postmodern humanism–the old is new again

Humanism is thought to be a rather new philosophy or worldview, but it has actually been around since the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden.  Humanism is the belief that humans are basically good, so the universe around us is in its best state when our best values, characteristics, and behavior are implemented in lieu of any supernatural authority.  In other words, each human has the capacity within themselves to be a god.  Its current rise in popularity is reflected in the recent movie Limitless, and in the recent release of the humanist “Bible” called The Good Book.

Adam and Eve fell for this lie when the serpent told Eve “…God doth know that in the day ye eat [of the tree of knowledge of good and evil], then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil,” [Genesis 3:5].  Then Eve ate the fruit after she thought it would “make one wise.”  And man has been battling with the idea of trusting in humans versus trusting in God ever since that fateful day.

Now it’s perfectly fine for us to trust humankind to a certain degree such as trusting our doctor to give us accurate, helpful advice concerning our health. It is also good for children to trust responsible parents to give them good advice.  We should also expect government officials to be trusted to reward those who are good by God’s standards and punish evildoers as stated in Romans 13:1-4.  It is the government’s God-given duty to “legislate morality.”  But where we run into trouble is when we turn our backs on God, having no faith in his abilities and principles, and instead put our complete trust in humans for our physical, social, civic, and spiritual wellbeing.

God warns us against this and used Israel as the example of this faulty way of thinking.  They mistakenly thought they could enlist the help of other nations to fend off punishments that God had in store for their disobedient behavior.  They also believed if they showed deference to the powerful as opposed to obedience to God’s statutes, that all would be well for them in the midst of their hardships.  Here are some of the things God told them in response:

1Woe to the rebellious children, saith the LORD, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin: 2That walk to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt! 3Therefore shall the strength of Pharaoh be your shame, and the trust in the shadow of Egypt your confusion. [Isaiah 30]

1Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the LORD! 2Yet he also is wise, and will bring evil, and will not call back his words: but will arise against the house of the evildoers, and against the help of them that work iniquity. 3Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses flesh, and not spirit. When the LORD shall stretch out his hand, both he that helpeth shall fall, and he that is holpen shall fall down, and they all shall fail together. [Isaiah 31]

12I, even I, am he that comforteth you: who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass13And forgettest the LORD thy maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth; and hast feared continually every day because of the fury of the oppressor, as if he were ready to destroy? and where is the fury of the oppressor? [Isaiah 51]

5Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD. 6For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited.

 7Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. 8For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit. [Jeremiah 17]

So God made it clear that if you put men on pedestals, placing your complete trust in him instead of God, you will be spiritually destitute and lacking in God’s blessings in this life and in the life to come.  Those who trust in the Lord will receive “manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting,” [Luke 18:30].  There shall be showers of blessings from God for them.  They will prosper and be in health, even as their soul prospers [3 John 1:2].

Unfortunately, humanism has even crept into the church through several false teachings, such as Dominion Theology, also known as the “Kingdom Now” movement.  This errant teaching is the belief that those who claim to be Christian must take power over all the governments worldwide to establish a physical kingdom for Christ in order for him to return from heaven.  It places emphasis on what man does instead of acknowledging that it’s “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts,” [Zechariah 4:6].

Churches steeped in humanist doctrines need spiritual healing, but are much like Asa, king of Judah, when he was sick–“And Asa in the thirty and ninth year of his reign was diseased in his feet, until his disease was exceeding great: yet in his disease he sought not to the LORD, but to the physicians.  And Asa slept with his fathers, and died in the one and fortieth year of his reign,” [2 Chronicles 16:12-13].  He placed all of his trust in man and let man have the final say on his condition instead of allowing God to have his final say for his healing.

May our eyes be open, Lord, to forsake any of our humanist leanings in the body of Christ so we may turn back to you.

–posted by Harry A. Gaylord–


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