A Look at Humanism

Over the course of the past century, our culture has witnessed a fundamental shift in its thinking from a theocentric (God-centered) point of view to an anthropocentric (man-centered) system of philosophy. The existence of an all-powerful and all-loving Creator is no longer the basis of morality for our society. Said another way, right now our society either believes God is dead, or at the very least, it’s living like it believes He’s not a factor! The ancient philosophy known as humanism has reared its ugly head in our day, and to some extent it has even crept into the lives and thinking of many Christians! God warns us: “Do not love the world, neither the things that are in the world” (1 John 2:15). Humanism declares that God isn’t real and that the world is, therefore, the only thing worth loving.

Humanism is not about concern and benevolence to fellow human beings (that’s known as humanitarianism). Rather,humanism is the belief that man, not God, is the measure of all things. In other words, the only way to find what’s “good” and “true” in life is to look at yourself and decide what’s “good” and “true” for you. The problem with this line of thinking is found clearly in God’s word: “when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding” (2 Cor. 10:12). And again, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Prov. 14:12). When we allow man to be the standard and measure of our morality, our goodness, and truth itself, we have in effect declared that there is no God (cf. Psalm 14:1). A closer look at humanism may yield some surprising insights:

“Man is alone in the universe” — Humanism has crept into our thinking through the theories of Darwin and other evolutionists. Man, they believe, is merely a colossal cosmic accident resulting from the “big bang,” and there is, therefore, nothing in the universe that cannot ultimately be explained by science and reason. To the humanist, God is nothing but a fabrication of ancient minds who were trying to explain the universe around them. Understand this point clearly: to the humanist, spiritual things are nonsensical and ultimately harmful to human “progress.” Any religion declaring the existence of a supernatural or spiritual realm is viewed as harmful to the, “enhancement of human life.” Humanism decries all organized religion as a prison from which men must escape. To this particular mindset, the Bible is clearly opposed (cf. Gen. 1-2; Psalm 19; John 1:1-18; Eph. 1-3).

“Man needs an education, not a Redeemer” — The humanist fundamentally believes all men are good. We are born as “blank slates” and must be educated for our goodness to be realized. Humanism teaches that every individual is a product of his culture and environment, and that only through the reprogramming power of secular education can each individual overcome his background and realize his own inherent, “goodness.” Said another way, all we need to do is give every man a great education and access to great technology, and the humanist believes the world will know true happiness, joy, and peace. The Bible rejects such thinking. God’s word boldly declares, “there is none righteous, no, not one” (Rom. 3:10). While “original sin” is nowhere found in Scripture, neither is the idea found that secular education, in and of itself, will cure man’s greatest problems. What men need in order to realize true happiness, joy, and peace is a Redeemer, not an education! The wars of the 20th Century alone should have made it abundantly clear that humanism cannot and will not redeem mankind. Jesus is still the only solution to man’s ultimate problem (John 14:6)!

Humanism is dedicated to the destruction of “religion” — Quoting from Humanist Manifesto II: “Some humanists believe we should reinterpret traditional religions and reinvest them with meanings appropriate to the current situation… We need, instead, radically new human purposes and goals.” In other words, humanists are feverishly working in every sphere of our society (universities, law, politics, business, public schools, entertainment, psychology, sociology, and even the halls of our government) to rid the world of all organized religions. If allowed to continue, the humanist agenda will undoubtedly create a situation much like we read about in Judges, when, “every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Jud. 17:6). Read the last five chapters of Judges to see the horrible results when man becomes the sole measure of morality in society!

Humanism steals the ethics of Christianity — The virtues of love, compassion, unity, justice, and redemption are all found in God’s word. Interestingly, these virtues are held up as ideals by the humanist as well. For the Christian, whatever reflects the character of God is good, and whatever does not is evil (cf. Psalm 111:1-10). The humanist, however, defends the same virtues without an explanation as to why they are worthy of pursuit. When you follow the basic premise of humanism (that man, not God, is the measure of all things) to its logical conclusion, how can the humanist say that any system of ethics is right or wrong? The Christian can defend the virtues of his religion by pointing to an almighty and all-authoritative God as the standard of his ethics. The unbelieving humanist, by contrast, cannot tell you why you must be loving, compassionate, or just — he merely asserts that you must!

Humanism is in all of our lives at times — Christians, hear this well: anytime we are the center of our own lives, we are humanistic in our thinking. When we fight with our spouses, when we rebel against authority, and when we are not at worship, we are setting ourselves up as the standard and measure for our behavior, and that is the core of humanism. When we hear God’s word and don’t do, we are humanists (cf. James 1:22). When we give to get, instead of giving to give, we are humanists. Anytime God is not the authority in my life (Matt. 28:18), I am a humanist.

Humanism is only overcome by the love of God — Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). “God demonstrated His own love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). God’s love and grace instruct us (Titus 2:11-14) to allow Him to be the real measure of our lives. His love is what gives man his dignity (Eph. 1:3-14). How we need to convey this message to the world! We can only be relevant to our society if we are saying things that are eternal (1 Pet. 1:23). As we choose to love God and others because He first loved us (1 John 4:11), we will exhibit the mind of Christ (Phil. 2:5). The love of God is what draws men out of their self-centered, self-autonomous existence and into a life of self-renunciation (Luke 9:23). How we need to emphasize His love more in our lives!                                                                                                                — JB