Now in order to understand the implications of that fact in the twentieth century, we must go back 150 years, to a conflict that attacked Christianity. Just after the great revivals in American with Finney, when the Spirit of God had been marvelously outpoured onto certain portions of our country, there came an open attack on our faith in Europe under the “higher critics.” Darwin had postulated his theory of evolution, certain philosophers had adapted it to their philosophies, and theologians had applied it to the Scripture. About 1850 you could mark the opening of a frontal attack upon the Word of God. Satan had always been insidiously attacking it. But now it was open season on the Book and open season on the Church. Voltaire in France could declare that he would live to see the Bible become a relic placed only in museums, that it would be utterly destroyed by the arguments he was so forcefully presenting against it.
Well, what was the effect of this? The philosophy of the day became humanism. And you could define humanism this way: humanism is a philosophy that declares the end of all being is the happiness of man. The reason for existence is man’s happiness. Now according to humanism, salvation is simply a matter of getting all the happiness you can out of life. You can be influenced by someone like Nietzche, who says that the only true satisfaction in life is power, and that the power is its own justification, and that after all the world is a jungle. It is therefore up to man to be happy and become powerful by any means he can use. For it is only in this position of ascendancy—or, as we saw, in the worship of Molech—that one can be happy. This would produce in due course a Hitler who would take the philosophy of Nietzche as his working operating principle and guide and would say of his people that they were destined to rule the world. Therefore any means that they could use to achieve this was then salvation.
Somebody else turns around and says, “Well no, the end of being is happiness, but happiness doesn’t come from authority over people, happiness comes from sensual experience.” So you would have the type of existentialism that characterizes France today, that’s given rise to beatnikism in America and to the gross sensuality of our country. Since man is essentially a glandular animal whose highest moments of ecstasy come from the exercise of his glands, salvation is simply to find the most desirable way to gratify this part of a person. And so this became the effect of humanism, that the end of all being is the happiness of man.
John Dewey, an American philosopher who influenced education, was able to persuade the educators that there were no absolute standards. Children shouldn’t be brought to any particular standard, that the end of education was simply to allow the child to express himself, expand on what he is, and find his happiness in being what he wants to be. So we had cultural lawlessness, when every man could “do as seemed right in his own eyes” and we had no God to rule over us. The Bible had been discounted and disallowed and disproved. God had been dethroned. He didn’t exist, and He had no personal relationship to individuals. Jesus Christ was either a myth or just a man—so they taught—and therefore the whole end of being was happiness. The individual would establish the standards of his happiness and interpret it.