in our land.

In recounting these signs of healthy, dynamic elements still flourishing in our society, I have been laying the groundwork for the observation that the evidence for advanced personal decadence presented by our contemporary prophets may suggest that we are approaching Armageddon, but not necessarily. Harvest time may be almost upon us. On the other hand, we may be participating in one of history's great transitions such as the fall of the Roman empire or the Renaissance, the kind of time when morality, authority, conceptions of human nature, human community and human priorities are in a state of upheaval. Consider, for example, Barbara Tuchman's summary of "the calamitous 14th Century" which she has labeled "a distant mirror:"35

...a succession of wayward dangers; of the three galloping evils, pillage, plague, and taxes; of fierce and tragic conflicts, bizarre fates, capricious money, sorcery, betrayals, insurrections, murder, madness, and the downfall of princes; of dwindling labor for the fields, of cleared land reverting to waste; and always the recurring black shadow of pestilence carrying its message of guilt and sin and the hostility of God.

Mankind was not improved by the message. Consciousness of wickedness made behavior worse. Violence threw off restraints. It was a time of default. Rules crumbled, institutions failed in their functions. Knighthood did not protect; the Church, more wordly than spiritual, did not guide the way to God; the towns, once agents of progress and the commonweal, were absorbed in mutual hostilities and divided by class war; the population, depleted by the Black Death, did not recover. The war of England and France and the brigandage it spawned revealed the emptiness of chivalry's military pretensions and the falsity of its moral ones. The schism shook the foundations of the central institution, spreading a deep and pervasive uneasiness. People felt subject to events beyond their control, swept, like flotsam at sea, hither and yon in a universe without reason or purpose...

... the cult of death flourished at its most morbid. Artists dwelt on physical rot in ghoulish detail. . A mocking, beckoning gleeful Death led the parade of the Danse Macabre around innumerably frescoed walls. A literature of dying expressed itself in popular treatises as Ars Moriendi, the Art of Dying.

Associated with the cult of death was the expected end of the world. The pessimism of the 14th century grew in the 15th to the belief that man was becoming worse, an indication of the approaching end. As described in one French treatise, a sign of this decline was the congealing of charity in human hearts, indicating that the human soul was aging and that the flame of love which used to warm mankind was sinking low and would soon go out. Plague, violence, and natural catastrophes were further signals.

Turbulent times such as we are experiencing are indeed trying, but because of the openness they create, they are also times of unusual opportunity either for good or for ill. Arthur Koestler, among the more astute observers of our time, expresses the conviction that something will have to change humanity if it is to survive.36 His hope, however, is in the psychoactive drugs. He clings to the possibility that research might uncover an enzyme that would enable the cerebral cortex to veto the follies of the archaic brain. History notwithstanding, Koestler thus clings desperately to untrammeled human reason as the sole basis of hope for humanity. The Christian message points out, correctly, I believe, that reason participates at least as much in humanity's fatal flaw as does the so-called animal nature. Hence, if human nature is to be restructured around truth, love, peace and justice, persons must indeed undergo a fundamental change, but the needed change can be brought about not through research or reasons of ascendancy but only through a divinely effected recentering at the core.

Koestler might well respond that this message has been available for almost two millenia during which humanity has muddled its way into a greater and greater capacity for global destruction. It is not enough, I think, for the Christian community to respond to Koestler with, "Wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction . . . . But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."37 If individualism-gone-to-seed is destroying individuality in our society, then the Christian Community must join in the mea culpa. The church, especially Protestantism, has marched in lock step with Western culture in embracing, then baptizing the individualistic emphasis of the Enlightenment. The communal character of the church and the corporate character of human society have been deemphasized, resulting in a fractionating bent in both church and society. People do

Our contemporary prophets have described our society's weeds with agrostological precision. They have said nothing of the wheat.

not become persons alone. Individuals become persons when in a proper relation to one another. Christians do not mature as Christians alone. The divine pattern is person in community.

If the person, in 1984 or any other year, is to discover his or her productive potentials along with productive priorities and channels for them, then he or she needs to find a Christian community that understands its organismic nature as definitively explicated for the church by the Apostle Paul.38 There is among some Christians an unfortunate sense of hopelessness and helplessness, a kind of grim resignation toward the state of the world, "unfortunate" because it encourages introversion, irresponsibility and self in-dulgence. Individual salvation, "plucking brands from the fire," then receives priority over the life of the community. Individual rights assume greater moment than public duty. There is also a tendency to reduce the Christian faith to a self-serving religion of some sort. If, as members of the Christian community, we are genuinely concerned for the well-being of persons today and in the future, we would do well to acknowledge that our Christian understanding and relationships have been choked by the weeds of the Enlightenment and to consider Eugene Heideman's reminder that God speaks through the totality of the Scriptures:

The dynamics of the spiritual life must include as primary elements God's passion for the renewal of the world and its peoples as well as 'he regeneration of the individual .... So long as evangelicals continue to separate the doctrine of justification by faith from justice, so long as they continue to ignore the Old Testament's primary emphasis upon the election and mission of Israel, 'liberals' will continue to protest in favor of social action. One can only hope (the church) will discover anew the whole biblical doctrine of justification and justice which lies beyond both evangelicalsim and liberalism.39

Should a significant portion of the Christian Community take to heart Heideman's challenge, it could do signal service in helping persons avoid entrapment in either Orwell's or Lasch's vision through discovery of the freedom that is in Jesus Christ.


11George Orwell, 1984, New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1949, p, 25. 

2Loc. cit., p. 43. 

3Loc. cit., p. 25. 

4Loc. cit., p. 13.

5Loc. cit., p.

6Loc. cit. 

7The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations,
New York: W. W. Norton & Co., Inc., 1979.

8Loc. cit., p. 21.                                                                    

9Loc. cit., p. 22.

10Loc. cit., p. 125.

11Loc. cit., p. 131-133.

12See, for example, the account of the public murder of Kitty Genovese in Abraham Rosenthal, Thirty-eight Witnesses, New York: McGrawHill, 1964.

13Holland Evening Sentinel, May 26, 1980.

14Robert Crandall, "Is Government Regulation Crippling Business?", Saturday Review, (January 20, 1979), pp. 31-34.

15Norman Cousins, "The Reign of the Religious Fanatic," Saturday Review, (January 6, 1979), p. 10.

16Milton Friedman and Rose Friedman, Free to Choose: A Personal Statement, New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1980.

17"1975 Statistical Report of the National Institute of Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse," Mental Health Administration Clearinghouse, 1978.

18Nicholas Cummings, "Turning Bread into Stones: Our Modern Antimiracle," American Psychologist 34 (December, 1979), pp. 1110-1129. Emphasis mine.

19Loc. cit., See also Cyra McFadden, The Serial, New York: The New I American Library, 1978.

20"Do Americans Suddenly Hate Kids?", Esquire 81 (March, 1974), pp . 77-79.

21Op. cit., p. 339.

22Robert Weiss, Experience of Loneliness: Studies in Emotional and Social Isolation, Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1974.

23Op. cit., p. 330.

24Thomas C. Oden, Agenda for Theology, New York: Harper and 1979. See also C. S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man, New York: Macmillan, 1962.

25Edward Sampson, "Psychology and the American Ideal," Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 35 (November, 1977), pp. 779-7W

26Romans 1:21-31.

27Robert Heilbroner, Business Civilization in Decline, New Yory, W. W. Norton, 1976, pp. 119-120. See also his An Inquiry into Human Prospect, New York: W. W. Norton, 1974.

28Francis A. Schaeffer, How Should We Then Live? Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming Revell, 1976, p. 227.

29Ernest Becker, The Denial of Death, New York: The Free Press, 1973.

30Herbert Hendin, The Age of Sensation, New York: W. W. Norton, 1975.

31Matthew 13:24-30.

32Loc. cit., v. 30a.

33Dennis Wrong, "Bourgeois Values, No Bourgeoisie?", Dissent 26 (Summer, 1979), p. 310.

34Norman Cousins, "Visit With the Ladies," Saturday Review (October 27, 1979), p. 10.

35Barbara Tuchman, A Distant Mirror., The Calamitous l4th Century, New York: Ballantine Books, 1978, pp. 587-580.

36Arthur Koestler, Janus: A Summing Up. New York: Random House,

37Matthew 7:13b, 14.

38I Corinthians 12.

39Eugene P. Heideman, "Toward Renewed Evangelical Unity," Reformed Review 33 (Spring, 1980), p. 162.