This is Part Two in a series. Read Part One here.
2) Individualism (Proverbs 10:4; 12:11; 12:24; 13:4; 15:19; 22:29; Luke 12:48; 19:15-26; 15:3-10)
In the previous post on this subject, I noted that Collectivism give preeminence to the needs of the group over the needs of the individual. Individualism purports the opposite.
There are far too many verses that demonstrate this subject to list here, but here are my personal observations regarding Individualism: In a very general way, Individualism in the Bible comes down to three presentations- Proverbs, Parables, and broad Principles. The book of Proverbs is replete with axioms regarding personal, individual responsibility. Some basic ideas in the book teach us that if a man is industrious, he typically gets somewhere in life. If a man is a sluggard, he just takes up space until becomes utterly destitute. If a man applies himself to learning wisdom, his life tends to go smoother (even through troubles) than a foolish man who didn’t apply himself to learn anything, get counsel, or accept correction.
These are all very Individualistic ideas. You may have heard the notion that in America, we can have equal opportunities, but that does not guarantee equal outcomes. That notion is what scripture drives at- each person is a free agent under God who can either make wise choices and prosper or make foolish choices and end up with regrets- the wisest choice of all being to receive the books assertions. You can try to have an equal-opportunity society, but you cannot have equal outcomes without removing liberties from some by force for the sake of others. The question is, who is who in that equation?
The second place I see Individualism is in parables. Like the Proverbs, the parables cited above in the book of Luke are examples of industrious, wise, hard-working servants compared to lazy, incompetent, or perhaps just overly trepidatious servants. The wise ones got the reward, the others got punished. Eschatology (the doctrine of Last Things) regarding what is called the Bema Seat also bears out similar marks of Individualism. Some believers will get rewards there, others will not.
The third place I see Individualism is in broad principles. The principle of the Free Will of Man seems to exist in concert with Individualism. People get born again one-at-a-time not in groups because each must make his own decision to repent and believe.
Finally, what’s interesting is that Individualism by itself is abstract. It is in a sense amoral, but needed, because it really depends on what the Individualist chooses to do with his free agency that makes it a good thing or not.
While I understand that some arguments from scripture can be made for Collectivism, particularly the voluntary kind, it seems that Individualism is more broadly represented in scripture than the former.
This series is an intentionally brief overview, so if I’ve missed anything glaring in my explanation of this, please let me know below.