Overcoming Secular Humanism with the Gospel
Q. I have been trying to witness to an unbelieving relative I will call “Laura,” but it has been a difficult conversation. After I spoke with her recently about Christianity, she sent me an email with a long description of secular humanism, which was her retort to my explanation of Christianity. What is secular humanism and how do I reach someone who believes this way?
A. First, we commend you for your willingness to engage your family members in this important discussion. We know how challenging it can be to present the Gospel to family members, and we remember Jesus’ words when He said:
Mark 6:4 (NKJV)
4 But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.”
Secular humanism is just the latest label for an age-old perspective that holds human reason and intellect as higher values than religious faith. The information in your family member’s response was copied from a well-known online resource for paganism and anti-religious viewpoints.
Even though your relative appears to be engaging with you in this debate, in reality she is attempting to shut down the conversation to prevent you from presenting the Gospel. Laura was probably hoping the material she copied and sent you would put an end to your efforts. Most likely she is uncomfortable in engaging in this discussion personally, perhaps out of ignorance or an insecurity, and so she relied on someone else’s words instead.
Ironically, this may be a good thing for your purposes, since it suggests she may be unprepared to defend her views and that the Lord may be at work to open her eyes. Since Laura side-stepped the conversation, we recommend you keep trying to engage her in the very thing she is avoiding: the truth of God’s word.
Rather than responding to her copied content point-for-point (which just moves you further away from a discussion of the Gospel and God’s word), we recommend you continue to speak to her from Scripture. Explain the holiness of God and the sinful nature of men, explain the problem with our sin when it comes into the presence of a holy and just God Who must act in perfect justice, and explain the opportunity to escape that judgment by the grace of a loving God Who died for us. These are the facts Laura was probably trying to avoid as she threw up the smokescreen of secular humanism.
Finally, keep in mind that secular humanism is nothing new and nothing different. Since the time of Cain, men had tried to see themselves as independent of God and capable of finding truth apart from God. The reality of our accountability to an all-powerful, all-knowing God is both inconvenient and convicting, and so mankind has sought to suppress this conviction by changing the topic away from God and toward nature, science, fate, and other sources for human wisdom.
Paul put it this way:
Romans 1:20-23 (NKJV)
20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.
In reality, the enlightened reason of human secularism is neither enlightened nor reasonable. The Bible says the so-called wisdom of men is actually foolishness. The unbelieving men are deceived by the enemy, yet have no appreciation for the depths and power of that deception. Paul taught again:
2 Corinthians 4:3-4 (NKJV)
3 But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the good news of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.
Nevertheless, there is reason to hope that your efforts to reach your sister will be effect. God is capable of breaking through your sister’s blindness and bringing her to a knowledge of the truth. Paul says it this way:
1 Corinthians 1:18-25 (NKJV)
Christ the Power and Wisdom of God
18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”
20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
Paul taught that the story of the cross of Christ was designed by God to appear foolish to those who think themselves wise, so that He may shame human wisdom by the “foolishness” of His plan of salvation. God also delights, however, to save those who believe in the message of the truth by the power of God. And the foolish and weak message of the Gospel is far wiser than the so-called wisdom of men, and the power of the Biblical truth to save is far stronger than the strength of men to save themselves by their efforts at “reason.”
Therefore, take heart in knowing that if God is at work through you to save Laura, then His efforts cannot be stopped, and her adherence to pagan principles will one day give way to the truth of the Gospel. In the meantime, continue to focus your conversation on the truth of God’s word and don’t get distracted in debates over the things she copies from the internet and throws in your face.
Like all unbelievers, she desperately needs to hear the very conversation she is trying to avoid.
“©2016 – Verse By Verse Ministry International (http://www.versebyverseministry.org). May be copied and distributed in its original, unedited form, including this copyright statement, and no fee is collected for its distribution.”
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