As followers of Jesus it is as imperative for us to fight every inclination toward dualism as it is to fight against legalism. While legalism is widely recognized as relating wrongly to the Law, the error of dualism is not as widely acknowledged in our Evangelical circles.
Simply put, dualism is like split vision, seeing things only as either spiritual or secular. All things are spiritual.
Walt Mueller reminds us that there are two kinds of dualism common in the church:
- Escape – When personal salvation is viewed as an escape from the world into the church, and that the world around us is then to be avoided.
- Segregated Spheres – Believing God is only concerned about the spiritual dimension of our lives, we dedicate our spiritual lives to the Lord, but then are shaped by the world in our professional and social lives.
Jacques Ellul offers this critique:
This dissociation of our life into two spheres: the one “spiritual” where we can be “perfect”; and the other material and unimportant, where we behave like other people; is one of the reasons why the Churches have so little influence on the world… All we can say is: That is the exact opposite of what Jesus Christ wills for us, and of that which he came to do.
Here are three teachings of Jesus that should remind us that God intends for his people to engage the culture around us. We are not to avoid it. We are to attack it stealthily.
Matthew 5.13 – Salt of the Earth
Matthew 5.14 – Light of the World
Matthew 10.16 – Sheep among Wolves