Inward view of self has replaced the soul in the postmodern person. People no longer talk of themselves as souls created in the image of God but as selves seeking fulfillment. This resulted from the disconnect created by belief in evolution. Evolution disconnects the world around us and within us from the world above us. It leaves us with a two dimensional worldview.
Without the upward dimension, the inward dimension can only delve deeper into self. Sigmund Freud, the father of modern psychiatry, plumed the depths of self into the unknown world of the subconscious. Since Freud, the world has sought identity through self-esteem and seeks purpose through self-fulfillment.
Frederick Nietzsche predicted this day would come. I believe there are prophets in every field of knowledge just as there are religious prophets. And I believe that Nietzsche was a philosophical prophet. You may not like what he said, but much of it is coming true before your very eyes. He wrote of a world to come, a world beyond good and evil. Where beliefs would no longer be measured by whether they are truthful but by whether they are useful.
Read the Supreme Court decisions on abortion and same-sex marriage and ask yourself if those decisions were based on what is truthful or what is useful. Then examine your local school curriculum on self-esteem and sex education and ask yourself are these based on what is truthful or what is useful. You’ll find that Nietzsche was right. We are reshaping our world into a world beyond good and evil.
In a world beyond good and evil, what do people live for? Fulfilling the inner-self is the purpose of a world beyond good and evil. Nietzsche called it the supreme coming to oneself and someone who lives only for himself become a superman, or referred to as the overman.
The superman is the self-created one. In the ultimate act of courage, the superman throws off societal conventions for the supreme coming to one’s self. This is why, I believe, the world applauded Bruce Jenner becoming Caitlyn Jenner. He became a superman by becoming a woman.
The supreme coming to oneself is what they applauded. They applauded his “courage” for disregarding societal conventions to become himself/herself. Like him/her, they too want to shed conventions and become themselves.
This is the result of the shift of the inward worldview from a soul to a self. The inward dimension of worldview is our view of identity. Who am I? Am I becoming or has God created me to be someone?
The second temptation of Christ was directed toward the inward identity of Christ. Satan said to Jesus, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘HE SHALL GIVE HIS ANGELS CHARGE OVER YOU,’ and, IN THEIR HANDS THEY SHALL BEAR YOU UP, LEST YOU DASH YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.’” Matthew 4:6
Satan is tempting Jesus to prove who He is but Jesus didn’t fall for it. What about you? Who defines who you are? Do you? Or does God? How Jesus responded to this temptation shows us how to respond to the temptations of identity.
To be continued
Dr. Michael Peters is the lead pastor of Christ the King: TheCellChurch.com. He is married to Linda, and they have two children and seven grandchildren. Dr. Peters graduated from Covenant Seminary with an MA and obtained a PhD in historical theology from Saint Louis University. He has written several books. His most recent is titled Cell Vision. It’s about organic discipleship and how to develop supporters into disciple makers. He taught critical thinking and Biblical worldview at Missouri Baptist University. His favorite course textbook was Closing of the American Mind by Allan Bloom. His favorite philosopher is Nietzsche because postmodern people are just catching up with premodern Nietzsche. And his favorite Christian writer is G.K. Chesterton because he understood the difference between a poet and theologian. “The poet,” he wrote, “only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the theologian who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.”