In the Face of Secularism, It is Time for a New Defense of Christianity
In the Face of Secularism, What is needed is a Defense of the ancient yet ever new faith which sets people and Nations free
The Obama administration's unconstitutional mandate regarding birth control coverage reminds us that we live in the age of secular humanism, when many people no longer believe religious faith is reasonable or important. Yet, it appears that secular humanism is littered with logical inconsistencies and not truly humanitarian. Nor does it offer valid reasons for the rejection of Christianity.
The message this administration sends to Christians is that our faith is bad for modern society, and we will no longer be allowed to live according to our beliefs in this nation. Therefore, as we prepare to enter into the deepest mysteries of our faith this Lenten season, perhaps it would be helpful if we compare the reasonableness of our faith with secular humanism. The renowned Catholic theologian Germain Grisez provides us with excellent information on this subject in Volume 2 of his book, Living A Christian Life. This article was inspired by the excerpts in the section on faith which focus on secular humanism's claim that Christianity is not rational, scientific or tolerant. But before I proceed, I want to be clear about how I use the term "secular humanism." When we hear the word "secular," we usually think of something that does not pertain to religion or is neutral toward religion. When we hear the word "humanism," we might think of concern for the needs and welfare of people or compassion for their suffering. However, "secular humanism" is not the sum of these two words. It has a different meaning: It is a nonreligious world view, a belief system, an ideology. The values of this ideology seem largely influenced by atheism, materialism, pragmatism, relativism, and subjectivism. Marxism, communism and socialism are expressions of a secular humanistic ideology. So are modern Western liberalism and the secular state. This helps explain why Western secular governments are seen as particularly anti-Christian. This basically describes how I use the term "secular humanism," although I will use the term "secularism" for the sake of brevity. Now we can proceed with the subject matter inspired by Grisez. Secularism has married itself to a materialistic world view, yet our very nature reaches beyond the material universe in search of God; but not just any God, the Christian God. It seems the only real solution to the human condition is a God of infinite love and mercy who would become one of us, die for us, and raise us up to a life of supernatural love in this world and in eternity. This is the Christian God. But secularists claim that it is irrational to believe in that which is "neither obvious nor shown to be true" (23). However, Grisez points out that our faith is not irrational. God can reasonably be shown to exist, and even if we cannot understand the great mysteries of our faith, we can see that they logically flow from God's attributes. For instance, although we cannot understand or prove the existence of the Trinity, we can logically see that an all-powerful, infinitely perfect intellect and will could be triune. Secularists try to debunk such reasoning by claiming that science offers the only legitimate knowledge of reality. But Grisez tells us that all such claims are self-defeating since they cannot be established by any science. Faith and science do not deal with the same subject matter. They ask different questions. Consequently, their answers do not conflict with each other; they compliment each other. Grisez says, "It is a sign of harmony between faith and science that some able scientists are devout believers" (24). Another argument used against Christianity concerns religious wars. Christianity is not a pacifist religion. Sometimes, the right and loving thing to do is to defend oneself, one's family, or one's country. The Church spells out conditions for legitimate defense in paragraph 2309 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Furthermore, when viewed within a historical context, it seems Christians have generally held to a much higher standard than the norm. It also seems that most of the condemnation against Christians is based on distorted information. However, Christians have given great scandal at times, even waged unjust wars. This was terribly wrong. Having said that, let us be clear. It is not Christians who have waged the bloodiest, most devastating wars in human history. That disgrace belongs to the devotees of atheistic, materialistic, relativistic, and pragmatic philosophies, and their children: Nazism, fascism, Marxism, and communism. Today's most immediate threats to peace are radical secular humanism and radical Islamism. Christianity is not the problem in the world; it is the world's hope. Secularists also claim that Christians are intolerant because they "affirm dogmas and hold objective moral norms rather than acquiescing in religious indifferentism and moral subjectivism" (28). But Grisez reminds us that "every world view and way of life logically excludes alternatives" (28). Relativists and subjectivists also "reject every position incompatible with their own" (28). He says, "true tolerance is not indifferentism and subjectivism, but respect for those who hold another world view and way of life" (28). Grisez also says that secularists "constantly talk about civility and moderation, but they are not immune from intolerance and fanaticism. Indeed, they are especially tempted to be arbitrary and self-righteous, precisely because they do not acknowledge a higher reality" (29) or an objective moral standard to which all reasonable people must submit. And since they are "unable to call on their opponents to submit to [objective] principles. . . , relativists and subjectivists inevitably will be tempted to use nonrational methods--manipulation and even suppression--in order to prevail" (29). For Grisez, then, secularism leads to moral irresponsibility. He says it often results in lying, manipulative behavior, brutal competition, and exploitation of the weak by the strong. Neither does it respect the dignity of human persons or believe that people are endowed with inalienable rights. Given Grisez's analysis, we might wonder if the real reason secularists reject Christianity is because they simply refuse to "Repent, and believe in the Gospel" (Mk 1:15). Thus, it appears that secularism is littered with logical inconsistencies and not truly humanitarian. Nor does it offer valid reasons for the rejection of Christianity. So let us not be confused by secularists' irrational talk or cowered by their aggression. Devout Christians are the hope of America and the world! But before we can transform either, we must allow the Holy Spirit to purify us and transform us into the likeness of Jesus. May we have a fruitful and grace-filled Lent.
----- Michael Terheyden was born into a Catholic family, but that is not why he is a Catholic. He is a Catholic because he believes that truth is real, that it is beautiful and good, and that the fullness of truth is in the Catholic Church. However, he knows that God's grace operating throughout his life is the main reason he is a Catholic. He is greatly blessed to share his faith and his life with his beautiful wife, Dorothy. They have four grown children and three grandchildren.
Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for October 2015
Universal: That human trafficking, the modern form of slavery, may be eradicated.
Evangelization: That with a missionary spirit the Christian communities of Asia may announce the Gospel to those who are still awaiting it.
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Lent / Easter News
- Missing The Point of Easter
- The Power of the Resurrection in our Lives: Christ Is Risen; Indeed, He Is Risen!
- Easter: Through the Octave and Beyond!
- The Happy Priest on Easter: He Has Truly Risen, We Are Free From Fear
- Holy Saturday: 'Make Sure He's Dead'
- HOLY SATURDAY: The Whole Earth Keeps Silence
- Good Friday Reflection on the Logic of the Cross
- Good Friday: The Church Born From the Wounded Side of Christ Pauses at the Cross
- Reflection on the Nature of Sin for Good Friday
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?
More Easter / Lent
'So it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead' - Luke 24:46
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption. continue reading
Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in all four canonical Gospels. (Mark 11:1.11, Matthew 21:1.11, Luke 19:28.44, and John 12:12.19) ... continue reading
On Palm Sunday, we celebrate the first joy of the season, as we celebrate Our Lord's triumphant entrance into Jerusalem where he was welcomed by crowds worshiping him and laying down palm leaves before him. It also marks the beginning of Holy Week... continue reading
HOLY THURSDAY is the most complex and profound of all religious observances. It celebrates his last supper with the disciples, a celebration of Passover ... continue reading
On Good Friday, each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption. In the solemn ceremonies of Holy Week we unite ourselves to our Savior, and we contemplate our own death to sin in the Death of our Lord ... continue reading
Easter is the principal feast of the ecclesiastical year. Leo I (Sermo xlvii in Exodum) calls it the greatest feast (festum festorum), and says that Christmas is celebrated only in preparation for Easter. It is the centre of the greater part of the ecclesiastical year ... continue reading
For most people the easiest practice to consistently fulfill will be the traditional one, to abstain from meat on all Fridays of the year. During Lent abstinence from meat on Fridays is obligatory in the United States as elsewhere. Christ Himself said that His disciples would fast once He had departed (Lk. 5:35). continue reading
Everything answered from when does lent end, ashes, giving something up, stations of the cross and blessed palms. The key to understanding the meaning of Lent is simple: Baptism... continue reading
Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion. First Station: Jesus is condemned to death... pray the stations now
What did you give up for Lent?
From the humorous to the bizarre, people have had interesting Lenten experiences. Tell us about what you are going to give up for this Lenten Year.
What others gave up »
Alex Basile - Catholic Online, 4/10/2015
Author Alex Basile reflects of the true meaning of the Resurrection of Christ and how many Christians overlook the real joy of Easter. In the haziness of the first Easter morning, Mary Magdalene made ...Continue Reading
Fr. James Farfaglia - Catholic Online, 4/6/2015
With the resurrection of Jesus, the physical is exalted. When we truly believe in Jesus, we are resurrected in this life because we are freed from the fear and worry that are characteristic of ...Continue Reading
Randy Sly - Catholic Online, 4/6/2015
While Easter is a Solemnity and an Octave Feast, it is also a 50-day journey until Pentecost. We continue to remember his resurrection with special devotion. Saint Augustine shares this ...Continue Reading
F. K. Bartels - Catholic Online, 4/6/2015
There is great cause for belief in the Resurrection. One of the most wonderful tenets of Catholicism and the true Christian religion the Church transmits, is that the Resurrection is a historical ...Continue Reading
On Good Friday, the entire Church fixes her gaze on the Cross at Calvary. Each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption.
In the symbol of the Cross we can see the magnitude of the human tragedy, the ravages of original sin, and the infinite love of God. Learn More
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption.
The ashes are made from the blessed palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year. The ashes are christened with Holy Water and are scented by exposure to incense. Learn More
Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion.
ACT OF CONTRITION. O my God, my Redeemer, behold me here at Thy feet. From the bottom of my heart... Pray the Stations
'Christ Himself said that His disciples would fast once He had departed' Lk. 5:35
Abstinence. The law of abstinence requires a Catholic 14 years of age until death to abstain from eating meat on Fridays in honor of the Passion of Jesus on Good Friday. Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles and shellfish are permitted.
Fasting. The law of fasting requires a Catholic from the 18th Birthday (Canon 97) to the 59th Birthday (i.e. the beginning of the 60th year, a year which will be completed on the 60th birthday) to reduce the amount of food eaten from normal. The Church defines this as one meal a day, and two smaller meals which if added together would not exceed the main meal.
Learn More »