In the generations that followed the Great Flood, there was a tower built in the land between the rivers, the land of Shinar, perhaps better known as Mesapotamia. This was the Cradle of Civilization, located between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in the area of modern day Iraq. It was there that men became quite advanced. Hebrews Chapter 11 reveals the hope of Abraham. He was looking forward to a city "whose architect and builder is God." (1) But men became impatient waiting for the city God would build so they took upon themselves the task of building a city. It would be a city built, not to bring glory to God, but to satisfy the desires of the human flesh.
"Let usmake a name for ourselves", they said. (2) Has that not been the theme of man down through the ages? I walked into our new multi-million dollar public library in Columbus, Georgia recently. Near the entrance I saw a plaque with the names of major contributors to this community structure. It is fundamental to a race of fallen men to have an urge to "make a name for ourselves." It is the basic tenet of humanism; stealing glory from God and elevating man.
The Tower of Babel was a religious tower. The purpose of its construction was to reach God. But their motive was corrupted by their desire to make a name for themselves. There is a corner stone on many churches I've seen. "Erected in the year ________, to God be glory". As the years pass, the glory of God fades from the institution while the centrality of man emerges. In a God-centered church the purpose of music is to bring glory to God, in a humanistic church the purpose o music is to entertain people. A God-centered church has a God-centered pastor whose primary goal is to preach for the glory of God. A humanistic church wallows in spiritually shallow waters with a pastor who is often humorous and can entertain people with catchy quotes and funny stories.
Humanism has so invaded our culture that God has been relegated to a back burner. We are not atheistic, atheism leads to a despair that few can endure for any length of time. Many in the American culture are more interested in calling the shots when it comes to God. God is placed on a shelf to be reached for at our own convenience. Our "don't call us, we'll call you" attitude toward God indicates that we think ourselves more important than he. The words of the Psalmist are foreign and confusing to us, "As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God." (3) Our callings to God are now limited to 911 calls. We have little thirst for God but we are quick to pull him off the shelf if we are experiencing a crisis in our lives.
I have read recently of three people in the state of Georgia who are suffering from an infection called Necrotizing fasciitis. (4) One of those is Aimee Copeland (5) who has had one leg amputated at the hip and her fingers removed in an attempt to save her life. This is a horrifying disease for which there is no cure. Humanism as infected our culture and the church like a flesh eating disease. The spirit of the church is being consumed by a philosophy that makes the happiness of man a priority and conveniently ignores the glory of God.
Liberalism in the church flowered in the mid-1800's. Charles Darwin explained away the role of God in creation. Humanist philosophers taught that the chief end of man's existence was his own happiness. Religious liberals embraced the cancer of humanism when they declared their uncertainty about the existence of God, heaven or hell. Their unbelief made it impossible for them to offer any hope beyond our earthly existence so they began to address the happiness of man in this world. They offered a watered down version of Christianity that focused on the happiness of man in this life. The doctrines of sin, eternal life and hell were avoided and the focus was on "Your Best LifeNow." (6)
A movement arose in answer to the liberals of that day and they called themselves fundamentalists. But humanism is not selective in its choice of victims and fundamentalism also became a victim of the deadly virus of humanism. Fundamentalists grew as a conservative movement because of their common beliefs in holding to the traditional teachings of the word of God. They defined themselves as those who belief in the divinity of Christ, the creation, the holiness of God and the authenticity of the Bible. If you believed in this list of essentials you were labeled a conservative fundamentalist.
In successive generations, fundamentalists began to teach that one might be saved by simply giving mental assent to a list of basic scriptural doctrines. The measure by which one became a Christian was not the confessing of sin and experiencing a Holy Spirit- induced soul cleansing. The evidence of one's Christianity was a simple vocal affirmative to a few basic questions regarding the nature of God. A radical change in one's lifestyle was no longer associated with true Christianity. A card carrying Christian was no longer expected to demonstrate righteous living or freedom from the bondage of sin. Experiential Christianity was thrown out the door in favor of a simple "I believe."
Liberalism set about focusing on this life instead of the next life. The assortment of social programs developed to improve the lives of the masses are too numerous to mention. Great declarations were made about eliminating poverty, drugs and war. But their utopian goal was shattered when the First World War erupted and men set about to destroy one another. The War to End All Wars was followed by another horrendous war and men began to question the idea that the heart of man is essentially good. Then men proved how short their memories are and liberalism made another great comeback. L.B. Johnson declared his War on Poverty. The flower children of the 1960's demanded the end to all war. Liberalism continues its march through the modern age. Al Gore seems nearly insane and certainly delusional in his attempt to create a better earth. Our first lady is strongly dedicated to manipulating the diets of our children.
The liberal says that man must be made happy while he lives on this earth. The fundamentalist says that man must be made happy in the afterlife. Both have succumbed to the primary teaching of humanism: the happiness of man. When a fundamentalist preacher declares that a person ought to accept Christ so that he can escape the fires of hell, or so he can live in eternal bliss, is he not focusing on the humanistic idea of the happiness of man? Should men not accept Christ because he "deservesto receive the reward of his suffering." (7)
Christ did not walk away from the glorious splendor of heaven and submit to the humility of humanity solely to make us happy. Christ did not drag his cross to Golgotha and allow the Romans to pierce his hands with spikes and his side with a sword only to make us happy. Believing that or preaching that is replacing God with man as the central purpose of our salvation. Does this not border on blasphemy? Did Christ not go to the cross and die for men because it was the only way men might be saved and thus bring glory to God. It wasn't so much about saving us from hell or making us happy in heaven, it was all about bring glory to God.
How many today get saved as a way of making a deal with God? It is true that salvation comes with benefits but the benefits are a byproduct. Modern day ministers will one day be accountable for the steady stream of lies that come from their pulpits. We are no longer being told that sin corrupts the soul. We are no longer told that the grace of God can bring deliverance to hungry hearts. Instead, we are being fed a steady stream of heresy. We are being told that if we accept Christ he will make us millionaires, he will cure our diseases and dedicate himself to our happiness. We are being sold a bill of goods.
Humanism teaches us to look for human solutions to human problems. We are the most over-medicated society in history. We run to counselors instead of running to Christ. We read self-help books written by pop-psychologists instead of turning to the word of God. If we would only turn to the right source we could find a cure to alcoholism, to drug addiction, to sex addiction and to dysfunctional families. But all of this is frosting on the cake. The true motive for submitting to Christ should not be "to make a name for ourselves" or for our own happiness, it should be because doing so is the only possible way an earthly soul can bring glory to a deserving God.
1. Hebrews 11:10
2. Genesis 11:4
3. Psalm 42:1
Kevin Probst - Teaches History, Government and Apologetics at the high school level in Columbus Georgia.