A friend asked; "What is the sin that Christians struggle with the most?"
There were various answers. Lust and pride were at the top.
I responded that I believe that one of the greatest and most insidious sins that Christians struggle with are the twins of unbelief and idolatry.
The sins of unbelief and idolatry are often disguised as 'grace', 'kindness', 'compassion' and'Christian love'. They are expressed in the form of not trusting the perfect goodness of God, in Christ, His person, character, and His holy authoritative revelation of truth in His Law and Testimony. These sins are manifested when we are ashamed of Jesus and His Word and we defer to making the felt 'happiness' of man/or woman the center of all things. We profess to be Christians, but in practice we often follow, teach and promulgate HUMANISM (which is idolatry)when we are speaking, counseling and preaching.
Humanism's motto is 'homo mensura', Latin for “man the measure.” Humanism is the belief that man/woman is the measure of all things. Man/woman is the ultimate and they are their own autonomous norm. His/her REASON (thought process), not subservient to divine revelation, is the basis of 'ethics' (determination of what is right and wrong).
R.C. Sproul has taught and warned extensively on the insidious effect of humanism on and in the visible church, saying;
"...subjectivism is the inevitable consequence of making man the final arbiter of what is true. Without an objective, transcendent norm all we have are individual preferences to guide us. We must then ask, whose preferences will guide us?...
Only the Christian worldview, where God is the measure of all things, can preserve life and liberty.
Only those who believe that man is made in God’s image have grounds for attributing any kind of worth to humanity. Remember this as you engage other worldviews."
Many, if not most, churches and para-church 'ministries' (especially obvious in pro-life ministries)is the anthropocentric approach to counseling. While Christians should have a primarily theocentric/Christocentric approach, theistic humanism has become the 'norm'. Churches and their leadership see this in the ministries they prayerfully and financially support, but often give them a 'pass'. Why?
When you look at allegedly 'Christian' pregnancy center websites & materials, for instance, what stands out? What is their raison d'être ("reason for existence")? Is it not WOMEN and their 'happiness'? Where is God?
Humanist John Dewey concluded that "religion" tends to hinders the evolutionary progress of man.
Dr Sproul explains;
"The humanist dream is to rid the world of pain and suffering by the efforts of man, through education... principally through education."
If you read the websites of pregnancy centers, "education" about pregnancy "options", education about the methods of child-killing, and support and comfort for mothers who have already killed their children, do seem to be the priority. The emphasis appears to be ridding the woman of pain and suffering. A careful scrutinization of the pregnancy center websites reveals little (to no) mention of the sanctity and well-being of the babies or any scriptural, biblical, God-centered message regarding His divine design, creation and rule over human life and salvation.
How can we Christians leave out the character of God & the person of Jesus Christ, which are the FOUNDATION of true ethics & values, when reaching out to any sinner, including abortion-vulnerable mothers and their innocent children?
That is NOT a theocentric/Christocentric Christian approach.
That is the humanist approach.
Humanists often have 'noble' ideals, but no foundation for them!
Why is the humanistic approach to 'ministry' often the predominant method for churches 'outreach' & 'missions' & para church ministries?
The reason is because the man/woman-centered approach is EMOTIONALLY attractive to our carnal nature. We all know that WE want to be self-centered and so, we have the tendency to want others to prefer themselves and have "self-esteem". True?
Many, if not most, religious institutions, movements and ministries in America have bought into theistic humanism hook, line & sinker. Sexual immorality is treated as if it is something to be respected as a person freedom. JI Packer observes:
"Nowadays some will maintain, in the name of humanism, that the “Puritan” sexual morality of the Bible is inimical to (tending to obstruct or harm) the attainment of true human maturity, and that a little more license makes for richer living. Of this ideology we would only say that the proper name for it is not humanism but brutism. Sexual laxity does not make your more human, but less so; it brutalizes you and tears your soul to pieces. The same is true wherever any of God’s commandments are disregarded. We are only living truly human lives just so far as we are laboring to keep God’s commandments; no further."
John MacArthur notes:
"In the process of striving to fulfill our needs and satisfy our desires, the church has slipped into a philosophy of “Christian humanism” that is flawed with self-love, self-esteem, self-fulfillment, and self-glory. There appears to be scant concern about worshiping our glorious God on His terms...
Humanism is the philosophy that says humanity has unlimited potential. Give people enough time and education, and they can solve any problem. A stepsister to existentialism, humanism urges everyone to self-authenticate, to BE someone."
Duane Edward Spencer concurs:
"The doctrine of most “evangelical churches” today is the humanist theology…the exalted doctrine of man... given final polish by many religious psychologists of our time."
Just to be clear, James Fowler gives a concise outline defining the characteristics of humanism:
Humanism is a philosophical premise that includes such concepts as:
1. Man is autonomous and independent
2. Man is his own center of reference
1. Man is self-generative and self-sufficient
2. Man has the potential to do anything he sets his mind to
3. Man is the cause of his own effects
4. Man is the source of his own activity
5. Man has a free-will to choose anything he desires – “sovereign will”
6. Man is innately good
7. Man is the subject and object of his own world
8. Man is the solution to his own problems
9. Man deserves to indulge his personal aspirations, personal gratifications, and personal reputation (cf. I Jn. 2:16)
10. Man is his own god
Sounds eerily familiar to what is espoused in Christian circles, ministries and 'missions' doesn't it?
A blogger named Jeff (no last name) nailed it;
"...humanism has permeated the Church. The disaster of humanism is that SELF became exalted in the very place it was supposed to be killed."
In his powerful sermon "Ten Shekels and a Shirt" Paris Reidheid gives a stunningly prophetic indictment of the church:
Humanism is a philosophical statement that declares the end of all being is the happiness of man. The reason for existence is man's happiness. Now according to humanism, salvation is simply a matter of getting all the happiness you can out of life...
And it is therefore up to the man to be happy, to become powerful, and become powerful by any means he can use. For it is only in this position of ascendancy (as we saw in the worship of Molech) that one can be happy. This would produce in due course a Hitler who...would say of his people that we are destined to rule the world. Therefore any means that we can use to achieve this is our salvation.
Somebody else turns around and says, "Well no, the end of being is happiness...happiness comes from sensual experience." So you would have the type of existentialism...the gross sensuality of our country. Since man is essentially a glandular animal who's highest moments of ecstasy come from the exercise of his glands, salvation is simply to find the most desirable way to gratify this part of a person...
John Dewey, then an American philosopher influencing education, was able to persuade the educators that there were no absolute standards. Children shouldn't be brought to any particular standard, that the end of education was simply to allow the child to express himself and expand on what he is and find his happiness in being what he wants to be. So we had cultural lawlessness, when every man could do as seemed right in his own eyes and we had no God to rule over us. The Bible had been discounted and disallowed and disproved according to what they said. God had been dethroned, He didn't exist, He had no personal relationship to individuals.
And so this became the effect of humanism, that the end of all being is the happiness of man...
The fundamentalists. They say, "We believe in the inspiration of the Bible! We believe in the deity of Jesus Christ! We believe in hell! We believe in heaven! We believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ!" But remember the atmosphere is that of HUMANISM. And humanism says the chief end of being is the happiness of man. Humanism is like a miasma out of a pit, it just permeates everyplace. Humanism is like an infection, an epidemic, it just goes everywhere...
So it had gotten down to the place where salvation was nothing more than an assent to a scheme or a formula, and the end of this was that salvation was the happiness of man - because humanism has penetrated...
The liberal says the end of religion is to make man happy while he's alive, and the fundamentalist says the end of religion is to make man happy when he dies.
Humanism is, I believe, the most deadly and disastrous of all the philosophical stenches that's crept up through the grating over the pit of Hell. It has penetrated so much of our religion. AND IT IS IN UTTER AND TOTAL CONTRAST WITH CHRISTIANITY!...
THEY SELL OUT GOD! ...THIS IS THE BETRAYAL OF THE AGES!!!
And it is the betrayal in which we live. And I don't see HOW GOD CAN REVIVE IT! Until we come back to Christianity. As in DIRECT AND TOTAL CONTRAST WITH THE STENCHFUL HUMANISM that's perpetrated in our generation in the Name of Christ.
I'm afraid that it's become so subtle that it goes everywhere. What is it? In essence it's this! That this philosophical postulate that the end of all being is the happiness of man, has been sort of covered over with evangelical terms and Biblical doctrine until God reigns in heaven for the happiness of man, Jesus Christ was incarnate for the happiness of man, all the angels exist...Everything is for the happiness of man! AND I SUBMIT TO YOU THAT THIS IS UNCHRISTIAN!!!"
May we repent of our unbelief and idolatry of man and woman.
May we quit our anthropocentric approach to life and ministry.
May the glory of God be our goal
and may our love and desire for good for our neighbor come OUT of that goal.
May the Lord help us by His Spirit to believe,
that apart from the life and saving mercy of God in Christ,
which is communicated most perfectly
in the Law and Gospel ultimatum,
we will not,
achieve lasting, eternal peace of mind, body and soul.
And Jesus said to all,
“If anyone would come after Me,
let him deny Himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.
For whoever would save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world
and loses or forfeits himself?
For whoever is ashamed of Me and of My words,
of him will the Son of Man be ashamed
when He comes in His glory
and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels."
~ Luke 9:23-26
(cf Mark 8:36-38;Matt 10:32-33)