When I was a new Christian, saved perhaps for two years, I was taking an education class at my Lutheran college. On the first or second day of class the teacher told us that he was a Christian Humanist. He said that anyone who thought that that was a contradiction in terms should come to his office after class. I went. I don’t remember what he told me, but it sounded like mumbo-jumbo, and I quit the class and changed my course of study.
Now about 30 years later I am revisiting the question. What is the difference between humanism and Christianity? Is it possible to embrace both?
If you believe liberal theology and call yourself a Christian, I suppose you would say that it is very possible, since the modernist version of the gospel is essentially humanism with Christian terminology tacked on to it.
But if you believe the Bible, and believe that man is a sinner in need of a savior, then, No. Humanism and Christianity are mutually contradicting. Humanism teaches that man is essentially good, in need of education and opportunity. The Bible teaches that man is essentially wicked, in desperate need of regeneration.
Now, on a practical level the two systems may actually appear to give similar results. For example, consider working (as I do) with people with disabilities. Many of the people who qualify for services have severe adaptive disorders. In other words, they don’t know how to behave. A humanist is taught to look at these people and say, “They are as good as I am.” If he can make himself believe that, he is a good humanist who sees all men as equals. The Christian, on the other hand, is taught to look at these people and say, “I am as bad as they are.” This is a much easier task, for all of us know the sin that lies within. We know that if it were not for the grace of God and the wisdom to know how to check the lusts of the flesh, we could easily misbehave as much as anyone. We can probably also think of times when we actually have done so. Thus, a Bible-believing Christian actually has an easier time viewing all men as equals. He knows that by nature “they are all under sin.” Rom. 3:9.
Though the Christian and the Humanist have essentially opposite views of man, they both come to the same conclusion: That all men are equal. The Humanist professes to believe they are equally good. The Christian knows that they are all equally bad.
It is rather ironic that the philosophy propounded continually on television is that of humanism, and all the while, man is portrayed by the same medium in all of his vileness and wickedness. On the other hand, the religion that teaches that man is essentially evil produces fruit that cannot be denied: love, joy, peace, gentleness, and goodness. Things which many who believe in the goodness of man are not afraid to make a mockery of ~ and at the same time accuse Christians of hypocrisy!