EXISTENTIALISM – Who’s the Hero?

Existentialism recognizes that with naturalism all meaning has been lost and that life is therefore, ABSURD.  In an attempt to recover from this logical conclusion of Naturalism,  Existentialists use the framework of the subjective world to rescue us by suggesting that we are capable of creating meaning. 

We can defy the meaningless world and become our own heroes. We are accountable only to ourselves, creating our own value and identity through our unique experiences. Existentialism promises a chance to be our own god.

KEY POINTS / BELIEFS

  • Prime reality is matter (the physical universe), which exists eternally and is all there is.
  • The cosmos, including this world, are understood to be in their normal state, with nothing being broken or capable of being fixed. Emphasis is on the disunity of the objective and subjective worlds. However, it is preferable to favor the subjective world. In fact this subjective world is not a shadow of the objective world, but is more real!
  • Human beings are complex machines which are free and special because we are the only beings who are self-conscious and self-determined.
  • For humans only, “existence precedes essence.” Through our chosen subjective actions in the world, we make ourselves who we are.
  • Death is the extinction of personality and individuality. There is no afterlife.
  • Through our innate and autonomous human reason, including methods of science, we can know the universe. When we recognize the absurdity of the objective world, each authentic individual must revolt against the absurdity by creating meaning and value through their actions, in spite of the absurdity they know exists.
  • Ethics and morality are related only to the human being, determined by the situation and our autonomous reason. We are the heroes of our own stories.
  • History is a linear stream of events linked by cause or effect, but there is no overarching purpose or goal to which history is moving.
  • The core commitment of every existentialist is to himself or herself and to the creation of meaning through willful action in this life.

WHAT MAKES IT ATTRACTIVE / RELEVANT?

Existentialism rejects objective truth in favor of subjective creativity. Each of us is king to our subjective world, creating value, worth, identity, morality and purpose. What else do we need when we are the heroes of our own stories?

RUBS WITH CHRISTIANITY

Since the onset of humanity, our biggest temptation has been to try and be God, instead of obey God. Rather than trusting the wisdom of a gracious and loving Father, we tend to chose to DISPLACE God and make ourselves little gods in His place.

GOSPEL RUB = Is your worldview gospel-centered?

  • The gospel teaches that the Objective world (Creation itself) is soaked in meaning.
    • Why? Because it was created by a personal value-soaked God. God is the one that assigns human beings with special value, purpose and meaning.
    • Existentialism urges us to create meaning that was never truly lostbut is ever present in God’s perfect creation.
      • Yes, the fullness of value and meaning was tainted by the sinfulness of humanity starting at the Fall (Genesis 3), but it was not shattered beyond repair… beyond God’s redemptive power.
  • The gospel teaches that there is only one true hero–JESUS CHRIST.
    • God sent himself into the objective world in the person of Jesus of Nazareth to rescue humanity.
    • His resurrection proves he has completed his task and death has been defeated.
    • 1 Corinthians 15:12-19: “Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also have have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are all of people most to be pitied.”
  • The gospel teaches that life is not futile, but full of objective meaning and hope.
    • Death was not the end of Jesus’ story and it is not the end of ours.
    • We now have a living promise from God that is rooted in objective hope for all those who place their trust in the one true hero, our Savior the Lord Jesus Christ

NEXT STEPS…

  • Read Genesis 3 – Pay attention to how the temptation of being like God results in the Fall of humanity.
  • Engage in deep and meaningful conversations.
    • Was meaning ever really lost?
    • How do we re-establish Jesus as the hero of our story?
    • What must our role become as a part of God’s creation?
    • What does it mean to have objective purpose and hope?
  • Honestly reflect on the way Existentialism may be influencing your own worldview and your own understanding of Jesus.
  • Listen to this week’s sermon on our website.
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