What is Christelijk Humanism

humanism

The word humanism is derived from the Latin term "humanitas", which means humanity. Humanism describes a spiritual movement that has its origins in Italy in the late 14th century and comes from the cultural epoch of the Renaissance. The Renaissance, which translated from French means "rebirth", represents the transition from the Middle Ages to the modern era in the 15th and 16th centuries.

The Italian poet Petrarch is considered the spiritual father of the humanists. With his writings, he heralds a new age that is supposed to be based on Greek and Roman antiquity - hence the term “rebirth” (of antiquity). Petrarch contemptuously describes the period between antiquity and the Renaissance as the “dark Middle Ages” that must be overcome. From then on, the Middle Ages were regarded by the Renaissance people as retrograde, misanthropic and “spiritually outdated”, even downright “barbaric”.

While in the medieval image of man God was the focus and man played a subordinate role, humanism placed man above all things. In the High Middle Ages man was considered a sinner, he was “born” into his social role and had to accept it as “God given” his entire life. Human existence on earth (the “this world”) was only viewed as a transition to heaven or hell (the “hereafter” after death).

Humanism countered this pessimistic attitude with an optimistic view of the world and people. Man was no longer seen as a sinner, but on the contrary as "the image of God". This enabled him social advancement and the development of his individuality. Human beings should find their true destiny for themselves through humanistic education. Hence, humanism was first and foremost an educational movement.

The basic principles of humanism are self-realization through individual freedom, tolerance and compassion towards other people and the renunciation of violence. The references to today's humanistic worldview are unmistakable.