I realize that the concept of christian humanism sounds a bit oxy-moronic. Despite it’s self-defeating appearance, it takes a while to spot, but once you see it…you see it everywhere.
Humanism, simply put, is a worldview with the human at the center. The human is the apex, the cornerstone, the climax of existence. The human has all of the power, all of the authority, all of the world at her fingertips, and all that she must do is exercise that un-tapped potential.
To much of the on-looking world, the United States is a utopia of humanism. Americans have story after story of the self-made man, rags to riches, from gangs to C.E.O. We Americans value entrepeneurialism and individualism and have idolized these values in shows like Shark Tank and The Apprentice.
In places like Guatemala, this message has been exported and copied. Joel Osteen would be thrilled to see the inspirational, self-help that qualifies as “preaching.”
This humanistic distortion of Christianity is chaff to true Christianity. It looks the same, feels the same, smells the same, but when you break it down into its separate components, it brutally fails the test of faith.
This worldview, simply put, merely adds the notion of God to an already established worldview. Its motto could read “If you just believe in God, you can do anything” or “Now that you’ve got God, you can achieve your wildest dreams.” christian humanism has an affinity for Bible verses like:
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
All of those verses are interpreted as being about me, me, me, me, and me. Not only are they about me, but they are about me, in my situation right now, applied the exact way that I need those verses to be applied so that I can feel better about my current situation.
Another characteristic of christian humanism is that it is primarily inspirational or motivational. There is an entire market that has been developed due to Christian humanism. Coffee cups and t-shirts, all telling me that if I have God, I can do anything that I put my mind to.
Other variations of christian humanism can be found in the Christian workplace where passages like that of the talents is used to put pressure on employees to get more done. You don’t want to be left out like the guy with one talent, shamefully looking at the ground in which he buried it. “Get up, produce results, do something for the Kingdom…and when I say do something, I mean accomplish the job description that I have put in front of you.”
At the end of the speeches, pithy phrases, motivational videos, emblazened t-shirts, christian humanism comes down to one conclusion…it’s all about me!
Christian humanism leads people to believe that God needs me. Everything that I need I already have, now its just time that I pick myself up and get to work! I have to produce. I have to go multiply my talents…after all, I have God in my life now. God did His part, now it’s our turn to do ours.
In the end, christian humanism is a worldview that has merely added some god (little g) to the stew. It is no more than therapeutic deism, where God is a distant old man who just wants to make me happy.
The Bible and the gospel are completely and entirely about God, His name and His glory. Yes, it’s okay to dream big things, it’s okay to be ambitious, it’s okay to be successful, but it is not okay to turn the entire message of the Bible into your own idolotrous search for self-actualization. Your self doesn’t need to be actualized; it needs to be crucified. When our lives collide with Jesus, our lives no longer have anything to do with us! Every breath, idea, aspiration, goal, and ambition comes under the sovereign rule of King Jesus. He’s in charge, and it’s all about Him!
And, if God answers prayers, it is FOR Him. If God grants you your dreams, it is FOR Him. If God allows you great success it is FOR Him. It is all FOR Him and ABOUT Him.
Christian humanism is so darn appealing because it takes the beauty and purity of the gospel message of Jesus and makes it all about me. I can come to Jesus without ever having to abandon the old self. I can come to Jesus without ever having to let go of my dreams, my plans, my goals, and my desires. As a matter of fact, christian humanism empowers me to be all I can be, to just do it, etc. because, after all, I can do all things through Christ.