Are you a Humanist?

There is an essential goodness to being a human being.

By Merle Hertzler


Years ago a battle raged in the church between the fundamentalists, who favored strict adherence to the Bible, and the modernists, who saw the Bible as a fallible book and used it as one of many sources. The modernists were open to humanist values, but fundamentalists went strictly from the Bible.

Who won the battle? Interestingly, both sides have won. The core ideas of fundamentalism--such as inspiration of Bible, deity of Christ, heaven and hell--are alive and well, and accepted universally in the church. But when we come to our relationships, our values, and our view of ourselves, the opinions of the modern church are often closer to humanism than to fundamentalism. How can this be? How can people believe the Bible as God's word and still accept humanism? I think that many Christians are largely unfamiliar with what the Bible actually teaches. I think if they would take the time to read it, they would find the Bible is quite different from what they are hearing. But that is another story. Someday I may write about the differences between the Bible teaching and the modern, humanist views in the church. 

For this exercise, we will simply contrast the views of humanism and fundamentalism in key areas of living. This will give my readers a chance to look at the two views, and see where they fit in.

I have found that there is a broad range of views within Christianity. A preliminary version of this test was presented in the Christian Forum for public comment. You can see those comments there. You will see that there was a broad range of scores, as Christians differ greatly on these points.

The criteria are derived from chapter 12 of Deadly Doctrine, by Wendell Watters.

Directions: In each category below, select the sentence that best summarizes your views. Every time you select the first answer, give yourself 2 points. If you select the second answer you get 0 points. If you can't decide, or if your views are in the middle, you can give yourself 1 point for that category. Have fun!

1. Eternity

a. Rather than looking for a future life, this present life should be lived to the fullest.

b. This life's main concern is with those things that affect our eternal state after death.

2. Basis of Morality

a. Human reason is the only meaningful basis for determining moral behavior.

b. Moral behavior is determined primarily by following the rules made by God.

3. Science

a. The scientific approach enables us to gain knowledge in all areas of life.

b. The scientific approach is fine, but if it differs with the Bible, science is wrong.

4. Enjoyment

a. Guilt-free pleasure is the raw material of sound personality growth.

b. One should take up his cross and deny himself. Earthly pleasure is not that important.

5. Feelings

a. Feelings are natural. Behavior can be wrong, but feelings are neither right nor wrong.

b. Certain feelings, such as anger or sexual desire, can be sinful, and must be stopped.

6. Sexual Equality

a. The sexes are to be treated equally.

b. Women are to have different roles from men, and they should not be leaders of men.

7. Religious Tolerance

a. I am tolerant of other religions, and recognize that good people sometimes differ greatly on religion.

b. My religion is right. Those who have another religion are evil.

8. Self Esteem

a. It is good to like yourself and to see yourself as a worthwhile individual.

b. We should abase ourselves and see ourselves as worthless without God's salvation and help.

9. Nature of Humans

a. There is an essential goodness to being a human being.

b. Human nature is evil. We cannot be good without God's help.

10. Uncertainty

a. Life is filled with ambiguity and uncertainty, but we work together to make the most of it.

b. God has perfect plans for our lives, and everything that happens to us is for a purpose.

11. Questioning

a. We should be prepared to ask questions about everything, including our most cherished beliefs.

b. Certain beliefs are to be accepted by faith without question.

12. Teaching Children

a. Children should learn to think critically and to grow according to their own light.

b. Children should be indoctrinated with the beliefs they must have.


In true magazine quiz format, I present the following unscientific scoring system for what it is worth:

17-24 Leaning toward humanism

8-16 Middle-of-the-road

0-7 Leaning toward fundamentalism

To learn more about humanism, you may want to read the Humanist Manifestos available online.





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