The Church that Abolished Man

Dr. Richard Gamble spoke at the SCL conference last week about The Abolition of Man. I was pleased to see that someone who has spent a lot of time reading this book and contemplating its message was asked to develop his thoughts on that message.

Man, we must understand, has been abolished. The world we live in, its institutions, habits, practices, and attitudes, is opposed to mankind in virtually every way. Individuals occasionally burst through to do some good, but for the most part man has been abolished and we live in what Lewis called a “post-human world.”

What humbles me is the extent to which the American Christian church has been manifestly and continually involved in this abolition, from the manner of worship to the way they run youth groups to the way they study the Bible.

Here, I suggest, is one simple way to think about it. Biblically, man is composed of heart, soul, mind, and strength. For modern man – the product of naturalistic materialism, the divine image has been removed and, please note this, is therefore neglected.

The heart has been reduced to emotions and feelings. The soul has been declared “an unnecessary hypothesis.” The mind is a complicated bag of neurons and synapses. We are left with the mortal body and its desires (the common translation for “desires” is “lusts,” but that word has come to have only negative connotations, which the Biblical usage does not).

You might say that the Divine Image theory of man includes reason and will in addition to bodily appetites, while the post-human theory of man includes only the senses and the appetites attached to them.

Reason, not being believed in, is neglected, so things like grammar, music, logic, memory, math, formal literature, etc. are neglected. Since reason is fulfilled in wisdom, this neglect results in a foolish culture.

The will, not being acknowledged, is neglected, so discipline is set aside for more pleasant things, in disregard of Hebrews 12 (and the rest of the Bible, all of which is oriented toward the healing of the will). The will perfects itself in virtue, so we have cultivated a selfish, appetite driven, literally vicious culture.

Christian schools are just as guilty of teaching to the appetites as every other variation. The neglect of the reason and the will, and the appetite driven worship of the contemporary church, are their own judgment.

In the end, freedom, which requires wisdom and virtue, is lost.

May I suggest to you that you join us for the 2010 CiRCE conference where we will explore the impact of this naturalistic materialist mindset on education as it relates to freedom and how our country has lost its freedom because it stopped cultivating wisdom and virtue?

If you can’t make it, you can pre-order the conference recordings for an astounding $50 off (1/3). The 30+ CD’s should be ready for distribution by Sept 15.

One last thing: If you haven’t read The Abolition of Man by CS Lewis, PLEASE read it. This is the most important book he wrote and the most important book written in the 20th century.

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3 Responses

  1. How does one order the conference recordings? I probably just missed it, but I couldn’t find it. Thank you.

  2. Wow! Excellent insights! Thank you!

  3. Andrew –

    I enjoyed meeting you at SCL. After reading this post, I want to hear more of what you have to say about the human heart. In my VERY limited amount of time being involved in Classical Christian Education, I have noticed that, for the most part, the human heart is either neglected, or just not talked about. I’ve been listening to your CiRCE conference talk on “Nature,” which I’ve borrowed from Thomas Mann, and I remember you saying that a child’s nature is too often neglected. I may be having a tough time distinguishing between a child’s nature and his/her heart…. Perhaps you can help me with that.

    Jeremy Ruch

    PS: You’ve turned me on to raw tuna.

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