A Collective Christianity?

Are We Moving Toward a Collective Morality?

I’m a big Star Trek fan.  So it delighted me when Paramount decided to resurrect the series in the early 1990s to produce “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”  Not long afterward, we were introduced to a new galactic villain, the Borg.  This menacing cyborg race was really a collection of races all jumbled together into a large collective.  The individuals of the race never spoke with first person singular pronouns, “I,” “me,” “my,” or “mine,” but always with the first person plural, “we,” “us,” or “our.”  There was no individuality in them whatsoever.  They lived to service the collective and their ethic


Christianity is based on an individual, not the collective.

reflected this.  They held no value for the individual who were ruthlessly sacrificed for the welfare of the whole.  These individual cyborgs were impersonal, uncommunicative, and amoral.  They had no family structure, no education system, and no voice.  Their individual personalities were quashed by the voice of the collective which never allowed any trace of a persona to emerge.  They were the most frightening of enemies because once assimilated by them, one lost every vestige of personal identity.  However, one also lost any vestiges of responsibility as well.  The collective told you where to go, what to say, what to do and when to do it.  Nothing was done without the collective’s direction.

The Christian ethic fundamentally begins with the individual.  That is to say that when we look at the teachings of Christ, they are primarily directed at the individual and for the individual to make changes in his life.  The Sermon on the Mount, (Matthew 5-7), the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12), and the Great Commands (Matthew 22:37-40) are prescriptions given to individuals.  The Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) illustrates Jesus’ “bottom-up” approach by instructing the apostles to make disciples out of individuals by teaching and baptism/restoration.  It is through this method of converting one person at a time that Christianity purports to change society at large.  That is to say, that by the gradual process of individuals becoming Christians, ostensibly, all of society may be transformed.

In order for Christianity to move forward, the truths taught must be eternal, timeless, and applicable to all men regardless of their race, society, temporality, gender, or class.  The standard of morality must be an absolute standard where the norms of behavior apply equally to all.  Of course, this entails that the standard must be absolute.  The standard must also be metaphysical, for it cannot have its ground or base in the material/physical world.

This ethic is also an ethic of freedom.  It is the individual’s acknowledgement and practice of truth that makes him free (John 8:31-32).  Nevertheless, Christianity upholds the absolute decision of the individual to either accept or reject it as a system.  As long as disciples are made through teaching and transformation, the freedom of the hearer of Christianity to reject the teaching is absolute.  Christianity does not force itself upon any individual.  It permits each individual to personally decide whether to become a Christian or not.

The combination of individuals together as Christians work from the bottom-up to form the next level of individual and personal transformation of society, namely, the family.  Christian men and women who marry become responsible to God in their procreation to produce godly seed (Malachi 2:15).  The conjoining of families together under Christian morality naturally begets the formation of the church: a society of individuals/families bonded together from the bottom-up to advance the teachings and practices of Christ through making disciples one individual at a time.  The church is both a religious and a moral institution.  The religious practices of the church undergird and support the moral and ethical actions of the individuals who participate in her fellowship.  Acts of worship are necessary practices for maintaining the ethical conduct of the individuals committed to Christianity.  They reinforce the fundamental commitment Christians maintain to the absolute ethic of the Divine.

Contrary to popular opinion, true Christianity does not desire to control the government.

A competing ethic is proposed by Karl Marx’s associate Frederick Engels.  He said:

We therefore reject every attempt to impose on us any moral dogma whatsoever as an eternal, ultimate and for ever immutable ethical law on the pretext that the moral world, too, has its permanent principles which stand above history and the differences between nations. We maintain on the contrary that all moral theories have been hitherto the product, in the last analysis, of the economic conditions of society obtaining at the time. And as society has hitherto moved in class antagonisms, morality has always been class morality; it has either justified the domination and the interests of the ruling class, or ever since the oppressed class became powerful enough, it has represented its indignation against this domination and the future interests of the oppressed. [1]

This ethic is neither absolute nor metaphysical.  It is relative to the “class” in which one lives.  It is grounded in the materialistic forces of the economy and perhaps more importantly, it is a top-down ethic. That is, the ethic of Marx and Engel proposes to change society from the top down through revolution.  In Marx’s Thesis 11 he states, “The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it.”  This is done through revolution and taking control of the government and then forcing these changes upon society as a class.  When this is done, ethics becomes what the state/government (under the control of Marxist ideology) says how individuals ought to behave.  Consistent with Marxist principles, individuals then ought to behave in concert what brings about the highest economic good for all, whatever that might be.

Also in contrast to the ethic of Christianity, this ethic entails the subjugation/marginalization of dissenters to the point that their freedom to decide is denied.  One cannot reject the top-down approach because then one becomes an enemy of the state/society.  Freedom of speech becomes non-existent.  Government controlled media becomes the order of the day.  The preaching and teaching of the gospel which emphasizes individual responsibility toward God must give way to the orations of the government.  Individual responsibility has no place in a society where the only responsibility is to the collective.

Moreover, the family, as an institution, serves no fundamental educational role in society.  Education is a product of the state and all education is both mandatory and free.  Hence, parents have no decisive role in their child’s learning.  They cannot refuse the state’s mandatory curriculum.

Neither does the church have any function in such a society.

[1] Engels, Frederick, Emily Burns, trans., Anti-Dühring. Herr Eugen Dühring’s Revolution in Science (Progress Publishers: Moscow, 1947), <http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1877/anti-duhring/ch07.htm>.

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