Catching Up with Humanism…


April 25, 2014 by jmw

“To deny any absolute claims to the Church and argue that the role of the Christian is to stand undifferentiated in the ranks of those vitally concerned about their fellow men, is to be accused of confusing Christianity with humanism. ‘How does your behaviour differ from that of the humanist?’ the orthodox ask, as though that disposed of the issue. The answer in my case is simple. Far from there being an over-plus of goodness I as a Christian can demonstrate which is beyond the best efforts of the humanist, my problem is that I need Christ in order to enable me to catch up with the humanist, let alone outstrip him. Only by doggedly following the will of Jesus am I fit to even lick the humanist’s boots. That searching question of Jesus to His disciples, ‘What do you more than the rest?’ would be rephrased in our day to ‘Why do you not do as much as the rest?’ “

Colin Morris, Include Me Out! Confessions of an Ecclesiastical Coward, p. 55


5 thoughts on “Catching Up with Humanism…

  1. joe d says:

    i believe thomas merton said something similar in his book *The Life of Holiness*: humanism is the minimum for holiness.

    • jmw says:

      I don’t know that quote/thought from Merton. I can see where he might be going with it. Where Morris is going, and where I agree with him, is that the desire to create some kind of “unique” and “necessary” identity as ‘Christian’ is a form of egoism that leads to politics of separation. Morris’ thought has caused me to ponder what a more ‘upside-down ecclesiology’ might look like; that is, one that sees the church not as the city on a hill but rather a community of sinners and wounded healers that, by the grace of its Lord, can do a small amount of good in the world.

      • joe d says:

        So, on the one hand, holiness is defined by an external purity which can lead to politics of separation based who is pure/impure. on the other, (and I’m just spitballing here) holiness is defined more by relationality, so that you’re capacity/willingness to enter mutual relationships humbly with ‘sinners’ as a ‘sinner’ is your holiness… perhaps?

  2. jmw says:

    if we take the revelation of Jesus as the incarnation of God’s holiness, then holiness is the capacity to be WITH and not separated from the other. true holiness cannot be defiled. holiness absorbs all unholiness in love. indeed, holiness, as you say, “enters into mutual relationships” (kenosis).

    • joe d says:

      being WITH but in a particular way: kenosis is worked out in (costly) humble service. so its not just relationships in general, but relationships in which we work towards the good of others.

      here’s the quote I was referring to from Merton: “sanctity is not a matter of being less human, but more human than other men. This implies a greater capacity for concern, for suffering, for understanding, for sympathy, and also for humor, for joy, for appreciation of the good and beautiful things of life… he who loves God, and seeks the glory of God, seeks to become, by God’s grace, perfect in love, as the ‘heavenly Father is perfect'” (*Life and Holiness, 25-26).

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