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Ancient Words: A Time of Certainty, Humanism in Rome

by Scott Johnson | March 5, 2021 at 8:30 p.m.

Humanism is defined as: An outlook or system of thought attaching prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters. Humanist beliefs stress the potential value and goodness of human beings, emphasize common human needs, and seek solely rational ways of solving human problems. Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism or other supernatural beliefs, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good.

Humanism was not a phrase used by the Romans, but the ideas embedded in humanism thought certainly were present in Rome when Paul wrote his letter. The Greeks had perhaps delivered this pedestal of human importance for human beings when the Roman Empire replaced the Greek Empire. Without saying the word “humanism” in the Roman letter, Paul is clearly laying out the divine argument against it. Man is not better off then, man is not better off today, by embracing humanism—-because this system of thought leaves out God!

Notice how Paul addresses this wayward thought in Rome: For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Rom 1:18-21

Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God “will repay each person according to what they have done.” To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. Rom 2:4-8

“There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.” “The poison of vipers is on their lips.” “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Rom 3:10-18

All attempts to remove God, to disavow His scripture, to ignore His presence and counsel are contemptible before the Father and the Son. These actions are masked as humanism today and are a disguise presented by an angel of light: And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve. 2Co 11:14-15

Pay attention to Romans in the Ancient Words. Like the Roman and Corinthian church, we must not be taken in by an angel of light wearing a mask!

Scott and Jane Johnson minister with East Faulkner Church of Christ and BRG Bible. Bible questions can be sent to [email protected]

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