a damaging dualism

I keep hearing from Christians no less that we’re not to be concerned with earthly, material matters, but only spiritual matters. This betrays an unbiblical, devastating dualism. Dualism carries with it the idea of two entities that in no way correspond.

When I open my Bible I read words like, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1).

Spirituality cannot be reduced to a relationship between a person and God. It must work out that relationship in love with other human beings and with good works. Otherwise scripture tells us such a profession of spirituality or faith is hollow and indeed dead (again, James, etc.).

The individualism which we have inherited from the Enlightenment brings with it another damaging dualism which blinds our reading of scripture. Of course God deals with us as individuals in and through Jesus. But fundamental to scripture is the centrality of community. We are in this in God through Jesus, together. And it’s not just to help a bunch of other individuals get on well with life. It is the making of a community no less, the people of God, in and through Jesus. And in the end we can’t simply think in terms of ourselves, but must include others. In fact we need to develop a mindset of us, instead of me. Or perhaps better said, ourselves yes, but always in terms of others. Which of course is the way of Jesus.

This does not deny the need for solitude, or to take personal responsibility. Nor is this to deny that we can be taken in by a world system that is at odds with the kingdom of God in Jesus. Not everything is okay.

But this is saying that the gospel is good news through Jesus’ coming as Messiah which brings us back to God’s intent and is for all creation. And in the end brings judgment and salvation with reference to everything. In and through King Jesus.