We often hear many warnings about the dangers of Humanism without really stopping to think what they might be and appreciating how much they are subconsciously shaping our world and even making an impact upon our walk in Christ. The foundations of Humanism can be outlined as follows :

  • Man is not natively depraved
  • The end of life is life itself, the good life on earth instead of the beatific life after death
  • Man is capable, guided solely by the light of reason and experience, of perfecting the good life on earth
  • The first and essential condition of the good life on earth is the freeing of men’s minds from the bonds of ignorance and superstition, and their bodies from the arbitrary oppression of the constituted social authorities

(The Heavenly City of the 18th Century Philosophers, page 102)

And again:

“Humanism is the effort of men to think, feel and to act for themselves, and to abide by the logic of results. In each case a new method is suddenly apprehended, tested and carried firmly to its conclusion. Authority, habit, orthodoxy are disregarded or defied. The argument is pragmatic, realistic, human. The question, ‘Has this new thing a value?’ is decided directly by the individual in the court of his experience; and there is no appeal. That is good which is seen to satisfy the human test and to have brought an enlargement of human power.”

(The Architecture of Humanism, Geoffrey Scott, page 191)

Humanism is a man-centred philosophy that comes into direct conflict with the Scriptures. Here are some examples:

 Humanism and Faith

 “A humanist is more than just an unbeliever. The consequences of his unbelief are that man is alone in the universe, without God and without an after-life; that if man is to survive he not only can, but must, accept responsibility for his own destiny; and that only by making full use of the arts and sciences, of the genius of individuals, and of the best resources of social co-operation, can man hope to overcome the evils of ignorance, poverty and disease and the hazards of war and the population explosion. If a humanist is prepared to shoulder the consequences of his unbelief, he becomes personally committed to the solution of the problems of mankind.”

(A Humanist View, Ian Edwards, chapters XIV, XV)

Humanism and the Individual

 “The preciousness and dignity of the individual person is a central humanist value. Individuals should be encouraged to realise their own creative talents. We reject all religious, ideological, or moral codes that denigrate the individual, suppress freedom, dull intellect, dehumanize personality. We believe in maximum individual autonomy consonant with social responsibility. Although science can account for the causes of behaviour, the possibilities of individual freedom of choice exist in human life and should be increased.”

(Humanist Manifesto II, as expressed in the Australian Humanist, Dec 1973)

Humanism and Ethics

 “We affirm that moral values derive their source from human experience. Ethics are autonomous and situational, needing no theological or ideological sanction. Ethics stem from human need and interest.”

(Humanist Manifesto II, as expressed in the Australian Humanist, Dec 1973)

Humanism and Christ

 “Now Christ as a human personality is an enigma, but as a standard and pattern there is no doubt or obscurity about him: he is the archetype of unqualified submission and obedience to the will of God, the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob. It is impossible to follow Christ on any other terms and the humanist finds acceptance of such terms a violation of himself and his whole experience. His rejection of Christ is therefore categorical: he can do no other. There is no supreme exemplar of humanist ethics, because on humanist assumptions, there is no summum bonum, no chief end of all action, no far-off crowning event to which all things exist. Thus there are many patterns of good living, which can be exemplified and none that is best or comprehensively or exhaustively good.”

(H J Blackham, Director of British Humanist Association)

Humanism and Moral Conduct

 “In the areas 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 recognised.

“While we do not approve of exploitive, degrading forms of sexual expression, neither do we wish to prohibit, by law or social sanction, sexual behaviour between consenting adults. The many varieties of sexual exploration should not in themselves be considered ‘evil’.

“Without countenancing mindless permissiveness or unbridled promiscuity, a civilised society should be a tolerant one. Short of harming others or compelling them to do likewise, individuals should be permitted to express their sexual proclivities and pursue their life-styles as they desire.”

(Humanist Manifesto II, as expressed in the Australian Humanist, Dec 1973)

In summary, Humanism teaches that:

  • man is basically good
  • there is no future hope or accountability; therefore live the good life now
  • religion is irrelevant, illusory and harmful
  • all moral opinions are of equal value
  • there is no absolute moral authority because morality is situational
  • human experience, intelligence and reason are the arbiters of right and wrong
  • the individual is the centre of all importance
  • man should not be restricted in any way
  • submission to the will of God is unacceptable
  • thoughts and actions are not to be determined by any organisation or authority

The Real Impact on Society

 Today’s society reels under the onslaught of humanistic philosophy. In the educational sphere curriculum changes now include subjects like Social Skills where students have to decide on cases involving dubious moral values; Health and Safety where explicit sex education is taught and so-called life skills are promulgated encouraging children to become independent of their parents; and finally Family Studies where feminism is openly taught.

In the workplace Equal Opportunity legislation, Social Justice legislation, Anti-Discrimination legislation have all combined to promote self-assertion and the exercise of rights and self-worth. People’s evil lifestyles, clearly condemned by Scripture, are held up as a minority viewpoint that must be respected.

On the home front, Family Law has been so “reformed” to enshrine humanist philosophy that there is now no reflection of those principles of marriage which Yahweh enshrined in the beginning when He formed woman as a help meet for man.

In society in general, teenagers are targeted by unscrupulous advertisers seeking to win a greater share of their ever-increasing disposable income; roles between male and female are becoming more blurred; family values are under threat as divorce rates increase and children are abused; good morals are derided and ignored; and the church actively derides the veracity and authority of the Scriptures.

Contrasting Biblical Principles

We need to firmly fix in our mind the absolute authority and truth of the Scriptures which stand in total contrast to the humanistic teachings listed above. The Bible teaches that:

  • man is inherently prone to sin
  • living the good life now is condemned by God. We will be held accountable for our actions
  • an understanding and belief of the gospel combined with faithful obedience is the only path to salvation
  • moral values are outlined in the commandments of Christ and are absolute because they are an expression of the very character of God Himself
  • the Bible is the only source of authority in matters of morals and religion because it is of God
  • God is the arbiter of right and wrong. Human reasoning without the influence of the Word of God is carnal and will lead to eternal death
  • men were not ushered into being for the purpose of being saved or lost. God manifestation, not human salvation was the grand purpose of the Eternal Spirit
  • self control, temperance, a self-sacrificing love and a willing submission to the will of God are key Biblical requirements
  • mutual submission, in honour preferring one another, esteeming others of more value, is the apostolic way of behaviour

What can we do?

 Humanism is popular because it revolves around the rights and worth of man. It appeals to the popular imagination because it appears reasonable and fair and yet through this very semblance of rationality it is extremely deceptive.

To combat the outworking of humanism, the mind must be fortified by a constant absorbing of the Scriptures. There is no other way. It doesn’t matter how good our own resolutions are to change our behaviour patterns; without the influence of the power of the Truth in our midst, all attempts will end in failure. The Word alone has the capacity to transform our characters and develop within our minds the thinking of the Spirit. It can elevate us by its grandeur and impel us on a different route when we are intellectually and emotionally affected by its exposition and exhortation.

Committed faith needs to be energised by selfless love; firstly by a deep and abiding love of the Father and secondly by a deep and abiding love of our brethren and sisters. This cannot be developed without earnest endeavour or without the thoughts being constantly centred upon God’s will.

It is not without significance that Christ warned our generation to “take heed to ourselves” as well as to “watch and pray” (Luke 21:34–36). Knowing the dangers of the last days means that we can be prepared for the onslaught of evil and perilous habits. Being on guard against their intrusive influence means that we can take the necessary precautions. Praying for strength to overcome means that we can bring God and His Word into the picture and “this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4).