It’s the human right to give meaning to their lives and build a humane society based on human values in a spirit of reason through human capabilities.
Sounds great, right?
The underlying philosophy is ever-present in our society, and it’s the definition Humanism (my summary based on the International Humanist and Ethical Union). While there are plenty of shared morals with Christianity there also major differences. We’re now witnessing a significant worldview revolution in which the moral foundations of our culture is changing from Christianity to Humanism.
This has profound implications for the Church, all of which need to be discussed, but more than anything we need be aware that it is happening. I’m not worried by what is occurring in the world around us — the Church always thrives best on the counter-culture edge, but I am deeply worried by what is happening within us. I believe that large numbers of the Church have embraced humanism, and I fear most don’t even realize it.
Take the definition above. It sounds moral, it sounds right, but if you affirm it, then you completely undercut the Gospel. Humanism strives to live the Second Greatest Commandment while rejecting the First. Humanism begins and ends in man. It teaches that the purpose of life is to find our true selves, to live our best lives, to do what feels right, all while doing good to others. It embraces tolerance and empathy while rejecting objective morality, as long as you don’t hurt anyone else.
The differences between the Humanist and Christian ethic are both subtle and profound. Both desire to serve others. Both embrace compassion for those in need. Both desire to protect the marginalized. We agree on a lot, especially how we should relate to people. This masks the massive difference between the two competing worldviews.
Humanism rejects the Divine, believing people are born inherently good. You are welcome to have faith if it works for you, but there is no Greater Power to whom we all must give account. This philosophy is internal, being true to self, and horizontal, living a socially responsible life.
By contrast, the Christian life is vertical. We are accountable to God, independent of man, and believe that life and beauty are found in Him alone. Sin, therefore, is man’s attempt to live apart from God, and it always leads to death and destruction – both in us and in others. Christians believe that every person is born with a sinful nature. Though we may have a desire to do good, we are incapable of actually living it.
The Christian view of man’s condition is terribly depressing, but I submit that a mere cursory view of human history is even more so, and lends credence to this belief. As a result, we believe sin must be dealt with before mankind can reach its full potential. The cross and resurrection are the only doorway by which mankind truly thrives and rediscovers our true self.
For many issues, there is little obvious distinction between the competing beliefs, but I believe that is changing. Sexuality is perhaps the greatest flashpoint today, and with each successive generation, the gap between the two will continue to widen. I fear too many believers attempt to straddle the ever-growing cultural rift in order to maintain relevance on each side of the cliff. Make no mistake, you will have to choose. This is the same choice every generation has faced, just with a different context: Who is your Lord? Is it the surrounding culture? Is it you? Or is it Jesus?
Humanism is doomed to fail. It sounds good. It has the appearance of virtue, especially in the age of online philosophical warfare that prioritizes nice sounding arguments and catchy “clap backs” over real virtue lived out in real life, dealing with real people. Humanism doesn’t conquer sin and as a result cannot lead mankind into goodness.
If you embrace the right “to give meaning to your own life” then you will never “build a more humane society” because your own life is fundamentally flawed. You may desire it, you may intellectually affirm it, but you are powerless to live it. The First Commandment is first because only by embracing it do we have any hope of living the Second.
Any home builder will affirm that a solid foundation is the most important part of the house and a foundation problem will only worsen with time. Every day you wait to fix the problem will increase its cost. Start today! Stop seeking affirmation from the world and resolve to let the Word of God define your perspective.
Take a moment to examine your worldview: How much of it is rooted in humanism? How anchored are you in the Gospel?
We can no longer expect society to affirm and prop up our beliefs. Cultural Christianity is a relic of the past, and revival is now our only hope, and I think that is a wonderful place to live.