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Only Two Religions 2 - The Rise and Fall of Secular Humanism


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Heritage Presbyterian Church
Adult Sunday School

Published in: Spiritual
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Only Two Religions 2 - The Rise and Fall of Secular Humanism

  1. 1. P e t e r J o n e s Director of truthXchange A Worldview & Culture Teaching Series by Ligonier Ministries Adult Sunday School Summer 2019
  2. 2. Lesson Slide 2 2 The Rise and Fall of Secular Humanism The Big Question How can we make sense of the breakneck spiritual and social changes happening right now in our culture? and How should Christians respond?
  3. 3. Lesson Slide 2 3 The Rise and Fall of Secular Humanism Lesson Introduction • We live in a society that has seen tremendous development in science and technology. This development has been intimately tied to a modern ideology called secular humanism, which views human reason as the ultimate authority and rejects the supernatural. • However, modern culture, as it becomes increasingly “postmodern,” is very open to the supernatural and countless forms of spirituality • In this lecture, Dr. Peter Jones explains the development of secular humanism, tracing its origin, rise to dominance, and eventual decline • By understanding secular humanism as an influential ideological movement, you will be better prepared to understand the modern/postmodern culture in which you live.
  4. 4. Lesson Slide 2 4 The Rise and Fall of Secular Humanism Scripture Reading I, Paul, myself entreat you, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—I who am humble when face to face with you, but bold toward you when I am away!— I beg of you that when I am present I may not have to show boldness with such confidence as I count on showing against some who suspect us of walking according to the flesh. For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 2 Corinthians 10:1-5
  5. 5. Lesson Slide 2 5 The Rise and Fall of Secular Humanism Teaching Objectives 1. To explain the history of secular humanism and its influence on modern culture 2. To expose how secular humanism has affected the church in the form of theological liberalism 3. To show why secular humanism has failed to provide an alternative religion to Christianity
  6. 6. Lesson Slide 2 6 The Rise and Fall of Secular Humanism Watch Lecture 2
  7. 7. Lesson Slide 2 7 The Rise and Fall of Secular Humanism Discussion Questions 1-2 1. Dr. Jones argues that as Western culture has made great advances through science and technology, it has become more enamored with the power and ability of human reason. Can you think of episodes in Scripture where success leads to pride? Do you think that there is a direct relationship between a society’s success and its morality? 2. Read Mark 4:26–34. Compare the secular humanist view of bringing about the kingdom of man on earth with Christ’s description of the growth of the kingdom of God. What are the primary differences between their respective modes of arrival?
  8. 8. Lesson Slide 2 8 The Rise and Fall of Secular Humanism Mark 4:26-34 And he said, "The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. 27 He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. 28 The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. 29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come." 30 And he said, "With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? 31 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, 32 yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade." 33 With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it. 34 He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything.
  9. 9. Lesson Slide 2 9 The Rise and Fall of Secular Humanism Discussion Questions 3-4 3. Despite the cry of numerous intellectuals over the past few centuries, religion shows no sign of going away. When Christians in particular have their faith belittled by such intellectuals, how should they respond? What is their ultimate comfort amid this type of adversity? 4. What sort of evidence do you see in modern culture that suggests the waning influence of secular humanism? In what areas of culture do people still cling to a secular humanist ideology?
  10. 10. Lesson Slide 2 10 The Rise and Fall of Secular Humanism The Postmodern Critique • Secular humanism (modernism) has been weakened at its core by the postmodern critique: all meta-narratives and ultimate truth claims are only suspicious power grabs • Postmodernism contributes to the future of human development its emphases on pluralism, complexity, and ambiguity • These emphases are precisely the characteristics necessary for the potential emergence of a fundamentally new form of intellectual vision
  11. 11. Lesson Slide 2 11 The Rise and Fall of Secular Humanism The Death of God? • As the first great challenge to historical Christianity in our time, modernism proclaimed in the 1960s the “death of God” as a victory for secular humanism • But the “death of God” did not become a victory for secular humanism. It actually led to the return of spiritual paganism. The “death of God” was not the death of any notion of divinity, but the “death” of the specific transcendent God of biblical Twoism. • “At the death of God we will see the rebirth of the gods and goddesses of ancient Greece and Rome.” ~ David Miller, The New Polytheism • From the writings of Carl Jung, Miller understood the “death of God” was a demise that would not herald the victory of secularism but a celebration of the liberating rebirth in the West of the Oneist pagan gods from faraway places and ancient times
  12. 12. Lesson Slide 2 12 The Rise and Fall of Secular Humanism After the “Death of God” • The “death” of the biblical God in the 1960s signals a number of seminal events for our own time: 1. The coup de grace of Western Christendom as a significant social and cultural force—we are now on the defensive, not for our truth claims but as a force for good within the culture 2. The demise of secular humanism—most unexpected and still not widely noticed 3. The rebirth of the old pagan belief in the divinity of nature and humanity • Following secular humanism, the rebirth of ancient paganism is the second great challenge to historical Christianity in our time. We are just beginning to see its power.
  13. 13. Lesson Slide 2 13 The Rise and Fall of Secular Humanism Changing of the Guard • The successful transfer of the dominant cultural worldview from one generation to the next is the normal historical pattern • But in the 20th century West, this normal transfer has been disturbed by a pattern of rejection and replacement (i.e., “culture war”) • Rejection and replacement will continue to be the new pattern until our culture reaches a state of “worldview equilibrium” (a new normal) • Note: Historically, only religious cultures have yielded stable worldview equilibrium. Modernism and postmodernism (as secular worldviews) are inherently unstable across multiple generations.
  14. 14. Lesson Slide 2 14 The Rise and Fall of Secular Humanism Where the West is Headed Generation Dominant Culture State of Oneism • Baby Boomers Secular Humanism  Nascent Oneism • Generation Xers Early Postmodernism  Emergent Oneism • Millennials Late Postmodernism  Competing Oneism • iGens Spiritual Paganism  Aggressive Oneism • Secular humanism continues (and will continue) to have devotees and strongholds, but will continue to lose cultural influence • By God’s sovereign sustaining grace, Christ’s kingdom continues (and will continue) to have faithful churches and strongholds, but Western Christendom is rapidly crumbling • Aggressive Oneism, in the form of neo-ancient spiritual paganism, has arrived!
  15. 15. Lesson Slide 2 15 The Rise and Fall of Secular Humanism Next Lesson In order to understand the changing direction of our society, all Christians (especially millennial and younger Christians, for whom secular humanism has begun to fade in influence) need to meet Swiss psychologist, Carl Gustav Jung, the creator of transpersonal psychology
  16. 16. Lesson Slide 2 16 The Rise and Fall of Secular Humanism Resources by Peter Jones • Only Two Religions (study guide) • Only Two Religions (evangelism tool) • (website) • (website) • The Other Worldview (book) • The Pagan Heart of Today’s Culture (booklet)