008 dualism and the reformation
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008 Dualism and the Reformation. Church & Culture. “The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart.” – Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Introduction.

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008 dualism and the reformation

008 Dualism and the Reformation

Church & Culture

008 Dualism and the Reformation

Church culture

“The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart.”

– Alexander Solzhenitsyn

008 Dualism and the Reformation



  • Over time each culture defines what is secular and what is sacred

  • Dress codes, social activities and habits are the most visible targets

    • Plain dark clothing

    • Dancing, drinking, smoking, gambling

    • Movies, reading, TV

  • Like Plato this secular/sacred dualism “identifies sin with some part of creation”

  • The sacred or spiritual is defined as avoiding that part of creation

    • The sacred or spiritual is also defined as spending time in another part of creation – church, Bible study, small groups, Christian fellowship or Christian work

  • Occupational Divide

    • Is it any wonder that we see being a pastor, missionary or Sunday School teacher as being more valuable than a hair dresser, or a carpenter

  • How do we move beyond the Greek/church dualism?

008 Dualism and the Reformation

Struggle to overcome the divide

Struggle to Overcome the Divide

  • How do we overcome the dualism between faith/work?

    • We tend to live in two separate worlds

    • Long for a more complete integration of the two worlds

  • From the time of the early church, we have seen work often placed in the lower story, in the material story

    • Church related work is understood to be closer to God and is placed in the second story or the Spiritual story

  • This robs many believers of the opportunity to live an integrated life with “God’s promises”

  • The answer to overcoming the dualism we find in our lives and in the church lies in developing a better understanding of Creation, Fall, and Redemption

008 Dualism and the Reformation

Creation god s fingerprints

Creation: God’s Fingerprints

  • Greek philosophy understood matter as being preexisting and eternal

    • Capable of resisting the rational order imposed on it by Forms

  • Biblical worldview: Nothing was preexisting or eternal except God

    • God is the sole source of all of creation; Creation ex nihilo

  • Everything reflects the identity of the Creator

    • “And God saw that it was good”

    • “No part of creation is inherently evil or bad”

  • Believers should have a love of God’s creation and be able to see beyond creation’s present state of brokenness and corruption “to its original, created goodness”

008 Dualism and the Reformation

Calvin s love of creation

Calvin’s Love of Creation

  • Calvin understood the world in terms of God’s word or creative decree

  • It is the Creator’s word that gives things their nature or identity

    • God’s word governs both humans (moral law) and the physical universe (laws of nature)

  • Today, society wants to maintain separation between morality and science, or morality and politics

  • Calvin understood that morality and science were not separate and distinct from each other but that they were “both examples of God’s law”

    • The difference between humans and the physical universe is “that humans must choose to obey the moral law, whereas natural objects have no choice but to obey the laws of physics or electromagnetism. If we look at the world through Calvinist eyes, we see God’s law governing every element in the universe, God’s word constituting its orderly structure, God’s truth discoverable in every field”

008 Dualism and the Reformation

Fall impact on creation

Fall: Impact on Creation

  • All Creation was impacted by the Fall

    • Trickle down effect

  • Creation, the material world is not inherently evil

    • Evils are all traced back to the Fall

    • Man’s sins have distorted Creation

  • The line between good and evil is not drawn through Creation as Plato thought but through man’s heart

008 Dualism and the Reformation

Reformation structure versus direction

Reformation: Structure versus Direction

  • Structure is understood as the created character of the world – which is good, even after the fall

  • Direction is understood to be the way we direct those structures

    • Either to serve God or idols

  • In every situation we need to ask the questions:

    • What is the original structure that God created?

    • How is it being distorted and directed to sinful purposes?

  • Even religious activities can be directed towards evil

  • We cannot gloss over wrongdoing by saying it is for the greater good – sin is never for the greater good

008 Dualism and the Reformation

Redemption god s renewed creation

Redemption: God’s Renewed Creation

  • Creation will be impacted by the redemption of man

  • Rev 21.1 tells us of a new heaven and a new earth

  • Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15 that we were given the bodies of the first man of earth, the man of dust - Adam

    • And as was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust

  • Jesus is the man from Heaven

    • And is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven

  • We will be resurrected and restored and we will dwell in a new earth

  • And as part of God’s creation the material world will be part of the final redemption

  • In eternity, man will continue to fulfill the Cultural Mandate in a world without sin

    • A redeemed people fulfilling the Cultural Mandate in a renewed world

008 Dualism and the Reformation

Biblical worldview

Biblical Worldview

  • This vision of the world, Creation, Fall and Redemption does not allow for a secular/sacred split

  • If all of creation was created good then it cannot be divided into some parts good and some parts bad now

  • All of creation was impacted by the fall and all of creation will be redeemed

    • “Evil does not reside in some part of God’s good creation, but in our abuse of creation for sinful purposes (structure versus direction)”

  • Think of what might happen to how you do your job if you applied this understanding to your work

    • Without a secular/sacred split would you see your work as “having great worth to God?”

  • This “holistic” or total Christian view of the world can provide us liberation from a world view that divides the world into secular and sacred parts

008 Dualism and the Reformation

Is the church out of balance

Is the Church Out of Balance?

  • The three part grid of Creation, Fall and Redemption provides us with a powerful tool for analysis

  • Historically, various groups within the church have overemphasized one of these three elements

    • This causes an out of balance situation in the church

  • Nancy Pearcey draws on examples from with the historical church to make this point:

    • What happens in the church when we overemphasize the Fall?

    • What happens within the church when we overemphasize Redemption?

    • What happens within the church when we overemphasize Creation?

  • Beware, this analysis may step on some toes but its conclusion may provide healing for those sore toes

  • Let’s look at areas of imbalance within the church today

008 Dualism and the Reformation

Overemphasis on the fall

Overemphasis on the Fall

  • The message is “You are a sinner; you need to be saved”

  • You might be thinking the problem today is that this is not heard often enough

  • Consider this: Granted we are sinners but doesn’t this message usually ignore the fact of the Creation

    • Pearcey says: By beginning with the theme of sin it implies that our essential identity consists in being guilty sinners, deserving of divine punishment.

    • The attitude that we are nothing and are completely worthless is either expressly stated or implied

  • This is not a biblical view as the Bible begins with creation and the fact that we are created in the image of God to be His representatives here on earth

008 Dualism and the Reformation

Attitude towards sin

Attitude Towards Sin

  • What makes sin so tragic is that humanity is worth so much

  • Man is the masterpiece of God’s work of creation

  • The message that we are sinners needs the bookends of:

    • What we were created to be

    • What we should be

  • Today most people no longer understand what sin is

  • Pearcey: If we begin with the fall instead of Creation, we will not be able to explain Redemption – because its goal is precisely to restore us to our original, created status

  • Redemption is restoration of God’s creation to its original state

    • For man this means “recovering our true identity and renewing the image of God in us

  • For sinners outside the church and perhaps even inside the church, we need to base the message of the gospel on the foundation of Creation, what we were created to be before we jump to the fact that we are sinners

    • Without Creation, the rest of the story, Fall and Redemption doesn’t make much sense

008 Dualism and the Reformation

Overemphasis on redemption

Overemphasis on Redemption

  • Overemphasis on Redemption leads many to think or believe that Redemption completely removes the marks of the Fall on believers in this lifetime

    • Simply: that man can achieve total holiness in this lifetime

  • The Bible teaching is that Satan and sin will not be completely destroyed until Jesus Christ’s return

  • Jesus death and resurrection defeated Satan and sin, but like the Israelites after Joshua in the Promised Land, much of the land remains in enemy hands

    • We are fighting a mop up operation until Christ’s return

    • We are fighting to liberate the lands still occupied by the enemy

008 Dualism and the Reformation

Our role in the liberation

Our Role in the Liberation

  • We live in the time between Christ’s death and resurrection and His coming again

    • We are expected to free as much of the land and its inhabitants from Satan’s grip as possible while waiting for Jesus to return

  • Pearcey: This side of heaven, we should strive to live with all three elements held in balance: recognizing the created goodness of God’s world (Creation), fighting the corruption of ongoing sin and brokenness (Fall), and working toward the healing of creation and the restoration of God’s purposes (Redemption).

008 Dualism and the Reformation

Redemption superior to creation

Redemption Superior to Creation?

  • This view leads to a Utopia – take your choice of which one

  • It rejects Creation in favor of something close to “final’ Redemption

    • Monasticism rejected much that was part of God’s Creation because it was thought to be inferior to what a Redeemed world would look like – e.g. Marriage, property

  • Naturalism/humanism all have a utopian end in view

    • They all reject life as it is and point to perfect “society”

  • Some Christians have believed that Redemption trumps, overrides, or destroys Creation, resulting Christian utopian movements

    • Like secular utopias, these reject ordinary life (Creation) while searching for “Higher spirituality” that is more like what eternity is thought to be

  • Be it Humanist or Christian the error is thinking that Redemption destroys Creation

008 Dualism and the Reformation

Reformers reaction

Reformers Reaction

  • The Reformers understood Redemption’s purpose was to fulfill God’s creation not to destroy it

  • In Redemption we are to recover our original humanity and all of Creation will be restored to what it was created to be

  • God “empowers man to achieve the purpose for which he was originally created – to fulfill our created nature”

  • The created order that God established at the very beginning is to be the rule – it is not inferior to, or to be destroyed by Redemption

  • Even Aquinas believed that the purpose of Grace was not to destroy Creation and replace it with something greater but that “grace perfects nature”

008 Dualism and the Reformation

Overemphasis on creation

Overemphasis on Creation

  • Aquinas and others overemphasized Creation and it caused an improper understanding of the Fall

  • In Aquinas’ nature/grace dualism, grace was an add on given to man at Creation

  • When man fell the only thing that was affected was “grace” – man only lost the add on - grace from the 2nd story

    • The lower story or man’s “human faculties” remained unchanged

    • Thus only the upper story, man’s spirituality needs to be changed or redeemed

    • Man’s humanity is not involved in the Fall or Redemption

  • The upper realm of religion/theology was all that needs fixing

  • The lower story of Reason (science, law, politics, education) was fine and unaffected

    • In the lower story of Reason there was no biblical perspective

    • Reason could and should be accepted as is

008 Dualism and the Reformation

The reformers reaction

The Reformers Reaction

  • Sin is understood as man’s turning away from God – this impacts everything man thinks or does

  • Man’s entire being is part of the drama between Creation, Fall and Redemption

    • There is no aspect of man, including reason, that has escaped being stained by the Fall

    • There is no part of Creation that hasn’t been tainted by the Fall

    • The phrase “total depravity” is meant to include all of man and all of Creation

  • “Nothing was left pristine and innocent”

008 Dualism and the Reformation

Today s landscape

Today’s Landscape

  • Today the dualism of nature/grace or secular/sacred still exists

  • Many in both the church as well as the secular still believe that Reason or nature or secular is both neutral and innocent

  • Thus Christians tend to leave the world of ideas to the secularists

  • Many of us are left ‘serving two masters” – we fail to understand the world as one and instead try to serve Reason, Nature, secularism/Spiritual, grace, religious

    • Today these are best known as fact/value

  • If we don’t apply a biblical worldview to all things we are left with only a non-biblical worldview which has limited if any room for truth

  • The Biblical Worldview maintains Creation, Fall, and Redemption in proper balance

    • God’s Creation was all originally good, the Fall corrupted all of Creation and Redemption is capable of restoring all of Creation to its original state

  • This is the integrated life that is the promise of Christianity as every level of life is ultimately transformed by the Holy Spirit

  • In our next session we will look at the modern secular dualism of our time

008 Dualism and the Reformation

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