The 21st century church has completely changed from the early church. It’s not just the outward show concerning dress, meeting places, modern day electronics, etc., but it’s the spirit of the church. The focus and the motivation is completely different. The church today closely resembles the world; even though it would like to change the world, the world is changing the church. The result is a hybrid church. The high tech church of today has all the trappings of the world and in some cases, more. The early church was focused on getting out of the world, there was not the effort to try and amalgamate or adapt to the world like today’s church. It appears that today’s church is moving more and more down the “broad way” spoken of in (Mt 7:13). The Arminian gospel of cooperation with God for salvation is at the root of this trend. As stated previously, much of Christianity has attached itself to this “works-salvation” gospel that has failed to show the sinner he is a law breaker.
The church of this 21st century is steeped in humanism. It’s not the blatant humanism saying that truth is relative and absolute truth does not exist. However, there is enough of the truth whittled away and rounded off that the outcome is much the same as saying absolute truth does not exist. Make no mistake, humanism taken far enough becomes atheism and if only sprinkled here and there, becomes practical atheism. Obviously, in the church it is not to the place where belief in God is an alien thought, it does not go that far consciously. However, the belief in the Word is not taken seriously; it is changed or not applied. I know that’s a very serious indictment but the activities that go on in many places considered to be Christian show much evidence of this humanistic philosophy. This Arminian, Pelagian, Semi-Pelagian doctrine has spread like leaven throughout the church and is the cause of this downgrading trend of God’s Word.
Not all that are in the church are called by God. It is like what the Apostle Paul said about Israel, “But it is not as though the word of God has come to nothing. For they are not all Israel that are of Israel.” (Ro 9:6) The ones that came out of Egypt were not all children of God, yet he brought them all out with the same concern – not one feeble – all crossed the Red Sea – all got the same promises at Marah Ex 15:26; all ate manna…etc., but not all got into the promised land. The majority still had Egypt in their heart (humanism), only Joshua and Caleb from the original batch would make it into the Promised Land.
The problem is that humanism, no matter what the dose, will eventually lead to apostasy. Therefore, even a tiny bit of humanism will deify man and humanize God. When Christianity operates using absolute truth, God will be exalted and man humbled. With that model, it now becomes easy to see if humanism is alive and well in these various Christian churches.
Humanism is an educational and philosophical outlook that emphasizes the personal worth of the individual and the central importance of human values. This doctrine had its roots in Europe being developed during the Renaissance. Many of the Renaissance humanists were devout Christians, promoting secular values and a love of pagan heritage and customs.
“This all started with an Italian humanist (Petrarch 1304-74, an Italian poet). Then it passed to Coluccio Salutati (1331-1406), and on to Leonardo Bruni (1369-1444). The work of Italian humanists soon spread north of the Alps, finding a receptive audience among English thinkers such as John Colet. (1467-1519), who applied the critical methods developed in Italy to the study of the Bible. Desiderius Erasmus of the Netherlands was the most influential of the Christian humanists. In his Colloquies and Praise of Folly (1509), Erasmus satirized the corruptions of his contemporaries, especially the clergy, by comparing them with the teachings of the Bible, early Christianity, and the best of pagan thinkers.”
This is the root; this is where the basis of works-righteousness in the mind set of Erasmus (where man makes some kind of effort or contribution towards his own salvation) emerged, thus compromising Bible truth. This theology came forth and has progressed to an alarming place in this 21st century. The heart of the gospel is in danger of total corruption in many quarters. Erasmus followed Jerome in interpreting justification by works, which does despite to the grace of God. The true gospel says it’s only after a person is changed, regenerated by no works of his own, then – and only then – will the good works follow.
Humanism grew and became a prominent philosophy because of the work of Erasmus. Bible truth, before the growth of humanism, had been acknowledged as comprehending all phenomena, earthly or heavenly; now it had to coexist with a classical attitude that was overwhelmingly directed toward earthly life. The Bible is very clear that we are not supposed to be directed by earthly life. This was clearly stated by the Apostle Paul in the book of Colossians (Col 2:8).
Some of the original humanists warned the younger ones not to let humanistic enthusiasm take precedence over the holiness of Christianity. They realized there was an implicit dualism in this humanistic philosophy that could erode Biblical truth. Given the new philosophy and new authorities, humanists started to find fault with established commentaries and questioned traditional interpretations.
The problem with humanism embodied in Christianity is the aspect of “free will”. The well known book entitled “The Bondage of the Will”, written by Martin Luther who regarded this work as the most important piece of theological writing that ever came from his pen. What this work by Luther deals with is one of the most basic of all doctrines, yet probably the most controversial and difficult doctrine to pin down. Essentially, what’s at issue is whether human beings, after the fall of man, are free to choose good or evil. Erasmus, who was steeped in humanism, would say that man has the ability to make choices to choose good or evil; he can also resist the grace of God. Whereas Luther, steeped in Biblical truth, maintained that sin keeps human beings from having the ability to choose good and from working out their own salvation; their nature is such that they are unable to bring themselves to God. These two doctrines concerning salvation are the most important doctrines that we must reconcile so the church of Jesus Christ will“prevail against the gates of Hell.”Download Book