Throughout human history obedience to God has been a battlefield. The battles may change, but the war is always the same. Paul said it well in Ephesians 6:12, "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places."
Eve waged the first human battle, a battle over the credibility of God and the desire to have what did not belong to her (Genesis 3:1-6). Christ waged a battle following 40 days of fasting. The enemy desired one great victory above all others-that Christ would bow down and worship him (Matthew 4:8-11). The enemy lost.
From Christ's day onward the Christian battlefield has primarily remained the same. The battle has been over the willingness to obey God while facing the potential loss of family, job and (in most centuries) one's own life (Luke 14:26-27; Matthew 10:35-39). The apostles and many early saints won the war, but lost their physical lives.
The most recent century has seen the battlefield change dramatically. During the 20th century rarely did a follower of God face loss of life as the consequence of putting God first in his life. Loss of family and friends was still a common consequence as was loss of job or vocation. Interestingly, in nations such as the United States even loss of job over obedience to God's way became less common during the last quarter of the century. There are still careers that cannot accommodate the Sabbath, but the incidence of job loss is considerably lower than in the early 1900s.
The spiritual battlefield, just as the world's physical battlefields, has changed dramatically during the last few decades. Consider a modern warship. Instead of bristling with guns as naval vessels have since the days of the Spanish galleon and the British man-of-war, today's modern warships are rather drab and uninteresting. But beneath that deceptively plain skin lies the ability in some cases to wipe out entire small nations with one complement of warheads.
No longer do armies line up in formal battle array as in the days of Napoleon. Battles are fought by radar- and laser-guided missiles with battle results reported by satellite cameras.
Where then is the modern spiritual battlefield?
Just as physical warfare has become incredibly sophisticated, so has spiritual warfare. The battle of our day is the battle for the human mind.
Consider the words of Paul to the young evangelist Timothy. In 2 Timothy 3 Paul warned of perilous times in the last days. What was the peril of the last days to be-famine, plague, heavenly signs, the devastation of nuclear war? No. Paul listed 19 perils and all were attitudes and conduct produced by a spiritually disturbed mind.
It is possible that few of us stop to consider during the day's ingestion of radio and television programming, or even the reading of the daily newspaper or our favorite magazine, the number of times that out minds are assaulted by the thought-bending philosophies of our day. Whether we know it or not, this is the battlefield. In fact, our adversary is quite pleased when we don't realize it. Stealth is "in" even in the world of spiritual warfare.
For the sake of this article, let's consider one element of our spiritual battle-secular humanism.
One Battlefront: Secular Humanism
Humanism issued its original manifesto in 1933. It was a movement supported primarily by men and women in the field of education-those who shape the minds of our children and young adults. Forty years later, in the September/October 1973 issue of The Humanist, "Humanist Manifesto II" was published along with the names of the signatories. Updated and revised to meet the times, it took the place of the first "Humanist Manifesto." An editor's note currently appearing on the American Humanist Association Web site declares that thousands of additional names have been added to the original list of signatories.
Even more recently, "A Secular Humanist Declaration," published by the Council for Secular Humanism, put forth the position of this influential movement. Again consider that collectively "Humanist Manifesto I" (1933), "Humanist Manifesto II" (1973) and "A Secular Humanist Declaration" (1980) are endorsed by thousands of signatories. A review of the list of men and women who endorse these documents would reveal the names of educators who teach in the most renowned universities in the United States and abroad, well-known thinkers, famous authors, scientists and political leaders.
What is it that secular humanism espouses? What does it teach? Even more important is the question, What is produced in the minds of those influenced by its teachings and philosophies?
You will find a look at "A Secular Humanist Declaration" most revealing. Let me summarize the salient points contained within its 10 precepts. Consider as you read that the outlet for their philosophies are elementary, high school and college classrooms, television and radio programming, plots for movies and stage plays, newspaper and magazine content and government legislation, just to name a few.
The Teachings of Humanism
Below are the 10 tenets and an editorial summary of the points relevant to our battle.
1. Free Inquiry. It is considered tyranny over the mind of man for any ecclesiastical institution to shackle free thought. Religion should not interfere in man's right to think for himself.
2. Separation of Church and State. Religious oaths or prayers in public institutions, whether political or educational, should not be allowed.
3. The Ideal of Freedom. The document expresses that true freedom includes freedom from religious control.
4. Ethics Based on Critical Intelligence. This tenet shows a deep sensitivity toward God's interference in life. There are several battle lines drawn within this tenet. First, that the Greeks originated the field of moral ethics before religion entered this domain. Second, that people can be moral without God. Third, that we can live meaningful, wholesome lives without religious commandments.
5. Moral Education. Children should not be indoctrinated in a religious faith before they are mature enough to evaluate its merits.
6. Religious Skepticism. Traditional views of the existence of God are meaningless. The idea that God has miraculously intervened in human life is rejected. The literal interpretation of the Old and New Testament is rejected.
7. Reason. The document displays dislike for nonsecularists disagreeing with "reason" and "science."
8. Science and Technology. Adherents believe that science and technology are the most reliable ways to understand the world.
9. Evolution. This document deplores fundamentalist invasion of the classroom requiring that creationism be taught. The belief is that creationism, if allowed in the classroom, may seriously undermine the credibility of science.
10. Education. The document expresses concern that religious teachers go largely unchallenged in the media. The feeling is that secularism should be given greater programming exposure.
Preparing for Battle
Whether you consider it or not, whether you sensed it or not, whether you understand it or not, these philosophies lay siege to your mind, building up battlements from all directions-radio talk programs, TV programming, movies, television, even the daily newspaper. How do you combat it?
Obviously the first line of defense is knowing/identifying your enemy. How do you fight something you cannot perceive? Consider the tenets of the above declaration and keep your eyes open for its manifestations. Remember the words of 1 Peter 5:8-9, "Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith…" (NAS).
Watch, keep your eyes open, be vigilant, resist. Our battle requires that we take the approach admonished by Peter as we face the enemy in mental combat. Think about what you view. Ponder what you read. Where is it coming from? How does it want you to think? Is this the way God thinks? Guard the doorways of your mind.
Consider that the most powerful weapon in your arsenal is a sound knowledge of and a deep respect for God's Word. Stay close to God in study and meditation on His Word. Know it, think it, live it.
Paul was a man well aware of the world around him-a man who had been in the center of Jewish leadership before his conversion, a man well aware of the philosophies of his day. In his letter to the church at Corinth he urged them to be prepared for the battle for the mind. "Indeed, we live as human beings, but we do not wage war according to human standards; for the weapons of our warfare are not merely human, but they have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:3-5, NRSV).
Consider the advice of Peter and Paul in the battle for the mind. UN