Secular humanism, liberalism, fundamentalism… and Christianity
At the turn of the 18th century, the Age of Enlightenment swept the western world. Philosophers and thinkers were pulling away from traditional views of God and religion, and started seeking the big questions in life through intellectual, scientific and cultural means. Questions like “Where did we come from? Why are we here? And where are we headed?” In other words, they were seeking the answers to questions which could only be answered by a transcendent source (a source outside of man and outside of our universe) by looking at things inside the universe, and starting with man. Philosophers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, who coined the phrase “God is dead… and we have killed Him” understood that if the universal questions in life could be answered within the universe, there would be no need for God.
This thinking laid the foundation to secular humanism. Secular humanism basically says “if there is no God, the chief end of all being is the happiness of man”. In other words, salvation is man’s happiness. There are several different applications to bring about human happiness, therefore relativism was birthed. Relativism says that there is no absolute truth. Since the chief end of all being is man’s happiness, whatever I believe would bring me happiness would be my truth. People like Hitler believed that man’s happiness could be brought about by power. Therefore, in order to obtain salvation, gain as much power as you possibly can; especially at the expense of the powerless. Others, such as utopians, believe that human happiness can only be obtained through humanitarian acts and the right social structure that everyone agrees on. Both views, and every view in between, acknowledge that the only thing that matters is our happiness in this life (because after we die, there is nothing waiting for us).
Others wanted to hold on to their religion because they found that happiness was obtained by going to church, giving to the poor, and listening to poetry once a week, however they operated under a secular humanist worldview. That is where liberalism came about (attacks on the scriptures, the deity of Christ, and main points of doctrine from within the church). Therefore our happiness in this life is still all that matters, and the way to accomplish happiness is by being religious.
On the other hand, there were the Christian fundamentalists who believed in God, the deity of Christ, the authority of scripture, the reality of heaven and hell, and salvation through Christ alone. Fundamentalism was eventually reduced to an acknowledgment of a few points of doctrine. In other words, as long as you could nod your head yes to a few questions, read a paragraph and agree, you would be saved from a fiery hell. Therefore humanism seeped into fundamentalism saying that God reigns for the happiness of man, Christ died for the happiness of man, and you will go to heaven and miss out on a filthy, nasty terrible hell because man’s happiness is our salvation.
This, however, is not Christianity. Christianity says that the end of all being is the glory of God. You have to settle it in your heart very early: is God, to you, a means or an end? Why did you accept Christ? Why did you repent? Is it because you wanted to miss out on hell, or because you realized that you offended a holy and righteous God? Did you put your faith in Christ because He deserves the prize of His sacrifice, or because you didn’t want to experience His just wrath? True salvation isn’t the hatred for the punishment, but a hatred for the deed done to deserve the punishment.