Search the Scriptures Daily Program #4604c
Contending for the Faith
Gary: You are listening to Search the Scriptures Daily , a radio ministry of The Berean Call. Still ahead, Dave and Tom continue their weekly in-depth study of the doctrine of salvation. Please stay with us. Now, Contending for the Faith. In this regular feature, Dave and Tom respond to questions from listeners and readers of The Berean Call. Here’s this week’s question: “Dear Dave and T.A., I really enjoy listening to your program. For the most part, you present things in a way that is straightforward and biblical. However, sometimes you use a term that is foreign to me. What does ‘humanism’ mean?”
Tom: Dave, that’s an important term. Let me explain it the way a friend of mine likes to lay it out—I don’t know if I said this recently, but he says there are only two religions: there’s divine accomplishment, and human achievement. We talked about this earlier, God’s provision, divine accomplishment; He did it all, He paid the full penalty. But there is human achievement, really at the heart of—that’s what humanism is, whether it’s in a materialist sense of people who don’t believe in God, atheists, and so on [who] believe that we can solve all our problems through science and so forth, or those who are trying to improve upon or add to what God’s doing. So it can affect the church, it can affect our ideas with regard to the secular world and so on, but it’s really rebellion against God, isn’t it, humanism? Man is the measure of all things?
Dave: Yeah, there are several definitions of humanism, I guess. You go back in history, for example, they would say—the historians would call Erasmus a humanist because he had concerns for humanity and so forth, and more of a down-to-earth approach, etc., although they wouldn’t say that he denied the existence of God. Now, there can be those who are humanists who are materialists and they deny the existence of God. Then, as you pointed out, humanists who say, “Well, we believe in God, but the emphasis is upon man’s works, man’s efforts.” But humanism—I mean, just the very word gives you an idea of what it means. It’s focused upon man. Man is the measure of all things. Man is the center. It’s up to man. Politics is humanism, for example. Psychology is humanism. Sociology is humanism. They’re not getting any help from God, but somehow we human beings are going to solve our own problems, and it exalts mankind, denies that he is really a sinner. I would say that Robert Schuller is a humanist, focusing on self-esteem, self-love, and so forth, “possibility thinking.” Possibility thinking is what man can do. We have this great potential inside of us, and if we just believe, we can do anything we want to do. That would be humanism.
I would say, in a certain sense, the fifth point of Calvinism is humanism. It is not the perseverance of Christ, His keeping power, but the P stands for perseverance of the saints. Therefore…
Tom: This is how we recognize that we’re one of the elect…
Tom: …that we continue to live up to certain standards, biblical standards, right?
Dave: You have to live a good enough life, and I think in the book What Love Is This? I quote R.C. Sproul, for example, who was concerned that maybe he wasn’t one of the elect after all, because he wasn’t living a good enough life. I don’t think any of us would ever live a good enough life by God’s standards. That’s not what determines it, but having accepted Christ’s payment for our sins. I mean, we are unworthy sinners, and we’re saved by His grace. The New Age movement is humanistic.
Dave: So is yoga. The whole idea of yoga is that Atman, the individual soul, is identical to Brahman, the universal soul, and I look within myself to find god within, and to realize that “that thou art,” the hindu would say. “That’s who I really am, find out who I really am,” or “my inner child,” or, I mean, all of these. Tom, so your friend puts it very well. There are just two.
Tom: Human achievement, divine accomplishment.
Tom: Dave, one of the concerns that we’ve had, we’ve been looking at Purpose Driven Life, that whole thrust, building churches and so on. We’ve seen so many marketing aspects of that movement, that thrust, and the Bible that has been highly promoted through that, Eugene Peterson’s The Message —we’ve called those things humanistic, and I don’t think we’re pushing that. It really seems to me that it’s a building of the church through man’s methodologies, his techniques and so on…you say, “Well, it’s good, it’s building a church!” But if we go about it along humanistic lines, it’s not unlike the Scripture that we quoted in an earlier segment, what was it, Exodus:20:24-26—building an altar, but in man’s methods and his fashions, it’s a problem.
Dave: That’s pretty much what’s happening in the church today, Tom. And, I don’t want to launch off on a big criticism of seeker-friendly and, you know, some of the techniques…you don’t really need the Holy Spirit anymore. Now, I recognize that some of these dear people, they would claim to be relying on the Holy Spirit, but they have so many methods, so many techniques. The pastor has become the CEO, the chief executive officer, of the corporation. And we’re so well-organized, and we’ve got all the latest technology at our disposal, and it’s all set up in order to appeal to human ideas, to what man would hold in high regard—you don’t need God anymore. I think the Holy Spirit could have withdrawn years ago and nobody would notice it, because everything works smoothly. The machinery is well-oiled with all of the latest organizational techniques, and—that’s one of the problems, for example, with the Purpose Driven church, the Purpose Driven life, that he’s quoting the secular experts on organization and corporate management and so forth. It has no place in the church.