3) Biblicism (Colossians 3:17, 23; 1 Peter 2:13-17)
I’m not proposing that the government become entirely Christian and that we live under a Theocracy, but I do think a third idea exists that surpasses both Collectivism and Individualism, and that is what I’m calling Biblicism.
Colossians 3:23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;
And the simple truth is that while some might not like the notion of giving credence to the Bible, it has had the best effects. Namely, that of having produced the freest and most prosperous society in the history of civilization.
Psalm 33:12a Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord…
While Collectivism places the interests of the group above the individual, and Individualism places the interests of the individual over the group, Biblicism places God’s interests above the interests of all. We know what His interests are because we can read about them in scripture. They can be known to us, and they don’t change. The immutability of His interests give His interests an advantage over the interests of the group or individuals who often are subject to the shifting sands of personal whims, moods, and the degradation of morality over time.
Malachi 3:6a For I am the Lord, I change not…
Collectivism can be good if it’s voluntary and not coercive, like the redistribution of wealth that we observed in part 1 regarding voluntary collectivism in the Bible. Collectivism is in one sense neutral because it depends on what the collective wants. It can be bad if the group wants bad things. Individualism is the same. It is essentially amoral because it depends on what the individual wants, good or evil.
Biblicism gives direction to both. Putting God’s interests first makes it so that an individual has the free agency to do as much good as he wants. He has the free agency to align himself with a group of other individuals that also hold the same values and voluntarily contribute to it. And God will hold him responsible for what he does with his free agency. And a group with such values will maintain individuality because without it, the freedom of one’s own mind and conscience is in jeopardy.
It seems that Biblicism makes people Individualists and Individualists promote the liberty to be Biblicists. In fact, if a society departs from Individualism, Biblicism comes under attack eventually. Why? Because ultimately, everything viewed as harmful by the Collective gets culled out for the benefit of the group. With the degradation of morality, it’s inevitable that the Bible becomes viewed as “hurtful” and “offensive” to the group. We are presently living in a time where ideas people don’t like are being called violent, hateful, and oppressive when they are none of those things.
Coming full circle then, we can now answer the question “Does the Bible support individualism or collectivism”? The answer is that Biblicism is primary, Individualism is necessary, and Collectivism is optional so long as it’s voluntary. This seems to be the most biblically compatible hierarchy of these ideas as we’ve seen throughout the series.
1 Peter 2 :13-17 Seems to sum up all three things in good balance. In the passage, a group is instructed to, on an individual level, be good citizens because God’s will is most important.
13 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme;
14 Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.
15 For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:
16 As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.
17 Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.