Dualism is defined as the doctrine that the universe is under the dominion of two opposing principles, one of which is good and the other evil. In Christian theology, dualism typically describes the conflict between God and Satan over the souls of men.
In the Old Testament portion of the Bible, this dualism concept prevails. Jew versus Gentile. Sinfulness versus righteousness. All is in contrast one with another. God is alternately the judge and the forgiver of wrong-doing. It is a story of continuous waxing and waning in righteousness.
Consider the account of the “Fall” of Adam and Eve. What were the two forbidden to attain? The knowledge of good and evil. The serpent introduced them to the concept of dualism. Men can recognize choices and follow one of two paths. The under-lying reality is that we all are on two paths at once, the good and the bad.
Now consider the story of Job. Read Job 1-3. What was the basic disagreement about? It was over whether Job was basically good or evil. This contrast is evident not in just the opening exchange between God and Satan, but also in the advice and observations of all Job’s friends and acquaintances. They wanted to paint Job as basically an evil man. What was the final answer to all of Job’s questions: Job, Be content in whatever state you are; God is in command and control. He is working out his mystery of spiritual growth through all the circumstances of life. Some questions have no answer, and to seek such answers is an unnecessary frustration.
The concept of dualism leads to the more basic question: whether mankind is controlled mainly by the good or the bad. These two different evaluations of mankind have a dramatic impact on anyone’s general philosophy of life and the measure of virtue and contentment that one obtains in this life. To many, especially those of a religious persuasion, mankind is ruled by evil tendencies, which must be held in check by strict rules and their enforcement. Every man should be on guard to suppress his own penchant for sinning and furthermore, to apply pressure to society and mankind at large to follow the path of righteousness.
In the political history of this great nation, this dualistic concept has been a great influence. As a so called Bible based nation, the early colonialists and their leaders had a heritage of dualistic thinking. They came from countries and nations where powerful churches and absolute monarchies traditionally ruled over the spiritual and physical lives of their subjects. The good ruled and the evil masses did as they were told. This line of thinking carried over into the early political discussions of our embryonic nation. Two philosophies prevailed in those days: one said that the rich and educated should continue to exercise influence in governance beyond the force of their numbers. This was said to be necessary to insure the viability of the nation. Laws to protect commerce and suppress competition were thought to be essential, since economics is at the heart of national well-being. Protection of the economic status quo would insure national security, the status of the new state in the eyes of the world, and the normal order as described by the Bible (Good rules over Evil). All was ultimately based on a lack of faith in the average man and his ability to do what was right.
On the other hand, many questioned the traditions of government elsewhere. Some saw the common man in a brighter, more flattering light. To them the average farmer, wage earner, and uneducated immigrant was fully capable of contributing to their own goverance. The faith of these Founding Fathers flew in the face of the traditional dualistic notion of man. Theirs was an abiding faith in man and his inherent wisdom, compassion, and good judgment.
It was a bold new concept that shook the world, literally. Some, as in
In our day, the challenge we face is the need to re-experience the recognition that dualism is not the ultimate reality. Man was placed in a world of God’s choosing with the goal of fellowship with his Creator. Based on the account of Adam and Eve, one can conclude that dealing with the knowledge of good and evil was a necessary step in man’s spiritual evolution, but is it the final step. Did God intend us to move beyond that concept in the course of human history to enjoy a Day of Eternal contentment? The Bible says emphatically, yes.
Consider the title that Jesus wore, Prince of Peace. How can there be peace as long as there is conflict between the forces of good and evil. Classic dualism has no place in the age or