Sunday, December 09, 2007

What Is Dualism?

Scripture defines the human problem as moral rebellion against God but the Greeks believe the problem is metaphysical. The material world is seen as evil/chaotic while the spiritual Forms are rational/good. Augustine treated the contemplative life of prayer and meditation in monasteries as superior to the active life of ordinary work in the world. Descartes and Kant pictured the world as a huge mechanistic system moving in fixed patterns by natural laws while the mind is the realm of thought, emotion, will.

Three types of Christian dualism:
Human - Body versus Soul (Two opposing substances, one is “important/redeemable” and the other “useless/lost.” But man is a cohesive whole. The whole man was created good, and the whole man is being redeemed.)

Reality - Heaven versus World (Escape this hopelessly lost physical world for an otherworldly, disembodied existence. Heaven and earth shall be renewed.)

Faith - Sacred versus Secular (Prayer and religious meditation is more valuable than manual labor. All of life is sacred.)

Biblical Thinking Tools

Creation: The physical world God made was GOOD! Nature is a showcase of His glory. Humanity is made in God’s own image for relationship, different from the rest of creation. Life is sacred. Work is meaningful in a rhythm of rest and labor.

Fall: We have pushed God out from our thinking and living. In disobedience, we have made physical and mental substitutes (idols) to tell us right from wrong. Sin has corrupted nature, fractured social relationships, alienation, resulted in toilsome work directed by selfishness. But even sinners still bear God’s Image and capable of genuine knowledge by God’s common grace.

Redemption: Christ has freed us from power of sin, reconciled us with God and restored us to be fully, truly human. Our work shares in His redemptive purpose to reverse the effects of sin. We join Christ in ushering His kingdom come, His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Saved to do good in THIS world, not an otherworldly escapism.

How Shall We Live?

Abraham Kuyper, journalist/theologian/politician/educator says: “There is not a square inch in the universe that Christ does not claim, “This is mine!” The Lordship of Christ embraces all of life. Do all things for the glory of God. If all life is the Lord’s, reflect about your area of study, interest, vocation and leisure. For example:

•Science – What’s Its Method and Limits? How Shall We Consider Macroevolution?
•Medical Fields – How shall I view mercy killing, abortion, cloning, stem cell research?
•Business/Economics – How should wealth be distributed? By merits or social status? Do corporations have moral duty or only profit?
•Law –How does the church relate to the state? What is justice? Should we legislate morality?
•Psychology – Certain brain functions and emotions are co-related, is there a soul distinct from the brain? Is moral behavior like homosexuality determined by biological factors?
•Media/Journalism – What are ethical issues and virtues relevant to my vocation?
•Literature – Should we seek the author’s intent of writing? Does meaning reside in the reader?
•Movies – Was it honest or artfully done well? What does the story say about what’s right, true or beautiful? Who’s the good guy?

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