This is one of my Seminary papers:
INTRODUCTION TO SECULAR HUMANISM
Of all the major religions and worldviews today secular humanism claims to be the fastest growing religion/worldview in the world.# The number of humanist or non-religionists “throughout the 20th century has skyrocketed from 3.2 million in 1900, to 697 million in 1970, and on to 918 million in AD 2000”.# This paper will be discussing what secular humanism are, the flaws of humanism, and ways to share the gospel with a secular humanist.
A DISCRIPTION OF SECULAR HUMANISM
Humanism can be defined in many different minor ways, but basically humanism is “referring to an approach to understanding the world and of living in that world focused first and foremost on humans rather than on God or on nature”.# A more in depth definition of humanism is that it is “a philosophy of life inspired by humanity and guided by reason. It provides the basis for a fulfilling and ethical life without religion. Humanists make sense of the world using reason, experience and shared human values”.#
At first humanism seems harmless and actually quite foolish (“The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’” Psalm 14:1, ESV), but regardless humanism is an aggressive force today in the 21st century and should not be taken lightly. From the creation of the term of humanism by Thomas Huxley in the Renaissance/Enlightenment movement of the 1890s it’s “stated goal was to ‘replace the Christian worldview’ with what they termed ‘the church scientific’.” # This goal was planted in many of Thomas Huxley’s followers and throughout time it advanced and grew into a dominate worldview or even classified as a religion in America by the Supreme Court in 1961.#
THE FLAWS OF SECLUAR HUMANISM
The humanism worldview/religion is one that is made up of many flaws and illogical statements such as their crucial and core belief that humanity and reason is the fundamental key to the entire universe. This in essence cannot be true because humanity and reason did not create the entire universe. Humanist realizes this conundrum and try fix it with a theory of mixing in God along with their humanistic beliefs. Francesco Petrarca of the 13th century was one of the first humanists to introduce religious ideas to humanism and added various Christian elements to it.# This mixture of the two beliefs has utterly failed today since Atheism has become the most dominant position within humanism. Paul Kurtz goes as far to say, “Humanism cannot in any fair sense of the word apply to one who still believes in God as the source and creator of the universe” and in fact all the leading secular humanists today are atheists. #
In essence either matter is eternal or there is a God as astronomer Jastrow notes in his book Until the Sun Dies: “The proposal for the creation of matter out of nothing possesses a strong appeal to the scientist, since it permits him to contemplate a Universe without beginning and without end”.# Jastrow goes on to write that an eternal Universe does not make sense: Now three lines of evidence—the motions of the galaxies, the laws of thermodynamics, and the life story of the stars—pointed to one conclusion; all indicated that the Universe had a beginning”.#
WAYS TO SHARE THE GOSPEL WITH A SECULAR HUMANIST
Since humanism and God cannot exist together Christians need use that as their main point and evidence when debating with a humanist. There are many ways a Christian can go about it, but should over all be focused on loving their theological counterpart and end mission in mind is not to defeat them logically with wisdom, but with the Gospel (1 Cor 2:2) which “is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom 1:16, ESV). To be able to successfully share the Gospel with humanist you have to first get them to understand that God does exist. There are three ways a Christian can go about doing this.
The first way is to show the power of God upon one’s life like Elijah’s victory at Mount Carmel in 1 Kings 18 and let God show His mighty power and wonder. This way is in essence the easiest way for someone to see the power of God, but God rarely shows himself in this manner and the reason for this is shown in Luke 16:19-31 with the true story of the rich man and Lazarus. Here the rich man was sent to hell for not repenting and believing in the God of Jacob. The rich man then pleaded with Abraham to send Lazarus (his righteous servant who was in heaven) to his family so that they would repent, but Abraham said to him “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead” (Luke 16:31, ESV). Abraham in essence said that if his family won’t listen to God’s people or trust the Bible then even if they saw all the great wonders done they still won’t repent and believe in God.
The second way a Christian should share the gospel with humanist would be to try and use human reason and logic with the humanist and show that it is impossible for God to not exist. There are many great resources available for doing this and perhaps one of the most prominent figures in using reason and logic to share Christianity is Lee Strobel. Lee Strobel has many resources available that challenge one’s belief by using logic and reason that points to Christ. Strobel was an atheist journalist for Chicago Times newspaper before he was saved so most of his books and DVDs are all very scientific and thorough with plenty of facts that point to God and Christ.
It is crucial that one should use all the resources at their disposal because the humanists are clearly going to use all of theirs. The only downfall of using this kind of outreach is what Apostle Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 2:14 when he wrote: “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (ESV). What Apostle Paul was stating could be understood that someone is to prideful to care about the true God or His word or as Charles Wesley states in his commentary that if one “utterly despises, them (then) Neither can he know them”.# For God has promised in Jeremiah 29:13 that if one seeks Him with all their heart then they will find Him and so the opposite is also true. In sharing the Gospel in this manner the Christian must not stray away from what Jesus Christ commanded us to do in the great commission and share the gospel and make disciples. Christian must not get distracted from this crucial mission and not merely have theological rational debates in which are just throwing their pearls before swine (Matthew 7:6).
The last way is really a hybrid between the two. This way uses the Christian’s own testimony of Jesus Christ and what Jesus did for them in their own life and sharing it with others. In this way others can see the power of God throughout your life and the logic and reasons why you came to the conclusion that Jesus is the only way, truth and life and that the only way to the Father is through Jesus Christ (John 14:6).
Secular humanism should not be taken lightly to a Christian in the 21st century because it is growing like cancer within the blood veins of America and around the world. There is no other time in history where there is so much disbelief in an existent of a god. Humanist do not even realize the effects of what their behavior, and their cultural influence are upon destroying mankind as a whole. This cancer must be stopped and the Gospel is the only cure and hope for bringing light into this dark world. David Noebel states this clearly as he writes: “An outsider observing Western civilization today must gaze in amazement over its stupendous fall”.# May God have mercy on us and may He send many labor’s into the harvest for harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.#
2 Corinthians 2:4 (The Bible)
Serve others before self
Excellence in all we do
Love God and Others
Focus on eternity
We read in Revelation 19:.5-7 And a voice came from the throne, saying, ‘Give praise to our God, all you His bondservants, you who fear Him, the small and the great’. And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude and as the sound many waters and as the sound of mighty peals of thunders, saying, ‘Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready’.
Notice that it doesn’t say that the Lord made the bride ready. No. It says that “the bride made herself ready” It is WE who are to make ourselves ready for the coming of the Lord. Many believers know that if we walk in the light as God is in the light the blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin (1 Jn.1:7). But that is only one side of the truth. The other side of the truth is that we too must cleanse ourselves. This is how the bride makes herself ready. It is also written in Rev 19:8 And it was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.
The phrase “given to her” makes it clear that it was a gift from God. This teaches us that, even the desire and ability to cleanse ourselves is a gift of God. It is God “Who works in us to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Phil.2:13). We cannot take any credit for that, nor can we boast over other believers in any way. The godly man is a humble man who gives all the glory to God for any goodness found in him. He knows that nothing good is found in his flesh.
If this clothing is a gift, then why don’t all receive it? Because God never forces anyone to receive His gifts. Even His gifts can be received only by those who respond to His Word.
The fine linen here is not the righteousness of Christ but “the righteous acts of the saints”. It is true that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us as soon as we are born again (Rom.4:22-24; 1 Cor.1:30). But we are also told that “the righteousness of law (should then) be fulfilled in us (inside of us)” (Rom.8:4). That is the dress of the bride here: “the righteous acts of the saints”. That is so clear in Rev.19:8, that one has to be blind as a bat, not to see it.
Her own righteous acts are her garment. She got it by taking the Lord’s commands to cleanse herself and to purify herself, seriously. She worked out her own salvation “with fear and trembling” (Phil.2:12). Every time she worked out her salvation with fear and trembling in the power of the Holy Spirit, she put one more stitch, as it were, on her bridal garment. Over a period of years, she wove the whole garment.
What about a Christian who takes all this carelessly, saying, “The blood of Jesus has cleansed me. So I am all right”. To such Christians the Lord says, “Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his garments, lest HE WALK ABOUT NAKED” (Rev.16:15).
Have you ever seen a bride coming naked to her wedding? The Lord warns His people not to be found naked - naked, because they do not have a garment on the wedding day. They had no righteous acts of their own.
The deception of Babylon, the mystery of iniquity, the magic spell that Babylon has cast on so many Christians is this: “Don’t worry. You are clothed with the righteousness of Christ. It doesn’t really matter how you live.” James clearly warns us that faith without works is dead. Yet Babylon has prevented believers from taking such warnings seriously.
There is a difference between our own righteousness, which are like filthy rags in God’s sight (Isa.64:6). and the righteousness wrought in us in the power of the Holy Spirit as we take up the cross and walk in Jesus’ footsteps in our daily life. It is the latter which is the bridal garment. When we first come to the Lord all we have as clothing are the filthy rags of our own righteousness and even filthier rags of our sins. But when we are born again, God first of all justifies us - imputing the righteousness of Christ to us (Rom.3:24; 4:5). Then He writes His laws upon our hearts and minds (Heb.8:10), fulfilling the righteousness of the Law within our hearts (Rom.8:4). This results in that righteousness gradually becoming our outward attire, and our outward character becoming Christlike.
The bride’s garment is made of fine linen, bright and clean. What a contrast there is between her simplicity, and the gaudy, scarlet dress and gold ornaments of the harlot. In the “Bridal Psalm” (Psalm 45), we read about the Lord, our Bridegroom,as One Who “loved righteousness and hated iniquity” (Psalm 45:7). And the bride is described thus: “The king’s daughter is all glorious WITHIN “ (Psalm 45:13). She has a meek and quiet spirit (1 Pet.3:4). And it is with this inner garment that “she will be led to the King”(Psalm 45:14). That will be fulfilled in Rev.19:8.
By Zac Poonen