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The Disease of Secular-Humanism and the Cure

A man who is blind in relation to one thing (to God) is totally blind in relation to all things; and a man who sees in the one (in God), has vision of all things,” St Symeon the New Theologian.[1]Writings from the Philokalia. Practical and Theological Precepts, 35. pg. 104

Events in the world seem to be transpiring at breakneck speed. This is intentional. Keeping people swirling in a hurricane of sensory and informational overload is a psychological tactic, moreover, it is a spiritual tactic of the enemy. His toadies in this world simply execute his tactics and agendas. Illness, civil and political unrest, war, climate, threat of shortages, increase in expenses, and on the list goes. Most of these are controlled and constructed events. The goal is to keep people off balance and to immobilize them with confusion, doubts, anxieties, fears, and so forth. In such a spiritual state it is much easier to manipulate people. And manipulation is the goal.

The servants of darkness want to force people into a place where they will accept a “new narrative,” a “new order,” a “new normal.” The narrative has been emerging all around for a while now – a new narrative about humanity, the environment, the divine, and so forth. Mentally sound people, those founded on Truth, do not and will not accept the new narrative. When you have gold why would you trade it for dung? And dung – or something much worse – is what they are pushing.

Today, one of the vital areas under attack is that of true knowledge – Truth. The new narrative wants to subject everyone to their ever-changing standard and projection of what is “real” or “not real.” Today it is one thing, tomorrow it may be another. Today such and such is right but in a little bit it may be wrong. All you need to know is this – you don’t know and you don’t need to; all you need to do is “trust the experts” even if they contradict what they said yesterday. Just have faith. The mutability of fallen man is the only standard. To sell ever mutable and contradictory information as “truth” one must first attempt to discredit actual Truth or at least create an environment of constant confusion.

The devil understands completely the veracity of the Lord Jesus’ words, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free” (Jn 8:32). One might say the enemy’s counter-statement is, “keep people in constant untruth so that they will be slaves.”

And so, for the secular-humanist world, there is neither truth nor knowledge. For “truth” and “knowledge” are but the constructs of men, which are ever in flux (so they say). They are only convenient paradigms for manipulating people. Ultimately, if truth is but a construct of men, then there is no truth and nothing can be wrong in the proper sense. By denying ultimate truth, secularism subverts its own claims, for it cannot be correct if there is no true correctness. But we know it cares nothing for truth. It will say and exploit anything to advance itself and its “new world.”

Thus, St. Justin Popovich rightly says that “Relativism in the philosophy of European humanistic progress necessarily resulted in relativism in ethics, and relativism is the source of anarchism and nihilism. Consequently, the practical ethics of humanistic man are nothing other than anarchy and nihilism” (The Orthodox Church and Ecumenism. Lazarica Press, pg. 94).

For the Christian, Truth is immutable and everlasting. Christ Jesus said, “I am … the truth” (Jn. 14:6). Truth is a matter of life, true life. Thus knowing (not just intellectually) the truth is vital for a true Christian – for this is our freedom; this is our life.

Secular-humanism hates the truth for this reason. This is why every expression of secular-humanism ultimately despises true Christianity, for only in it will men know the truth and be set free. It is not without reason that it strives to exalt absurdities to the place of “truths.” Dumitru Bacu, the author of the book, The Anti-Humans, Student Re-education in Romanian Prisons, states that godless secular-humanism in Romania (in the form of Communism) sought to make its victims, “habitually and almost automatically subordinate truth to the most monstrous and absurd falsehoods” (pg. 100).

Secular-humanism is an abnormal condition and mode of existence that, as the past century shows, adversely affects the proper structure and function of humanity and society. Secular-humanism is a disease; Christ Jesus is the cure. And so they seek to eradicate the cure. For lies cannot abide the truth, nor can darkness coexist with light. If you desire people to perish in a disease you must stomp out the true cure. Even better, infect people with a disease and then offer a purported cure that will eventually kill them. Either way – a scarcity of the true cure or promotion of a false cure – the goal is advanced, keep people sick and dying in the cesspool of spiritual depravity which is secular-humanism.

Ultimately secular-humanism is a spiritual disease that manifests itself in the physical plane. The holy Archbishop Averky called this disease “Spiritual Bolshevism.” Remember, Bolshevism was simply a manifestation of secular-humanism. He writes these sober words of warning for us, “It is necessary, finally, to understand that in addition to Bolshevism in the purely political sphere, there is still spiritual Bolshevism, which corrupts human souls from within, and therefore is even more destructive and dangerous; that the realm of this spiritual Bolshevism is now many, many times wider than the realm of political Bolshevism, and that the latter draws on its main strength and support in this spiritual Bolshevism.”

This is why true Christianity always becomes public enemy number one. Simply reference any secular-humanist state of the 20th century (such as Bolshevism) for numerous examples. This indicates how much they fear the truth, and in some back-handed way confirms they know that true Christianity is Truth.

To sell lies, there must be no truth. To convince people of the wonders of darkness, light must be banished. To propagate counterfeits, authenticity must be exiled.

To sell the devil they must demonize angels. This is what the servants of the enemy do. And at current, they are perpetrating such deeds all around.

Secular-humanism has created nothing of value and beauty, rather like a parasite it only exists by sucking the life force out of whatever host it latches on to. It can only destroy and deplete actual cultures and societies, and when it is done with its life-destroying deeds it leaves a barren wasteland. And it then sets about forcefully propagandizing that this wasteland is the best of all possible existences.

Secular-humanism is established through the overthrow of traditional Christianity. It understands that it is striving to establish an anti-Christian world. Again, taking as an example the manifestation of secular-humanism in Bolshevism/Sovietism, which operated in Russia and Eastern Europe in the 20th century, clearly exemplifies the goals of secular-humanism in general. Vladimir Moss in the introduction to the book “The Russian Golgotha,” notes, “For the early Bolshiviks … everything was ideological; everything had to be in accordance with their ideology; there could be no room for disagreement, no private spheres into which the state and its ideology did not pry. Unlike most of the Roman emperors, who allowed Christians to order their own lives in their own way so long as they showed loyalty to the state … the Bolsheviks insisted in imposing their own ways upon the Christians in every sphere: in family life (civil marriage only, divorce on demand, children spying on parents), in education (compulsory Marxism), in economics (dekulakization, collectivization), in military service (the oath of allegiance to Lenin), in science (Lysenkoism), in art (socialist realism), in religion (the requisitioning of valuables, registration, commemoration of the authorities at the Liturgy, reporting confessions by the priests). Resistance to any one of these demands was counted as ‘anti-Soviet behavior,’ i.e. political disloyalty. Therefore it was no use protesting one’s political loyalty to the regime if one refused to accept just one of their demands. According to the Soviet interpretation of the word: ‘Whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one has become guilty of all of it’ (James 2:10), such a person was an enemy of the people” (pg. 17). Sound familiar?

And so, today we continue to witness this spiritual Bolshevism aggressively at work. You must obey, we have spoken. If you don’t you’re evil. You must accept the narrative in total, not based on truth but on the fact that the powers that be have spoken, and their word is all there is. You cannot dissent on even a minor issue; you may not resist any aspect of the narrative. If you do you are “attacking the principles of democracy” (the lingo changes in certain aspects according to the current need and environment).

This was also manifest in the spirit of covidism, which is still lurking in the corners. The tyranny of obedience to a narrative was on full display. Obedience can be a beautiful thing, but undiscerning obedience to an untruth is an awful thing. It is even more terrible when some in the Christian sphere actively subject Truth to the standards of obedience to the new narrative of untruth. Many of those who even questioned the new teachings expressed in covidism were subsequently punished and excluded. It became heretical not to obey. The new narrative implemented new standards by which people must approach the Divine – masks, social distancing, and vaccines. In some places even faithful devotees were still not found worthy to approach, they were offered only the digital wonder of observing via a technological screen. Sadly, these new narrative standards were enforced in many a place claiming to be Christian. No compliance – No Jesus for you.

Since ultimately secular-humanism is a manifestation of the “mystery of godlessness,” it demands total surrender to its spirit, to its ideology. It can tolerate no competitor. If a religious group is willing to submit itself to this spirit, then it will be allowed to continue in some form. The outward expression is not vital (you can keep your rites), it is a change of the heart that secular-humanism is after. If the heart is adapted to secular-humanism the externals may be retained. It is the anti-Gospel after all. Thus, it should not come as a surprise that there is a sad surplus of folks claiming “Christianity” but who in fact are essentially preaching secular-humanism. The reasoning and “wisdom” of the world are put forth as the more enlightened and loving way. This happens even in Orthodoxy. The enemy is delighted, all the better for the propagation of confusion.

Christianity becomes not Christianity, for it trades the Heart of Christ for the heart of the world. This, in some ways, is more insidious than clear atheism. In the name of Christian things the new narrative is preached, and spiritual Bolshevism becomes the spiritual environment. When lawyers and money become guiding-star principles, you may know spiritual secular-humanism is working.

St. Hilarion (Troitsky) in his must-read article, “Christianity and Socialism,” clearly states (he wrote these words well over one hundred years ago), “Truly, where now can one find in the ‘progressive’ press any reference to God and the Church? Is not agreement with the laws of God and the Church of Christ now considered the hallmark of what is bad, of backwardness, while opposition to them is considered a sign of what is good? … Now it is not what is pleasing to God or the Church that is good, but what is ‘progressive,’ ‘liberal,’ and revolutionary; that which is ‘right-leaning’ is the concatenation of all evils. ‘It is in agreement with Marx!’ – this is the highest praise for any teaching, for any opinion. Even holy Christian doctrine is assessed on the basis of this new standard. Thus, all of Christianity’s fundamental teaching concerning the personal struggle of repentance and humility is cast aside, while only some sort of ‘social teaching’ is taken up and given consideration, and in it only that which one can reinterpret in a liberal-revolutionary way is approved.” Sadly, with little alteration, these words could directly apply to our time and its events and mentalities. “It is in agreement with the experts – this is the highest praise for any teaching!” How many holy Christian doctrines have been assessed and subjugated to the basis of the newest of new standards?

Archbishop Andrew of Novo-Diveyevo, of blessed memory, wrote these sober words which should stand as a warning for us, “It seems to me that the life not only of non-Orthodox Americans, but of Orthodox … as well, proceeds not according to the laws of the Church, but according to the principles of humanism. Very many times those who consider themselves Orthodox are actually Christians only in form, but they live according to their own understanding, complying with the commands of their flesh. American life, with its satiety and comfort, acts extraordinarily in favor of the acceptance of humanism. And therefore it is not astonishing that laymen often make demands to their pastors to go ‘in step with the times,’ and the pastors often fulfill these demands” (Restoration of the Orthodox Way of Life, St. John of Kronstadt Press [originally published by St. Herman of Alaska Press, 1976], pg. 11). Tragically, would it not be possible to add, and how many pastors now make demands on their flocks to go in step with the times?

He continues, “Our church life proceeds for the most part outwardly; inward life is being forgotten. The slogan of humanism in our times is again: ‘Appear to be a Christian, but live according to the laws of the flesh’” (Ibid. pg 12).

Witnessing the effects of secular-humanism on the minds and hearts of Christians in the early 20th century, the Priest Martyr Sergei writes, “‘At present true piety has almost vanished, and we are left with only hypocrisy,’ said Saint Tikhon about the state of the Church in his time. He predicted the vanishing of Christianity in an unseen way due to the people’s indifference to it. He warned that Christianity—being life, mystery and spirit—should not perish unnoticed from those who do not value this priceless gift of God. A century after him, Bishop Ignatius Brianchininov spoke of monasticism and the Church and defined their state: ‘We are living in turbulent times—the venerable ones have left the earth, and truth has become scarce amidst the sons of mankind. A famine for the Word of God has arrived; the keys to unlock this knowledge are in the hands of the Scribes and Pharisees and they are themselves not entering and not letting others enter. Christianity and monasticism are at their last breath. The image of Christian piety is at best being kept only in a hypocritical way. All strength for true piety has left, people have given up; one must weep and be silent”

In the introduction to “The Restoration of the Orthodox Way of Life” – an introduction possibly penned by Ven. Seraphim (Rose) – it is written regarding the Christian enslavement to humanism, “Humanism takes possession of men in various ways, not usually by a conscious intellectual conversion to it, but more often by laxness and unawareness in the spiritual life. The Orthodox answer to this danger – whose ultimate end is the reign of Antichrist – is a conscious Orthodox philosophy of life” (Ibid. pg. 4).

And until we pay due attention to the struggle against this spiritual Bolshevism in our own souls, to the decisive eradication and overcoming of it in our church, social, family and personal life, all our hopes for some better future will remain barren for us,” instructs Archbishop Averky.

Indeed Orthodoxy has the cure for the disease of secular-humanism. Orthodoxy in its truth is the way of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is life in Christ. Thus, the enemy is constantly warring so that Orthodox believers of their own free will trade the Truth of Orthodoxy for the lies of secular-humanism. How do we apply to antidote? Archbishop Andrew writes, “Just as the earth and its vital juices constantly nourish vegetation, so our life also must be ceaselessly nourished by the elemental power which the Church of Christ gives, which is incarnated in the Orthodox way of life, in the Divine services, in fasting, in prayers, in vigils … This is the elemental power which places in the mouth of the man who is leaving his earthly existence the last words, ‘Into Thy hands I commend my spirit,’ and gives him the possibility to depart into eternal existence with the name of Christ” (The Restoration of the Orthodox Way of Life. pg 10).

Archbishop Averky echoing in spirit the above words, proclaims, “Only through the complete renewal of our life in the spirit of the true Christ faith, in the spirit of genuine Orthodox Churchness, uniting us with God and giving us that blessed power of God, without which it is impossible to crush the satanic kingdom of Bolshevism.”

Let us test and discern all things through the Truth – through the Scriptures and the writings of the holy Fathers. Let us most of all actively pursue the living relationship with God the Holy Trinity, in Whom we know the Truth and are set free. Let us set our hearts to holding what is God’s in the highest honor; let us ignite our very being with the fervor of true prayer. Let us ever be renewing ourselves in Christ Jesus our Lord. Refuse to promote and pander to spiritual Bolshevism.

The storm of secular-humanism will rage on. Its winds and foul rains will beat relentlessly against the house of our being. If we dig deep into the Rock of our Salvation and there lay our foundation, He will keep and protect us for Himself in the merciless storm. And even in it we will be enabled to abide in peace. For whosoever is in Christ Jesus abides in Peace. And this peace will act as a cure for our much-broken world. May the Lord grant us His grace and strength.

Courage and hold fast!

“The more time that passes, the more turbulent it is for Christianity as spirit, which in a way unseen by the vain and worldly masses—but clearly revealed to the one who struggles in himself—is departing from the heart of mankind, leaving everything ready for its destruction. —Those who are in Judea must run for the mountains,” Priest Martyr Sergei.

About the author

Husband, father, and Priest.

Schooling: Kharkov State University (Ukraine); Brownsville School of Ministry; St. Tikhon's Orthodox Seminary (M.Div.).

Author and illustrator of St. Patrick, Enlightener of the Irish Lands (Conciliar Press, out of print) and illustrator of The Life of St. Brigid (authored by Jane G. Meyer).

Proprietor and writer at the Inkless Pen Blog, at which, based on the foundation of the teachings of Orthodox Christianity, a wide variety of topics are addressed. Fr. Zechariah has translated some works by St. Dimitry of Rostov and New Hieromartyr Seraphim (Zvesdensky), these translations are also available on his blog.

References

References
1 Writings from the Philokalia. Practical and Theological Precepts, 35. pg. 104

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