Home > Crossway Blog

Humanism: You Will Be Like God

boice_blog_header02

In this series of posts, the late James Montgomery Boice helps us avoid being “conformed to this world” (Romans 12:2) by unpacking the 5 major “isms” that dominate the modern world.


It’s All About Me

I have acknowledged that there is for Christians a proper concern for secular things, though secularism as a worldview is wrong. The same qualification holds for this next popular “ism,” humanism.

Obviously, there is a proper kind of humanism, meaning a proper concern for human beings. Humanitarianism is a better word for it. People who care for other people are humanitarians. Christians should be humanitarians. However, there is also a philosophical humanism, a way of looking at people, particularly our- selves, apart from God, which is not right but is rather wrong and harmful. Instead of looking at people as creatures made in the image of God whom we should love and for whom we should care, humanism looks at man as the center of everything, which is an essentially secular point of view. This is why we often couple the adjective to the noun and speak more fully not just of humanism but of “secular humanism.”

A Biblical Example

The best example of secular humanism is in the book of Daniel. One day Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, was on the roof of his palace looking out over his splendid hanging gardens to the prosperous city beyond. He was impressed with his handiwork and said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” (Dan. 4:30). It was a statement that everything he saw was “of” him, “by” him, and “for” his glory, which is what humanism is about. Humanism says that everything revolves around man and is for man’s glory.

God would not tolerate this arrogance. So he judged Nebuchadnezzar with insanity, indicating that this is an insane philosophy. Nebuchadnezzar was driven out to live with the beasts and even acted like a beast until at last he acknowledged that God alone is the true ruler of the universe and that everything exists for God’s glory and not ours. He said,

I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. “His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: ‘What have you done?’ (vv. 34-35)

Humanism is opposed to God and is hostile to Christianity. This has always been so, but it is especially evident in the public statements of modern humanism: A Humanist Manifesto (1933), Humanist Manifesto II (1973), and A Secular Humanist Declaration (1980). The first of these, the 1933 document, said, “Traditional theism, especially faith in the prayer-hearing God, assumed to love and care for persons, to hear and understand their prayers, and to be able to do something about them, is an unproved and outmoded faith. Salvationism, based on mere affirmation, still appears as harmful, diverting people with false hopes of heaven hereafter. Reasonable minds look to other means for survival.” (1)

The 1973 Humanist Manifesto II said, “We find insufficient evidence for belief in the existence of a supernatural,” and, “There is no credible evidence that life survives the death of the body.” (2)

Where Does It Lead?

Where does humanism lead? It leads to a deification of self and, contrary to what it professes, to a growing disregard for other people. For if there is no God, the self must be worshiped in God’s place. In deifying self, humanism actually deifies nearly everything but God.

Several years ago Herbert Schlossberg, one of the project directors for the Fieldstead Institute, wrote a book titled Idols for Destruction in which he showed how humanism has made a god of history, money, nature, power, religion, and, of course, humanity itself. (3) As far as disregarding other people, consider the bestsellers of the 1970s. You find titles such as Winning through Intimidation and Looking Out for Number One. These books say, in a manner utterly consistent with secular humanism, “Forget about other people; look out for yourself; you are what matters.” What emerged in those years is what social critic Thomas Wolfe called “the Me Decade” (the 1970s) and later, in the 1980s, what others saw as the golden age of greed.

Concerning humanism as well as secularism, the word for Christians is “do not conform any longer.” Do not put yourself at the center. Do not worship the golden calf. Remember that the first expression of humanism was not the Humanist Manifesto of 1933 or even the arrogant words of Nebuchadnezzar, spoken about six hundred years before Christ, but the words of Satan, who told Eve in the Garden of Eden, “You will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:5).

Notes

(1) Humanist Manifestos I and II (New York: Prometheus, 1973), 13.
(2) Ibid., 16, 17.
(3) Herbert Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 1990).

This excerpt was adapted from Whatever Happened to The Gospel of Grace?: Rediscovering the Doctrines That Shook the World by James Montgomery Boice.


James Montgomery Boice was senior minister of the historic Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia for thirty years and a leading spokesman for the Reformed faith until his death in 2000.

August 18, 2014 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Culture,Current Issues,Life / Doctrine,The Christian Life,Theology | Author: Matt Tully @ 8:15 am | 0 Comments »

August’s New & Notable Books


The Big Picture Family Devotional

Edited by David R. Helm

This 50–week family devotional helps parents teach their children about the Bible through memory verses, short lessons, and discussion questions for the whole family. Designed as a companion volume for The Big Picture Story Bible.

Learn More | Excerpt | Buy Now

 

The Big Picture Bible Verses: Tracing the Storyline of the Bible

David R. Helm

This simple catechism featuring 45 memory verses will help both children and adults memorize God’s Word through its easy-to-remember Q&A format. Designed as a companion volume for The Big Picture Story Bible.

Learn More | Excerpt | Buy Now

 

The Dawning of Indestructible Joy: Daily Readings for Advent

John Piper

This book of 25 devotionals from John Piper helps readers refocus and meditate on the one thing that makes the Christmas season worth celebrating: the birth of Jesus, Israel’s long-awaited Messiah.

“No one—in speaking, writing, or living—combines mind, heart, and faith more passionately than John Piper.”
Daniel Taylor, Professor of English, Bethel University

Learn More | Excerpt | Buy Now

 

The Stories We Tell: How TV and Movies Long for and Echo the Truth

Mike Cosper; Foreword by Tim Keller

Americans love movies and watch a lot of TV. Cosper helps readers effectively engage with and evaluate what they watch, highlighting how the stories we tell reveal humanity’s universal longing for redemption. Part of the Cultural Renewal series.

“With the amount of TV and movies our culture devours, this book is a must read.”
Matt Chandler, Lead Pastor, The Village Church, Dallas, Texas; President, Acts 29 Church Planting Network

Learn More | Excerpt | Buy Now

 

God’s Design for Man and Woman: A Biblical-Theological Survey

Andreas J. Köstenberger and Margaret E. Köstenberger

A husband and wife team—both biblical scholars—set forth a robust biblical theology of gender, examining key texts, employing sound hermeneutical principles, and considering important historical influences related to the Bible’s teaching on manhood and womanhood.

“A refreshingly clear, well-informed, balanced, thorough, biblically faithful overview of the teachings of the entire Bible about manhood and womanhood.”
Wayne Grudem, Research Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies, Phoenix Seminary

Learn More | Excerpt | Study Guide | Buy Now

 

Edwards on the Christian Life: Alive to the Beauty of God

Dane C. Ortlund; Foreword by George M. Marsden

Offering readers an accessible portrait of Jonathan Edwards’s life and theology, this book highlights the central role of beauty in his understanding of the Christian life. Part of the Theologians on the Christian Life series.

“Grateful readers will find this book highly informative on Edwards and deeply encouraging for the Christian life today.”
Mark A. Noll, Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History, University of Notre Dame

Learn More | Excerpt | Buy Now

 

Churches Partnering Together: Biblical Strategies for Fellowship, Evangelism, and Compassion

Chris Bruno and Matt Dirks; Foreword by D. A. Carson

This book sets forth a compelling vision related to helping churches—big and small—develop interdependent partnerships and make a significant impact for the sake of the gospel—in their own communities and around the world.

“Many pastors and church planters will benefit enormously from the wisdom, biblical insight, and practical experience that Chris Bruno and Matt Dirks provide for us here.”
Bruce A. Ware, Professor of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Learn More | Excerpt | Buy Now

 

Shakespeare’s Hamlet

Leland Ryken

A literary expert guides readers through Shakespeare’s classic tragedy Hamlet, exploring the play’s historical context, key themes, and overarching message. Part of the Christian Guides to the Classics series.

“Ryken is a warm and welcoming guide to the classics of Western literature.”
Andrew Logemann, Chair, Department of English, Gordon College

Learn More | Excerpt | Buy Now

The Devotional Poetry of Donne, Herbert, and Milton

Leland Ryken

A literary expert guides readers through the devotional poetry of three seventeenth-century poetic geniuses: John Donne, George Herbert, and John Milton. Part of the Christian Guides to the Classics series.

“It is hard to imagine a better guide than Leland Ryken to help readers navigate the classics.”
Bradley G. Green, Associate Professor of Christian Thought and Tradition, Union University

Learn More | Excerpt | Buy Now

August 15, 2014 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Book News,New / Notable,News | Author: Matt Tully @ 8:45 am | 0 Comments »

The Danger of Labels When Discussing the Bible’s Teaching on Gender

guest post

This is a guest post by Andreas and Margaret Köstenberger, coauthors of God’s Design for Man and Woman: A Biblical-Theological Survey.


Of Limited Value

We believe that most labels are of limited value in describing any given topic or position, including the biblical terminology surrounding manhood and womanhood. Labels typically limit the description of a subject to a certain oversimplified caricature. The debates surrounding gender roles are no exception in that the discussion has been burdened with a simplistic kind of partisan, polemical, and politicized verbiage. As we’ve sought to elaborate in a recent post, the label “patriarchal,” for example, carries with it mostly negative baggage in our culture because of a heavy feminist influence and ideological propaganda.

Though the label “complementarian” seeks to avoid an undue focus on the man’s authority and for the most part explains the scope and emphasis of the category of thinking on the subject very well, it is incomplete (if not potentially misleading) in that it focuses unilaterally on one characteristic trait of the male-female relationship, namely complementarity. Man is created in such a way that he needs the woman and vice versa. They are perfectly and beautifully complementary in their sex, roles, and original purpose.

In truth, however, this is something that the opposing viewpoint holds to be true as well. Evangelical feminists affirm complementarity, albeit sans the belief in male leadership that is integral to the complementarian view (though that is only explicit in the label “complementarian”). This is why evangelical feminists published a book a few years ago, Discovering Biblical Equality, with the subtitle, “Complementarity without Hierarchy.” In other words, egalitarians believe in male-female complementarity, and complementarians believe in male-female equality! Partial labels can be confusing and tell only part of the story.

What is more, evangelical feminists (egalitarians) sometimes call complementarians “hierarchicalists,” which somewhat tendentiously and erroneously portrays them as being fixated with male authority in a top-down hierarchical fashion. Clearly, labels can become rhetorical weapons that are hurled at their opponents in order to cause calculated damage for the sake of winning an argument but that have limited value in delimiting a particular position or category of thought.

A More Nuanced Approach

Though the issues are fairly complex, a nuanced approach to the use of labels can provide several benefits in clarifying some very important and necessary distinctions. In our study, complementarian relationships differ from egalitarian ones in several distinct ways that we can affirm as we work through the dazzling maze of the ever-increasing options to gender in our world.

Complementarians acknowledge a woman’s main role to be a helper to her husband in managing and subduing the earth together and in partnering with him to raise and nurture a family. Egalitarians affirm male-female partnership but not male leadership and female submission (unless roles are entirely interchangeable along the lines of “mutual submission”) and tend to see men and women on the same plane in every sphere of life, including in leadership roles that complementarians believe God’s Word limits to men. Though complementarians may acknowledge that these are “restrictions” in a certain sense, they prefer to view them as “assignments” and contend that these role distinctions have nothing to do with any difference in worth between men and woman. In fact, all humans are created in God’s image, which is glorious for both men and women! According to complementarians, these unique assignments are fully God-ordained and perfectly designed to suit and satisfy both sexes.

What these examples show, in our opinion, is that while labels have some benefit, there is no satisfactory substitute for exploring the biblical theology of manhood and womanhood as a whole as it naturally unfolds throughout the entire Bible. As a result, we limit the use of labels in our book except to explain some of the necessary and important differences in views. We seek instead to focus on Scripture’s consistent and coherent pattern of male and female identity and roles, a pattern that is present from Genesis to Revelation.

At the root, we want God to be glorified in his church, people to be saved, and men and women to live fully satisfying and holy lives before their God. To this end we dedicate our book as we strive to unveil God’s good design for men and women. Similar to other biblical paradoxes, some would have you believe that Scripture cannot at the same time teach male leadership and male-female partnership. This may be hard for finite human minds to understand, and impossible for those committed at the outset to unfettered male-female equality to accept, but we believe it is nonetheless true, and if Scripture is allowed to speak for itself, best characterizes God’s sovereign, wise, and loving design for man and woman.

What Do I Use to Write in My Bible?

ESV Bible header

When it comes to underlining and writing in the margins of our Bibles, the choice of writing utensil can make all the difference in preserving the appearance and longevity of the thin Bible paper. Here’s a comparison of four commonly used writing utensils.

  • Basic BIC Pen, M (black and blue ink)
  • Pilot G2, .07mm  (black and blue ink)
  • BIC Velocity Pencil #2, .5mm
  • Sakura Pigma Micron Pen, .01mm

Each pen/pencil was used to highlight the same passage of Scripture (Matthew 6:31–34) in four copies of the ESV Single Column Heritage Bible.

BibleStack

 

1. Basic BIC Pen, M

Bic Pen Blue

Matthew 6:31–34 underlined in blue and black ink:

BICFront copy

The reverse side of the page:

BICBack

Summary:

  • Price: a package of 36 is around $3.00
  • Availability: found at a local store
  • Ghosting: moderate
  • Other Observations:
    • Need to bear down, and sometimes, retrace to produce consistent lines, but bearing down too hard can stretch the paper.
    • Ink typically does not bleed or smear

 

2. Pilot G2, .07mm

PilotBlue

Matthew 6:31–34 underlined in blue and black ink:

PilotFront

The reverse side of the page:

PilotBack

Summary:

  • Price: a package of 2 is around $3.00
  • Availability: found at a local store
  • Ghosting: significant
  • Other observations:
    • No need to bear down for consistent lines
    • Ink takes some time to dry and therefore smears very easily, especially if you’re left-handed
    • Unexpected clogging/ink blots
    • Ink can be too think for smaller writing

 

3. BIC Velocity Pencil #2, 0.5mm

Pencil

Matthew 6:31–34 underlined in pencil:

PencilFront

The reverse side of the page:

PencilBack

Summary:

  • Price: a package of 2 is around $3.00
  • Availability: found at a local store
  • Ghosting: minimal
  • Other observations:
    • Can easily produce consistent lines
    • The pencil removes the permanent nature of a highlighter or dark pen
    • The subtle grey gives underlining a more dignified look than a big, bright stroke that bleeds through to the other side

 

4. Sakura Pigma Micron Pen, .01mm

Micron

Matthew 6:31–34 underlined in black ink:

MicronFront

The reverse side of the page:

MicronBack

Summary:

  • Price: $2.50–$3.00 each
  • Availability: found at an art or office supply store
  • Ghosting: minimal
  • Other observations:
    • Easily produces consistent lines without needing to bear down
    • Uses archival ink, as opposed to a dye-based ink found in most pens and markers. The benefit is it won’t fade or bleed through the paper.
    • Six different point sized are available
    • Assorted color options are available

 

Additional Resources

This is not an exhaustive comparison of writing utensils, so if you would like more information on this topic here are a few bloggers who have shared their experience and expertise:

 

What do you think?

What do you use to write in your Bible? Do you have any recommendations or advice to share?

August 14, 2014 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Bible News,ESV,News | Author: Lizzy Jeffers @ 8:44 am | (13) Comments »

Midweek Roundup – 8/13/14

Each Wednesday we share some recent links that we found informative, insightful, or helpful. These are often related to Crossway books, Bibles, or authors—but not always. We hope this list is an interesting and encouraging break for the middle of your week.


1. Denny Burk on how gay marriage will impact your marriage

If you’ve ever been in a debate with someone about gay marriage, one of the conversation stoppers that proponents often throw out is this: “How does gay marriage hurt traditional marriage?” Or more personally, “How does my gay marriage corrupt your straight marriage?” The thinking goes like this. What two people do in the privacy of their own home ought not concern you, even if they choose to reinvent society’s most basic institution. After all, who are you to judge someone else’s pairing? If some people want to call gay unions a “marriage,” what’s that to you?

2. Jon Bloom on help for those grieving a suicide

Robin Williams’s alleged suicide has sent shock waves through the world.

Williams was a man bursting with manic energy, an out-sized personality, prodigious dramatic talent, and a completely unique comic genius. He could make us roll on the floor in laughter and he could move us deeply to tears. Many of us have memories of his performances that stretch back into our childhood.

Now, suddenly, at age 63, it appears that he has taken his own life. For this tragedy it is too early for any more words. Let us cover our mouths, weep, and pray for his family.

3. Reformed Forum interviews Marcus Johnson about his new book, One with Christ

Dr. Marcus Johnson speaks about One with Christ: An Evangelical Theology of Salvation, his recent book, published by Crossway. While many books have been published recently on the topic of union with Christ, Dr. Johnson’s book stands out for its up-to-date analysis and unique approach. One with Christ charts a via media between federalist and realist approaches to the doctrine of union with Christ, a way which Johnson calls Christological realism. Listen to understand Dr. Johnson’s unique but scriptural treatment of the doctrine of union with Christ.

4. Joe Thorn on whether or not the Lord’s Supper should be open or closed

In baptist circles there are three positions regarding who are the proper communicants to receiver the Lord’s Supper: closed, close, and open communion. These positions are not addressing the spiritual readiness of the individual (see yesterday’s post), but are focusing on the stewardship of church authority and “fencing the table.” Fencing the table is the means by which we protect people from partaking of the Lord’s Supper in an “unworthy manner” (1 Cor. 11:2728).

5. Gene Veith on the political roots of atheism

Atheists are always invoking science, but notice how often their arguments and rhetoric use political language.  God allegedly “oppresses” human beings, taking away their “freedom.”  They say that God is “immoral,” that, in the words of John Lennon, if we imagine no religion, “the world would live as one.”

In fact, as Nick Spencer shows in Politico, the origins of atheism in the West had little to do with the rise of science; rather, it grew out of radical political movements.

August 13, 2014 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Book News,Midweek Roundup,News | Author: Matt Tully @ 8:15 am | 0 Comments »