Today it is considered scholarly to claim you are searching for the truth. On the other hand, it is considered unscholarly and narrow-minded to claim you have found the truth. Existentialism is a philosophy that claims to be searching for the truth. For those who are existential in their thinking, everything is grey. There are no black or white issues.
In II Timothy 3:1-7 the Apostle Paul wrote about false teachers who “were ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” In fact, existentialism goes back another millennium before Paul.
In the days of the Judges, “every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” Judges 21:25 To read the last chapters of Judges is to recognize that those people lived in very dark days as far as morality was concerned.
Existentialism is the philosophical foundation for “The New Morality that surfaced in the ’60’s. The book, Situation Ethics by James Childress helped define and popularize this new movement.
WHAT IS THE NEW MORALITY?
New Morality is old immorality clothed in scholarly sounding language. What does it teach?
1. There is no absolute right or wrong.
2. All truth and moral issues are relative. That is, what might be wrong for one person could be right for another. It all depends on the circumstances.
3. Cheating, lying, stealing, committing fornication, adultery or disobey authority or having an abortion could be right for you, if you believe good can come out of it.
4. The catch phrase has become, “if it has redeeming value.” They mean by that, if some good could come from it, then is right for you to do it.
5. Existentialism rejects the authority of the Bible. They take the Neo-Orthodox position that if it says something of value to you, that is fine; but what it says to you may not be what it says to me. It’s up to each person to determine the value of the Bible for themselves.
THE REASON PEOPLE CHOOSE EXISTENTIALISM
According to II Tim. 3:7 we learn that false teachers are NOT ABLE to find the truth. Why? Because they have rejected Christ who is the source of Truth. Jesus claimed in John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father but by Me.” So a person who has rejected Christ as Saviour, has forfeited the right and the ability to grasp the truth of God’s Word. All who reject Christ will continue their futile search for Truth and never find it.
THE HISTORY OF EXISTENTIALISM
Although Satan is behind it all, the father of this modern movement was Soren Kierkegaard, a Danish theologian who lived from 1813 to 1855, His writings influenced Jean Paul Sartre, a French philosopher who wrote essays and plays all expressing the theme of hopelessness and despair.
This theme was picked up by the Hippy generation of the ’60’s who have had a major and lasting negative impact on American culture to this day.
HOW DOES THIS PHILOSOPHY MANIFEST ITSELF?
The hippy culture has given to America the following philosophy.
1. Anything goes.
2. If it feels good, do it.
3. Reject authority. Rules and laws can be ignored.
4. Do your own thing.
5. Live for today. Nothing else matters.
6. Don’t concern yourself with others. Live for yourself.
This philosophy has affected art, music, literature, dress styles and personal appearance It has even worked itself into evangelical churches. Beauty and order are OUT. Ugliness and disorder are IN. This philosophy has totally permeated our society and our American way of life over the last forty years.
Ever since the ’60’s when the Bible and prayer were banned from the classroom, education has dive bombed. Academics are minimized and self esteem has been magnified. Even if a person is a failure he is taught to think highly of himself. Construction has become shoddy. Lack of service is common. Any business that stresses quality construction and good service is rare and has it hands down over the competition.
Employees are only concerned with wages and benefits. They have little or no concern for quality or personal service or for the well being of the company who hired them. No one concerns themselves with keeping appointments. If people have to sit and wait for thirty minutes or more, so what? Let them wait. We go into debt for the things we want and when we are drowning in debt we simply declare bankruptcy. If we can’t get along with our spouse, we take the easy way out and divorce him or her.
This existential philosophy has resulted in a spirit of hopelessness and despair. As a result people have turned to promiscuity, divorce, drugs, alcohol and suicide. They live with no absolute, ultimate truth. You see this spirit in the blank, empty, sullen look in the eyes of rock stars and entertainers and in the lives of modern teens and adults who look to these stars as their role models.
THE CONTRAST OF CHRISTIANITY
What an opportunity we have as Christians as we live in the midst of this darkened and corrupt world. The contrast between them and us should be huge. Listen to Paul in Philippians 2:14-16 “Do all things without murmurings and disputings that you may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God without rebuke in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.”
Listen to Peter in I Peter 2:9 “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, God’s own people; that you should show forth the praises of Him who called you out of darkness unto His marvelous light.”
The world looks for truth and for real life in everything except Jesus who is the only source of truth and life. The devil has blinded the eyes of the lost, lest they should see the glorious Gospel of Christ and be changed. II Corinthians 4:3-4
What a contrast Christ makes! The joy of the Lord enlightens our eyes. There is a bounce in our steps as we move with purpose and excitement in God’s plan for our lives