Monday 4 May 2020

Why groups are damned but individuals are not

Because individuals can be honest - and groups are not.

Any group in which dishonesty - i.e. anything less than the sincere attempt to seek and speak truth in all things at all times - is tolerated, is on the wrong side in the spiritual war (no matter how much good they contain).

(Dishonesty is - or should be - a sin for Christians; but it is not regarded as intrinsically wrong for most religions, nor for most atheists. Unless lying is a sin, then truth will only be attempted when expedient.)

This is the great probem of our times; in that there aren't any institutions that are honest: there aren't any that are even trying to be honest. Believing and obeying any institution will therefore lead to damnation; passive, unconscious, consensus living will lead to damnation.

No institutions are honest: certainly Not science or academia! But not the Christian churches either - as can be known from reading any paragraph of any press release from a major denomination.

As an individual, you can resolve to be honest; and you can follow it through (and recognise and repent your inevitable failures). In an actually-existing institution, this is impossible. Any honest institution would nowadays need to be a new foundation, including only honest individuals. 

Historical experience suggests honesty is only possible for small groups under unusual circumstances - as happened in science for a while (this was the situation in the UK when I had just began as a scientist, in the early 1980s - but within a decade it had gone).

In a world of systemic and pervasive dishonesty; it is our Christian duty and neccessity Not to believe public discourse; since we know it is not-even-trying to be truthful. This is a duty that far too many Christians fail, spectacularly. 



Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

I understand and agree with the substance of the post, but the title is a bit confusing! Individuals who follow a group may be damned, but it is still the individuals who are damned, not the group as such.

I seem to recall that you are not an admirer of T. S. Eliot, but his "Hippopotamus" seems relevant.

Bruce B. said...

I don't know if this is related.

I am not very well versed in theology. That said, it has been pointed out to me that the NT “election” verses should be understood in the context of 1st Century Christianity (heavily influenced by Jewish thought) where salvation (and I assume damnation) was seen as corporate or group. So the election verses suggest the Church is elected to salvation (individuals can be lost.)

I think this supports the free will understanding that you adhere to.

Hope this isn't beside the point you're making.

Bruce Charlton said...

@BB - I don't understand your point - I don't know what you are referencing.

@Wm - It was intended to mean that what institutional groups do is now (net) evil, whereas this was not previously so.

Pangloss said...

The Church consists of individuals not lost i.e. elected, saved. The Church is Christ's body and the individuals therein are its' limbs, or parts.