Are Christianity and Renaissance Humanism Compatible?

By Faith and Rain, 8 January, 2024
Two Christian female scholars debating a topic.

Most people believe that Christianity and renaissance humanism cannot be companions. This is because some principles of Christianity and some of renaissance humanism do not match.

For instance, in Christianity, it is the word of God or none, while renaissance humanists believe a human can determine for himself what is good and evil.

This means there is a big misunderstanding between the two. And there are many people who think that Christianity and renaissance have the same principles about human dignity and thus they are compatible.

This means there is a debate whether Christianity and renaissance humanism are companionable. In addition, there are so many theories about renaissance humanism and how it originated.

To help you understand the two, here is an article that shows whether Christianity and renaissance humanism are compatible.

Is Renaissance Humanism Compatible with Christianity?

According to various scholars and various studies, Christianity and renaissance humanism are compatible. This is because their fundamental principles, values, and beliefs are the same.

Even though renaissance humanism is the belief in human ability and human achievement, most of the humanists were Christians. Most humanists attend churches and follow the teachings of Jesus Christ.

In fact, most renaissance humanists are Christians with a view that they should reform Catholic Church to emphasize more on human agency.

In addition, a known humanist of the renaissance known as Desiderius Erasmus was a priest and a faithful church member. Thus, renaissance humanism and Christianity are compatible.

Another reason Christianity and renaissance humanism are compatible is that the humanist aimed to renew and purify Christianity. That means they believe in Christianity, and they are monotheistic.

What is Christianity?

Christianity is as a religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Being the largest religion in the world, Christians believe Jesus Christ is the Messiah, and the one prophesied in the Old Testament.

Even though Christians across the world share basic convictions, there are different interpretations and opinions about the bible. However, all believe in God the Father, Jesus as the Son of God, and the Holy Spirit.

Also, they believe in the holiness of the Church, death, and resurrection. But now there is Christianity humanism. Even though it is different between the two, both of them believe in one God.

Several humanists are Christians.

What is Christian Humanism?

We all know there is Christianity and now we have Christian humanism.

According to New World Encyclopedia, Christian humanism is the belief in human conscience, individual freedom, and other practices that are compatible with the practice of Christianity.

Thus, it presents humanism principles and the Christian faith principles. We might see the roots of Christian humanism in the New Testament.

In Jesus’s teachings, there is the parable of the Good Samaritan; the teachings are the same as humanist ideologies.

The parable of the Good Samaritan shows that even someone from a hated social class can express true religion than a church priest.

Jesus emphasized that feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, and minding the less fortunate are more significant than acknowledging he is the Lord. Thus, humanist principles and ideologies are present in Christianity.

However, Christian humanism has grown out of renaissance humanism and Christian scholasticism. They later challenged the Catholic Church and the bible and even developed liberal Christian theology.

Both Christians and humanists played a dominant role in learning ancient languages such as Greek and Latin. During the renaissance, Christianity and humanism played an important role in education.

What is Renaissance Humanism?

According to Wikipedia, Renaissance humanism is the study of subjects that focus on human capabilities and activities during ancient times.

It began during the renaissance era when scholars began studying different subjects from Christianity and other beliefs. Renaissance humanism focuses on the actions and abilities of humans, beauty, potential, and human dignity.

It started in Italy and spread to other European countries in the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries. During this time, humanist is a term that used to refer to teachers and students.

But in the 19th century, it changed from humanities to humanism, and later to renaissance humanism. This was to distinguish it from future humanist developments. In the renaissance era, most humanists were Christians.

They wanted to renew and purify Christianity so that they can simplify the New Testament. However, their aim was not to do away with Christianity or the New Testament.

Thus, although they studied subjects besides religion, they were not less religious. It all started because of the Europeans’ need for knowledge.

The major elements of renaissance humanism include learning what it means to be human, promotion of private and civic virtue, and the power of education to have useful citizens.

Christianity vs. Humanism

  • Christians believe God is the starting point while humanism believes the man is the starting point.
  • In Christianity, you need to accept that there is only one God, but humanism believes humans can determine what is good and what is evil.
  • Christians know that the Word of God is the truth, but humanism believes truth is matter-of-fact.
  • Both Christians and humanism believe in education as a tool of self-development and self-realization.
  • However, Christianity views education as a discipline and starts by knowing the word of God.


Now we understand that Christianity and renaissance humanism are compatible. Humanism has brought and built a lot of things that include schools and churches.

Actually, many humanists are the founders of elite schools around the world. They believe that empowering children through school is empowering a society.

In addition, when a society is empowered, they enable both state and church. This is the same case with Christianity; There are many Christian-based schools in different countries around the world.

However, some scholars believe Christianity and humanism are different religions. They believe Christianity is the worship of the one Almighty God while humanism is the worship of a man.

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