c) 2012' name='copyright'/>Michael DeShane Hinton: Spirituality Depends on a Dualistic Perspective

Friday, August 24, 2012

Spirituality Depends on a Dualistic Perspective

Spirituality depends on the philosophical dualism that is the suppositional basis of the New Testament.  It is on nearly every page of the Christian scriptures.  Dualism can be roughly described by the two general categories of good vs. evil.  In fact, that is the primary difference between Western intellectual traditions, of which Christianity is the perfection, and Eastern monism, which says that it’s all the same.

Good and evil branch off into other objects that are opposed to one another.  In time I hope to identify them all and provide the references in a larger work.  There are dozens of dualisms and hundreds of verses.  But for now I will show a few and one passage that supports it.  One verse proves each duality true but might leave the impression that it is a passing remark.  Believe me, the number of dualistic verses, along with historical evidence, means that Jesus, his disciples, and the early Church were predominantly Hellenistic – that is, they used philosophical terms (like form and substance) to convey the Good News of God’s love in Christ to a non-Jewish audience.

According to New Testament dualism, then, the definition of spirituality means to develop a personal habit and lifestyle of choosing between good and evil.  It does not mean to be doe-eyed, ethereal, overly religious, one with the universe, or otherwise strange in appearance, language, manner, or affect.  It means simply to gain clarity and choose well.  Admittedly that is difficult to do sometimes so we need each other, the word of God, and all the other the means of grace that God provides in Christ.

Be that as it may, here is a partial list of New Testament dualities:

Good vs. evil: Romans 12:9: Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. (Romans 12:9 ESV)

Spirit vs. flesh: For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. (Galatians 5:17 ESV)

Light vs. dark: The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:5 ESV)

Mind vs. body: For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? (Romans 7:22-24 ESV)

Real/true form vs. shadow: For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. (Hebrews 10:1 ESV)

Heaven vs. earth: If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? (John 3:12 ESV)

God vs. the world: You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (James 4:4 ESV)

Righteousness vs. sin: Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. (Romans 6:13 ESV)

Freedom vs. slavery: So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. (John 8:31-34 ESV)

New vs. old: But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code. (Romans 7:6 ESV)

Christ vs. the lawless one: And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. (2 Thessalonians 2:8 ESV)

Life vs. death: But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-7 ESV)

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