Tremellius Commentary on Newbigin’s Quote Regarding the Replaceable Individual

Rev. Steve Schlissel - April 10, 2019

“Western European civilization has witnessed a sort of atomizing process, in which the individual is more and more set free from his natural setting in family and neighborhood and becomes a sort of replaceable unit in the social machine. His nearest neighbors may not even know his name. He is free to move from place to place, from job to job, from acquaintance to acquaintance, and—if he has attained a high degree of emancipation—from wife to wife. He is in every context a more and more anonymous and replaceable part, the perfect incarnation of the rationalist [atheistic] conception of man.”

*Newbigin well describes one of the wider, in-fact inescapable consequences of covenant-breaking: atomization, a spinning off as if by centrifugal force, a deterioration of the once uniformly recognized Center (in our case, the Creator God revealed in Scripture). Abandoning the only reality in which our coherence could exist or be maintained—if it is to be a coherence of free men–with abiding Law from our Lawgiver replaced in every nation by endless, ephemeral (and ultimately irrational) decrees of men and committees, there comes a very predictable unraveling. All constitutive elements which had once formed a recognizable whole, disappear in turn, some suddenly, some violently, some simply fading from view and memory.

Not addressed in the above paragraph is the terrifying truth that, in such covenant-breaking circumstances, the “rise” of the abstract individual is accompanied by the demise of each and every institution which had once been intermediate between the individual and the State. The result is an increasing rate of spin-off, dramatic increases in experienced alienation, a palpable sense of purposelessness where nothing/no-one is permitted to offer refuge, solace, even escape. Intermediate institutions bolster and strengthen men—and their families, thus posing a fatal threat to a State intent on posturing itself to be the only reliable savior. The platforms and planks of political parties become laundry lists of why each should be “looked unto,” Look unto me and be saved, all ye ends of the earth,” saith the State.

Every mention of “family” as an institution to which politicos have pledged their allegiance and service must be interpreted in accordance with the more fundamental and determinative reality that no definition of family—no real, objective, recognizable definition—is permitted to function meaningfully in our midst. Two consenting men now have the full faith and force of the federal government backing them in their claim to be “a married couple” and heads of current or potential “families.” Regardless of any high-flown rhetoric spouted by politicos, on their watch the family has gone from being the universally revered building block of societies and civilizations, to what it is now: an opinion. And don’t forget: The opinion they’ve bet our future on, is wrong. Moreover, they have ensconced their wrong definition as the only one which merits their intervention or defense. If you dare espouse an opinion differing from theirs, any consequences you suffer as a result will be treated as just. People have already been deprived of wealth, careers, employment, liberty having an opinion at variance with the new, official opinion.

You think suicide rates are high now? Ha!

*Comments following Newbigin quote above are by Irving Tremellius

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