MODELS OF WESTERN RELIGOUS THOUGHT
[Greek: theos (God) + logos (word)]: The study
of the existence (or non-existence), nature, and attributes of God.
Secular Humanism: Atheism
Secular Humanists believe that there is no God, that science
and the scientific method have made God obsolete. Humanists believe that only
matterthings we can touch, feel, prove, or studyexists and has always existed.
Thus, man is only matter, and has no soul or spirit. No supernatural explanation is needed
for the existence of this matter.
Marx was an atheist before he became a socialist. Engels and
Lenin agreed that religion was a drug or "spiritual booze" and must be
combatted. To them, practicing atheism would mean a "forcible overthrow of all
existing social conditions," including the economy, government, law, etc. The
Communist Party has not deviated from its founding fathers' attitude toward God or
religion, which would explain the persecution of the church in communist countries.
Cosmic Humanism: Pantheism
The New Age movement believes that all things are divine, or
a part of God: people, rocks, trees, stars, etc. Since everything and everyone is a part
of God, we have to get in touch with the "god within" to achieve total cosmic
unity. Some adherents of Cosmic Humanism resort to channelling, meditation, Ouija boards,
or hallucinogenic drugs to contact the god within. In a very real way, these methods are
the "sacraments" of the New Age religion.
Biblical Christianity: Theism
Jesus Christ is the "fullness of the
Genesis 1:1, Colossians 2:9
Biblical Christianity believes in the existence of an
intelligent, powerful, loving, just, and awesome God who exists in the Trinity of Father,
Son, and Holy Spirit. From the Christian perspective, "In the beginning God"
(Genesis 1:1) is the foundation for all meaning. Christianity further proclaims that this
powerful, intelligent God who created all things in heaven and earth is the same God who
took upon Himself human form in the person of Jesus Christ. Christianity proclaims a God
who is both Mind and Heart, Who not only created the world, but also loves it so much that
He sent His only begotten Son to die for it. Christian theism declares in large letters,
"God is," "God created," "God loves," and "God
[Greek: philo (love) + sophia (wisdom)]: The
love of wisdom; the attempt to discover an explanation for the whole of existence or
Secular Humanism: Naturalism
Naturalism says that all that exists is matterthings
you can touch, feel and study. The Humanist trusts the scientific method as the only sure
way of knowing anything. If something cannot be observed, tested, and experimented on, it
doesn't exist. Since you can't observe or conduct experiments on God, hell, the human mind
or the human spirit, those things don't exist.
Marxism/Leninism: Dialectical Materialism
Materialism is another name for Naturalism (see above). The
dialectic says that in everything there is a thesis (the way things are) and an antithesis
(an opposition to the way things are) which must inevitably clash. The result of the
struggle and merging that comes from the clash is the synthesis, which becomes the new
thesis. This new thesis will eventually attract another antithesis, and the resulting
clash will produce a new synthesis. For Marxists, "Dialectical Materialism" is
the driving process that moved matter from inorganic state into life, then to animals,
then humans, and finally organized social institutions like governments and nations.
Cosmic Humanism: Non-naturalism
Because the Cosmic Humanist believes God is in everything,
and that everything is a part of God, he must conclude that everythingin
essenceis spiritual. The things that we can see and feel are only a manifestation of
spirit, and all matter will melt away when universal consciousness is achieved. This view
leads the New Ager to believe all matter can be controlled by an enlightened mind, a mind
that is in touch with the god within. Health, wealth, and even a good sex life can all be
achieved by "mind over matter."
Biblical Christianity: Supernaturalism
Jesus Christ is the "Logos of God"
Genesis 1:1, John 1:1, Colossians 1:17, Revelation 19:13
The philosophical quest that most appeals to Christians is
the attempt to obey 2 Corinthians 10:5, "We demolish arguments and every pretension
that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to
make it obedient to Christ." Non-Christian philosophy, referred to in the Bible as
"vain and deceitful philosophy," comes from basing philosophy upon the
"traditions of men, after the basic principles of the world, and not after
Christ." (Colossians 2:8). The single most important philosophical truth in the Bible
is that Jesus Christ is the Logos (word, or mind) of God. Christian philosophy says Christ
the Logos is the explanation for the universe and everything in it. Critics charge that
Christianity in general and Christian philosophy in particular, are unscientific.
Christians claim that the Christian doctrines of God, creation, Logos, design, purpose,
law, order and life are consistent with the findings of science, history, and personal
experience in a way that other philosophies (like dialectical materialism and
philosophical naturalism) could never be.
[Greek: ethikos (custom)]: The study of conduct, moral
values, duties, actions, and ends.
Secular Humanism: Ethical Relativism
Since the Humanist rejects the existence of God, human beings
are free to set standards and values. Humanists believe that science, reason, and
historical experience are sufficient guides for figuring out rights and wrongs in any
situation. These standards will naturally differ according to an individual's background
and reasoning. Therefore, the standards and valuesethicsare relative. The Humanist
Manifesto II states, "We affirm that moral values derive their source from human
experience. Ethics is autonomous and situational, needing no theological or ideological
sanction. Ethics stems from human need and interest."
Marxism/Leninism: Proletariat Morality
Marxist ethics don't come from a sense of absolute rules, but
from the cause of communism. Whatever advances the proletariat (the working class) is
morally good. Whatever advances the cause of communism is morally good; whatever hinders
its advance in social and human evolution is morally evil. The killing fields of Cambodia,
the Soviet Union and the Ukraine and the mass murders in China were the practical results
of proletariat, or class, morality.
Cosmic Humanism: Ethical Relativism
Since each individual is divine, he needs only to get in
touch with the universal god- consciousness to act morally. According to this standard,
virtually every mindset and action is justifiedwith the notable exception of
adhering to a worldview which believes in moral absolutes. Such a view would stunt a
person's ethical progress.
Biblical Christianity: Ethical Absolutes
Jesus Christ is the "Light"
Genesis 2:9, John 1:9, John 3:19,20
God's moral nature is absolute and unchanging. God always
hates evil and loves good. The Bible is of supreme importance because it tells us the
difference between the two, and provides a framework on which to build unambiguous ethics.
According to Biblical Christianity, ethical relativism leads to destruction (Matthew
7:13). Because Christian ethics is grounded in the character of God, Christian ethics is
inseparable from theology. Rather than believing in some ethical scheme bound to society's
ever-changing whims, the Christian answers to a specific moral order found in both general
revelation and the special revelation of the Bible and the person of Jesus Christ.
[Greek: bios (life) + logos (word)]: The study
of living organisms.
Secular Humanism: Darwinian Evolution
Naturalistic evolution says that life just happened. At some
point in time, life appeared from a primordial ooze, and through natural selection (from
beneficial mutations) changed into animals, plants and man. Without naturalistic
evolution, there is no Secular Humanism. Anything else would require a Creator, which
would mean that man is not the source of all things. Humanists believe that since science
has proven the theory of evolution, it is no longer a theory but a scientific fact.
According to this "fact," man is the most highly evolved of all creatures, and
is now responsible for directing and aiding the evolutionary process.
Marxism/Leninism: Darwinian/Punctuated Evolution
Marxism/Leninism also depends on the theories of evolution
and spontaneous generation. Karl Marx made it very clear that origin of the species
contained the scientific basis for his views on the class struggle. However, Marxist
dialectical materialism needs a theory with clashes and leaps, not a gradual progress like
natural selection. Thus, Marxists adhere to punctuated equilibrium, which says that each
species remained stable for long periods of time (equilibrium) and evolution happened
through occasional rupturesleaps (punctuations) from one species to the next.
Cosmic Humanism: Darwinian/Punctuated Evolution
The New Age movement sees mankind as evolving from disharmony
to harmony, until evolution can eventually guide men and women out of the material into
the wholly spiritual. Evolution is central to Cosmic Humanist doctrine, because it ensures
mankind's eventual progression to godhood.
Biblical Christianity: Special Creation
Jesus Christ is the "Life"
Genesis 1:17, John 1:4, John 11:25, Colossians 1:16
Only the creationist perspective can adequately account for
design in nature, since it postulates a Designer, a law-giver and an orderly cause, while
the materialist can only posit chance. Christians believe the creationist model as
described in scripture fits the facts of science better than the evolutionary model.
Christianity trusts the authority of Genesis and other declarations concerning creation,
such as Mark 10:6 and Colossians 1:16. Science and Christianity are demonstrated to be
compatible and to declare in unison that God "created all things" (Ephesians
3:9). The Bible gives us information about God and His universe; science gives us
information about God's universe.
[Greek: psyche (soul) + logos (word)]: The
study of the soul, mind, and spirit.
Secular Humanism: Monistic Self-Actualization
This psychology requires belief in man's inherent goodness,
and predicts that every individual can achieve mental health through the fulfillment of
physical or material needs (self-actualization). Monism means that man is only body, that
no soul, mind or conscience exist. If man is only matter, then his actions are simply the
result of mechanical impulses. This notion is called behaviorism, and it contradicts the
Humanist's atheistic theology and naturalistic philosophy which claim that man is the
master of his fate.
Marxism/Leninism: Monistic Pavlovian Behaviorism
Behaviorism says that everything a person does is the result
of two purely material factors: the individual's physical makeup and the influence of the
environment on a person's nervous system. The brain is just a collection of nerves and
blood vessels and tissues that have been programmed to react a certain way. The
programming is done by a person's environment: his education, surroundings, family,
background, etc. Just like Pavlov conditioned his dogs to salivate when they heard a bell,
humans are conditioned to feel patriotic when they see a flag, or to rescue children from
drowning. This conclusion follows logically from the materialist philosophy that only
matter exists. But if every man's actions are programmed, how could any individual
consciously choose to revolt? The Marxist must water down behaviorism to encourage the
worker to actively, consciously strive for Communism. The Marxist's belief in Pavlov's
"second stimuli" of language allows the Marxist to claim that while a man's
actions are largely determined, he can obtain a measure of freedom in his use of and
response to the stimulus of language. In this way, the Marxist can cling to his
behavioristic assumptions and still claim that the worker may choose to join the
Cosmic Humanism: Collective Consciousness
Society and the environment, according to the New Age
movement, stifle our knowledge of the god within. Thus, the aim of psychology should be to
cause individuals to realize that they are fundamentally perfect, and therefore they
should trust their intuitive urges. According to the New Age doctrine, a man's true self
would never urge him to contribute to dis-unity.
Biblical Christianity: Dualism
Jesus Christ is "Savior"
Luke 1:46-47, Titus 2:13
Only Christianity, with its focus on the spiritual and its
understanding of man's fallen condition (Romans 1-2), can truly address the innermost
concerns of the individual. Christian psychology helps people get in touch with their real
selves only because it allows them to recognize their own sinfulness and consequently
their need for a Savior. Our greatest need is not self-esteem; rather, it is the
realization that we are sinners in rebellion against God. "Christianity starts
off," says William Kirk Kilpatrick, "by saying that we're not OK the way we are.
There is something wrong with usa twist in our natures. And the twist is not removed
by liking yourself, but by starting to live in Christ." Only after receiving Christ
as Savior can people begin to understand their value as being created in God's image; then
they can lead triumphant lives. Rather than demanding that the individual ignore his
conscience, the Christian calls for him to recognize that his guilt is real, then to face
his guilt and repent. Biblical Christianity teaches moral responsibility, whereas Humanism
and Marxism blame individual moral failings on society or the environment.
[French: socio (social, society) + Greek: logos
(word)]: The study of social institutions and society.
Secular Humanism: Non-Traditional / World State /
There is a huge gulf between the Humanist view that man is
capable of perfection, and the real world of evil. Humanists explain this by saying that
civilization and culture shape the individual. Thus, man is evil primarily because his
cultural and social environment are evil, not through any fault of his own. Society and
culture have influenced man's actions and have therefore stifled this inherent goodness.
One of the most stifling of human institutions is the family. Government-sponsored
education provides the most desirable method for abolishing outdated social institutions
and ensuring the development of a free society.
Marxism/Leninism: Abolition of Home, Church and State
The Marxist is especially anxious to usher in a communist
society because only then will man achieve a truly moral social consciousness. When
mankind has achieved this consciousness, society will be so radically changed that the
individual will be influenced to act responsibly at all times. Since every man can then be
trusted to act responsibly and rightly, established institutions such as the church or
family will be unnecessary. These, in fact, would only hinder man's development or lead
Cosmic Humanism: Non-traditional Home, Church, and
To explain the all-too-obvious evil done by man, the Cosmic
Humanist resorts to blaming traditional society especially the central principles of
Western Civilization. Various New Age leaders blame different aspects: technology,
male-dominant norms (including those of the traditional family), the free-enterprise
system, a central government, and dogmatic monotheistic religions. Thus, many New Agers
blindly rebel against all traditional values without examining their reason for existence.
Biblical Christianity: Home, Church and State
Jesus Christ is "Son"
Genesis 4:1, Luke 1:30-31, Isaiah 9:6
Christian sociology is based on the proposition that both the
individual and the social order are important to God. Christ died and rose again for each
person as an individual; God also ordained social institutions (family, church and state)
to teach love, respect, discipline, work and community. Christian sociology focuses on two
things: society as a means for human cooperation in accordance with God's will, and the
individual as a vital part of various institutions in society.
[English: lagu (code, rules)]: The study of principles
of conduct or procedure which are expected to be observed.
Secular Humanism: Positive Law
In Secular Humanism, the state is given
sovereigntywhich is entirely rational because there is no higher power to be taken
into consideration. Just as man is seen as the final word in ethics, the world state is
seen as the only source for legal "truth." The Humanist believes that the social
order is more responsible for crime than the criminal is. After all, the criminal was good
before society corrupted him.
Marxism/Leninism: Positive Law
In Marxism/Leninism, sovereignty is given to the proletariat.
Marxists generally trace law back to the concept of private property. Law was devised by
the propertied class to protect its own propertybourgeois law. The basis of
proletariat law is to protect social or state property. Socialist law grants certain human
rights but only those rights which assist the advancement of socialism, communism, or
evolution. Law (and the state) will become unnecessary, however, when the full socialist
system is victorious, and the proletariat class will experiences its communist paradise.
The biological theory of evolution plays a significant role
in Marxist legal theory. Since mankind is evolving, law is evolving with it, and there can
be no legal absolutes. There is no eternal lawgiver, and there are no eternal legal
principles. Legal principles assisting man in his evolution are just; all others are
Cosmic Humanism: Self-Law (Anarchy)
Individual autonomy means that each person gets to decide
what is right and act for himself. As we grow closer to achieving god-consciousness, the
need for laws and legislation will quickly fade away. The unenlightened peoplethose
who still believe mankind is inherently evilrequire laws, but once this outdated
concept is exposed as a lie, the world will function in complete harmony.
Biblical Christianity: Biblical/Natural Law
Jesus Christ is "Lawgiver"
Genesis 3:11, Genesis 49:10, Revelation 5:5, Isaiah 9:7
Christian law consists of both natural and Biblical law,
which originate in the very character of a righteous and loving God. Divine law is eternal
because God is eternal. It is so eternal and permanent that someday God will use it to
judge the world (Acts 17:31), based on natural and revealed law (Romans 2:12f). God
established human government and the rule of law primarily to keep man's sinful nature and
passions in check (Romans 13:1-4). Because of the Fall, human history reflects a
continuing effort by men to substitute man-made law for God's law. Christians believe that
when God's laws are obeyed, men and societies thrive. The Christian concept of human
rights involves the biblical doctrine that God created man in His image. These rights,
which carry with them specific responsibilities, are unalienable. God's Word and nature's
law are sufficient for mankind to establish a legal system that exemplifies man's creative
image and still acknowledges his depravity.
[Greek: polis (city)]: The art of governing a city,
state, or nation.
Secular Humanism: World Government (Globalism)
Humanists believe that world government is the next logical
step on man's evolutionary road to utopia, since man is now conscious of his evolution and
is responsible to direct it. A global state is also the best way to achieve the Humanist
goal of world peace. The state, directed properly, plays a central role in guiding man. As
Julian Huxley said, "To have any success in fulfilling his destiny as the controller
or agent of future evolution on earth, [man] must become one single inter-thinking group
with one general framework of ideas. . . ."
Marxism/Leninism: New World Order
Eventually, the proletariat throughout the world will rise
up, throw off the chains of bourgeois oppression, and seize the means of production (and
with it political power), thereby establishing a worldwide "dictatorship of the
proletariat." This is the next major evolutionary step toward the coming world order.
Marxists are willing to call for a one-world dictatorship of the proletariat because they
will control such a government through Marxist/Leninist law. The Marxist believes that
once every trace of bourgeois ideology and capitalistic tradition have been eradicated, a
fully communist society will exist. In such a society, government will become unnecessary
and wither away.
Cosmic Humanism: New Age Order
As with law, the need for politics and government only exists
because some individuals refuse to get in touch with their true selves. The trend toward a
one-world government is perceived by Cosmic Humanists as a positive sign that we are
evolving away from our need for government, and toward spiritual unity; away from our
unenlightened state, and toward the "oneness" that is the real basis of all
Biblical Christianity: Justice, Freedom, Order
Jesus Christ is "King of kings and Lord of
Biblical Christianity recognizes the state as a God-ordained
institution (Genesis 9:6, Romans 13:1-7, 1 Peter 2:13-17). Christianity believes in the
depravity of man (Jeremiah 17:9) and his moral responsibility, and that government is
therefore a necessary institutioneven to the imposition of the death penalty
(Genesis 9:6, Romans 13:1-4). However, government has limited obligations, not
totalitarian powers. The Biblical model falls somewhere between anarchy (no government)
and totalitarianism (total government). Caesar has his role, but it is different from the
roles God has appointed for the family and the church.
[Greek: oikos (house) + nomia (rule)]: The rule
or management of resources, whether by an individual or a society.
Secular Humanism: Socialism
Most Humanists believe in some form of socialist economy,
consistent with their belief that man is an evolving creature who will become capable of
planning the perfect economy. Man, who must "save himself," must be in absolute
control of all aspects of his universe. Thus, the world's economic system must be strictly
controlled through central planningthat is, government must be granted authority
over man's economic affairs.
Economics is central to Marxism/Leninism because Marx
believed that the economic system of a society determines the nature of all legal, social
and political institutions. Because the Marxist believes that modes of production form the
foundation for society, he concludes that anything wrong with society is the result of
imperfect modes of production. Societies have been improving because the economic systems
on which they have been founded are gradually improving: slavery gave way to feudalism,
and feudalism to capitalism. Because of capitalism's flaws, it will eventually give way to
socialism. In a socialist society, all private property will gradually be abolished; man
will no longer oppress his fellow man in an effort to protect his private property. When
all private property and consequently all class distinctions have withered away, the
transition from socialism to the highest economic form, communism, will be complete. The
ultimate aim of Marxism/Leninism is the creation of a political world order based on
communism that will solve the economic problem of scarcity so efficiently that each
individual will see his needs (and most of his wants) fulfilled.
Cosmic Humanism: Universal Enlightened Production
Traditional economic forms act as a hindrance to individual
enlightenment, because they emphasize only the material. This does not mean, however, that
Cosmic Humanists should not have possessions; rather, whatever is necessary for the
happiness of New Agers will automatically flow toward them, if they stay true to the voice
within. "Mind over matter" is a way of life; if you are in harmony with the
spiritual realm you can control the ebb and flow of material gain.
Biblical Christianity: Stewardship of Property
Jesus Christ is "Owner"
Genesis 1:28, Psalm 24:1, Psalm 50:10-12, I Corinthians 10:26
Christians begin their economic theory with an assumption
about human nature: man is sinful. Another Biblical preceptthe concept of
justicealso plays an important role for the Christian. The most desirable economic
system promotes justice by protecting the rights of individuals from infringement by
others. If all men were inherently good, one might not have to worry about individuals
denying the rights of others; but man is not inherently good. Therefore, the Christian
believes the best economic system would contain basic checks and balances that can
guarantee the protection of human rights. Applying this criterion, the Christian believes
the free enterprise system to be more compatible with his worldview than other economic
systems. Economic systems that check injustice and grant men responsibilityin both
private property and economic decisionscan allow men the freedom to act with all the
dignity of beings created in God's image. This, according to the Christian view, is the
important end of economic theory, offering not riches or luxury, but the freedom to seek
fulfillment through understanding one's role in God's universe.
[Latin: historia (information)]: The study of past
places, persons, and events.
Secular Humanism: Historical Evolution
Humanists view earth's history from a strictly naturalistic
vantage point, assuming no supernatural influence. The history of man and the universe is
the history of evolutionary activity. Propelled without design by "blind natural
selection," history has moved in an upward direction from simplicity to complexity.
Some Humanists view Artificial Intelligencethe computeras the next step in
Marxism/Leninism: Historical Materialism
History for the Marxist is the result of the dialectic
(thesis, antithesis, synthesis) at work through biological evolution, economics, and the
social order. Beginning with eternal matter and spontaneous generation, history is a
progression of biological and economic evolution which will ultimately result in a society
of communist man in a communist paradise. Manthe consequence of these impersonal
happeningsis given a minor role to play, to nudge history along a little faster
toward its predetermined end.
Cosmic Humanism: Evolutionary Godhead
Evolution is constantly moving mankind toward
god-consciousness. Cosmic Humanists are assured, by the scientific fact of evolution, that
man and all reality are progressing toward a unified enlightenment. The fittest already
recognize this; the "unfit" are the Christians and other proponents of dogmatic
worldviews who act as a hindrance to evolutionary forces.
Biblical Christianity: Historical Resurrection
Jesus Christ is the "Logos made flesh"
Genesis 3:15, John 1:14, Galatians 4:4, I Timothy 3:16
Christianity and history have always been allies.
Christianity is rooted in history; without its historical roots there would be no
Christian worldview (I Corinthians 15:14). The history contained in the Bible is accurate,
and describes events which actually occurred. All in all, the historical Bible (the
written Word) and Jesus Christ (the Living Word) are the two cornerstones of the Christian
worldview. If the Bible isn't history, or if Jesus Christ isn't "God with us"
(Matthew 1:23), Biblical Christianity crumbles.
Copyright © 1996, Summit Ministries, all rights reserved