Our world is being swamped and sunk by a religion-gone mad: Humanism. Humanism is the religion of humanity, a supreme faith in our own ability to both rearrange the world of Nature and engineer our own future in any way we see fit… but in fact, the humanist premises are irreparably faulty, and modern humanist society is therefore also beyond repair.’, (David Ehrenfeld (humanist) “The Arrogance of Humanism”.)
“Professing to be wise, they became fools… who exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever.” (Romans 1:22,25)
The History of Secular Humanism
The very first humanistic statement “you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5b) is the real source of secular humanism and the original sin has spread and multiplied among all who choose to believe the father of lies rather than the God’s Word. To understand the spread of humanism in this generation, however, it is necessary to understand its more recent historic roots. Early Buddhism, which encouraged men to have complete control over their own lives without resort to any form of deity, was obviously one, but it was during the so-called “Golden Age” of Greece in the 5th century BC when learned men taught that reason and philisophy should take the place of superstition and the worship of the old gods, that humanism as we know it today began to take root.
During the period of the Golden Age of Greece, there was a great “flowering” of the arts, and this found expression in the new kinds of knowledge – mathematics, philosophy, drama, rhetoric etc. A popular philosopher of the day, Portagoras, declared “man is the measure of all things, man is the standard by which everything has to be judged”, and man became the central point of reference. Later, at the time of the Roman republic, another “flowering” in literature, drama, art, poetry and politics occured. This provided fertile soil for the further growth of western humanism. At the time of Christ, the Roman Emperor himself was proclaimed a god -“Caesar is Lord” – and as such, sacrifice and libation were made to him. Thus, when required to declare, “There is none other name under heaven by which men might be saved but Caesar”, Peter (Acts 4:12), was clearly challenging the authority of Rome when he substituted the name of Jesus! It was by this declaration that the first Christians were seen to be enemies of the State of Rome.
In Mediaeval times, educated men were contemplatives, meditating on the nature of God. Theology (the study of God) was regarded as the most important pastime for an educated man and the whole of knowledge was directed to the study of God as creator and Lord.
The Renaissance (14-15th centuries) marked a reaction against the old ascetism of these mediaevalists and against the harshness of mediaeval life, particularly of serfdom; It was also a reaction against Church authority and the premise that ordinary men should not question. This second great explosion of learning was at first encouraged by the popes of the day, but soon, the ideals and values of the previous “Golden Age” of Greece and Rome began to dominate.
During Mediaeval times, religious knowledge had been confined to those within the Church and the fortunate few who received an education from the Church; consequently there was a great ignorance of the Word of God among ordinary people, and this led to much superstition. It is true that King Henry VIII (1509-1547) had ordered that a Bible should be chained in all the churches so that the common people might read it in their own language, but many were unable to read, superstition was rife, and the Church had been weakened by involvement in the politics of the day. The Renaissance was a reaction against all this. It is worth observing how humanism always begins to flourish when the knowledge and study of the Scriptures among the ordinary people is at a low ebb, and when the arts and sciences are bringing new forms and new revelations to light. During the Renaissance, few walked closely with God and there was a growing curiosity about the natural world. It was then that there began to emerge something called “humanitas” or “a concern for man”.
The achievements of science and technology in the later Renaissance period encouraged a still more arrogant faith in the ability of man to discover and control. Leon Battisa Alberti’s “a man can do all things if he will” expressed the mood of the times and was an echo of Protagoras’ “man is the measure of all things” of an earlier age. Man suddenly felt free to think as he wishes, to write, to explore and to discover. If mediaeval man was a contemplative, Reformation man was a man of action – searching, reasoning, discovering inventing.
The early humanists still thought of themselves as Christians, but Christians with a special concern for humanity. The split widened when Galileo’s passion for the truth led him into trouble with the pope of the day. He said that the earth went round the sun, and was immediately in conflict with the Vatican, that the earth was the centre of the universe. When Erasmus, with his Greek testament, also began to challenge the teaching of the Vatican, contesting the inaccuracies now apparent in Jerome’s Vulgate Bible, the teaching of the established Christian Church was in collision with truth! Leaders in the 16th Century Church – both in Italy and in Britain – were preoccupied with the politics of the day. The ordinary people were, on the whole, ignorant of the Scriptures. The discoveries of the new men of science could be observed, and were therefore provable, and there was confusion everywhere.
The “Era of Enlightenment” of the 17th and 18th Centuries marked the third great milestone on the road to modern humanism. There was again a great “flowering” of the arts – poetry, literature and the visual arts and the creation of things of beauty – works of art etc. An atmosphere of great confidence and optimism prevailed and it no longer seemed to matter if God was in His heaven, all WAS right with the world. At first, the emphasis was on control by mind and body, but later sensual experience and romantacism became the ideal. It was an age of supreme self-confidence when men believed that radical social reforms were just around the corner and “the greatest happiness for the greatest number” was an achievable goal.
In science, Isaac Newton, and others like him, were uncovering more of nature’s secrets and teaching that the universe is “just like a machine” (and men can control machines). Increasingly, instead of a sense of awe and wonder in the presence of a Creator God, God was being pushed to one side and man, with his tremendous ability, knowledge and drive, was taking the centre of the stage. It was a time too of great satire and wit. Voltaire was immensely popular, ridiculing everything that was noble and sacred. Nothing was taboo and a total anti-Christian mood prevailed. Kant’s “dare to know” was the motto adopted by the articulate man of letters, while Swinburn’s “Hymn of Man” expressed the popular mood of the day:
“Thou art smitten, thou God, thou art smitten: thy death is upon thee, O Lord,
And the love song of earth as thou diest
Resounds through the wind of her wings –
Glory to Man in the Highest! for Man is the Master of Things.”
It was at this time that Christians began to retreat into a kind Ghetto, of as if saying “it doesn’t matter about the world and society, what matters is God within us”. This attitude, which still prevails today, is in contrast to Paul’s eagerness to give an account of the faith that was in him and the confidence of the early Christians who knew the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, and said so, fearlessly.
As the new religion of humanism began to embrace the teachings and beliefs of Karl Marx, there developed a systematic attempt, wherever Marxism was being taught, to eradicate worship of and belief in God. Christianity had lost its cutting edge. Christians were in retreat and a kind of spiritual death began to take place. The words of Proverbs 29:18 “where there is no vision the people perish” took on a new emphasis as the spiritual life of the people became more inward looking. The new theory of evolution (1859) appeared as an almost unanswerable challenge to Christianity. The Roman Catholic declaration of the infallibility of the popes 11 years later, in 1870, (“don’t question, only believe and obey”), seemed but a reactionary response of a Church under siege, and humanism continued to flourish. In 1888, the English edition of the Manifesto of the Communist party was published in London with an introduction by Engels in which he said the Manifesto was “destined to do for history what Darwin’s theory has done for biology”, and TH Huxley coined a new word “agnostic” (ag=not, nostic=knowing) to describe his own position. The First Humanist Manifesto appeared in “The New Humanist” in 1933. It laid stress on the common ideological bond between Fabianism, Keynesianism, Marxism and Communisim. Thirty-four years later the British Humanist Association was formed. The Fabians, Bertrand Russell, the Huxleys, the Webbs and their friends had done their work well. The humanist flag was flying high.
Comparisons in the Beliefs of Christians and Humanists
“Some of the beliefs of the humanists are among the most destructive ideas being propagated and acted upon today.” (David Ehrenfeld (humanist) “The Arrogance of Humanism”.)
1(a) The Humanist Believes: God exists only in the minds of superstitious people and, while accepting the existence of Jesus as a man in history, denies His divinity. “No deity will save us: we must save ourselves” (Humanist Manifesto II). Humanists claim to be interested only in reason and realism, not in spiritual matters. Faith is “pixie-dust” (Don Cupitt, Dean of Emmanuel College, Cambridge). Any ideas of God, the soul, life after death, salvation and damnation are rejected as myths and fairy stories, props for inadequate, superstitious and ill-educated people. They believe such props should no longer be required and that education will change and improve man’s primitive nature. They see man as self-sufficient, self-actualising and self-centred – hence God-like and unlimited in potential, capable of solving all human problems through reason alone.
1(b) The Christian Believes: In the Sovereignty of God and the Lordship of Jesus Christ, His Son. That Jesus demonstrated with His life that His ministry was to fulfill the will of His Father. He believes that Christianity is not so much a system or a set of beliefs, as a relationship with Jesus Christ, its founder and that Jesus is the exclusive way through whom he can get to know God personally. G.K. Chesterton has said “when man ceases to believe in God he does not believe in nothing, he believes anything” and Christians note the spiritual vacuum in the lives of many unbelievers currently being filled by the very superstitious practices they claim to reject. Occult practices, astrology, horoscopes, witchcraft, satanism, pseudo-mystical religions and cults, fantasy stories about space and time travel abound among those who have rejected Christianity.
2(a) The Humanist Believes: Science provides the only acceptable explanation of the universe – the stars, the planets and the universe are all the results of chance (a big or little bang), that afterwards everything fell into the kind of order we see and is self-perpetuating. Man is part of an on-going process of evolution, a developing animal, with no destiny beyond this life.
2(b) The Christian Believes: The universe happened by choice not by chance and it was created by God (Gen.1:16b). He set the stars in their places and it is He who sustains their movement. There is order in the heavens because God created it so. Man, created in the image of God, has a destiny beyond this life (Gen.1 :26). “In my Father’s house are many mansions, I go to prepare a place for you”. (John 14:2-3).
3(a) The Humanist Believes: The basic unit of people is the group in which he lives, not necessarily made up of members of the same family, that man is sovereign and the source of authority is vested in the groups and ultimately with the State. He encourages the removal of distinctive roles for male and female and believes no man, woman or child should be above another. He believes there are no absolutes, truth may be manipulated to achieve a desired result, that it is the right of each individual to decide on such matters as suicide, abortion and euthanasia. He believes in complete sexual freedom between consenting individuals, regardless of age, including pre-marital sex, homosexuality and other deviate sexual behaviour. He rejects all forms of traditional authority, denying any “God-given” law, as man can find all the answers he needs for himself and s6 do all the things he wants. Judges 17:6 reminds us when God was rejected as King, everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
3(b) The Christian Believes: The basic unit of people is the family, which then relates to the wider family, i.e. “The Body”, that “God is the Father after which every family on earth is named” and that God made men and women to fulfill distinct roles in society. He believes those in authority are accountable to God for the way in which they lead. To the Christian, all life is God-given and therefore sacred. He believes that God’s Word does not offer theories or suggestions, but absolutes. In other words, the Source of Authority for Christians is God and His Word, the Bible. (Col.1:10,18; 1 Cor.15:34)
4(a) The Humanist Believes: That individual man has the nobility and dignity in his own right and inhabits a completely man-centred world. His life revolves round fulfilling his own needs and those of his fellow men. He believes that man has an unlimited ability to better his own life and the lives of those around him by education and application. The four pillars of humanistic belief are Reason, Progress, Science as a guide to human progress and his own Self-sufficiency. The humanist has complete faith in his own ability to control his environment through science, technology, sociology, economics and politics. Religion is only accepted as a means to a more fulfilled life -“religion should help each of us to become the selves we can become” (Don Cupitt, Cambridge). He thus feels free to make his own laws and by his own drive and self-sufficiency to create a society whose aim is the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of people. He believes in situation ethics, i.e. that the morality of any act or situation is conditional upon the need of the moment, thus in some instances, he would argue, it could be right to kill or steal, to commit adultery or sodomy. He also believes that human defects will be corrected by changing the environment. Thus, the criminal is often seen as the victim since (it is argued) society bears the responsibility for forcing him into his criminal behaviour.
4(b) The Christian Believes: It is God’s world. The more he discovers, the more he realises there is to discover. This humbles him and he accepts that man-sized minds cannot hope to comprehend God-size concepts. To the Christian it is not a question of what he can do for God (or his fellow men), but what God has done for him, and he delights in and seeks to obey God’s law. While wishing to think the best of his fellow men, he knows that all fall short of the standards set by God in the Bible. He doesn’t rely on education or environment to eradicate crime, asking “are there no well-educated or well-housed criminals?” His freedom is in God and in living within the limits set by God, and he utterly refutes the humanistic premise that no limits should be set on man at all.
5(a) The Humanist Believes That ultimate power and authority rest in the State, that the State should be responsible for providing all the needs. He discourages any kind of national patriotism, believing that all should strive towards a socialistic, one-world government, ultimately with world citizenship for all. His own personal happiness lies in his own fulfilment and in serving his fellow-men and the State in its inevitable move towards membership of a world community in which all nationalism is discarded and the world resources and their use is planned globally.
5(b) The Christian Believes: That his goal in life is to serve God faithfully and that true happiness is to be found in the fulfilment, joy and peace of mind that loving and obeying God brings. He believes that “the most urgent need for secular man today is to hear the authentic Word of God” (Clifford Hill), and that the authentic Word of God is to be found in the Bible.
How it Affects us
“The fool says in his heart “There is no God”. They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds.” (Psalm 14:1)
We are living at a critical time in world history, witnessing a battle for the minds and souls of all people. Christianity is joined in battle with Secular Humanism and there is no middle ground. Howard Carter gave early warning when he told us: “The major political confrontation in the ‘80s will not be between liberals and conservatives, socialists and anti-socialists, but between Christianity and humanism. It will be war to the death and everything will be done to disguise from Christians the reality of the battle, so at the time when it really matters, they will halt between two opinions.”
We have seen this come to pass as the Church, once again weakened and preoccupied by involvement in the politics of the day, has proved no match for the humanists. Indeed, the most significant feature of British life in the last two generations has been the take-over by humanists in major areas affecting communication, education and family life, and the retreat of Christians. No other nation, save perhaps Israel itself, has so rich a heritage as Great Britain – culturally, geographically and historically, and most important of all, having the Bible freely available to all in the language of the ordinary people, and yet the takeover, when it came, was achieved by a small, unrepresentative group of men. In 1933 only 34 men drew up and signed the original Humanist Manifesto, and most of their names are now largely forgotten. The British Humanist Association was registered in 1967. It’s numbers have rarely exceeded 3000, yet this small group of influential people has wielded an influence out of all proportion to it’s size. Their strong conviction that they are able to identify what is “best” for humanity and their strong determination to implement their ideas have been the driving force behind the many disastrous fundamental “reforms” of recent years.
The second Humanist Masnifesto was published in 1973. This was bolder and gave more explicit details of the intention to promote a programme for fundamental change, primarily through education, the media and legislation, and the two prime targets were to be the Church and the family.
Aims and Achievements
Aims: “Parents will naturally tend to prejudice their children in favour of their own beliefs; the school must redress the balance by making other views known.. The legal requirement for an act of worship each day should be ended and the school assembly used in a way which will involve all children. We are concerned at the continuing existence of denominational schools and at the misguided attempts of minority groups to increase their number.” (British Humanist Association General Statement of Policy.)
The aim was to gain control of universities, teacher training institutions and schools and to oppose all RE teaching and prayer in schools, changing the name and character of RE to “Education in Stances for Living”. Ultimately, the aim is to establish an intellectual elite, a small number who will exercise great influence in key areas, promoting a reason-based ethic in politics, medicine, science, psychology and education, as opposed to a Bible-based ethic.
Achievements: Schools have long been major targets for humanistic ideas. “Self expression” has taken the place of wise guidance and children are no longer taught the riches of their Christian heritage. Many teachers are neither equipped nor qualified to teach RE and it remains to be seen whether the new legislation introduced in 1989 will enable the Christian basis of education to be restored. A change in what constitutes RE has been brought about. Teachers ill-equipped to teach Biblical Christianity prefer instead to teach what is now called “belief systems” and such teachers insist on their “right” to “correct” the beliefs pupils may have learned at home and in church. Such teachers have not succeeded in teaching any effective moral behaviour to replace what they have sought to destroy. RE courses can include occultism, pagan religions, anti-Christian philosophies and atheism. Parents who have objected have been accused of “fundamentalism”. Dr. Harry Stopes-Roe has admitted “In the past, we helped to erode the religious foundations of beliefs, attitudes and morality.. but it has been accompanied by the rapid expansion of exploitative and destructive attitudes and values.” Dame Mary Warnock summed up the situation created by humanistic teaching in schools in her 1985 Dimbleby lecture when she said “there is hardly a family in the land without it’s own personal horror story concerning the education of our children.”
Aims: “We affirm that moral values derive their source from human experience. Ethics is autonomous and situational, needing no theological or ideological sanction. In the area of sexuality, we believe that intolerant attitudes, often cultivated by orthodox religions and puritanical cultures, unduly repress sexual conduct. The right to birth control, abortion and divorce should be recognized.” (Humanist Manifesto 111973.)
Achievements: Nowhere has the destructive influence of secular humanism been more evident than in the family. Since 1957 the biblical absolutes on which British Common Law was based have been eroded to an extent that the family is no longer protected by law. The peak time for humanist legislation was in the ‘60s, when some of the most fundamental Christian principles in our law were changed. The practice of witchcraft is no longer prohibited, the publication of pornographic material is permitted, and it’s representation on the stage. The death penalty for murder has been abolished. The protection of the law has been removed from the unborn child and abortion condoned even for young girls against their parents’ wishes. There is no doubt that some in the “helping professions” would, with political support, extend the power of the courts to protect children from parents whose religious and moral beliefs are deemed to be imbalanced. This would include parents whose beliefs are based on the literal truth of the Bible. Homosexuality has been legalised. The new divorce laws have removed the need to prove moral fault and easy divorce has resulted in one in three marriages breaking down. There has also been a subtle change in attitudes to parental responsibility in that if a parent abandons a family, it is now assumed his/her “need” outweighs responsibility to the family.
The family, which is the basic core unit in every society, is being broken down, and the extended family, which traditionally has respect for and cares for old people, has been largely eroded. The pleasures and rewards which used to be enjoyed by the elderly as, surrounded by family, they passed on family traditions and history to the younger generation, are now mostly gone. Today’s grandparents can end their days sitting silently side by side in a communal room with others of their own generation, gazing at a television set, while their grandchildren are being taught practices which are destructive to family life by humanistic teachers.
Death is no longer accepted as a natural fact of family life but has to be postponed as long as possible, the physical processes of aging brought under control by plastic surgery and drugs. The simplicity and purity of God’s ways have been complicated and contaminated at the other end of the scale. Sperm banks have been established so students can donate their sperm and a woman, unknown to them, can have her child “fathered” by a man in the top intellectual 2.5% – a strange way to teach young men the responsibilities of fatherhood. Test tube babies, surrogate motherhood, the possibility of male “mothers”, cloning, gene transfer to improve stock by eradicating “harmful” genes and introducing “beneficial” ones, are all part of the vocabulary surrounding today’s family life.
The Humanist Manifesto II referred to the absolutes God has laid down for the protection of family life as “intolerant attitudes, often cultivated by orthodox religions and puritanical cultures”, but they have been a means of protecting the family for thousands of years, guaranteeing stability and security. Today, uncertainty and insecurity have become the norm in many families. Unloved, unwanted children run away from homes which have become unbearable, to live on the streets. Mental illness, suicide, alcoholism, drug addiction, child abuse and occultism increase. Dr. Harry Stopes-Roe got it right when he said the acievements of the secular humanists had “been accompanied by the rapid expansion of exploitative and destructive attitudes and values.” The family has been the chief victim.
Science and Medicine
Aims: “Science will be the ultimate provider for all mankind. Genetic engineering will provide a more uniform, manageable population.” “Since science offers us total mastery over our environment, we should behave like gods.” (Dr. Edmund Leach, Cambridge.)
Acievements: The Hippocratic Oath, which has been an effective guideline for generations of medical students and graduates, seems now to belong to a former age and is no longer effective. Scientists have succeeded in inserting human tissue into the already fertilised egg of an animal and a new life form has been created. A flock of sheep now exists which contains living human tissue. Protein produced from them can be used to treat haemophiliacs. In July 1988, a team of researchers took the first steps towards the creation of a radical new medical treatment when they asked permission to carry out the genetic alteration of a human being. Scientists have been quietly but openly pursuing such a momentous goal for several years. Now, they believe they are almost there. The process might one day eradicate a whole class of ailments, such as diabetes, heart disease and various cancers. There is grave concern that the research might not stop there but go on to shape and mould people as is thought fit.
The Rev. Dr. Nigel Cameron, writing in “Ethics and Medicine” (4.2) said “The science fiction fantasy of banks of foetuses maturing in laboratories, whether the fruit of abortion or ectogenesis, need not be fantasy for long.” And he asks, “If other methods come to be used, such as hysterectomy, in which the foetus is delivered alive, when is the transplant team to be allowed access? Who will speak for the donor and ensure that death has been supervened before harvesting begins?”
The question to ask is “Who will speak for God? When will Church leaders address themselves again to the proclamation and teaching of the Word and His ways?”
Aims: Humanists believe in universal human rights and in the elimination of all discriminations based on race, religion, sex, age or national origin. They also believe that man must move towards a world community in which all nationalism is discarded. “This World Plan includes a World Organisation, a World Economy, a new World Religion.” (“When Humanity Comes of Age”.)
Achievements: King Alfred the Great established the Law of England and firmly based it on the Ten Commandments, saying “There is only one way to build any kingdom and that is on the sure foundation of faith in Jesus Christ, and it is on that foundation I intend to build my kingdom.” And so it has been for 1100 years, until now. In the last 40 years, the biblical absolutes which were the foundation of British Law have been regrafted from the old Judeo-Christian root onto the new root of humanism.
The Threat to Christianity Today from Secular Humanism
“It is not what we have discovered in these moments when God has allowed new Enlightenment, but how we are applying our new knowledge which is destroying us.” (Alexander Solzhenitsyn.)
Secular Humanists have not yet understood the serpent was lying when he said “You shall be as gods”. Instead, they have taken the promise of the serpent literally, proclaimed themselves all-powerful, all-mighty and decided God has become no more than an interesting possibility. They have also subjected the Word of God to a clinical examination and pronounced it in need of re-defining.
A very small number of influential secular humanists in the West succeeded in introducing their new humanist teaching into the teacher-training colleges and universities, and in a very short space of time largely replaced the Christian teaching which had been the foundation of Western education with a new faith. They called it “the religion of humanity”. In a similar way, a very small, unrepresentative group of theologians and senior clergy, committed to defend what had been entrusted to them, chose instead to join the attack and opened wide their church doors to the new ideas and to a people singularly unprepared to receive them. The confusion which has brought such chaos to both family and classroom has now also been introduced into the pews. It is worth noting that humanism has always flourished when the knowledge and study of the Scriptures among ordinary people has been at a low ebb, and one has to say the greatest threat to Christianity today is not to be found in secular humanism, but in the lack of Biblical teaching and the weakness of the Church to lead and to raise it’s voice in protest.
The majority of church members have very little idea how much the churches themselves have now become vehicles for teaching the new secular form of Christianity. Often, seminary professors are more concerned with the current teaching on “advanced” theology than on the authority of the Bible, and many Sunday sermons today reflect what the preacher has learned in seminary, or read in current books on theology. Thus, many churches have become the principal agencies for the secular gospel, for example – “Reconciliation and everyday service to our fellow men have priority over our service to God” (Hans Kung).
When the source of authority is no longer God’s Word, but man’s need, the sense of God’s presence departs and heresy always results. Never, before today, have Christian leaders – men who would have been required to affirm their faith on appointment – been so willing, publicly, to deny the great fundamental truths of their faith, (the virgin birth, the deity of Jesus and His atoning death, the resurrection, etc.). Never, before today, could church leaders have declared their belief that Jesus was probably a homosexual and got a way with it, or give the blessing of the Church to same-sex unions, hold multi-faith services praising a variety of “gods” in a Christian cathedral, describe Christian faith as “so much pixie dust” or publicly deny the authority of Scripture. Never before today have so many heresies been apparent in the Church.
No single humanist group speaks for the secular church in it’s entirety. It works through a network of variable heresies, yet to Christians, whose faith is based on biblical teaching, the secular influence on Christianity today is easily recognisable. The prime heresy which is common to all is the removal of Jesus Christ from the central place given to Him by God, and his relegation to become just a figure in history, a world teacher or a political revolutionary.
The denial of the authority of Scripture with its biblical principles and moral absolutes is based on the work of a number of Western theologians “gifted” in Biblical criticism (Bultman, Barth, Tillich, Schiller, Kung), who teach there is a new interpretation of what it means to be a Christian, that the Bible was written for a specific people at a specific time in history and there is now a new way of understanding Scripture. They teach that the future will be shaped by the actions of man rather than by the sovereignty of God. God is no longer in charge. The new Liberal Theology they present is redefined for today’s needs and it is based on Marxist principles.
Religion is there to serve mankind! “Religion should help each of us to become the selves we can become.” (Don Cupitt, Cambridge). Increasingly, church leaders are not willing to embrace the social gospel and trust in the basic goodness of man. Sin is dealt with as cause and effect and there is no such thing as right or wrong, everything is relative.
Some preach that we can now discover God “within us”. WE have become the law and Scripture has authority only as the community desires and gives it. Authority no longer rests with God “All human institutions exist for man and a radical change in the way the world is organized is imperative. The future lies with socialism (Humanist Manifesto 2).
Liberal theology puts man’s needs central and welfare programmes, human rights campaigns, feeding the poor, caring for the sick, righting the wrong thus becomes the central focus, an end in themselves. Christianity is then seen only as a means of providing a moral framework to society. It makes the message of Christ serve humanity. The World Council of Churches adopted Liberal Theology in 1972.
The cult of prosperity among some believers today is very much a part of the humanist gospel – that which expects God to provide for all our needs. Briefly it says “serve God and you can expect health and wealth – to be in poverty or ill health is to be outside God’s intention for you.” It is a form of Christianity which makes God obligated to provide for ME in the way that I want, and promises are taken from the Bible, out of context, to persuade him to do so.
The New Age teaching follows guidelines which originally appeared in Humanist Manifesto 2 – “Man must move towards a world community in which all nationalism is discarded and world resources and their use is planned globally.” This is now translated as “All is One”, “There are many ways to God”, “There is something of God in all religions”, “We must encourage inter-faith dialogue and strive for unity with all believers in order to present a more attractive face to the world”, “Inter-faith worship will lead to a world-wide ecumenical Church, one world Government and peace”. That is their goal. It is humanistic pure and simple.
There is an absence of sound Scriptural teaching today in the Church and in school. Discussion and the mutual exchange of ideas often take the place of ordered Bible teaching. People are not only no longer heeding what the Bible says, they are no longer told what the Bible says, and therefore they have little defence against what the Bible has so clearly warned about “…we grope like those who have no eyes; we stumble at noon as in the twilight…truth is lacking” (Isaiah 59:10).
The Jesuit theologian Henri DeLubac showed in his book “The Drama of Atheist Humanism” that every humanist system in the end must fail, that there is a major and inevitable gulf between what it promises and what it is able to fulfill. Humanism promises total freedom, but man can exercise freedom only in fulfilment of the commands of his Creator, and since man was created by an all-wise and all-loving God, he can only function properly in loving obedience to his Creator’s will. His obvious failure to function under secular humanism has resulted in a form of Christianity without Christ, and therefore confusion; a lack of fear of God and a sense of God’s “otherness” and holiness; a lack of confidence and boldness for witnessing; clergy who devote most of their energies not to conversion of non-believers, but to improving society; a lack of faith for the miraculous and disunity in the Church.
“Do not be afraid, but speak out and do not be silent” (Acts 18:9).
The Christian Response
“The most urgent need of secular man today is to hear the authentic Word of God.” (Clifford Hill)
Matthew 24:11 warns “And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.” Faced with the new teachings of the Western theologians and the influence this had on the growth of humanism in the Church, Christians have been in retreat. Lacking the confidence to stand up like Paul and the early Christians and give an account of the faith that is within them, they have withdrawn from the conflict, as they did in the 17th and 18th centuries, and allowed humanistic attitudes to erode every aspect of society. Humanists say that Christianity is merely a crutch for the weak, for those that dare not think. Michael Green, in his preface to David Cook’s “Blind Alley Beliefs” says “Today, in many circles, it is a matter of your faith or your intellect.” Like ostriches, we have preferred not to look, not to acknowledge what is happening.
It is interesting that whereas God brings order out of chaos, when man tries to play God, the result is always chaos and confusion. Christians will continue to retreat before the chaos until they begin to understand and face what is being said, understand reasons behind these beliefs knowing the truth, exercise minds God has given them stand up and proclaim Christian response. There absolutely no need to fear the “Enlightenment” or the discoveries which seem to shaking so many.
Scientists only discover what is already in existence. What is to be feared is the application of the new discoveries.
Might we not learn a lesson from the past when previous “flowerings” or “forward leaps” have taken place? Then the dangers came not from the new discoveries themselves but from the lack of knowledge of God’s Word to His world and the consequent inability and unpreparedness of people to respond wisely and with humility to each new revelation. Should not humility and wonder before every continuing revelation of God’s creative power be our response? Not fear and an ostrich-like retreat from what Solzhenitsyn calls “the New Enlightenment”. As David Cook (Lecturer in Ethics and Philosophy at Oxford, and Head of Theology at Westminster College, Oxford) has said, “We don’t need to be afraid of beliefs that lead people up blind alleys. We must show them for what they are, misleading and wrong… Christians are being blamed by humanists for much that has gone wrong… It’s time for Christians to speak out.”
Schaeffer has also warned us “Secular humanism will win if Christians are not prepared to stand up and be counted.” The first Christians were noted for their humility before God and for the boldness and skill with which they were prepared to witness to unbelievers in the things that mattered. Has not the time come when we should cease withdrawing, take our heads out of the sand, face what is happening and challenge the humanists on their own ground, declaring the faith that is in us and witnessing to our own experience? The first disciples did not wait to be led by the Church leaders of their day, and we are surely answerable to God if we do not do the same. It is surely not difficult, for all around us we witness the weakness and the failure of the humanists’ cause. This should not, of course, be done on the grounds that the Faith we have is the answer to man’s needs, for this would just be another form of humanism – making God obligated to meet OUR needs – but on the grounds that it is the truth and it is God’s due. It is HIS world.
Satan masquerades as an angel of light but those who keep close to God will not be deceived. Mature Christians are those who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish between good and evil (Heb.5:14), and they will know what to do.
(Reprinted from Tishrei Vol 4 No 1, Humanism, Winter 1995)