About Jesus Steve Sweetman
Live 8 – Humanism And The Gospel
Recently I watched Live 8 on TV. Being a musician I enjoyed much of the performances, yet at the same time I had some underlying thoughts associated with this event.
Live 8 was a humanitarian attempt to help bring the plight of poverty stricken Africans to our attention. Bill Gates, a world leading humanitarian and philanthropist was a keynote speakers. A philanthropist is one who loves to give to the needs of mankind. The word philanthropy comes from a Greek word meaning, "lover of man". (anthropos – man, and phileo - love )
There is nothing inherently wrong with being a philanthropist. As Christians we should extend kindness to all mankind. Many philanthropists are humanists. The trouble with modern day humanism is that it is void of any concept of God, and especially void of our Lord Jesus Christ. Such humanism is called "Secular Humanism". Webster’s Dictionary defines Secular Humanism this way; "a humanistic philosophy viewed as a nontheistic religion antagonistic to traditional religion." Simply put, Secular Humanism is in fact a religion, yet without a God. Webster also says that humanitarianism "usually rejects supernaturalism and stresses an individual's dignity and worth and capacity for self-realization through reason. Once again, in simple terms, humanitarianism sees man as the center of all things, not God, thus the answer to all world problems is found in man and his reasoning processes.
Francis Sshaeffer, a well known Christian philosopher and writer in the 1960‘s and 70’s wrote about this in his book entitled, "How Should We Then Live". He, like Webster stated that Secular Humanism was more than a philosophical viewpoint. It was indeed a religion. He warned Christians that our main battle in the future would be with this religion of humanism, and he was certainly right. Now thirty years later the future has arrived and Christians find themselves in the midst of the battle with Secular Humanists. Same sex marriage is one of the latest battle fronts.
Humanism seeks to unite people under one philosophical grouping. This grouping is based on the notion of tolerance. Tolerance is based on the idea that truth is not absolute. Truth is a product of an individual’s own imagination, as seen in Webster’s definition of humanitarianism. Therefore no one can be totally right. and no one can totally wrong on anything perceived as truth. This being the case, one cannot promote anything they believe as the absolute truth without being branded an extremist. I believe this universal acceptance of everyone’s belief system was a basic premise of many who participated in Live 8.
During Live 8 there was no hint that God, let alone Jesus, could possibly be part of the solution to poverty stricken Africa. And why would there be any such hint? With a humanistic world view, God is not relevant. Humanists would believe that people’s concepts of God and the promotion of these concepts get in the way by dividing these same people, making it hard to bring people together to solve world problems. So the best way to bring people together is to leave God out of the process.
As an aside, I believe there are reasons why Africa finds itself in need today. It is interesting to note that nations who embraced the gospel of Jesus prospered economically, politically, and socially, while those that didn’t fell behind in these areas. Africa is an example of this. The same can be said concerning the nations that participated in the Reformation of the 15 and 16 hundreds. Western Europe has done much better than eastern Europe because of its participation in the Reformation. You may find this point simplistic, but I believe there is an element of truth in what I am saying.
We should expect humanism to prevail in a secular world. The problem comes when the church begins to embrace humanistic thinking. Remember, Schaeffer warned us about this 30 years ago. It is clear to me that some Christians missed his warning.
Recently I saw an example of this on the Larry King show. Larry interviewed a popular Christian pastor, who pastors one of the largest churches in the U.S. He said many good things, but there were other things that disturbed my Biblical based thinking processes. One thing that disturbed me was the way he answered Larry’s questions. Many times he would not have an answer. He would say, "Larry, I really don’t know,. I simply believe". Personally, as a Christian, my faith is not blind. It is based on concrete evidence that is explainable.
Larry asked this man about the eternal destiny of religious people, other than Christians. He said something like this, "Larry, I really don’t know about their destiny. I am not here to judge them. I will let God determine where these folk end up. I am here to proclaim the truth, not to be judgmental". I guess you have to accept my paraphrase of his words and they are accurate.
This man’s statement is filled with humanistic presuppositions. First of all his response is not Biblically logical. He says that he speaks the truth, and I assume that means Biblical truth. And what does the Bible say about other religions? It clearly states that there is only one way to God, one way to Heaven, and that is through our Lord Jesus Christ. All other religious people are therefore lost. If this is the truth of the Bible, why did this man avoid a straight forward answer to Larry’s questions? He claimed to proclaim the truth, but in fact he denied the truth by avoiding a clear Biblical response In the guise of "positive thinking", he did not want to offend anyone, did not want to be negative, and did not want to suggest that people are lost without Jesus.
What this pastor in fact did was to answer Larry’s question in a humanistic way. One of the prime tenants of humanism is tolerance of all people, no matter what they believe. A humanist cannot suggest that someone is lost or apart from God because of his beliefs. This pastor has fallen to the pressure of humanistic tolerance and could not bring himself to say what the Bible clearly says, and that is, Jesus is the only way to God – clear and simple. Schaeffer was right. Humanism has infiltrated the church.
This same pastor has written a book of late. One man commented that he really liked the book "because it was not Biblical, but practical". No Christian should make such a comment. No Christian should suggest that being Biblical in one’s thinking is not practical. How one thinks determines how he lives. A life without the Bible will lead a Christian astray.
As Christians we need to clearly and precisely state what the Bible says, especially when asked by a non-Christian. It is thus time for the church to regain its Biblical orientation. Many Christians are Biblically illiterate. Many others are afraid to express what the Bible clearly says. This should not be. I can’t see the Apostle Paul answering Larry King by saying, "Larry, I really don’t know the answer to your questions, I simply believe because I want to believe, and for others who don’t think like me, well, God will look after them, God will judge them, that’s not my job". I know Paul would answer Larry quite differently.
Live 8 was a humanistic attempt to solve a problem. It had some effectiveness but it also had its limitations. In the case of this pastor’s humanistic approach to life, it may have some effectiveness as well, but it undermines the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. This should not be.