Answering The Isms

ISMS are a part of the world in which we live. They make up the fabric of our culture that colors some in the lines and drives others out. They are derogatory in their impact and divisive in their construct. They serve to divide and conquer rather than unify and empower. ISMS are the works of the flesh sown in the ground of pride and selfish ambition. They have crept into every area of our society and have even been recognized as a growing and trending issue in our every changing culture, which establishes “new norms” faster than the speed of light. They haven’t just infiltrated our culture; they have permeated it.

In 2015, the noted reference publisher, Merriam-Webster named their “Word of the Year” as “ISMS”.  Making the point that ISMS are alive and well, shaping today’s culture. According to Merriam-Webster an ISM is a belief, attitude, style, etc., that is referred to by a word that ends in the suffix –ism. It further states it is a distinctive doctrine, cause, or theory or an oppressive and especially discriminatory attitude or belief.

The Bible speaks concerning the characteristics of the last days, in 2 Tim. 3:1-2(KJV), “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy.”
There are seven “ISMS”, of the hundreds that could be listed, that dominate the cultural landscape of the 21st Century, and gives form and function (which is manifest as dysfunction) to the value system and the belief structure of this generation, known as meta-modernity.

NARCISSISM/INDIVIDUALISM - To be self-centered, self-promoting, self-serving.
The Answer: Serving Christ, Community, Civic responsibility
SECULARISM – To subscribe to the standard of success and achievement created by the culture, instead of bringing transformation to the culture.
The Answer:  Authentic Spiritual Formation and Identity in Christ
RACISM (systemic and structured) - To place Nationalistic allegiance above the value of all humankind, regardless of race, creed or color.
The Answer: Genuine Love, Concern, and Compassion for All
HEDONISM - The love and lust for pleasure and the preoccupation with selfish indulgences.
The Answer: Personal discipline and control of “appetite” and proclivities
CYNICISM - a lack of institutional and personal trust, which is motivated by self-interest.
The Answer: Total trust and complete dependence on God, as well as the ability to see the potential and possibility in others
MATERIALISM - The propensity to consider material possessions and physical comfort of greater importance than spiritual values.
The Answer: Attitude of Gratitude, which is manifest by selfless and sacrificial giving
TERRORISM – The act of imposing terror on another, in an attempt to destabilize their ecosystem and mechanisms for a sustainable life.
The Answer: Freedom from fear, trust in God’s protection, boldness when facing adversaries

In view of the “ISMS” that have been listed, and the many more that shape our cultural landscape, the truth yet remains, in the words of the prolific songwriter, Andrae Crouch, “Jesus is the answer for the world today, above him there is no other, Jesus is the way.”
Jesus stated the answer emphatically and succinctly in St. John 14:6 (KJV), “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

Dr. Ricky Allmon is an Assistant Pastor at the Apostolic Church of God- Chicago, Illinois, as well as an Author, Scholar, Leadership Strategist and CEO. Follow Dr. Allmon on all social media platforms @rickyallmon
Kinnaman, David. The Mosaic Generation: The Mystifying New World of Youth Culture. Enrichment journal. 2014.
Lancaster, Lynne and Stillman, David.  When Generations Collide: Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation Xers, Millennials. New York, New York: HarperCollins, 2002.
Lasch, Christopher. The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations. New York, New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1978.
Twenge, Jean M., Ph. D. Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled-and More Miserable Than Ever Before. New York, New York: Free Press, 2006.

1 Comment

Deborah Threlkeld - March 4th, 2024 at 9:48am

Thank you for this well informed Christian Artical.