Popular Christian Dichotomies

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A blog from Craig Schwarze at sydneyanglicans.net regarding the ministry / secular work divide got me thinking about other apparent dichotomies that exist in the popular evangelical mindset.

A dichotomy is defined as (from Wiktionary)

  1. Division into two; especially, the division of a class into two subclasses opposed to each other by contradiction, as the division of the term man into white and not white.
  2. conditions perceived as polar extremes or opposites
  3. an either-or perspective

These are some that I’ve been thinking through:

  1. (as mentioned) Full-time ministry versus secular work 
  2. Gospel preaching versus social action
  3. Cultivating the ‘soul’ versus caring for our bodies
  4. Involvement at church versus involvement in the world
  5. Church government versus political government
  6. Supernatural gifts versus ‘natural’ gifts
  7. Individual salvation versus corporate involvement (what I mean by this is that for a lot of Christians, it’s hard to overcome the idea that salvation is just about ‘me’ and that church is a bit of a secondary thing – i.e. I go to church to help me grow).
  8. Building the church versus building the Kingdom (probably most Christians would struggle to even get the difference between the two since very few have thought about the relationship between ‘church’ and ‘kingdom’)
  9. Jesus as Saviour versus Jesus as Lord
  10. My salvation versus concern for the salvation of others (for many, the only reason I ought to be concerned for the salvation of others is because I don’t want them to go to hell and therefore not to be concerned would be selfish. There doesn’t seem to be an inner logic between me being saved and wanting others to be saved.)
  11. Church programs versus community programs
  12. Evangelism versus building friendships (or pre-evangelism)
  13. Bible teaching versus application
  14. Heavenly pleasure versus worldly pleasure (and related to this, the place of the arts and music in our Christian worldview)

I’d like your help in identifying others that exist and would love to hear your comments below.

Just to do a bit of cross-promotion, I’ll be addressing these issues and more at a few camps that I’ll be speaking on this year. CCC’s5pm houseparty (June 5-8), CCCBrisbane’s Youth Fellowship Camp (July 10-13), the M5 Anglican churches combined houseparty (Nov 27-29). Get along to one of them and hopefully we can see how the Bible’s perspective on Hope overcomes many (if not all) of these dichotomies.

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About Pete

I am a child of God, a husband, a father of four children, a pastor, and a church planter. I live in Sydney Australia and live to see Jesus made famous in this city and be the only God people worship.

Posted on May 19, 2009, in Theology and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Financial giving to Christian ministry vs giving to charities?

  2. Stuart Heath

    I’d love to hear 8. and 10. teased out more, Pete 🙂

    Goldsworthy, at least in Gospel and Kingdom, won’t admit of a gap between church and kingdom, I don’t think. But perhaps this is an uncharitable reading.

  3. Stuart Heath

    P.S. Sorry – I meant to add one ‘heart’ versus ‘behaviour’, or ‘motive’ versus ‘action’.

  4. Heart vs head…

    It seems very hard to reconcile good thinking with effective practice. Either you have the ivory tower irrelevance, or you have naked crass pragmatism.

  5. pastorpeterko

    Great thoughts everyone! Keep them coming.

  6. Sinful bodies vs renewed hearts which have the power to overcome sin?

  7. Secure salvation vs. Take care lest you fall

  8. MJ’s theology/practice dichotomy is a good one, although I’d repackage it as “head vs hands” rather than “head vs heart.”

    “Head vs heart” may just be another dichotomy in itself though: I often hear people complaining that though they know something to be true, it fails to register emotionally (and vice versa).

  9. 1. The Trinity (Father, Son, & Holy Spirit, BUT, One God!) 2. Jesus is: Son of God, &, Son of Man (fully God & fully human!) 3. Chosen But Free (Calvinism vs. Arminianism) {Norman Geisler has written an xlnt. book on this one!} 4. Born Again, but still a sinner! Hope you’re getting the idea here! Chaplain Dan

  10. Stephen Kimotho fom Kenya

    Faith Vs Learning

    Can we have scholarship without faith or faith without scholarship.

    Think about it

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