Friday, February 27, 2009

Biblical Dualism

For the longest time I have been meaning to post some Bible studies and thoughts I've had, yet I never seem to. So here is the first. It began as a Bible study I taught last year.

Dualism is an age old concept when it comes to religion. Good versus evil. Light versus dark. God versus the devil. The idea is pretty much set in the popular imagination and in pop culture. God sits on his throne, ruling from Heaven, and Satan sits on his, ruling from Hell. Biblically and theologically this is complete nonsense. God and the devil aren't counterparts or equals. God alone is all-powerful, the creator of Heaven and Hell. And of the devil. God is unique. He doesn't have an opposite. The devil, however, does. His opposite is the Church. That's the true dualism of the Bible, the devil versus the Church. But even here it gets complicated.

Outlining the contrast between the devil and the Church could not be easier.

The devil is a destroyer, John 10:10a:

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy...
And he is without truth, John 8:44:

Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
The Church, on the other hand, is called to restore that which Satan has destroyed, it has a ministry of reconciliation, 2 Corinthians 5:17-19:

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
We are instruments to be used to complete Jesus' goal, Luke 19:10:

For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
We are to be bringers of life, John 10:10b:

I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
And holy, Ephesians 5:27:

That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
But it goes beyond simple contrasts. Before Calvary Jesus described Satan as the prince of this world, John 14:30:

Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.
Following Calvary the Church is both king and priest, Revelations 1:6:

And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
In theory this conflict should be a very simple one, because a breach has been made for us into the devil's kingdom. Until the invention of the cannon cities would protect themselves against their enemies by building strong walls around their perimeter. But each wall had at least one hole, or breach, in it: the gate. The city needed its gate in order to connect to the world around it, but if the gate fell to the enemy, the city so followed. The Bible says that the gates of Hell cannot stand against the Church, Matthew 16:18:

And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
So the Church exists to undo the devil's works. We have been given authority over his kingdom, to destroy it. And that is why the devil attacks us. He isn't simply doing whatever it is he does. He fears us and takes our threat to him far more seriously than we often do ourselves. He knows he was defeated at Calvary and he knows that he was no power over the Church. But he also knows that the Church is made up of men and women, sinners saved by grace. He knows that there are only two ways for us to exercise our God-given authority, through prayer and fasting, Mark 9:28-29:

And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out? And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.
And by submitting ourselves to God, James 4:7:

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
And here is where we fail. To defeat him we don't need arcane rituals and incantations, we simply need to submit ourselves to God and resist the devil. In practice, however, we prefer to neither submit to God nor resist the devil. The devil is invidious. If he can't win, we'll destroy as many as possible. Biblical dualism, in a nutshell, is: the devil works to destroy and the Church to restore. We have all the power of Heaven at our disposal, but don't avail ourselves of it. Satan has been defeated, but is willing to use whatever means he can in his efforts to do as much harm as possible. So where is God in all this? He is far from neutral. He defeated Satan on the cross and He is happy to empower His Church to the extent that we will allow Him. All we have to do is submit ourselves to His will.

I Want To Be Surprised, But

New Scientist reports a comparative, state by state, study on the use of porn in the US. These aren't casual users. These are people who actually pay to access pornography. There is a positive correlation between the conservative, church going, family values states and porn use. The more conservative one claims to be, the more likely that same person is secretly logging on to porn. Yes, I know there are a lot of us who don't do this, but I also know there are too many who do. Study after study has found little or no difference in the behaviour of those who claim to be Christians and those who don't. If the Church has no moral authority in the eyes of society at large, it is because it has no spiritual authority in the eyes of God, and it has no spiritual authority because it doesn't walk the walk. It says one thing and does another.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Bible And Literature Quiz

The BBC site has is a short quiz about the Bible and literature, specifically on identifying Biblical allusions in classic lit. I hadn't read a lot of them, but still got nine out of ten by relying on my knowledge of the Bible. The one I blew was the only one I guessed at. Try it.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Getting Your Saints Right

Not being a Catholic, I don't really understand all this, but then many Catholics don't appear to understand it either. If you are praying for a new love, don't pray to St. Valentine. The proper saint is Raphael. Valentine is the saint for those you already have their special someone.

Its not mentioned, but Raphael is actually an angel. I didn't know they sainted angels.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

June 29, 2010

A while ago I set myself a goal to shake off the spiritual status quo. I don't know even now what that means, but I wasn't happy where I was so I gave myself 1000 days, until June 29, 2010, to change... something. This month will bring me to the half way point. On the other blog I had been giving one hundred day assessments. I am not going to do that here. I may not mention the countdown again this year. I don't know. There is something on the horizon that may have some real consequences in my spiritual walk, but I can't discuss it at this point. Its something I have to let happen, which grates a bit. I'd rather just deal with it, but I think letting it happen is the Lord's will in the matter. Once it does happen I'll be able to talk about it.

In other news, I created a link to my earlier dispensationalist writings. That's the last of the 'old news.' All new content from here on!


When I began this blog I had just finished a study of Dispensationalism. This page links to posts I did then, and to an article on Dispensationalism and modern Israel I did for subter.

Leaving Dispensationalism Behind

Methods of Interpretation


The Dispensationalist Outline of History

End Time Miscellany

Dispensationalism: A Look At II Peter 3

A Black Cheque