Biblical dualism

An undeniable biblical dualism exists between things seen and transient and things unseen and eternal (2 Cor 4:18). However, the fact that something is heavenly in its origin, and invisible and eternal in its nature, does not prevent it from “taking flesh” and becoming visible (if this were not so, the Incarnation could never have occurred). The gospel is the inbreaking of eternal things (specifically, the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ; the heavenly glory revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai, and unveiled in Christ) into the hearts of the children of men (2 Cor 4:6; cf. 3:3), with the result that they receive the Spirit as a guarantee of the life that will one day swallow up mortality (2 Cor 5:5) and are incorporated into a new creation (2 Cor 5:17). And the new creation always makes itself visible (it takes flesh, as it were) in holiness of body and spirit (2 Cor 7:1), in liberality of grace and good works (2 Cor 8:2; 9:6–11), and in warfare against “arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God” (2 Cor 10:4–5).

The heavenly pattern revealed to Moses on Sinai took visible shape in an earthly tabernacle, and later in the temple. The same heavenly pattern has now been manifested in Christ and the church. Along similar lines, the kingdom of Christ originates in heaven (it is “not of this world”), and yet it takes definite visible shape in the world.

It is not wrong to speak of a “dualism” of heaven and earth, of eternal and temporal, provided we understand that heaven insists on coming to earth – it simply won’t stay put. Which is to say, we are not permitted to put asunder by our “dualism” what God insists on joining together.

Category: Incarnation and Embodiment Comment »

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