Christian/Religious Dualism

Duality is the work of religion; there is no division in truth. Lynn Hayes.

Another parameter of dualism says that all life can be separated into the secular and sacred. Does this not sound like the contrasts that occur between Law and Grace? The Law is the portrait of duality in that from it issues cause and effect, and credit and debit, while grace is non-duality and oneness in the Christ. Dualism separates human beings into hierarchical planes which says a Christian who wants to be a missionary is in a different plane that a person who wants to star in a rock band. It causes mankind to look at men and place each one in a certain pecking order making one more important or vital than another or closer to God.

The division of two competing groups which is contrast has caused man, religion, the church, and other institutions to label or pass judgment on each other. It forces one to gauge, to place an interpretative value, or to measure worth. Dietrich Bonhoeffer says: Thinking in terms of two realms understands the paired concepts worldy-Christian, natural-supernatural, profane-sacred, rational-revelations, as ultimate static opposites and fails to recognize the original unity of these opposites in the Christ-reality. He goes on to say it is in the Christ that we are invited to participate in the reality of the world and the reality of God at the same time. The Gospel is missing many dimensions when it is preached only in hopes of an afterlife, when it stresses earth is heaven's waiting room and death is a portal to the after life and God's lap. The Gospel is multifaceted and is a journey of discovery.

In ancient religions, dualism is represented by yin and yang. Yang represents maleness, the sun, creation, heat, light, heaven, and dominance while yin represents the feminine, the moon, completeness, cold, darkness, physical realm, and submission. The dualistic idea of man first appeared in the works of Plato who considered the soul separate from the body and immortal. Fast forward to the church fathers we find Augustine who defined the soul as the ruler of the body, as independent from the body and out lives it. It is important to note the idea of dualism do not only initiate from the Greek thought but from earlier religions too.

Zoroastrianism and Manichaeism also taught there were two co-eternal deities in a constant and eternal battle with each other representing good and evil. Dualistic streams are found in Judaic literature as well as Gnosticism of the period. It was the Greek thought that amplified one power over the other, the principle of good over evil, light over darkness, spirit over matter, and soul over body.

These elements are seen in the Gospels with phrases such as 'from above' and 'from below'. It is seen in the Pauline writings as the battle between the flesh and spirit. It is from this mindset that we interpret God and His power and influence. Our modern day thinking continues in binary concepts such as black or white, good or evil, truth or error, and rich or poor and these continue to diverge from the One who is God and is all and in all. But for what purpose? Contrast is evidenced by struggle and friction.

Christian Anthropological Dualism is a view which supposes all men are composed of two distinct and separate substances or forces one being temporal and bad, and the other eternal and good. The Christian religion calls them body and spirit/soul. In this dichotomy one tends to exert itself over the other as master and the other succumbs as slave. In this vein of thought the body is corrupt and decaying while the soul is eternal and cannot die. It also exerts the idea that the body must be cleaned up in some way whether it is mastered by the spirit or is corrected in hell fire but either way, a correction is inevitable. This is the standard Christian view of the composition of man which sees one part as redeemable and the other part lost.

Christian Metaphysical Dualism is a view that determines heaven is the goal while earth is not worthy of renewal. It strives to place all things in the heavenlies now, in the place of light, while the earth, which is the shadow of heaven and is consumed by darkness and is not fit to be saved. It characterizes the things of the world as ungodly and should not be enjoyed but ones heart and purpose is to strive for the heavenlies. This dichotomy deals with reality and its definition placing what is real in the spiritual realm alone. This view also puts faith in a corner and it becomes private, not for outward show, and not a valid necessity for daily life in the affairs of men. It also pushes God outside and makes Him an ethereal otherworldly untouchable power who is to holy to care.

Christian Wholism

Wholism places the singularity in each person through reality and life. In anthropological Christian theology which is a part of Christian theology that is concerned with the genesis, nature, and future of humans especially as contrasted with the nature of God. In that idea man, although seemingly composed of parts (body & soul), is not separated and therefore sees man as a collective whole. It sees the whole man as created good and the whole man is being redeemed. In the metaphysical aspect of reality it identifies only one reality and that is the present moment. It recognizes the division of heaven and earth but it does not say one triumphs over the other. Heaven and earth are one cohesive whole in purpose rather than a fragment of reality.

Wholism as it pertains to faith sees life not as a series of individual occurrences that make up a whole but a whole operating in faith. It denies the right to split the sacred and secular because all life is sacred after the image in whom mankind is made. The entire aspect of Christian duality has focused on the compartments of man (body, soul, spirit) and has lost the living being that man is as we are made in His image and likeness. This union between God and man, this likeness ensures us there is no division but we have inserted separation and difference for our sake to save us or part of us from judgment that was more perceived than decreed.

What is the church most know for; its declaration of what is good and evil or its outrageous love for God and man? The first thing a dualistic mindset establishes is an either/or framework as opposed to both/and. It causes one to see things in opposition and in a destructive process rather than in a wholistic framework. There is evidence of dualistic concepts in both testaments but looking at the actions and words of Jesus and especially as Jesus entered fully into the position of the Christ; we see a perfect interpenetration of mind, body, and spirit. He demonstrates to us how we are to function as sons and how the perechoresis of our total living being is in orchestra with God. In the centrality of his teachings there is nothing in competition but everything is perfectly intertwined. Jesus practiced wholeness and his methods demonstrate a unified living soul not components in battle.

Refocusing the Creation Story

In considering the creation story we tend to focus on what happened after the partaking of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil rather than trying to get a glimpse of what it was like before the Fall. One aspect that is often removed is the truth that creation was inherently good. God said He liked what He saw so there were no mistakes. If creation was comprehensively good then all persons of creation were good. All places, all things, all ideas, everything was inherently good. In the actions that Adam took, all that was good was thus affected (affect = receives the change or influence). Man was and is able to effect change in the history (His story) that is being written. The fall not only effected (effect = causes the change or influence) Adam and Eve but the totality of Creation. All men were affected. All places, all things, all ideas, everything was affected by the decision made by the man.

But that is not the end of the story for the totality of creation is eagerly longing for redemption (Rom 8:22) and because of the completed work of Christ all men, all places, all things, all ideas, everything was included. Redemption is much more than God saving humans. Redemption not only touches all men it touches their ideas, their dreams, and their purpose. It encompasses the living being as a whole and not effecting the components that constitute the living being called man.

Following the pathway of dualism only a part of man is redeemable and only for a few men, only the ones who ask for this redemption to be applied to them. Dualistic thinking removes the cosmic redemption of God and relegates it to a few who deserve it through performance. It also places redemptive emphasis on the soul and all the rest can go to hell. Dualism tends to de-emphasize the totality of redemption and to get the correct view of the Bible story we cannot say man was lost and man is being restored but more correctly all was lost and all is restored.

Matthew 18:11 says the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. The Greek word for lost is 'apollumi' and is rendered destroyed, useless or ruined. I understood lost to mean location but this word say nothing about lost and loosing a home in heaven but indicates a loss in function. When something is rendered useless it is another way of saying it is unable to function as intended. So the lost mankind that the Son of Man came to 'save' was not a loss in location but a loss in function, an inability to function in the fullness of God's intent. God then demonstrates that intent in the Christ who is the destiny or future of every man.

Dualistic concepts cause us not to see beauty in the little things. We have forgotten that we can see God in the stars and the birth of our children. It has diminished our freedom to enjoy the arts and music in a religious attempt to be holy. It also causes us to see our different personalities as something to overcome rather than embrace. C S Lewis says either the world has gone wrong but still maintains a memory of what it once was or there are two worlds each influenced by independent powers one good and the other evil and we are in the middle of the battlefield of an endless war.

It is apparent that dualism diminishes God's power over the totality of creation and sees a small Christ who is not able to effect cosmic change. Thus I think the Biblical message is saying that all is sacred, all was affected by the fall, and because all is sacred and all is affected then all is being/has been redeemed.