Part of the thrust behind my previous post is a realization that God does not annihilate the individual. God restores the individual.
Note the difference between individuality and individualism. Individuality is a psychological and social fact: Each person is different and distinct. (Years ago, I knew a Calvinist teacher who said, “God made you to be you and not somebody else.”) However, individualism emphasizes the individual to a greater degree than a social group or political system.
While Saint Paul exhorts us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, some Christians speak as though the mission of spiritual growth is to kill the mind (a central component to individuality) and to become a kind of puppet.
Think of C.S. Lewis’s images of statues in both Mere Christianity and The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe: They become (or return to) living beings, becoming more than what they were, whereas some church circles I have observed seemed to believe Christians should become less than what they were.
Or better yet, from Lewis’s essay, “Two Ways with the Self:”
Even the New Testament bids me to love my neighbor ‘as myself,’ which would be a horrible command if the self were simply to be hated….
Even Christians, if they accept in certain forms the doctrine of total depravity, are not always free from the danger [of cynicism, of taking a ‘low view’ of all souls]. The logical conclusion of the process is the worship of suffering — for others as well as for the self ….
The wrong asceticism torments the self; the right kind kills selfness….