Theology and Dualistic Thinking

Posted: November 15, 2010 in Uncategorized
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Wow…heavy title for a blog post, huh?

Many people who come from a conservative standpoint theologically are wondering where the heck I stand…and they are questioning my standing as a pastor.  Well, I figured I should explain to you how I got here.

Several years ago, I had a crisis of faith.  I began to realize that life didn’t always work out as nicely and neatly as the Bible would purport.  I couldn’t reconcile certain things in the Bible with what I saw in life.  And as I reflected on my own life, I began to see that there were many times that I thought I “heard from the Lord” on important issues…and when I acted on what I thought I heard, life ended up not going the way I thought I had heard.  So I began to question my ability to hear from God.  I also began to reckon on the fact that there were many Christian denominations who interpreted Scriptural passages in different ways.  And ultimately, those Christian groups used the same Bible to come up with their theology as I used to stand on my conservative theology.  We are all reading the same Bible and seeking to listen to the same God…and yet we come up with different answers!  For the longest time, I was taught to believe that one way was right and the other was wrong.  But how could so many people be “wrong”…especially when the way I was taught to interpret the Bible didn’t always jive with the way I saw the world working?  This all shook me to the core and I went through a time when I really wasn’t sure what I believed and what I could trust.

I finally got through that time with a new found faith.  It is a faith that allows for people to have different interpretations of Scripture without me judging them or believing they are wrong.

The clincher came in the past couple of months.  I learned in counseling about “dualistic thinking”.  Dualistic thinking is the lowest level of thinking.  It sees the world in terms of black/white, right/wrong, us/them, good/bad, etc.  Most conservative Christians adhere to that type of thinking…and that is the way I was taught to view the world.  But since I had already gone through my “crisis of faith”, I was able to accept the fact that there is a better way to view life and Scripture than with a dualistic lens.  Maybe the ways I had been taught to interpret Scripture were not correct.  Maybe the other views are just as valid.  Maybe we’ll never know on this side of heaven if we hold the right interpretation.  And because of that, maybe there is no correct way of interpreting Scripture!  (Heresy!)  Aren’t we all just trying to figure it out the best way we can?

So maybe the “other” interpretations of the Bible that don’t condemn homosexuality are valid!  This really got me thinking!

So I studied those other interpretations.  I learned what they are rather than just writing them off.  And as I studied, I came to the realization that those interpretations are just as valid as the interpretations I had always been taught.  And when I compared those interpretations with psychology and sociology, I came to realize that things are far more complicated than I realized.  To write homosexuality off as just a sinful behavior is narrow-minded and ultimately dualistic.  No longer could I hold that view.

So I changed.  I allowed my personal theology to expand to a place beyond where it had been before.  And in doing so, I found that the world makes a whole lot more sense.

That is a very short answer to a long issue.  I’m sure many will have a field-day with what I have just written.  And that’s ok.  I’m not dualistic…I’ll allow you to have your viewpoint and I won’t feel like I have to convert you to mine!


  1. Jiggy D says:

    This particular post relates to things I’ve been tossing around lately. About two years ago when I started looking around GCN, I read their article on the bible and homosexuality. This was the first time I really allowed myself to read this type of an argument with an open mind. I can’t say that I absolutely agree with all of the pro-gay conclusions they drew about every verse used to define homosexuality as sin… but I did come away thinking “Is it possible that we don’t have a full understanding of these verses based on the cultural context then and now”? I’ve also become fairly convinced that anyone can take just about any position on any topic and find some way to make the bible “support” it. Very very confusing for sure!

  2. So interesting. I have had a deconstruction of my conservative Christian faith that has gone hand in hand with my finally accepting my sexual orientation. I hear this story again and again. For me, it all started back in the early 2000s with that Brian McLaren guy… The beginning of the end.

    • Pastor Chris says:

      Brian McLaren is the tip of the iceberg. Once you start reading the things that once were considered “slippery slope” books, you’ll find your whole world opens up. There are books and authors that take a completely opposite stance on issues than conservative Evangelicalism…but they are still use the Bible as their text. THAT floored me. When I found out that people came to different conclusions than I had been taught but were still using the Bible…my whole world was shaken and I had to start exploring other theologies. It has opened up my world and has taken me firmly outside of Evangelicalism.

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