Culture Wars: One-ism and Two-ism: Part I
Toward an Understanding of the Science of Division and Separation
Introduction: This four-part series: Culture wars: One-ism and Two-ism brings biblical truth to the topic of sin under the heading of culture wars: one-ism and two-ism. The series brings biblical truth to bear on an old-new attack on the Creator by the creature. it is an old problem in new garb. As the author of Ecclesiastics said: there is nothing new under the sin. Fallen man will always attack the Triune God (Romans 1:18-23). Truth sets people free and falsehood holds them captive.
The title is intended to attract your attention. The American culture is in the throes of change of gigantic proportions. Culture wars: one-ism and two-ism captures the continuing attack on the Triune God seemingly at an ever-increasing pace. However, the change is not new. In fact, it has its roots in the angelic world prior to the creation of man and prior to the fall. Yes, there were and are angles and there is a real Adam and Eve! For whatever reason, some angels and Adam chose to against God, for self, and for Satan. Adam chose for himself, his wife, and his posterity, how he, and they should live. Thus began the conflict between man and God. The phrase culture wars: one-ism and two-ism captures is designed to capture the essence of the conflict.
The fundamental choice for every human being is living and worshiping by pleasing and honoring the creature (self and others) or the Creator. Mankind can’t have it both ways. Throughout the ages man continues with those two mutually exclusive choices. Man is called to love God and neighbor so that loyalty and affection is directed to Godward and others (Matthew 22:37-40). Therein is the battle: self gets in the way and for the most part man seems to enjoy that state. Either he is unwilling or unable to take self out of the equation and consider self as God pictures and preserves him. Such is life in a fallen world!
The American culture looks very much like Rome and Ephesus of biblical times. Those cultures were dominated by the mantra: for me, to me, and by me. Feelings and subjectivity ruled. Self-realization and self-actualization – me first, second, and third was at the expense of others. There was no appeal to the God of the universe. The me-first mindset will continue until Christ’s return. The Christian Church and individual Christians have bought into the movement and have succumbed to the influence of Eastern mysticism and spirituality, psychology, and Greek philosophy. As a result, the culture and the people are nature-ized, Eastern-ized, psychologized, and spiritualized as opposed to being supernatural-ized and energized by the inward work of the Holy Spirit. There has been a return to the New Age thinking of Gnosticism – which is really old age! There is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9).
Dr. Peter Jones, in order to help us think clearly regarding culture wars: one-ism and two-ism, uses the terms One-ism and Two-ism when he speaks of the attack on the Creator-creature distinction. The Creator is God and the creature is man. Fundamentally, the issue of one-ism and two-ism is truth vs. falsehood and light vs. darkness (Romans 1:18-23). The creature tries to wag the tail by denying any differences in the two. The creature denies the God of the Bible and attempts to usurp God’s position as Lord of lords and King of kings. Some speak of this phenomenon as culture wars. Psalm 2 labels it rebellion against Yahweh and His Anointed. As in so-called marriage problems, marriage and culture are not the problem, people are.
Cultural One-ism (all and everything is one) is in contrast to biblical One-ism (God is God, Creator and Controller, and the creature is not God). After sin in the Garden and God’s judgment, man became a god-wanna-be. That mentality is in conflict with God’s program for man and a biblical worldview. It is at odds with true spirituality as defined by the Bible. Cultural One-ism focuses on a self-created often subjective pseudo-reality which divinized nature and the natural world; mankind worships himself as he worships the creation.
This One-ism is based on the belief in the impersonal and the sameness of everything and everybody. It disallows distinctions and separation. All is one. Consequently, it denies the transcendent and the holy including terms such as aseity, self-apartness, otherness, distinctiveness, and sui generis.
It denies and works aggressively against biblical One-ism (there is one God) and biblical Two-ism (male and female, natural and supernatural, truth and falsehood). It works against the biblical notion that everything and everyone has its rightful and distinctive place in God’s world and that man is created in the image of God. It denies biblical One-ism by denying the essence of God as the holy, other God. It denies the twin pillars of the Trinity which are unity – one God – and diversity – Threeness in the oneness. Consequently, it denies all Intratrinitarian activity such as creation, re-creation and redemption, and heard and answered prayer.
Dr. Jones equates Two-ism and biblical spirituality. He defines this biblical worldview as the biblical insistence on the truth of distinctions – good and evil, true and false, male and female, God and creation. Man, the creature, is not the Creator and is not God. Male is not female. Moreover, God is distinct from His creation. In Two-ism (God and the creature), holiness is normative for God and not for the creature. Remember, holiness refers to otherness, separateness, distinctiveness, and worthy of all honor and glory. God is Lord of lords and King of kings whether acknowledged or not. God is worthy to be worshipped for who He is. Worship of any other object or being is idolatry.
According to Scripture, Two-ism involves God’s revelation of Himself and is one key to the cosmos. This latter point is of extreme importance today as culture is caught up with self and pushes and demands oneness and consequently, human autonomy as was demonstrated in the Garden. Each individual becomes their own supreme being.
It is interesting how culture has linked oneness and autonomy. Autonomy refers to self-expression and rule. The concept and actions that flow from it compete with the Triune God. By popular demand the one consumes mankind and has decided for me, by me, and to me. The one is me. The one has thrown a web around the many so that the one and the many are one. Sameness is key but to and by what standard? Without distinctions there will be no progress in any area of society. The program of all chiefs and no Indians sounds communistic and socialistic. It is anti-God. Someone has to be different but this fact is denied. Yet the one who is setting the rules is different as he functions as number 1. There should be no number 2’s. All are number 1’s. Others follow. The definition of cultural one-ism is used to justify all that is non-biblical. It calls right wrong and wrong right which is an abomination to the Lord. (Isaiah 5:20).
1. What does the phrase: “All is one” signify to you?
2. If all is one then all is God or part of him. If true there is no hierarchy. What significance would that have for creation and control of the universe?
3. If all is one, where does authority, ethics, morality, and worship fit and why?
Culture Wars: One-ism and Two-ism: Part II:
Definitions and The Science of Division:
Our discussion of culture wars: one-ism and two-ism must begin with the Bible. The Bible is God’s powerful, purposeful self-revelation, the only standard of truth. Otherwise a person starts with self and ends with self. God is the holy, sui generis three-in one God and therein is unity and diversity. Moreover, there is order within diversity. At creation, God demonstrated His way of operating in His world. From the beginning God is the God of order. He has been and will continue to be the Separator and Order-er. The book of Genesis opens by recording God’s eternal existence and His creative activity.
The Triune God created chaos and from chaos came the cosmos (Genesis 1:1-2: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and void and the Spirit of the Lord was hovering over the water.). God brings order to His world His way for His glory. Later in Genesis 1, Moses uses the refrain that Yahweh commanded separation: 1:4 (light from darkness); 1:6-7 (the waters); and 1:14, 18 (the lights). Genesis 1 closes with the concise statement: God saw all that he had made and it was very good … (Genesis 1:31). Separation and distinction is part of God’s good creation.
Genesis 2 teaches that God created the animals and He created Adam and Eve, the crown of His creative activity (Psalm 8). He created specifically male and female – two-ness. Gender was not neutral or an afterthought. It was ordained by God. In the creation account of Genesis 1-2 we learn the non-negotiable truth that God is Creator and Controller and He is the God of separation and distinctions for His purpose and glory.
Turning to the rest of the Pentateuch, we learn more about the science of division. As Moses taught in the book of Leviticus proper division and separation was a matter of life and death – it still is (10:1-3, 10-11). The call to be holy as I am holy not only runs throughout the book of Leviticus, it is picked by Christ and Peter (Leviticus 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:7, 26; 21:8, 15; 22:9, 16, 32; Matthew 5:48; 1 Peter 1:16). It is fundamental to life. It is a matter of life and death. This truth is highlighted in the New Testament by the use of varying terms. Believers are called saints – those set apart by God for God to God. Believers are distinct from unbelievers and the world system that denies distinctions. In God’s economy there are no culture wars: one-ism and two-ism.
The overarching theme of the Pentateuch is Yahweh God opening a way for sinful humanity to dwell in His Presence. One of the themes of the book of Exodus is intimate knowledge of Him which highlights the separation-distinction motif. Knowledge of God leads to fear of the Lord and life is His Presence. Hope, comfort, and joy would follow. God used a variety of means to reveal Himself so that both Pharaoh and Israel would know that I am Yahweh (Exodus 6:7-8; 14:4, 18; 16:6, 12). God’s revelation of Himself had a purpose: the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is living, active, and trustworthy who makes and keeps His promises. God revealed Himself to Moses in this way: Exodus 3:6,14-15; 6:6-8. Therefore He saved His people at the expense of the Egyptians.
The so-called plagues (actually signs and wonders used by God to reveal Himself), fit the separation-distinction motif described in Genesis. God separated Israel from the Egyptians and vice versa (see Exodus 7-12 and 8:23; 9:4-6, 26; 10:23; 11:7; 12:13, 25, 27). The Egyptians were cursed and received the wrath of God but Israel was saved. The ultimate sign and revelation of God and His separating activity was the Passover (Exodus 12-13). The blood on the doorpost was God’s sign to spare the Israelites and kill the firstborn of Egypt. Distinction was the key – it was a matter of life and death. The culture wars: one-ism and two-ism are nothing new and are simply idolatry. God does not bless His competition (Isaiah 42:8; 48:8-11).
The book of Leviticus further delineates the science of division. The book focuses on how God opened a way into His presence. Mankind’s descent began when God judged Adam and Eve and exiled them from the Garden and His presence. There was distinction and separation. They were not fit to be in His presence. Prior to their expulsion, God promised hope through obedience (Genesis 3:15). After God’s judgment, Adam was faced with an ultimate question: how could man, unholy and sinful, be allowed into the presence of a holy God? As noted above, one constant refrain in the book of Leviticus stands out: be holy as I am holy.
Atonement is another message of the book of Leviticus. In the ritual, sacrificial system, the principle of separation and distinction was manifested with the daily choice of a male animal without defect. Gender mattered. Entering into a holy God’s presence, which was signified as a consuming fire, could be deadly unless it was done God’s way, at God’s time, and in God’s house. Ask Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10:1-3). Several passages later Yahweh tells Aaron, the high priest, that he (and the people) must distinguish clean from unclean (Leviticus 10:10-11). The clean/unclean system (found primarily in Leviticus 11-15, 17-27) was a means of alerting the Israelites, singularly and corporately, to the fact that all day, every day, in whatever they did, they must consciously choose God and His way. Separation and distinction was a daily, constant refrain of the Israelite. Discernment was required. In the New Testament, Matthew 25:31-46 affirms the divine right and privilege of separation and distinction: at the last judgment God will separate the sheep and the goats.
Our culture has returned to chaos: darkness and deadness. The fires culture wars: one-ism and two-ism never die. That awaits Christ’s final coming. The people have returned to the pre-creation, anti-creational state of chaos described in Genesis 1:1-2 and as typified by Pharaoh’s anti-life measures against Israel. God’s eternal design is to use sinful man and his activity to rectify the situation. Throughout the ages, arrogant and ignorant man attempts to blur all distinctions (Cultural One-ism). In contrast, God separates for order, for structure, and for purpose (Two-ism ) of fellowship and intimacy with Him. As the priests in Leviticus were commanded, all believers must learn the science of division as a matter of life and death. The priests were to distinguish between sacred and common, clean and unclean, and Creator-creature. If you attempt to destroy division eventually you will fail. God won’t allow His world to remain in pre-creation darkness and death. Ask Pharaoh.
1. Where are you on the issue of separation-distinction?
2. Are you a One-ist so that the god you know is in everything and has nothing to say about your thoughts, desires, and actions?
3. If are a Two-ist, what is your science of division? Are you wise and in the light – God’s light and truth – as you apply Proverbs 3:5-8; 5:21-22, and 26:11 regularly? It is a matter of life and death.
The Science of Division: Part III
Toward an Understanding of the Science of Division and Separation
When the creature advocates gender neutrality and non-biblical One-ism, he is assuming the position of Creator. He is competing with God who does not share His glory with another – another distinction (Isaiah 42:8; 48:9-11)! As a consequence, he separates himself from God which is a deadly activity because the creature dishonors God. Such it is today. They are consequences: today, tomorrow, and eternally. God will not be mocked!
There is nothing is new under the sun – vanity of vanities, all is vanity (Ecclesiastes 1:2, 9; 12:8). These words appear in the book of Ecclesiastes, an answer book for a universe that seems to be oblivious to its Creator and Controller. The book is part of the wisdom literature of the Old Testament and in part, addresses how man should conduct himself in God’s world. The author, probably Solomon, gets to the heart of the matter which is the heart: See, this alone I found that God made man upright but they sought out many schemes (Ecclesiastes 7:29). Since the fall in the Garden and God’s judgment, every person seeks to please himself using God and others to get for self. Truly there is nothing new under the sun. Man continues to attempt to thwart God’s plan and purpose. That, too, is vanity.
Part of the man’s vanity relates to man’s creation. As the image bearer of God he was created with eternity in his heart (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Man has an end, a purpose, and a destiny. This program is part of God’s created order. How you live flows from your belief in your origin and your destiny.
Such it is today with our culture which has failed to acknowledge God’s teaching regarding unity and diversity, separation and distinction, and One-ism and Two-ism. In the last blog I gave evidence to convince you that God is the Separator. He is a God of distinctions. His creation models that principle and His creatures are to follow suit. By divine, inherent necessity, He is the three-in-one God. Israel experienced God’s holiness and dwelling in His presence as a purified and consecrated people through the sacrificial system. When you read the Pentateuch, especially the book of Leviticus, you can’t fail to miss the constant refrain: be holy as I am (11:44-45; 19:2; 20:7, 26; 21:8, 15; 22:9, 16, 32).
The sacrificial system was put in place so that the Israelites could enter God’s presence symbolically and enjoy fellowship with Him. Proper separation, distinguishing clean and unclean, was God’s way to enter into His presence and glory. For the Israelites it was a matter of life and death (Leviticus 9:6, 22-24; 10:1-3; 16:1ff). It is for us today! The book of Hebrews shows us that the Old Testament sacrificial system pointed to Christ, the true Passover Lamb (Heb. 6:13-20; 10:19-22; John 1:29, 36; 1 Cor. 5:7; 1 Peter 1:18-19). Hebrews 9:27 sums up the reality of destiny and judgment given in Ecclesiastes 3:11.
Separation is only one side of the coin (or equation). God is One, a three-in-one unity. The Trinity, tri-unity, helps you, me, and the Church properly understand and apply God’s call for unity or oneness in His Church and mankind. Make no mistake: there is no division in terms of standing before God. For the believer, this truth is part of the great doctrine of adoption. Adoption is an act of God’s free grace, a legal transaction, in which believers are brought into God’s family and receive all the privileges and rights of the children of God.
In Ephesians 4, Paul writes that there is one body and one spirit – just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call – one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all… (v.4-6). Oneness and unity is emphasized. Paul is referring to the Church, the body of believers (see 2:11-15). In Ephesians 5:21, Paul calls all believers, male and female, young and old, officers and non-officers, to submit to one another. Paul is emphasizing unity and oneness AND functionality within that oneness. Please notice that distinctions were not removed. Rather, Paul is teaching a Trinitarian principle: oneness does not extinguish diversity. It is oneness and diversity that helps Christians understand marriage (man and woman) and Christ’s relationship to the Church – His bride (Ephesians 5:25-32).
Two other passages are worth noting: Romans 2:28-29 and Galatians 3:27-29. These passages teach that there are no second-class citizens in God’s Church. The passages refer to functionality within the body and must be understood in their context. Gentiles were considered inherently unworthy of salvation. Israelites were led to believe that the Gentile was on the wrong side of the tracks for God’s saving grace. Rather, the Gentile was to become a Jew by law-keeping and ritualism. Paul’s emphatic “it isn’t so” was a joy for the Gentile and a bitter pill for the Israelite. Division was the result of ignorance and arrogance: a me-first, and an I am better mentality that was dishonored the Trinity and undermined the unity of the Trinity and the Church. Paul said no way.
How do we bring together a proper understanding of unity and diversity? The Bible teaches an often-quoted but easily-ignored truth: what God has brought together (marriage which is a covenant commitment between one man and one woman), let no one separate (Matthew 19:6; Mark 10:9). In like manner, the Bible teaches: what God has separated let no one join together. Males are males and females are females and no amount of hormone manipulation or “corrective” surgery can change God’s original design. The Church must get it right. If the Church and individuals continue to attempt to undo God’s creational design of unity and diversity, they are sinning against the first three commandments. God will not share His glory with another (Isaiah 42:8; 48:8-11). There will be hell to pay in this life and the next.
1. What is your view of separation and distinction? How does your theology fit with God’s perspective as discussed in the last two blogs?
2. What rights and privileges do you and the Church have before God?
3. How does your answer fit with the call to become like Christ in 2 Cor. 5:9 and Rom. 8:28-29?
Culture Wars: One-ism and Two-ism: Part IV
The Science of Division:
Toward an Understanding of the Science of Division and Separation
This question about existence/being is age-old, inherently complex, and the philosopher’s delight. It is easy, a no-brainer, to conclude that man exists. I am because I am. My senses and my reason give me facts. I must interpret them. A logical question follows. How is that possible? The fact that man can ask questions, get data, and interpret data is proof of existence/being and a rational reality. What is the source? Another question surfaces: what is reality? The fact that man exists does not answer the question of his origin (where did man come from?) or a corollary question: what is man – his identity and purpose? Nor does it answer questions about his destiny. These are simple questions but have invoked a plethora of thought, consternation, and answers through the ages. Greeks Philosophers through the ages have pondered them and given extraordinary answers none of which honors God.
Human beings can only ask and answer questions if man is a rational, faith-based, question-asking, and answering being. And he is! Every answer that man gives is to some degree based on an informed faith. The combination of faith and rationality brings to the forefront trust and belief in something or someone.
By definition man is a theologian by nature. How so, you ask? Everyone has beliefs (man is a rational being by God’s design) about and a relationship (man is a relational being by God’s design) with the living God whether acknowledged or not. He lives in God’s world as a dependent being whether acknowledged or not. He is a worshipping being by design whether it I himself, god as he knows him, or the God of the universe.
Enter the concept of One-ism and Two-ism which moves us into the realm of the Creator-creature. Is the Creator and the creature the same and how would you know? All people agree that there is reality, truth, and faith. Even that agreement confirms the fact of man exists as a rational, faith-based being.
One-ism and Two-ism are terms that describe a faith-based interpretation of reality as a person thinks he knows it; the interpretation is based on truth or facts (they are not the same) from some source. The truth may be his and or as defined by someone else. Faith has a subject, an object, a standard, and content. Faith is based on truth by whatever standard a person declares.
One-ism is based on “natural” faith and focuses on nature – the natural, physical, and material. These objects are what can sense – test, touch, feel, see, and hear. Consider man’s origin. Many will summarize man’s origin and the origin of matter by the illogical belief that nothing plus time plus chance equals order and complexity (a phrase coined by RC Sproul). A seemingly, self-described, self-professed logical person concludes that the supernatural is non-existent especially in terms of origin and being. God has no place in the person’s existence. All is considered one such that distinctions are non-existent. Causeless effect is the key to reality, man, and the material universe. Chance, a powerless abstraction, has been raised to the status of a thing and a force that has power in its self. My question to you the reader: how logical is this and on what basis?
One-ism teaches that nature is the origin of all things and divine (it does not answer nature’s origin ); that human beings are part of nature and therefore divine; that all people are pure and innocent; that there are no distinctions within mankind; and therefore the creature is exalted and worshipped. Thus there is no Creator especially a divine One. I call this creature equality or creature distinct-less-ness. There is no maleness or femaleness. This is called gender equality. Truth is considered subjective, relative, amoral, and personal. I call this pseudo-truth equality. Feelings rule. People with this mindset follow Adam’s example in the Garden. Attempting to push God aside, they do their own thing. Doing your own is the mantra of the day and it is touted as real freedom, real wisdom, and “real good.” Choice becomes for me, by me, and to me. Selfishness reigns.
You would think that since distinctions are not allowed and non-existent, there would be no graded selfishness and there would be peace and harmony – one for all. On the contrary, when the cultural one-ist’s virtual reality is invaded by someone who is more selfish, there is hell to pay. The old adage, “don’t rain on my parade,” describes the hypocrisy of one-ist and cultural one-ism.
Biblical Two-ism is biblically defined. It too is faith based. It is Holy Spirit -directed and energized. Scripture is its standard and its source of truth. Scripture declares that God is; that He is Creator and Controller; and that mankind (without distinction!) suppresses the truth of God and consequently themselves (Romans 1:18-23). Truth suppression implies truth, a Truth-teller and Revealer, and a suppresser. The Bible leaves no doubt regarding distinction. The Creator-creature distinction is the greatest, the most magnificent, the most wonderful, and the most profitable distinction that mankind (without distinction!) can have. It is a gift.
1. God’s essence is one of unity and diversity rightly understood. He is the Triune, three-in-one God. What significance does that fact have for you and the culture you live in?
2. God’s unity is unity of being/essence. He is one. Examples of that unity are given in Scripture and include the Church (Ephesians 2:11-15), believers (Galatians 3:27-29), and marriage (Genesis 1:26-28; 2:24). What significance does God’s unity have for you?
3. God’s diversity is one of function. Within the Godhead, there is order and function so that the one God is the Creator, Controller, and Redeemer. Each member of the Godhead has different functions which are summarized by: saved from God, by God, for God, and to God. How do you respond?