By Jeff Ziegler
One of the many erroneous “Religious-Humanistic” charges against Orthodox expressions of The Christian Faith or vibrant demonstrations of Christian civil witness is that we care little or nothing at all for the doctrines and disciplines that theoretically lead to sanctification and holiness. In this context, the Religio-Humanist views Christianity as “private” and at its zenith “monastic” useful only for self-examination and otherworldliness. Such standards are valuable for the Religio-Humanist in that a self-imposed “ghettoization” for the Church is in harmony with their unintentional tyrannical vision of civil polity.
On the contrary, while transformational Christians, (those who hold that Christ’s rule is not confined to the unseen world) hardily reject the monastic, introspective, legalistic and selfish “privatized religion” of these arrogant “will-worshiping” idolaters. (For the Religio-Humanist rejects Christ’s cultural claims). We maintain with equal vigor and unbending determination our allegiance to Christ and the exhortation of both Old and New Testaments “… be ye holy as I am holy.” Yet “holiness” and fidelity to the Biblical ideal, is not defined by those who walk in antithesis to Divine revelation. Hence, a true Christian should not define their existence nor judge themselves in accordance with a “man-centered paradigm” of holy living.
The differences between the Religio-Humanist and the true Christian concerning the question of holiness and fidelity revolves around two distinct areas of conflict.
FIRST The Source and Standard of Holiness
Christian orthodoxy holds, that God’s grace is administered from Christ in His enthronement and is demonstrated by the Holy Spirit, consequently giving us the mercy, grace, and power to obey the revealed will of God as contained in the Scriptures. Herein is an objective, immutable standard that cannot be diluted by subjective, arbitrary man-based notions of “what ought to be”. So as Christ has redeemed man by His meritorious work through crucifixion, so too He maintains and sanctifies His sons through His resurrected, ascended state by the power and efficacy of The Holy Spirit.
The Religio-Humanist believes that through monastic, legalistic, self-abasing acts of ritual to sully, mock and destroy the “flesh”, the Church may be fully emancipated from the material world and escape any form of civil discourse. Their mantra maintains that the experience of the “inner light” or God infused into the essence man, can only be achieved through separation from the “world”. The “God-infused” experience confines “holy” behavior to private subjective interpretations as the Religio-Humanist rejects any notion of Christ’s authority in the visible world and culture. Hence man and his feelings are the final authority of ethics, and are not to be defined by Scriptures, nor authenticated by the Church. Consequently, the standard of holiness is man-centered, subjective, and capricious. It is never to be “seen” or demonstrated in the culture. It is the penultimate ‘private’ life.
SECOND The Scope of Holiness
Christianity contends that every person, family, every activity, relationship or human endeavor must be conformed to the Word of God and subsequently becomes the objective expression of “Holiness unto the Lord.” This view of sanctification is applicable to the individual, the family, the Church and in civil affairs. The emphasis is comprehensive in scope. Individual sanctification leads to an outward witness that impacts the corporate Church and then society as a whole. Hence, the continual ongoing work of the maturation of The Church maintains that individual holiness is not independent of corporate holiness. True Christianity holds to a global vision of dominion through ethical reform. Ergo, there exist no false dichotomies between individual holiness and corporate expressions of the same. Such outward holy witness leads to the transformation of the world in every aspect. This is in keeping with the anthem of The Great Commission as described in St. Matthew chapter 28.
The Religio-Humanist sees all spirituality in terms of the individual. They are ascetics who laboriously practice self-denial of physical and material pleasure or denial of civil concern in order to earn God’s favor. Typically they eschew the institutional Church and wholly and altogether reject the notion of Christian Culture. They are separatists in terms of the “material and spiritual world” and create a false antithesis between a public vibrant Church acting as God’s embassy and a private ‘conscious’ driven religion. Their end goal is the idea of man absorbed into divinity. For them the Church is an impediment, and the corporate Christian community a weight and encumbrance to their fictional quest of total, absolute, self-perfection.
Religio-Humanism – Unwitting Allies of Secularity
In the context of Secularized-Statist Humanism, we find a worldview that is replete with its own manifesto and is a full orbed statist-religion that aspires to the deification of man through totalitarian, pagan and occultic influences. In repudiating Christian orthodoxy, principally the notion of God’s transcendence, Humanism becomes an amply articulated antichristian worldview. The humanistic notion of freedom elevates the state to the place of God and positions it as the author and protector of liberty. Thus from beginning to end, man is to be dependent on the state. Secular-Humanism can be depicted as a scientific-intellectual elite who has through time, reinvented God and ethics in man’s image; the antithesis of the Biblical record. Thus man as a kind of “god” engineers an imagined “superior secular culture,” ever evolving into a forced egalitarian cooperative society: theoretically resulting in the utopian ideal. In this context the progress of the state is akin to divinity itself and therefore any religion that would impede such progress, or would attempt to decentralize its power is regarded as retrograde, fit for marginalization and eventual eradication. To the Christian who holds Christ as the “transformer of culture” the anthem of Secular-Humanism signals an unyielding fight until one or the other is triumphant.
The Religio-Humanist is in full alliance with his secular brother. If not intellectually in league with such designs, certainly in point of fact, due to his social inaction and deliberate segregation of the ethical demands of Christ to the unseen. They are in the parlance of Joe Stalin “useful idiots” to the statist agenda. In fact they are often recruited by the statist to give legitimacy to the dictatorial motif, hence theoretically adverting opposition to the state.
The early Church was seen as a threat to the Roman Caesar cult not due to a bulging militia, but because of its concern for true sanctification of social structures. As such they ethically and morally exposed the ethically rotted foundations of Imperial Rome. This pattern is repeated over and again whenever the Church’s vitality is manifested in a particular culture or nation state. In colonial America, the clarion trumpet of the Church and the dynamic lives of her saints, became the fertile ground that led to our corporate revolt against the Crown of King George. The Church was also the first to be attacked by any of the 20th century examples of Marxist revolution. So a vital Church, rejecting the siren seductions of Religio-Humanism, will always lead in “… The transformation of the World, every part of it, into a place of worship for Jesus Christ.”
In sum that is the chief end of “HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD.”