What is the biggest threat facing Christianity today? Islam? Biblical and theological liberalism? Possibly, but I would suggest that an even greater threat to the effectiveness of Christianity is dualism.
Dualism is that technique we use to artificially divide life into the secular and sacred – the religious and the every day. This pernicious division carries with it the emasculation of the Christian faith, or if you like, the barrenness.
When we divide Christianity into these two portions there is an emphasis on personal salvation but this is done to the detriment of the wider gospel message. Now an individual’s salvation is absolutely critical and should be pursued but it is only part of the gospel story. The other crucial part is the redeeming of the kingdom. John the Baptist heralded Christ by declaring the Kingdom of heaven was at hand. Christ’s mission was for more than individual souls.
Dualism disempowers Christianity as it removes the larger portion of our lives from serving God. Our workplace, our sport and leisure become, at best, places for personal evangelism but we fail to see that the very activity carried on is claimed by God too.
The challenge for the Christian business man is to run his business in a way that honours God. The teacher in school is there on Christ the King’s behalf – whatever the school. The tradesman is there to serve his King too. And like so many areas of Christian existence we will not be immune from suffering – suffering in business or work. Suffering has long been a characteristic of those who willingly serve the King in all their lives. In contrast, dividing our lives into two categories is, too often, a means of alleviating that suffering. By placing much of our lives in the “secular realm” we are saved from having to confront the values and beliefs of this world.
Dualism promotes the lie that part of life is neutral but if we look carefully at the worldviews behind much of the business world or the education world we see many gods lurking in the corners; humanist gods which promote man, money, self sufficiency and the like.
The gospel declares that we have a comprehensive King, or in the words of the Dutch theologian and statesman, Abraham Kuyper, ” … there is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!‘”
Thanks for this challenging post, Pieter. I always enjoy your thoughtful, passionate and mature writing, relating our Christian faith and walk to current issues “in a way only good Reformed Christians” will do that. Our voice is so Bible-based, balanced and rich, it needs to be heard.