Monday, December 11, 2006

Dualism

Here is my notes for a message I taught at CCF last Friday on dualism. Enjoy!

1- short story of heresies
Gnostics / Valentinians: pure dualism. Creation work of the bad god
They had their extra revelation, their own gnospels, and relied on their local guru for "truth"
Marcion: compiled a modified NT to fit his doctrine. Good god vs bad God
Mani: mixture of different religions where there was dualism.
Point: we are what we eat. We reach a conclusion based on the information available.
2- dualism: what is it, and why?
Theology.
a. the doctrine that there are two independent divine beings or eternal principles, one good and the other evil.
b. the belief that a human being embodies two parts, as body and soul.
The first part is of interest to us
(Source: dictionary.com)
3- Logical refutation of dualism
Please refer to C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Book 2, Ch. 2
4- "dualism" today
Dualistic perception is relatively widespread. Sometimes, we can share our faith
with someone who don't understand why God is so "cruel". Sometimes, we can
read the Bible and not understand what's written, because it feels like as
if God WAS cruel.
Lets look at one nearly-random passage of the OT:
The LORD is a jealous and avenging God;
the LORD takes vengeance and is filled with wrath.
The LORD takes vengeance on his foes
and maintains his wrath against his enemies.
(Nahum 1.2)
And of the NT:
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:16-17)
The main reason, in my opinion, is because we have been sold the idea
of Harlequin love, not real love.
Also, we have been taught about God the bearded guy in Heaven, which
is almost confused with Santa Claus. We made God into an ATM in our
society... he can give the good, never the bad, right?
We'll see that God is true to himself when He says:
I the LORD do not change. (Mal 3:6)
We'll see that he always was loving, always good, and always just.
Then we'll see that God's will, as expressed in the Bible, isn't
always God's will...
5- A loving God in both Testaments
Lets start with the first idea, which is that God is loving.
But first, what is love? The answer is tricky, but doesn't have to be specified formally... Since God's Word is inerrant, we can just look up moments when the Bible talks about God's love in an authoritative manner (vs. the Bible relating what people think of God).
A) In the Old Testament:
Then the LORD said to me, "Go again, love a woman who is loved by her husband, yet an adulteress, even as the LORD loves the sons of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes." (Hosea 3:1)
B) In the New Testament:
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:16-17)
For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8)
6- A just God in both Testaments
The idea of justice is relatively wide also. I will focus on one aspect of justice from God: punishing sins.
A) In the Old Testament:
"Yet you say, 'The way of the Lord is not just.' Hear, O house of Israel: Is my way unjust? Is it not your ways that are unjust? If a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits sin, he will die for it; because of the sin he has committed he will die. But if a wicked man turns away from the wickedness he has committed and does what is just and right, he will save his life. Because he considers all the offenses he has committed and turns away from them, he will surely live; he will not die. Yet the house of Israel says, 'The way of the Lord is not just.' Are my ways unjust, O house of Israel? Is it not your ways that are unjust?
"Therefore, O house of Israel, I will judge you, each one according to his ways, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live! (Ezekiel 18:25-32) (Es 59:22)
B) In the New Testament:
But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them.bring them here and kill them in front of me. (Luke 19:27)
"And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will be brought down to Hades!
"The one who listens to you listens to Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me." (Luke 15:10-17)
7- God's will: "transitive"
Now again the anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and it incited David against them to say, "Go, number Israel and Judah." (2 Samuel 24:1)
Then Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel. (1 Chronicles 21:1)
It is one of many examples in the Bible where God gets the credit for something Satan does.
Why? The answer is because God is almighty. Either he directly decides of something, or he allows Satan to do something. In that sense, he indirectly "wills" it.
8- Our personal responsibility.
"For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach. It is not in heaven, that you should say, 'Who will go up to heaven for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?'
Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, 'Who will cross the sea for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?'
But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it.
[...]
I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live [...]"
(Deuteronomy 30:11-14,19a)
We have the personal responsibility to know and practice. God, in both Testament, made that very clear. In the words of Jesus:
"If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; forI did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.
He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day. Jn 12:47-48
"Why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?
Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.
But the one who has heard and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great." (Matthew 6:46)
9- Conclusions
1) Read your Bible, don't be like Marcion
2) If you are stuck in guilt, keep in mind that Jesus brings forgivenes of sins
3) If you are stuck in sin, keep in mind that God is just and that there is a consequence.
Appendix A- Extra difficulties
You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. (Deuteronomy 5:8-10)
In this case, we must look at what we saw at point 7. God warns us that sin has consequences,
and that God will not stand in those consequences. An example can be seen in addictions such as alchoolism, which tend to span accross generations. Our sins make us and others pay too.
But I will harden Pharaoh's heart that I may multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt. (Exodus 7:3)
It sounds like he was doomed from the start... Let us think about point 7 for a moment and read a bit more...
But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and did not listen to them, as the LORD had said. (Exodus 8:15)
Sources:
www.christian-thinktank.com/madgod.html
www.douglasjacoby.com
http://www.keyway.ca/htm2001/20010218.htm
NASB, NIV translations of the Bible (although mostly NASB)
Michel Theron, Petit lexique des hérésies chrétiennes, Albin Michel, 2005

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