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Public Debate: What are the Limits of Self-Identity?

Author: Category: Blog, Counseling, Identity/Roles, The Gospel

Join ABC President Jeremy Lelek for an evening at Magnolia Motor Lounge in Fort Worth and a public debate on the topic—What are the Limits of Self-Identity?

This evening, Sunday, October 23, I will be participating in a discussion unlike any other in which I have ever participated. Actually, it’s a bit more than a simple discussion—it is actually a public debate. The topic—What are the Limits of Self-Identity?

Self-Identity, Biblical Counseling

As I have been perusing the secular literature on the issue of self-identity, it has only emboldened my conviction that what we do as biblical counselors is far superior to the care offered by our secular counterparts.

For example, one of the obvious conclusions we can glean from the secular literature is that ultimately, according to the materialist worldview, the “self” is nothing more than a mental construct that we form as our biology and our social experiences collide. According to this line of thinking, when I, Jeremy Lelek, was born, I was not born with a self or an identity. These only formed as I interacted with my vast world of relationships and cultural influences. In essence, the best the secular arena may offer those who feel lost and confused in a broken world is that the “self”, that part of you that you experience as “I” and “me,” are mere illusions.

Does it sound like my analysis is a bit too far fetched? Just consider the assessment of author and developmental psychologist, Bruce Hood:

This core self, wandering down the path of development, enduring things that life throws at us is, however, the illusion.  Like every other aspect of human development, the emergence of the self is epigenetic—an interaction of the genes in the environment. The self emerges out of that journey through the epigenetic landscape, combining the legacy of our genetic inheritance with the influence of the early environment to produce profound and lasting effects on how we develop socially.[1]

In contrast, just think of the wealth of riches we, as biblical counselors, possess to inform those we serve and counsel regarding who they are fundamentally. Our worldview is the only one with the potential to rescue people from the nihilistic nightmare to which the secular view of self condemns humanity.  We are created, we are fallen, and for those in the faith, we are and are being redeemed. We are worshippers, we are dependent, we are blessed and all of life has purpose. Being in Christ, we are royalty, beloved, righteous, forgiven and holy. The divine removes the shroud of illusion and opens our eyes to the fact that there is a true “I” inside that will spend eternity worshipping and glorifying God.

Having been immersed in the secular for a good six weeks or so, I emerge from that world committed more than ever to lead the Association of Biblical Counselors, and encourage that your work – our work – is vital. The cultural voices about humanity that wage war against people you know and love must be confronted with love and wisdom. One of the most overwhelming realizations with which I was confronted during the past few weeks is that the recognized scholars of our day are pushing this message of self-illusion with great confidence and enthusiasm. These are the people that shape the mindset of our society.

For the sake of our loved ones and for the sake of those who will follow us in decades and centuries to come, we must continue to study God’s Word, we must continue to equip the Body of Christ in biblical counseling, and we must fervently hone our skills as instruments of His grace to the glory of God and for the love of humanity.

Press on, as our world needs what you are doing! And if you’re able, join me at 7pm tonight, Sunday October 23, at Magnolia Motor Lounge in Fort Worth, TX as I debate Alex Jules on the topic of Self-Identity. Would love to see you there!


[1] Bruce Hood: The Self Illusion: How the Social Brain Creates Identity (Oxford University Press:  New York, 2012) p. 114.

Posted on October 23, 2016