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Christianity and humanism seem to be two conflicting worldviews. Yet, as two important traditions of Western culture, they have inevitably interacted with each other in the course of history. In their encounters in modern West, Christianity is always cautious of the anthropocentric tendency of Humanism and critical towards the atheistic danger brought about by secular humanism; meanwhile, secular humanism tends to expel transcendence from its philosophical roots, proclaims itself as the adjudicator of human destiny, and ignores religion or assigns it to the sphere of private emotions. On the one hand, secular humanism seems to have forgotten the fact that all its lofty ideals -- the sacredness of human life, freedom, equality, and fraternity -- are inextricably entangled with Christian values.3 On the other hand, it is also important to note that ancient Greek culture as a historical source of Western humanism has had a deep impact on Christian theology. As far as etymology is concerned, many key Christian terms, such as theologia and ekklesia, come from ancient Greek culture. From its very beginning, the spread of Christianity in the ‘gentile’ world was shaped and resisted by Greek culture at the same time. As a consequence, there emerged a theological tradition that critically inherited and transformed ancient Greek culture. As the following discussion will indicate, this Christian adoption and transformation of Greek culture includes the absorption of the humanistic spirit of ancient Greece. This paper aims at investigating how early Christian thinkers inherited and transformed Greek humanistic tradition and in turn gave birth to the tradition of Christian humanism. As many concepts became separated from and opposite to each other only in the modern time rather than starting from the very beginning, Christianity and humanism were not diametrically opposed to each other throughout Western cultural history. There are some actual cases showing that at some points the two traditions were intertwined and even highly integrated. These cases indicate that there is no inevitable or irreconcilable conflict between the two traditions.


Christianity and humanism seem to be two conflicting worldviews. Yet, as two important traditions of Western culture, they have inevitably interacted with each other in the course of history. In their encounters in modern West, Christianity is always cautious of the anthropocentric tendency of Humanism and critical towards the atheistic danger brought about by secular humanism; meanwhile, secular humanism tends to expel transcendence from its philosophical roots, proclaims itself as the adjudicator of human destiny, and ignores religion or assigns it to the sphere of private emotions. On the one hand, secular humanism seems to have forgotten the fact that all its lofty ideals -- the sacredness of human life, freedom, equality, and fraternity -- are inextricably entangled with Christian values.3 On the other hand, it is also important to note that ancient Greek culture as a historical source of Western humanism has had a deep impact on Christian theology. As far as etymology is concerned, many key Christian terms, such as theologia and ekklesia, come from ancient Greek culture. From its very beginning, the spread of Christianity in the ‘gentile’ world was shaped and resisted by Greek culture at the same time. As a consequence, there emerged a theological tradition that critically inherited and transformed ancient Greek culture. As the following discussion will indicate, this Christian adoption and transformation of Greek culture includes the absorption of the humanistic spirit of ancient Greece. This paper aims at investigating how early Christian thinkers inherited and transformed Greek humanistic tradition and in turn gave birth to the tradition of Christian humanism. As many concepts became separated from and opposite to each other only in the modern time rather than starting from the very beginning, Christianity and humanism were not diametrically opposed to each other throughout Western cultural history. There are some actual cases showing that at some points the two traditions were intertwined and even highly integrated. These cases indicate that there is no inevitable or irreconcilable conflict between the two traditions.