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Historical Heresies: 19th Century Humanistic Philosophies and America's Cultural Corruption E-mail
French 19th Century
French 19th Century
Many of the North's most prominent philosophers, while "professing themselves to be wise, they became fools."

--Romans 1:22

As a result of the social, political and religious upheavals of the French Revolution of 1789-1799, major changes took place throughout all Western Civilization. Many of those changes have had a long-lasting effect upon our nation and its cultural values even to this day. One of the results of the French Revolution which has affected every aspect of the American religious and social structure is the "humanizing of God" and the "deification of man". The leaders of that revolution wanted to "cleanse" the land of what they considered the evils of Christianity and to exalt the great human potentials in the nature of man. As history has proven, it is impossible to deify man without humanizing God which results in cultural decay and potential downfall.

During the Age of Reason preceding the French Revolution, many social thinkers and philosophers cast serious doubts upon the authenticity of the Holy Scriptures and therefore enthroned the principle of "reason" in its place in French society. As a misguided reaction to the Age of Reason and the religion of atheism, the social thinkers and philosophers of the North responded with what became known as Romanticism.

ROMANTICISM was that social and religious philosophy that worshiped faith, human emotion, tradition and nature. It praised man’s natural feelings and instincts as sure guides to the wise conduct of life. Nature was admired not only for its beauty, but because its beauty and serenity was a symbol of the divine soul of the universe. There was great emphasis placed upon the simple uncivilized life in the country, because it was believed to develop man’s innate divine element, or soul. There was much poetry written which expressed confidence in the unity, beauty and goodness of the universe and mankind. Uncivilized savages were looked upon as the noblest of human beings, thus we have the term "noble savage". At this point is where the Romanticists joined hands with politics to bring about social reform.

The religious faith of the Romantic writers was not a Biblical faith in the efficacious atoning work of Jesus Christ, but of faith and self-confidence in man to solve his own problems and to elevate himself to a state of perfection.

UNITARIANISM is that religious movement and philosophy that stresses the free use of human reason to determine spiritual beliefs, and rejects the principle of divine revelation as the means of receiving truth. It also denies the divinity of Jesus Christ and relegates Him to a position of teacher and social reformer. American Unitarianism developed slowly out of New England Congregationalist churches that rejected the 18th century Great Awakening revival movement. The transcendentalist movement of the 19th century inspired Unitarianism with a new interest in the intuitive and emotional aspects of religion. Unfortunately, these humanistic philosophies combined with certain elements of religious Arminian revivalism and later degenerated into a belief in human aspiration and scientific truth rather than Christianity and the Bible.

It is impossible to deify man without humanizing God.
 

TRANSCENDENTALISM is a variety of philosophies that propose to discover spiritual reality through human intuition, while rejecting an outward absolute authority. It taught the individual’s ability to receive "flashes and insights" of truth as the highest form of knowledge. It stressed the visionary and idealistic aspect of human nature. This humanistic philosophy was a direct rejection of the Biblical doctrine of the headship of Jesus Christ and the supreme authority of the Scriptures.

DEISM is the belief that utilizes a rationalistic mode of explaining God and his relationship to the world. It asserts that God does exist and created the world, but now has no relation to it. Deism views God as a clock maker who made the world, but programmed it to now run on its own. Consequently, divine providence, supernatural revelation and God’s plan of salvation for man are brought into serious question and even denied.

PANTHEISM is the theory that God does not exist as a person, but that all natural laws, forces and manifestations of the self-existing universe are God; God is everything and everything is God. Therefore this theory allows for the worship of all gods, whether they be spiritual, natural, material or mystical.

UNIVERSALISM is the theological belief which stresses the perfectibility of man, the ultimate salvation of all men, the varied character of divine revelation and the humanness of Jesus Christ. The first congregation was organized in America in 1779. The adherents to this theory merged with the Unitarians in 1961 and stress the acceptance of humane men, Christian or not.

RATIONALISM is a descriptive term which denotes the theological doctrine that rejects divine revelation and the supernatural such as contained in the Scriptures and makes human reason the sole source of knowledge.

Many of the North’s most influential 19th century poets and philosophers were deeply involved in the above named humanistic schools of thought which have been taught in many of our nations schools and churches for more than 150 years. They include:

Ralph Waldo Emerson, who said that the purpose of his writing was ". . .to awaken man and to raise the feeling of his (self) worth."  He said, "...nothing can bring you peace but yourseIf."  He was a life-long Unitarian.

John Greenleaf Whittier, who was a Quaker by religion but who was joined in purpose and action with the social reformers and abolitionists of his day.

Walt Whitman, who was a radical abolitionist and homosexual, yet was considered "America’s national poet".

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who was a life-long Unitarian who considered Biblical Calvinism with intolerance and sharp impatience. As a Romanticist he found comfort in Dante’s Divine Comedy and as an abolitionist expressed his feelings toward The War Between the States by saying, "meanwhile the great war goes thundering on. I hope you are cheery about it, and have faith in something and somebody. The slave power must be utterly annihilated. There can be no peace without that done, and for that I devoutly pray."

The Apostle Paul described false teachers as those "... who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator . . ."

---Romans 1:25
 

Julia Ward Howe, who was a Unitarian and a most influential public speaker whose writings helped to inflame Northern sentiment against the people and cause of the South. Her biographer gives a description of her faith by saying, "with this questioning of the cold, repressive doctrine of Calvinism, Julia’s evangelical enthusiasm gradually faded away. As she herself admitted, she began to feel the need for ‘vanity, amusement and other study’. Then I turned against my New Testament and said, ‘I know you all by heart’; later she would again take up the Bible, this time it would be not ‘in the light of enthusiasm but of common sense and experience’. She was, in other words moving away from the Evangelical faith of her parents, which stressed both Biblical and ecclesiastical authority as well as the innate depravity of man, toward a more liberal Christianity..."

Even though many 19th century Romantic writers and thinkers differed from one another on various points of belief, they seem to express a common goal in their fight for wide social reform from women’s rights to the abolition of slavery. Many of them developed a personal hatred of the South and everything it stood for including its traditional cultural and spiritual values. In fact, the pre-war efforts of the Romantic writers of the North furnished the philosophical and emotional impetus which helped bring about America’s "French Revolution" of 1861-65.

After the military defeat of the Christian South, the victorious social and political structure of the North combined with a liberal Christianity set about to utterly crush true Constitutional government, Bible-based Christ centered Christianity and our Western European ancestral heritage. These were replaced with a centralized federal government, religious and moral relativism and a multiracial melting pot which has resulted in our present day cultural decay.

"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ."

-- Colossians 2:8

 
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