It is not surprising that in these perilous last days the lives of men and women are being governed by their own intrinsic thoughts and lusts. The apostle Peter in his final epistle warned us that in the last days there would come scoffers, “walking after their own lusts”, who would deny the Creator and His control and direction of human affairs. It is thus little wonder that such influences have left their mark on the thinking and values of believers in these last days. Humanism, alias the worship of the human mind and its lusts, is the greatest challenge to and the exact antithesis of the Truth, as it is in Christ. Having dethroned the Creator and spurned His Word, the only alternative source of “enlightenment” is the human mind. The developing chaos in a society governed by human thinking unrefined by the Word of God, is witness enough that “it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jer 10:23).

What are some of the ways in which Humanism is insidiously infiltrating ecclesial life?

Moral Standards Questioned

 In every way the teachings of Christ are under challenge. The ready acceptance by the world, and many churches, of divorce, homosexuality and other aberrant lifestyles can rub off upon us so that we no longer have the revulsion of earlier generations for these practices (cp Lot, 2 Peter 2:7–8).

Living the “Good Life” Now

 Servants of Christ are called upon to follow the pattern of their Lord’s life of present sacrifice and service for others. In earlier times there was persecution and death for those who professed to be followers of Christ. They were sustained by the promise of eternal life and glory when the Lord would return to establish the Kingdom.

Because Humanism has no future beyond the grave, there is emphasis upon present fulfilment and hedonism. Because this is so palatable to the flesh there is the danger that we might be attracted to such a life of self-indulgence. Remember that our Lord said: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” (Matt 16:24–25).

Wanting Change for Change’s Sake

 We live in a world dominated by computers, technology and information in which the “impossible” is now possible, total knowledge is doubling every few years and constant change is the order of the day. This presents the disciple with a challenge. Is the Truth of the Gospel and the Word of God to undergo similar revision and change? Are there such things as absolutes? Can the teaching of the Master be improved upon?

We believe not. Christ is the ultimate expression of wisdom, his teaching is beyond revision and absolute, and the Word of God has been written under the inspiration of the Creator, Who is all-wise and all-knowing.

Let us remember that “unto them which are called” Christ is “the power of God, and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor 1:24). “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power” (Col 2:9–10).

Selfishness and Lack of Manners

 Humanism exalts what is good for self. One’s own rights are to be protected at all costs to ensure life is good. Sacrifice of self and consideration for others is inimical to self-satisfaction and enjoyment. We may be deceived by the constant emphasis upon these values to subconsciously accept them as right. The result will be that we will become self-centred, narrow, and have no thought or care for the needs of others. If we care for others’ feelings we will have good manners: if we think only of self we will have bad manners. As disciples of Christ we must learn to serve others and endeavour to provide for their needs, both spiritual and physical.

The daily reading of the Scripture and the teachings of Christ will help to keep our focus upon God’s will and the Truth: “Whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister….. For even the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:43–45).

Disinterest in Scripture and Personal Bible Studies

 Where the intelligence and ingenuity of the human mind is the ultimate authority and the decider of what is best for man, the Word of God loses its unique place as the source of light and truth. We have to maintain our conviction in the inspiration of Scripture and study it. It alone is able to make us wise unto salvation through Jesus Christ.

Let us keep close to God through the medium He has recorded and preserved for us through the centuries of time. So the experience of the Psalmist may then be ours when he said:

  • “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psa 119:105)
  • “Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counsellors” (Psa 119:24)
  • “Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation” (Psa 119: 98, 99)

As fleshly values and philosophies are all pervasive in this world we have to be on our guard to ensure that we are not conditioned to accept them and hence be compromised. Closeness to the Word through daily reading of it confirms its Divine origin and value.

Acceptance of Bad Behaviour Amongst the Young

 As this world promotes the rights of the individual and does not inculcate thoughtfulness and consideration for others (as did the Lord when he taught us to “do unto others as we would have them do unto us”) the outworking can be seen at times in the young in the ecclesia. We, as parents, must not passively accept such behaviour. It is un-Christlike and will not prepare our children for service, discipleship and the Kingdom. It is sometimes difficult to stand up to what has become the “norm” in the world. The end result, however, will be disastrous if we do not. Let us see that our children are courteous and let us teach them to think of the needs of others, and to do their share of duties in the home. So might we prepare them to become useful vessels for the Master.

“Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am Yahweh” (Lev 19:32).

Failure of Brethren to Take the Lead in Spiritual Things

 Sometimes older brethren are made to feel as though they are not up with this modern world and that therefore their experiences and wisdom are of little value or significance. This should never be allowed to happen. Older brethren who have passed through life’s experiences are wiser, knowing the pitfalls of life. There is no alternative to experience as a teacher, and the young should listen to the instruction and wisdom of those who are of more mature years. Like the priests in Israel the lips of brethren should keep knowledge, and they should “seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of Yahweh of Hosts” (Mal 2:7). Brethren should not abdicate their position as fathers and instructors of their households and the household of God, the ecclesia. They should so organise their lives that time is provided for prayer and the reading of the Word with the family. By this means only will the pernicious influences of Humanism be kept at bay. By this means the fear of the Lord is taught and faith toward Him developed. Without faith there can be no effective barrier to ward off the deceptive philosophies and ideas of a world which knows not God.

Subtle Effects of Feminism

 The push for “equality” between the sexes has brought about changes in all aspects of human society. Whilst there have undoubtedly been injustices and inequities born of male dominance and the abuse of power, it would appear that the pendulum in some respects has swung the other way today. This has resulted in male backlash, divisiveness, and sometimes hostility between men and women which is disastrous in its outworkings.

Scriptural Teaching

 The teaching of the Father presented in His Word should be our arbiter and guide. We should resist practices which are at variance with it. In the first place Eve was made as an “help meet” for Adam. The idea was that she would be a “suitable companion” (RSV) for him in a way that none of the animals could be. She was “bone of his bones, and flesh of his flesh” (Gen 2:18, 23): with her he could communicate and there would be mutual sympathies. This did not mean that they were identical. Rather their qualities would be complementary. As Brother R Roberts expressed it in The Law of Moses, pages 218–220:

“Man is the head, but only for the nurture and protection and honour of the woman. Woman is man’s equal fellow-heir of the salvation that is offered in Christ, but not to usurp the position that belongs to the man both by natural constitution and Divine appointment. Man is for strength, judgement, and achievement. Woman is for grace, sympathy and ministration. Between them, they form a beautiful unit—‘heirs together of the grace of life’ .”

Let us focus on how feminism is affecting ecclesial life today and so some comments will be made on a number of aspects which we would all do well to consider:

Self-assertion

 Some believe that there is a greater tendency for young ladies to assert themselves and promote their positions and opinions than in former generations. This has been attributed to the influence of the Women’s Liberation Movement and Feminism. If this is so, care should be taken to see that the scriptural parameters are maintained. Ecclesias exist for the development of characters for the Father’s use and we must make sure that we adhere to His will. The teaching of Scripture is clear and consistent: “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence” (1 Tim 2:11–15). This statement is followed by the reasons, namely, that Adam was formed first, and Eve was deceived and in transgression first.

In the churches the movement for the ordination of women as priests has created dissension, division and much ill-feeling. It is but further evidence that the apostles’ teaching has no hold over the minds of many in Christendom.

Sisters and the Workplace

 There are distinct changes in the roles of women in today’s world due to the pressures of unemployment, redundancy and technological advancement. Where husbands have lost their jobs wives may have to find employment in order to make ends meet. In many cases this has resulted in women becoming the “bread winners” and husbands taking charge of household duties—a complete reversal of roles. Sometimes this situation or a variation of it is found within the ecclesia. What can be done? Where harsh economic reality makes it the case it cannot be helped, but it should not be willed or encouraged.

Single and Two-Income Families

 In the world two-income families (where divorce has not destroyed the marriage) are the “norm” and society has adjusted to this. This has serious implications for single income families as they will find it hard to meet expectations placed upon the average “normal” household. This will be especially so if there are a number of children in the single income family, as is the case in a substantial number of Christadelphian families.

How then do such families meet their commitments? They need to live within their means by having lower “material” expectations. They must prune their costs as much as possible and minimise wastage. They are spared many expenses that the world expects and deems normal, such as money spent on cigarettes, alcohol, entertainment, gambling, sport etc. Leading simple Godly lives without the need to “keep up with the Joneses” enables brethren and sisters of Christ to “make ends meet”.

Sisters with Dependent Children and Work

 Because the world’s expectations and lifestyles impact on us there is the pressure for married sisters with dependent children to work. There may be some cases where it becomes necessary for sisters in this situation to work, but generally it should be resisted, and for good reasons. Children are only young once and it is essential that time be spent with them during their formative years to develop a loving bond and to provide guidance and instruction. The greatest thing we can give to our children is a stable, Godly upbringing with the Truth as its foundation. Rather than needing material things our children need us, our time, our love. We can give them no greater things.

Dangers in the Workplace

 In the workplace married sisters are exposed to all the evil of the world. The fact that so many marriages break down means that there are many “single” people on the lookout for whoever they may entice. Sisters in this situation face a real danger and some have fallen, making shipwreck of the faith and their families. Of course it should not be overlooked that brethren, too, are exposed to these perils and there are cases where the same has tragically befallen them.

Two Incomes and Independence

 Where there are two incomes there is the question of what happens with these incomes. To preserve unity and harmony the incomes of husband and wife should be pooled for the combined good of the family. In fact income should “belong” to the husband and wife whether there are one or two incomes.

Where this is not the case and there is “your money” and “my money” this can create division and disagreement. Possessing “her own income” gives a sister greater independence and the potential to live a separate life if things “get tough”. There is less “need” to make the marriage work and to resolve differences.

In such a situation she may find it more difficult to accept the words: “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the ecclesia: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the ecclesia is subject unto Christ, so let the wives to be to their own husbands in everything” (Eph 5:22–24).

This does not mean that husbands should control the family finances and use them in a way that does not take the wife’s needs into consideration. Though the sister who performs the household duties and cares for the family does not actually bring dollars into the house, she performs a vital, complementary role—she is in partnership with her husband and he should so regard her. They are “heirs together of the grace of life” and the husband’s eternal well-being will be affected by his consideration of his wife, the “weaker vessel” (1 Pet 3:7).

Motherhood and Fulfilment

 Another phenomenon in these last perilous days is the tendency to delay and deprecate motherhood. Surely motherhood is the most honourable and rewarding of all occupations a sister could be engaged in: “Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety” (1 Tim 2:15). What an astounding inversion of values we behold in the world today! Mothers who are “keepers at home” (Titus 2:5) are made to feel as though they are of less value and that their lives are unfulfilled! Nothing could be further from the truth. The instruction of young minds under the sweet influence of a loving and godly “mother in Israel” is the greatest blessing a child can have. Let us not be hoodwinked by the spurious values of this present evil world. In the Kingdom soon to dawn, God will reverse these bizarre trends and values.

Sisters and Careers

 Because of the push for equality between the sexes in the workplace and “affirmative action” policies favouring women in order to redress the imbalance of the past (as it is said), women are being encouraged to pursue careers. Inevitably this impacts upon sisters. This is in some respects a difficult subject to be definitive about. In some cases sisters have found themselves the breadwinners because their husbands have left them. What are they to do? The other new factor in today’s world is technology. It is a fact that it is increasingly difficult to obtain employment where there has not been tertiary education. Many jobs now no longer exist, having been taken over by computers. Those who are not “computer literate” are greatly disadvantaged when it comes to employment.

What has to be borne in mind is the objective. Work and careers are not an end in themselves but a means to a greater end, namely, the bringing of glory and honour to the Name of the God of Israel. If the pursuit of careers has other objectives then the motive must be analysed and appropriate changes be made. This is a matter which each individual will have to think about for himself or herself. As a general rule one would have hoped that married sisters with children would not need to complicate their lives with a time-consuming career, with all the perils that might lie down the track. Far better is it for sisters in Christ to heed these words:

  • Teach the young women to be sober (wise), to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed” (Titus 2:4–5).
  • Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price” (1 Peter 3:3–5)

Let sisters resist worldly trends that will hinder the development of these qualities which the Lord will be looking for in the day when He makes up His jewels. Those holding the worldly values of the corrupt and ungodly last days will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

Ecclesial Harmony and Mutual Submission

 The world lays emphasis on the rights of the individual and democracy. This has meant that every man has an opinion and is encouraged to ventilate it! The result in the world has been instability, rebellion and upheaval. In some cases inequitable oppression and abuse by the affluent ruling classes has been broken. The question arises—what attitude are brethren to take in such matters?

This spirit of democracy can have its outworkings in ecclesial life. There can be an unwillingness to accept the judgment of serving brethren or even the will of the majority (the only equitable means of determining what action to take in some issues where there is no specific guidance in the Word of God). This can result in incessant rumblings and murmurings contrary to the will of God. While it is right to express our minds where we believe things are being done contrary to the Word, there is a right way of making known our views. We should approach the brother (or brethren) concerned and reason with him (or them). In most cases, where there is a spirit of quiet reasonableness in which points of view are carefully and scripturally weighed, the differences can be sorted out. In the end, however, there must be submission if our view is not generally accepted. Do not the words of Hebrews 13:7, 17, 24 and 1 Timothy 5:17 have some application today? Whilst serving brethren are not Spirit-guided, they are prayerfully appointed by the ecclesia with the directions of 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 in mind, that they might provide guidance for the ecclesia, see that things are “done decently and in order” and ensure that brethren and sisters receive a balanced diet of spiritual food, so that they might grow and develop into the fullness of Christ.

Summary

 There are many areas in which Humanism of these last godless days is impinging on us. We need to read the Word of God daily and to pray always lest we insensibly accept the world’s fleshly ideas and ways, and so perish with it when the Lord comes. This article has reviewed some of the areas where in the writer’s view danger exists and is written to alert others to the perils.