The Real Humanism

John Stonestreet

The Real Humanism

The worst ideas of the 20th century emerged from the various forms of godless humanism. More war, bloodshed, and genocides were committed by those who believed they could solve our personal and social problems without God than in all the previous centuries of the world combined.

Ironically, 20th century humanism was actually de-humanism — especially for the Jews in Germany, Cambodians at the hands of Khmer Rouge, unborn babies since Roe v. Wade, and the list goes on and on.

Henry Grunwald, reflecting on the 20th century for Time magazine, said that the most remarkable thing about it was how dehumanizing it was! In fact, he admits that it was the direct result of forgetting God: “we have gradually deconstructed the human being into a bundle of reflexes, neuroses, nerve endings. The great religious heresy used to be making man the measure of all things, but we have come close to making man the measure of nothing.”

The 21st century is left with the mess of the 20th, which means the assault on human value now stretches into all corners of a profoundly de-humanizing culture. Chuck Colson realized this, and called the church to defend the inherent dignity of all human life from conception to natural death.

More than just defending life, we are also called to promote its value, and as Joni Eareckson Tada reminded us last week on "BreakPoint this Week," this happens through our everyday decisions — how we relate to others, how we vote, how we craft our advanced health directives, and how we welcome the least of these into our lives and churches.

This everyday humanness is profoundly Christian and very powerful. In fact, what the world needs most right now — a good dose of re-humanization — is what the Gospel offers.

Think about all the words Scripture uses for the impact of the Gospel in our lives: re-demption, re-newal, re-surrection, re-pentance, re-conciliation. “Re-” words like these connect with that which has happened before, what it was before everything was messed up in the first place.

Chuck would tell you, in the tradition of the great worldview thinkers, that the Biblical story has four chapters: Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Consummation. Sometimes we act like the story begins with the fall, but it doesn’t. God’s creation was proclaimed “very good!” and that’s what made the fall so devastating. But what Christ brings is a renewed, restored, reclaimed potential for those who repent and are reconciled.

Do you get it? The point of being Christian is not to be super-spiritual. It’s to be re-humanized. Returned to our God-given, human task of loving Him and loving others.

That’s one of the things that I will never forget about Chuck Colson — he was fully human. He loved, he laughed, he fought, he built, he proclaimed, and he related. And, everyone I’ve interviewed that knew him said the same thing. He was Chuck — what you saw was what you got.

But one person I had the honor to speak with knew Chuck about as well as anyone could — Chuck’s daughter Emily. She knew Chuck the dad, and Chuck the granddad to Max. This weekend on "BreakPoint this Week," you can hear as Emily describes her close relationship with her dad, and how Chuck learned to enter the world of his highly autistic grandson.

What you’ll hear is just how human this overly type-A evangelical leader was. And how Christian being fully human actually is.

Publication date: May 4, 2012

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