December 21, 2009
Christian Humanism: Getting a Handle on the Term
In chapter 1 of The Christian Criticism of Life, Hough lays out the uses and misuses of the term humanism. He concludes that the only true humanist is the Christian humanist. This is because the Christian humanist studies human life as a valuable gift from God. The so-called secular humanist inconsistently attributes value to the life of man apart from understanding man as created in the image of God. He fails to see that it is the imago dei that gives human beings their value. Thus the secular humanist strips humanity of that which makes it valuable and undermines his own task. I think it was C. S. Lewis who once said that Christians need to reclaim their language. I think he would agree with Hough that the language of humanism must be reclaimed by the Christian. It has been illegitimately co-opted by the secularist and, as a result, is something of a dirty word for many Christians. In response, Hough would say that, to be a true humanist, a true student of humanity and the humanities, one must consider humanity through the mind of God as communicated in the scriptures. One must say with the Psalmist, "What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet" (8:4-6).