Christian Humanism?

David Manes–a peer from my college days–has written a fascinating piece on Christian humanism, exceeded only by the discussion it prompted.

Personally, I think the merger of Christianity and humanism dulls the meaning of one or the other, but would be a lot happier with Christian humanists running around than Christian fundamentalists, so I won’t complain too much. I think growing up a fundamentalist makes it hard to accept more liberal/ less strident expressions of faith as being legitimate forms of Christianity. For a while I went through what I call my “liberal Christian phase” (about 9 months maybe?) where I described myself as a Christian and said that I believed in God. Over time I realized that what I meant by “Christian,” what I thought of Christ, and what I meant by “God” (something akin to Einstein’s God/Universe equivalence) were drastically different from what the people I was conversing with meant.

At this point, I feel that God, as commonly defined by most of the people I know who claim belief in Him, is not a concept that I find very useful/helpful/logical. If everyone meant what Einstein said, then I might describe myself as a deist/theist/whateverist, but we don’t live in that world.


3 Responses to Christian Humanism?

  1. Hey, welcome back to blogging for fun!

    “Over time I realized that what I meant by “Christian,” what I thought of Christ, and what I meant by “God” were drastically different from what the people I was conversing with meant.”

    I agree with this sentiment. One of the commenters on the article raised the issue of the role that family influence plays in this kind of thing, and that is definitely right. I would extend that to credit a larger social pressure as well. The circles that I find myself in are much more comfortable if I take on the label “Christian,” and it helps avoid unnecessary tension with people I enjoy being around.

    The labels that we put on our worldviews are meant to serve a purpose. Some people mistakenly think that an adopted label controls the worldview itself (you almost allude to that kind of idea with your statement that the merger dulls the meaning of one or the other). Labels like these, and all language in general, are to help effective communication. Sometimes, communication is best served by the most specific, detailed, and accurate words possible. A lot of times, though, it actually helps communication to use words or labels that are less accurate.

  2. globalizati says:

    I agree (mostly)… but labels can facilitate communication, or social interaction. Sometimes they communicate a concept/belief less clearly and, by doing so, make social interaction (gaining approval, not being written off for being a dastardly humanist, having more in common) easier. I don’t think the label is necessarily helping you to communicate (though sometimes I imagine it helps more traditional people see where they have something in common with someone when a category like ‘agnostic’ would turn them off) but it does facilitate/lubricate social interaction.

  3. Hahahahaha.

    I ALMOST used the word “lubricate” when I wrote my comment. But I refrained.

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