CHRISTIANITY & HUMANISM
By: Paul Anderson
Christianity Believes: Humanism Believes:
God is good Good is god
Man is not good Man is good, therefore man is god; innate goodness
We worship God We worship man: brains, bodies, brawn (Rom. 1)
God at center, man is servant Man at center, God serves us, God is in everyone
Sin is against God Sin is against man; God gets in our way
Sin leads to death. God says so. Sin can be means to good end (means become end)
The wages of sin is death The wages of sin is life, addicting people to sin
Sin is breaking the law of God Sin is hurting another; sin is ignorance
Salvation through a Man, Jesus Salvation thru man, self-improvement,knowledge
Jesus plus nothing Jesus plus whatever I add to it
Salvation means changing the heart Salvation means changing the environment
Joy through righteousness Joy through freedom, doing as we please
Optimistic about God, our hope Optimistic about man: we can do it, hope in man
Realism: see our condition, repent Blind optimism: we can change us & our world
We can’t do it but God can We can do it—and we will, and so help me God
Trusting more: believe Trying harder: behave
Relying on the Spirit Relying on self (the flesh)
Praise goes to God: humility Praise me, praise us: pride
Justified by grace through faith Justified by self; there is no grace
By grace; the mercy system By grades; the merit system
Just say yes, pictured in prodigal Just say no, pictured in elder brother
Righteousness from outside self Righteousness from within
Gospel: good news Law: good advice, rules, modify behavior
The law written on human hearts The law written in tablets, rule books, documents
Highest good: truth & righteousness Highest good: peace and unity; truth is relative
The wisdom of God—foolishness The wisdom of man—foolishness to God
Greatest sin: gods before God Greatest sin—intolerance, limiting freedom, judging
Satan: adversary of God & all good Satan in our minds only: silly imp in pajamas
Creation: In the beginning God… Evolution: no beginning; linked to animals
Matter is not eternal Matter is eternal; immortality of the soul
There is a beginning & an end No beginning and no end, glorification of matter
Judgment comes at the end No end and no judgment—and no judge; we judge
Heaven is a place We create our own heaven and hell on earth
Afterlife: we live for then No afterlife; we live on in memories; sentimentality
1. The way that we are saved is also the way that we are sanctified: by faith. Salvation is not the first step. It is the whole step. We preach the gospel to the saved.
2. What changes us? If it is effort, we are under the law. We become what we believe and what we behold. By saying ‘yes’ to God, we can say ‘no’ to the flesh.
3. Living by works encourages competition and comparison. We become score-keepers. Grace teaches us to throw away the scorecard.
4. We are not saved by works (Eph. 2:8,9), but we are saved for works (v. 10).
5. God is not opposed to effort, but He is opposed to earning. Even the effort of a Spirit-controlled Christian comes from the Spirit.
6. So does the law have a part to play? Yes. It shows us the perfection of God. It helps us receive the bad news when we are trusting ourselves. It helps us understand the ethical side to the gospel: faith without works is dead.
7. Jesus plus nothing is the gospel: “It is finished.” Jesus plus something says, “It is not finished.” We turn the good news into the bad news by adding to salvation.
8. Justification means that I have a perfect score, credited with the righteousness of God, and I don’t need any more credit. So I live “because of…,” not “…in order to.”
This song shows humanism at its worst:
Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me
Let There Be Peace on Earth, the peace that was meant to be
With God as our Father, brothers all are we
Let me walk with my brother in perfect harmony (yeh, right!)
Let peace begin with me, let this be the moment now.
With ev’ry step I take let this be my solemn vow
To take each moment and live each moment in peace eternally
Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me
Jesus told a seeker, “No one is good but God alone” (Luke 18:19)). Hebrew worshipers sang this refrain more than any other: “O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.” The Bible tirelessly attests to the goodness of God. “Good and upright is the Lord” (Psalm 25:8). In the midst of suffering, Job does not shrink from declaring God’s goodness. God’s goodness comes to us not as a theology to embrace but as a reality to experience: “O taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8). As A. W. Tozer says, “The most important thing about us is our picture of God.” Those who can declare the goodness of God despite their circumstances will walk into His goodness and in His goodness.
Satan’s consistent attack against humanity is aimed at questioning the goodness of God (Genesis 3:1-7) and exalting the goodness of man. Eve bit the lie and the world embraced a new creed: good is god. God cramps our style, demands too much, punishes our behavior, withholds in a deceptive manner, and keeps looking over our shoulders as a micromanager. We possess innate goodness—without God. Instead of going after God, we go after good—the good life, the prosperous path, the happy way.
When the first couple ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they felt capable of going after good apart from God, a dangerous alternative. To separate God from good makes goodness a god, a pursuit that natural man strives for. If good is god, and man is good, then man is god. And the Almighty just got voted out of the center of the universe. We say that man is not good, because the Bible says that. But humanists speak of the innate goodness of man. The right training will bring out the goodness, a naïve conviction.
Where badness is observed, oppressive structures that must be thrown down, even violently. So we steal, kill and destroy for supposedly good ends. The end justifies the means, but the means become the end—always. Look at any Communist dictatorship. Stalin killed sixty million people in order to create a good society. Hitler was building a utopia. He just needed to exterminate those who stood the way. Evil is excused for a good cause, but the cause never turns out good.
The Bible declares that man is sinful. The psalmist smashed every humanistic thought of goodness by declaring, “There is no one who does good ” (Psalm 14:1,3). The problem lies not with the environment outside but with the heart inside. Humanity needs a heart transplant, not a change in the climate: “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” (Jer. ). That assessment comes from the prophet who for years observed the behavior of people claiming to be worshipers of Yahweh and kept yelling, “Peace, peace,” when there was none.
Never mind that countless centuries have testified to wars, bloodshed, inhumanity at every level, and the absolute corruption of power; if we just come up with the right conditions, we will pull off this good thing. So we keep singing the happy songs, hoping that change will occur. We vote in politicians who promise the change that our hearts long for. Most of them preach a philosophy that says, “We can do it.” We’ve heard that Santa is coming to town, so “be good for goodness’ sake,” which humanity believes that it can. And if it can, no need for a Savior. Jesus is reduced to a moral teacher. He is respected but not worshiped. He is nice, but he is not the God of the universe. “Let there be peace on earth” is a phantom dream that comes only when the Prince of Peace returns.
The Bible warns us against putting our trust in anyone but God: “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man (Psalm 118:8). Blind optimism looks for human heroes and puts hope in what humanity can do, while realism looks at the work of one Man on the cross and embraces what humanism calls foolishness. But it is God at His strongest. While rationalists say, “We can do it and we will,” Christians trust in God and God alone. It is not good news to tell someone who has already destroyed his family, his work, and his future, “You can do it; try a little harder.” Nor is it good to to tell a teen hooked on drugs, “Just say no.” It is good news to tell him that God can forgive him, rescue him from his mess, give him a new life, and overturn bad with good.
Breaking the first commandment to have no gods before the true God means that all the others will be broken. When man is enthroned as god, anything goes, and it goes fast. The greatest sin in such a religious climate is taking away their freedom by telling them that God is a judge, not just a Father. Then the intolerance of this so-called tolerant bunch kicks in, rearing its ugly head. The psalmist shows kings crying out for freedom: “Let us break their chains and throw off their fetters” (Psalm 2:3).
Jesus never cried for freedom. He chose only to do the will of His Father. Like Jesus, His followers find true freedom in giving up theirs and going low as servants, not in doing what they want but what God wants. They find joy by choosing righteousness over pleasure and holiness over happiness, while humanists set personal joy as their highest goal, and even sin can serve their purpose if it doesn’t hurt others.
Sin is not an offense against God according to humanists, because they make god in their image. Progress that comes through knowledge eradicates sin little by little. So just as we are evolving into a stronger species, society is evolving through technology, which obliterates ignorance, the greatest sin of humanists. So poverty, AIDS, war and famine should be eliminated. How are we doing so far? Humanism often sounds more positive than Christianity; it just can’t change anyone or anything!
Satan doesn’t exist to natural man. If we can’t see him, he isn’t real. Satan is a concept that we have created in our minds to explain evil. We see evil all around us in oppression, intolerance, and prejudice. We must rid society of these evils in order for all humanity to live together peaceably. If it takes violence to make room for good, bring it on. The Bible, however, personalizes evil in a fallen angel called Satan, who with his host of darkness, seek to undermine the work of God through deception, accusation, and intimidation. Those who don’t believe in him are duped participants in his plan.
The Gospel declares that God can do what we cannot do. It comes as good news to people in a bad way. Humanists have no good news, only good advice: “try harder, improve yourself, change, live in peace.” It is the law revisited—external demand without internal supply. The grace that comes in the Gospel not only forgives but empowers us to change. Theologians call it an alien righteousness, because it is not constructed by our goodness but by the goodness of God.
The first words of the Bible tell us that God is eternal, matter is not. If it had a beginning, it has an end. Christians believe in a God who created the world, judged it with a flood in the time of Noah, and will judge it again when Christ returns the second time. “It is appointed to man once to die, and after that the judgment.” We are accountable to God for how we live. We are mortal, subject to death and decay. We only live together with God as we embrace the cross of Jesus Christ, who defeated death by His death and brings life to those who trust in Him. This also frees us from the wrath of God at the end of the age.
If man is good and matter is eternal, we are not subject to any judgment. We are free to live our lives according to our own precepts. Truth and goodness are whatever we say they are, not what God says they are. We create our own heaven and hell; they don’t exist outside our minds.
It is not that humanity knows too little and just need to be educated, which is humanity’s cosmic solution. It is receiving what it knows: “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness” (Romans 1:18). They prefer to do as they please to knowing and doing what is right. They have made a choice for pleasure over knowledge. “Although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles” (Romans 1:21,22). And these are the people that humanity puts its trust in. They don’t need more information; they need more obedience.
“They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised” (v.25). “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20). The prodigal was right on when he confessed, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you” (Luke 15:18). He called evil what it was and was restored to his father.
The psalmist envied the wicked until he perceived their end. Wise people work from the end back, from the ultimate to the immediate. The wicked live for the present, because that is all they have. “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” (I Corinthians 15:32). Knowledge of the future puts a restraint on today. If we see no end in sight, we live as if we will go on forever. A cyclical view of history condemns us. A Hebrew view says that history is going somewhere and calls us to account for the way we live. ”There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12). People would do right to ask, “Where is this leading? What road is this action taking me on? Will it dead-end somewhere?” Those who don’t see the end don’t care: “Without vision, people cast off restraint.” God spoke through the prophet, “I make known the end from the beginning” (Isaiah 46:10).
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty’” (Revelation 1:8), giving us a clue to history and destiny. God and God alone is eternal. He was before the beginning and He is after the end. He marks out history. Matter was called into being by the eternal God. When God says, “Lights out,” history is over. Period.
The God who created the world will one day bring the universe to a finish, and humanity who believed it was not subject to God will find out differently. Following the judgment of humankind, the unredeemed will join the devil and his angels for an eternity cut off from anything good. The redeemed will enjoy an eternity of bliss, proving the faithfulness of God, who promised it and makes good on His promise. It will take an eternity to begin to appreciate how good God is.
The question of the ages is: Who will be worshiped? Satan presents his own Christ, called in the Bible the antichrist, while heaven offers the Lamb of God as the only worthy object of our worship. Those who choose the beast must share his destiny in the lake of fire. Those who worship heaven’s choice enjoy His presence for the ongoing ages.