Monday, January 25, 2010


The task of identifying dualistic thinking can be somewhat tricky, because several different forms exist. However, the three-part grid of Creation-Fall-Redemption gives us a powerful tool of analysis. Throughout the history of the church, various groups have tended to seize upon one of these three elements, overemphasizing it to the detriment of the other two—producing a lopsided, unbalanced theology. For example, stressing the Fall too heavily tends toward pessimism and negativism, while overemphasizing Redemption can lead to triumphalism and complacency.
...Consider the typical evangelistic message: “You’re a sinner; you need to be saved.” What could be wrong with that? Of course, it’s true that we are sinners, but notice that the message starts with the Fall instead of Creation. By beginning with the theme of sin, it implies that our essential identity consists in being guilty sinners, deserving of divine punishment. Some Christian literature goes so far as to say we are nothing, completely worthless, before a holy God.

This excessively negative view is not biblical, however, and it lays Christianity open to the charge that it has a low view of human dignity. The Bible does not begin with the Fall but with Creation: Our value and dignity are rooted in the fact that we are created in the image of God, with the high calling of being His representatives on earth. In fact it is only because humans have such high value that sin is so tragic. If we were worthless to begin with, then the Fall would be a trivial event. When a cheap trinket is broken, we toss it aside with a shrug. But when a priceless masterpiece is defaced, we are horrified. It is because humans are the masterpiece of God’s creation that the destructiveness of sin produces such horror and sorrow. Far from expressing a low view of human nature, the Bible actually gives a far higher view than the dominant secular view today, which regards humans as simply complex computers made of meat—products of blind, naturalistic forces, without transcendent purpose or meaning.

If we start with a message of sin, without giving the context of Creation, then we will come across to nonbelievers as merely negative and judgmental. After an extended trip through Africa (described in Dark Star Safari), the writer Paul Theroux said one of the saddest moments in his journey was “hearing a young woman [missionary] tell me that she was heading for Mozambique and adding, ‘They’re all sinners, you know.’” Theroux concluded that missionaries only make people “despise themselves.” We need to begin our message where the Bible begins—with the dignity and high calling of all human beings because they are created in the image of God.

-Excerpt from Total Truth by Nancy Pearcy



Ash said...

I read a book with almost the exact same points as you just made, I think you would enjoy it:

Designed for Dignity
(subtitled: What God has Made it Possible for You to Be)
Richard L. Pratt

Shannon said...

Hi Emily!
Wow! We really need to hear that these days! I understand that we can get so down because we are being taught that we are originally evil from the start, but we forget that God made us in His image, holy and beautiful! It is becasue of the Fall that seperated us from God, but praise be to Christ for His sacrifice for us! I think that the analogy of the cheap trinket and expensive masterpiece is excellent, and this article was very encouraging.

Your Sister In Christ,

Johanna said...

Hello Emily~ I just wanted to say that I love your blog and am now a follower!

Hope you stop by mine sometime, and if you do~ LEAVE A COMMENT! {please}!!!


Your Sister in Christ,