Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Cult of 'Selfism'

Funny what you stumble across. I found in the Tyndale New Testament Commentary on Mark a discussion of Mark 8:34-38, in which the author, the late R. Alan Cole, expands in a footnote on his observation that "the Lord warns all the crowd, not just his professed disciples, that to follow him means to deny all natural inclinations and to 'shoulder one's stake'."

This is why the cult of 'selfism' (self-fulfilment, and the like), much favoured by the so-called 'me generation', is utterly foreign to the gospels, and, in particular to the teachings of Jesus. . . . There is no commendation of self-love [in Mark 12:31, for example], but only a realistic recognition that we do in fact always desire to promote our own good.


The notion that self-love is a default condition is pretty sensible to me; I'd only add that while self-love isn't commended, it isn't condemned either. Inordinate self-love, now that's another story. It's a tragic case when self-love is absent from a person; that person has been wounded, even defeated, by a world that has loved itself to the neglect of its neighbor.

3 comments:

L.L. Barkat said...

I agree that self-love shouldn't be condemned. One could even argue that selfishness is counter to true self love. Recently I decided that past wounds are one of the most insidious issues we face, because they tarnish our sense of self love, which makes it hard for us to love others. (That was a thought from the woods. :)

David A. Zimmerman said...

Well put, L. L. I should go to the woods more often.

heather said...

It seems to me that a lack of self love and an inordinate amount of self love both stem from the same tree--forgetting to see ourselves as God sees us but seeing ourselves as we would make us.