Thursday, March 22, 2012

Assumed Dualism in Christianity: What It Is & How to Notice It

Occasionally, we hear stories about families who are faced with the reality of a disease they were not aware even existed. Or, perhaps, we hear of a condition someone has, but we really do not understand how it affects those close to it. In these situations not being aware does not effect the presence or reality of the disease or condition. What has changed is the awareness of those now affected.

From the day awareness is increased, however, we attempt to learn all we can about that which has begun to affect every part of the way life must now be lived. It may also be true that we live with a condition for a length of time but never realize we are being affected by it. It is from this last standpoint that I hope to increase our awareness about the concept of assumed dualism in Christianity.

In a previous article I mentioned that our beliefs, or conclusions, about what "the Bible says" are only as valid as the assumptions on which they are based. Dualism is an assumption that affects our interpretation of various passages in the Bible, and therefore, our conclusions or beliefs about what the Bible says in those verses.

To illustrate how assumptions affect our lives, for example: if you have been taught, by those you trust from previous generations, that baptism is sprinkling, or pouring (forms of washing), instead of immersion (to dip, plunge, be submerged), then your conclusions/beliefs about what it means to "be baptized" will be affected. This is turn will affect what you do concerning the Biblical command to "be baptized." In a more general way, the way we live life is based on our worldview which forms our cultural lifestyles concerning "religion" being separate from "secular" life.

For some of us, we may think that we have understood what "being baptized" means and never give consideration that we have not done just as those in the Bible. However, because of our assumptions inherited from church traditions, often based on the interpretation of only a few people who agree with one another and which are handed down from generation to generation, our conclusion may be faulty. Similarly, for others, the way Christians have come to view worship--and indeed living the Christian life itself--is affected by our assumptions from the teachings of historically recent and select preachers many of which are based on dualism.