While there have not been many books of recent decades that stand as a solid articulation of Christian Humanism that are worth reading. The Case for Christian Humanism is one that is twenty years old this year and is still of great value. Most books about Christian Humanism tend toward the humanistic and not the Christian. Franklin and Shaw have a fine volume that gives insight into the nature and promise of Christian Humanism. There is a leaning toward the left throughout this work, but numerous insights and the key issues are explored. Historically and theologically informed, the authors make a convincing case “that Christian humanism was once the mainstream of Western thought.”(4) This will undoubtedly surprise many within Christendom and all humanists of the atheistic bent. Certainly, this and many other facts and truths will come as a shock to those critical of and yet ignorant of Christian Humanism.
Some of the many strengths of this rich study is a rather lengthy exercise in getting at the definition of Christian Humanism. This alone distinguishes this work from others exploring similar issues. In truth, from a logical and rhetorical perspective, this is where the book stands apart from most other books of this nature. Few works spend much time on defining key terms and this is essential to making a sound argument. Additionally, the authors have mined Scripture for the contours of Christian Humanism.
The authors also examine the central role that worship has within a Christian humanistic frame of thinking and living. One dated section of the book is about living in the machine age. Someone reading this work may want to skim this section, but then read Neil Postman’s Technolopy: The Surrender of Culture to Technology or Jacques Ellul’s The Technological Bluff. It is my hope that someone within the next several years writes an updated and expanded case for Christian Humanism that has more solid roots within traditional Christian faith and calls for a robust Christian Humanism in an increasingly anti-humanistic social order and Christian-lite church.
Books mentioned in this essay may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore.