Bad Religion Book Notes: Religion as License for Egotism and Selfishness

Douthat Bad ReligionDouthat, Ross. Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics. New York: Free Press, 2012.

Douthat diagnoses what happens when you emphasize the uniqueness of humans and detach it from being an image-bearer under God:

“In this America, too, the Christian teaching that every human soul is unique and precious has been stressed, by the prophets of self-fulfillment and gurus of self-love, at the expense of the equally important teaching that every human soul is fatally corrupted by original sin. Absent the latter emphasis, religion becomes a license for egotism and selfishness, easily employed to justify what used to be considered deadly sins. The result is a society where pride becomes ‘healthy self-esteem’, vanity becomes ‘self-improvement’, adultery becomes ‘following your heart’, greed and gluttony become ‘living the American dream’.” (p. 5)

Egotism is self-idolatry and self-deism. Detaching human exceptionalism from the humble place we occupy under God’s authority thus creates this inflated view of self, in which we think the chief end of others is to glorify and enjoy me forever.

© 2014, Rick Hogaboam. All rights reserved.


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