Christianity IS Humanism

Christianity IS Humanism July 13, 2014

“Therefore, imitate God like dearly loved children. Live your life with love, following the example
of Christ, who loved us and gave himself for us. He was a sacrificial offering that smelled sweet to God.Sexual immorality, and any kind of impurity or greed, shouldn’t even be mentioned among you, which is right for holy persons. Obscene language, silly talk, or vulgar jokes aren’t acceptable for believers. Instead, there should be thanksgiving. Because you know for sure that persons who are sexually immoral, impure, or greedy—which happens when things become gods—those persons won’t inherit the kingdom of Christ and God.”

Ephesians 5:1-5 (Common English Bible)

In this familiar passage of Scripture, Paul the Apostle is calling the Church at Ephesus to embrace and live out their identity as Christians. He calls them to “imitate God like dearly loved children, living life with love and following Christ’s example: loving and giving ourselves for others”. (My paraphrase) As I was reading this passage, I began preaching this text silently in my bedroom. As I continued to “Exegete” this for my four walls, it occurred to me that Paul was calling these Christians not to Christianity but to Humanity.

What I mean is that Christianity is not at all about becoming a Christian. Nor is it about becoming some intrinsically new creature. It is actually about being restored to who we were originally intended to be- Humans. That is, after all, the entire concept of redemption. To be redeemed isn’t to be made new, but rather to be renewed or better yet, recycled. But by imitating God- which is following the example of Christ, who revealed God to us, and to reject lust, obscenity, greed and all other forms of idolatry and self-satisfaction, we actually slowly begin to become…human.

C.S. Lewis describes this in his book The Problem of Pain:

“To enter heaven is to become more human than you ever succeeded in being on earth; to enter hell is to be banished from humanity. What is cast (or casts itself) into hell is not a man: it is “remains.” To be a complete man means to have the passions obedient to the will and the will offered to God: to have been a man – to be an ex-man or “damned ghost” – would presumably mean to consist of a will utterly centered in its self and passions utterly uncontrolled by the will.”

Though Lewis is describing the eternal state in this quote, it still works. On earth, those who live as their own gods instead of in the divine image of God- Jesus Christ- in which we were created to be are nothing more than “Damned Ghosts”, utterly centered on themselves and their passions to the detriment of themselves and the world around them. Likewise, those who live in the “Kingdom of Heaven”, meaning, as those who are the children of God and siblings of Christ, following his example of love, grace, and selflessness, are actually embracing their humanity. Adam, prefall, was just as Christ was post resurrection. That is the whole of redemption theology. Christ is called the second Adam (which means human by the way), who lived as the example and the means by which all of the damned ghosts of fallen humanity can be restored to being truly human.

To be human is to incarnate Christ. To be partakers of divine nature. To be creative and not destructive. Loving and not loathing. Giving and not greedy. To be human is to be a mirror of God himself. It is to have infinite potential, infinite power, infinite life and yet to be under the subjection of the will of the God who has called himself our Parent.

Christian Author Jerry Bridges notes that “Every time a Christian sins they are experiencing an identity crisis.” I often here people say when they make a mistake or sin, “Well, I’m only human.” But being fallen and imperfect is not what being a human is about. Experiencing injustice and illness is not what being a human about. The Human identity is found reflected in the resurrected Christ- eternal, loving, gracious, creative, powerful, and just. Sinning or living as a sower of immorality and injustice is not what it means to be human. As Christians, we are those who have willingly subjected ourselves to the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit who is progressively restoring us to our true humanity as partakers of divine nature, Sons and Daughter, Co heirs of God. Every time we sin, we are acting contrary to who we are- we are forfeiting our identity.

So what are the practical implications of this? Well I think Paul makes it clear. We are to embrace our falleness and brokenness. Accept that we are severely damaged by sin. And in that, seek the resurrection life of Christ through faith and obedience to the Jesus way, truth, and life. By living a life that worships God, reflects Christ in what we do, and embraces true humanity, we will be “a sweet smelling savor to God”. Jesus died and rose so that we may die to our fallen nature and rise to our true identity. We must submit to Jesus Lordship and seek to live lives marked by the fruits of His Spirit. When we do that, our twisted nature will be suffocated and we will be transformed into the image of Christ and partakers of His Kingdom- true humans.

Just a thought.

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  • Stands, cheers, claps.

  • Harmony

    That’s a pretty good definition of Christian humanism. But it doesn’t look like it can apply to anyone who isn’t. Just another way to pat yourself on the back. “I believe in Christ, so I’m a fully realized human being.” This implies that millions of people of other faiths are not. Good job.

  • Well stated. Have you read Incarnational Humanism by Jens Zimmermann?

  • Talis Mancer

    Christian Humanism…no such thing. There’s the part of Christianity that got stolen from Humanists from the Classical Greek period…is that what you mean? You are NOT Humanist if you put a God’s commands before the welfare of people.

    • BT

      Unless you believe as I do that “commands” that are counter to the welfare of a people are not really from God. Same objection but a different solution.

  • Psycho Gecko

    I think a major problem here is that sin is a term that applies to a lot of things that aren’t necessarily wrong, including restrictions on clothing and diet. Maybe if this was a discussion of doing wrong or right you’d have a point, but I have trouble someone is less human for the sin of eating shellfish or for not shaving in just the right way. Even so much as thinking you’d like to have sex with someone, without doing anything about it, and suddenly you’ve committed lust.

    That’s not even counting when you get into controversial issues, like abortion, birth control, the teaching of religion over science, and equal rights for gay people.

    The whole thing reminds me of how often things get redefined in Christianity. Love was redefined as telling people they deserved to be tortured forever. And Heaven, a supposedly good afterlife, is empty of everything people that gives their lives meaning. Oh, and that’s because someone decided to say that the meaning of people’s lives was to please some fellow there’s no evidence of. So now humanism is supposed to be compatible with Christianity by saying that humans are actually supposed to be perfect after it’s been preached all this time that humans were inherently sinful and wicked.

    It’s taking a lot of contorting to make this whole “Christianity is Humanism” thing work.

    • Asemodeus

      ” think a major problem here is that sin is a term that applies to a lot
      of things that aren’t necessarily wrong, including restrictions on
      clothing and diet.”

      The major problem is that christians pretend to use their definition of sin onto everything and everyone, and expect us to just sit down and take it. No thanks, I don’t need a morality lesson from deranged sociopaths that only care about getting a BJ in heaven after they die.

  • Humanism has an actual definition, and it’s not the one you made up on the spot to give your religion another standing ovation. Christianity is the opposite of humanism because it puts serving the whims of your god above serving the needs of your fellow man.

    First you say atheists are lack purpose and hope in their lives, now you say humanism – what gives atheists hope and purpose I their lives – is just secret Christianity. We get it, Mr. Robertson, you don’t like or respect us, but to you really expect us to not challenge statements like this?

    • Frank2918

      I do t agree with his definition of humanism is either but you really have no challenge to God.

      • Oh look, the fellow who believes that LGBT minors who are harassed and made homeless and tortured deserve it because of their sinful lifestyle is taking me to task for challenging his idol. Keep spreading that Gospel news!

        • Frank2918

          Yup no challenge.

          • Psycho Gecko

            We’ve had plenty of challenges, but so far Yahweh hasn’t bothered appearing to actually wrestle me. I have a perfect 12-0 record against him in the ring because of him no-showing. Plus, it’s really unprofessional of him to not even bother. Lucky Ric Flare isn’t around or he’d probably elbow drop his own jacket in frustration.

          • Frank2918

            Yup no challenge at all.

          • Psycho Gecko

            I doubt that. If you’ll remember, the apocalypse was stopped by the Macho Man with a well-placed elbow drop.


    • Jeremy Forbing

      I think Mr. Robertson is writing for his fellow Christians here, about how they should see their own faith. Just as many posts written for and by atheists have an intended audience of fellow members of the community– an audience the writer of this one would fall outside of– it seems clear that this post was not intended for you.

      • Saying ‘this wasn’t intended for you, so you can’t criticise it!’ Is just one tactic of many Christians use to avoid addressing criticism.

        In other words, it’s a public forum, expect a public response.

        • Brian P.

          Indeed. To promote something shouldn’t require maligning something else.

          I remember a high school track coach who used to say something like this:

          “You can’t make yourself higher by putting someone else down.”

          That’s what he always said before making us run laps.

          • Adam King

            That coach obviously wasn’t a Christian.

          • Brian P.

            Actually he was although I can’t say I really know anything about the faith he held. He died of cancer a few years ago.

          • Talis Mancer

            Putting IDEAS down is perfectly valid. If you can’t disassociate yourself from an idea then you have a mental agility problem that you need to consider. I suggest obtaining your ideas from a critical thinking coach rather than a athletics coach.

          • Brian P.

            Thanks coach.

  • PenZidean MotZart

    For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10

    “To be human is to incarnate Christ. To be partakers of divine nature.”

    Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. Romans 8: 5-8

    “The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9

    But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. John 3:2-3

    Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. John 3:6
    Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. John 3:5

    His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 2 Peter 1:3-5

    Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

    • PenZidean MotZart

      “As nontheists, we begin with humans, not God, nature, not deity…. [H]umans are responsible for what we are or will become. No deity will save us; we must save ourselves” (1973, p. 16). ~ Humanist Manifesto II

      • Frank2918

        Well you proved his point. Well done!

  • Yonah

    I don’t use the “C” word, but if I did, I would take its etymology not only seriously, but as a matter of primacy. Why does this not happen?

  • Jerry Lynch

    I have written about this same thing many times, and usually begin with the famous quote from Pindar: “Become what you already are.”

    From 9-16-2005
    ‘I must admit that my references to “Christians” in what I say makes me a bit nervous; I am concerned the reader may think I am simply speaking generally of those who belong to Christianity. I am not. Christianity does not represent Christ on this earth. There is no denomination or sect that is “the one, true faith.”

    When we accept Christ, we do not convert to Christianity or any of its name-brand belief systems. When we accept Christ, we revert to who we are in essence: the image and likeness of God. We are given a new spirit (nature, heart, essence) meant to draw forth that image and likeness into the world . We become what we were meant to be before the foundations of the world were laid and not what some group wants us to be or believes we should be.
    Christian to me means the soul earnestly surrendered to God, guided in all their affairs by Spirit, living by a spirit of action. Unless we fully depend on grace and the Holy Spirit for guidance in all of our affairs, we cannot truly become what we already are.
    In truth, there is no such thing as Christianity: there is only Christ.

    • Jerry Lynch

      I think it was Irenaeus who said, “The glory of God is a human fully developed.”

  • Talis Mancer

    This is of course complete nonsense. The moment you put a religious idea like worshiping a god before humans (& other life) OR get told how to live your life by anything other than actual life experience (ie sensible evidence rather than religious dogma from a book as immoral as the Bible) you cease to be even close to Humanism.