September 27: The Battle for the Mind: Pluralism and Dualism

2 Corinthians 10:3-4. For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 

Our union with Christ equips us for the great battle that we face every single day – the battle for the mind. 

Every thought we have, every idea we promote, every argument we make must be taken captive by the gospel. We must take every thought captive to obey Christ.

In Paul’s day (and in ours) many were pluralists. They combined all kinds of teachings, and ideas, and worldviews into one big stew. Nothing was wrong, and everything was right, as long as you still worshiped the emperor that is. But Paul is no pluralists. And those of us who are in Christ can no longer be pluralists. Truth is narrow. So narrow that it is a person named Jesus. If it doesn’t conform to his life, death and resurrection, it is not true, and it is a stronghold that must be destroyed.

In opposition to pluralism, however, many Christians become dualists. They divide everything into black and white. To them, every idea, argument, system, religion, worldview is either totally right or totally wrong. Here’s how New Testament scholar N.T. Wright addresses this problem:

All truth is God’s truth. All truth can be twisted to serve the ends of human pride and arrogance, and that happens far too frequently. But it can be straightened out again; and the way to do that is to “take it captive,” to make it change armbands, to bring it on to the right side. There is no insight, no vision of truth, so noble and lofty that it cannot be perverted and made into an instrument of human pride. Likewise, there is no small glimmer of light, no faint echo of reality, so small or corrupt that it cannot be taken into the service of the world’s creator and rightful Lord. 

Union with Christ allows us to take every thought captive. To battle both pluralism and dualism by bringing every system of thought into conformity with the gospel. Consider for a minute some of the thinking in 1 Corinthians.

Some were pluralists. They were combining Christ with idolatry. They mixed Jesus with Greek knowledge. Paul waged war against these ideas.  He destroyed the stronghold of pluralism. He showed them that they can’t mix Christ and his cross with idolatry or sexual immorality or super spirituality.

Others were dualists. They saw everything in black and white. All meat offered to idols was corrupt and should never be eaten. Don’t go near it. Don’t think about it. Don’t go to people’s houses if they are eating it. Paul also confronted this mindset. Even in his admonition to not violate the conscience of others, he was actually forming an argument against this type of dualistic thinking.

The Christian today is still battling these same two strongholds of the mind. Pluralism runs all over our faith. It reduces the gospel down to a music style or a catch phrase. It makes everything equal. No distinctions. Why? Because no one wants to be that bigot. That intolerant one. And so we have Christianity with a whole lot less of Christ. Because Jesus was love, we love everyone – yes and amen. But we now also love every idea. Every “truth.” Every worldview. But is that the Christ that indwell us?

The Christian today, in opposition to everything above, also fights against the dualism that causes them to condemn all thoughts, all ideas, all arguments that don’t match up 100% with what they believe is “God’s truth.” Is everything in Islam wrong? Is every part of your culture sinful? Is there no redeeming truth in it? If the various movie clips and songs that I post here each day have parts that are not consistent with the knowledge of God, should we throw them out?  Is that the Christ that indwells us? Isn’t that a graceless Christianity?

“To live is Christ” leaves no room for either pluralism or dualism. Rather it seeks to take every thought, every idea, every argument captive for Christ and his gospel.

Do you tend to be a pluralist or a dualist? What specific thought can you identity that needs to be taken captive for Christ? How does your union with Christ allow you to reject both the openness of pluralism and the closed mindedness of dualism?

Warning: instrumental (haha). Beautiful and chaotic like taking truth captive. 

And this just for fun…


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