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  • Think Tank 2012 Live-Blog: Two-ism and the Doctrine of God (Peter Jones)
  • Think Tank 2012 Live-Blog: Two-ism and the Doctrine of God (Peter Jones)

    Speaker: Dr. Peter Jones (Executive Director, truthXchange)

    Title: Two-ism and the Doctrine of God

    I have much to say about this doctrine (the doctrine of Two-ism). Why this conference on the beauty of two?
    The message of “One and Two” attempts to explain Romans 1:25, which outlines two options of worship:
    • Worship of Creator (Two-ism)
    • Worship of Creation (One-ism)
    Opponents of the gospel declare themselves with a similar numeric agenda. They talk with a “hermeneutic” of “one” but in the opposite direction. In other words, they claim that seeing the world as one united whole (one-ism) will solve all problems. In essence, they attempt to deconstruct two-ism. Sometimes they call two-ism “binary”. Essentially, the “one-ism vs. two-ism” conversation is a clashing of worldviews. Truth be told, our subject this week is socially subversive. While this is not an engaging of culture war, we are engaging in spiritual warfare. Also, the fact that the secular world is seeing the world in terms of “one vs. two” prompts us to use the same language but in a proper (Biblical) manner.
    At all levels of human existence, two-ism (this notion of the “binary”) is under attack:
    • Morality
    • Science
    • Spirituality
    • Sexuality
    • Theology
    Carl Jung fought against two-ism long ago. He said: “We must beware of those that try to differentiate between good and evil” (paraphrase).
    This one-ist vision of spirituality claims to me non-dogmatic. It claims to be open and inviting. Yet there’s a great commitment to the destruction of the binary. Spiritual guru” Phillip Goldberg claims that America is progressing toward an “Advita” worldview in his book American Veda. This is, literally, a Hindu word that means “not two”. He refers to the current change toward one-ist thinking as “the latest great awakening”. One of the destructive implications of Advita also pertains to sexuality. We are told that gay marriage will not harm ordinary marriage. The gay revolution party said, in 1970, that they sought a world in which homosexual relationships will be the norm and all heterosexual relationships will cease. This is the destruction of the sexual binary (two-ism). Such efforts destroy the binary creation of male and female.
    Regarding the assault against binary theology, Bishop John Shelby Spong was noted as saying, “Theism, as a way of defining God, is dead.” One emergent leader says, “We must resist that idea that the main agenda of the church is getting people saved.” Another wrongly said, “Jesus teaches the reality of many syncretic religions…”
    The question is: Do we work for a syncretistic synthesis (one-ism) or do we declare the two-ist antithesis?

    Begin with the doctrine of God

    This week, our goal is to think deeply about where our world is going and how we can stop this slide. To do so, we need to start in the beginning—the doctrine of God.
    I would like to do this through Psalm 8.

    O LORD, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!
    You have set your glory above the heavens.
    Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
    you have established strength because of your foes,
    to still the enemy and the avenger.
    When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
    the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
    what is man that you are mindful of him,
    and the son of man that you care for him?
    Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
    and crowned him with glory and honor.
    You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
    you have put all things under his feet,
    all sheep and oxen,
    and also the beasts of the field,
    the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
    whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
    O LORD, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

    (Psalm 8 ESV)

    Notice two things from this passage:
    1. God is in (He is present).
    2. God is above (His ontological being is above and beyond us).

    God is “above”

    What can we say about a God who is above? What can we say about the God who is in?

    I take the above passage to mean transcendent. First of all, God is above the heavens in creation. He is transcendent above it. There is a great gulf between the Creator and everything else. Why would someone want to worship creation when they could worship the One who created it all?

    Eschatology must precede soteriology. But cosmology must precede eschatology. The world tries to tell us that one day, we will be God (or god-like). But only the uncreated Creator can be God:

    …the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
    “Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
    to receive glory and honor and power,
    for you created all things,
    and by your will they existed and were created.”
    (Revelation 4:9-11 ESV)

    When we reduce God to our level, to serve our needs, we make the one-ist mistake. However, God is transcendently “other” than us! God is majestically above matter. Doesn’t this make you want to worship?

    Having this transcendent view of God recognizes that only He can give life (Isaiah 42:5).

    Also, recognizing God as “above” reveals Him as unique. Creation is the work of a brilliant artist of tremendous coordination. “I am the LORD and there is no other.” God is unique to everything else. Consider His incommunicable attributes (attributes that God does not share with us):

    • His holiness
    • His aseity
    • His eternity
    • His ubiquity
    • His omniscience
    • His unchangeability

    These incommunicable attributes communicate the character of God as utterly transcendent.

    God is “in”

    Psalm 8 not only gets us to think about God as transcendent, but also as immanent.

    I must comment briefly on Islam. Islam appears to be faithfully two-ist. For Muslims, “Allah” is completely and utterly transcendent, but this is a false transcendence that drifts toward pagan one-ism.  In Islam, Allah is not Trinitarian. They believe in a God of supreme singularity. He is not in community, nor is He a Father. They have a God of pure impersonal deism.

    In contrast, the God of the Bible is love. He can only be love within Himself (as in the Trinity). As Fred Sanders said, “The doctrine of the Trinity is the classic statement of the comprehensive truth of the Christian message” (The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything). The Trinity is the classic doctrine without which the Gospel has no power or truth.

    God is majestically immanent and even shares many communicable attributes with us (i.e., love, creativity, etc.)

    The Gospel

    The cross tells us that cosmic justice has been satisfied. Jesus is not a prophet or cosmic guru. The gospel is not about what we think or feel. The gospel is about what the transcendent God has done for His creatures throughout history.

    Romans tells us that God gives people over to their sins. It also tells us, in the same Greek phrase, that God did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all (Romans 8).

    God did not dissolve the difference between evil and good. He used good to triumph over good.

    Our goal is to tell the greatest story ever told. There is nothing like this in history: God bestowing grace on sinners.

    In closing, let us declare together and echo the words of the psalmist: O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.