DUALISM ULTIMATE RECONCILIATION AND THE INTERPRETATION OF SCRIPTURE

DUALISM’S IMPACT ON THE INTERPRETATION OF SCRIPTURE

Eusebius also calls attention to the early churches practice of incorporating the Greek method of interpreting religious life and writings, The Allegorical way of understanding. Following Philo and other Greek historians and commentator’s practice of interpreting their heroes and gods of mythology allegorically, Eusebius, along with the bulk of the early Church Fathers committed the egregious mistake of employing the Allegorical method, applying it to the field of Biblical interpretation.[1] As these practices and methods are utilized, the historical, cultural, grammatical way of literalism was discarded, causing centuries of almost irreparable damage.[2]

This incorporation of philosophical methodologies led these practitioners of the contemplative life into areas of excess and acceptance of stylistic practices that were previously confined to the pagan expressions of faith and religion, such as celibacy as a normative practice for the priesthood and nunneries. This was done in defiance of the Scriptural revelation about the priesthood and marriage as it related to those who led the church. Allegorical exegesis was used to justify this practice, leading them into a type of Onanism. Other areas of deprivation included whole nights of prayer on a regular basis, sleeping on the ground and utilizing straw as the only means of protection to subject the body to extreme discomfort with the express intent of suppression, and the practice of eating a diet that consisted only of bread and water seasoned with salt and hyssop. In all these areas of excess and forced mandatory deprivation, the church seemed determined to outdo the Romans at their own game of philosophical conditioning.

EUSEBIUS AND THE EXPOSURE OF GREEK DUALISM

Eusebius draws the student of history into the daunting task posed by those who attempted to synthesize Greek cultural practices into the church. Regardless of the supposed good intent and the desire to make Christianity culturally compliant and acceptable, the inculcated practices denigrate the expression of faith as presented in Scripture. Analyzing Eusebius’ observations forces the question to be raised and applied to the modern church. Is harm done to the Church when cultural relevance takes the place of precedence and becomes the more significant concern over the mandates contained in Scripture? Answering this issue should be the focus of the modern expression of the church, least it makes the same mistake of the past and erroneously alters the configuration of the Body of Christ, thus necessitating yet another reformation.

When Greek Dualism is seen through the arbitrary prejudices expressed by the detractors of Gnosticism, the conclusions and application are deemed dubious by the modern searchers for truth.  The acceptance of fabrications and fictitious charges has allowed some to loosen the restrictive constraints of Gnostic use in the latter half of the 20th century.[3] Some scholars have identified any belief systems with dualistic tendencies to be dubbed Gnostic. This view has included a broad and eclectic compendium of assorted schools of thought including Zoroastrianism, the early hermetic literary writings of the ascetic separatists as well as the Jewish Qumran Community and its vast body of literature. It has even seen the New Testament included into the Gnostic designation.[4] 

Modern theological debate centering on dualism’s central teachings has witnessed the emergence of two different schools of thought. In one camp, liberal theologians associate Dualism in the broader and comprehensive sense, lending Dualism teaching a sense of legitimacy.[5] The ancillary field allows the dualistic thought to be viewed through the prism of conservative deliberation which has primarily seen Dualism as a 2nd century heresy that was liquidated for the most part by the persistent attacks of the early heresiologists.[6] 

The overwhelming problem of the liberal camps attachments to the Dualism dilemma is its simplistic approach to a complicated situation. The liberal school’s broad and inclusive association of Gnostic teaching and the Christian framework tends to allow the loss of any viable distinction between the two camps. This reduction of consequence has permitted an association to develop between a liberal hermeneutic and Gnostic thought and practice based on the lowest common denominators, as opposed to erecting walls of protection established through eternal truth revealed in Holy Writ.

The legacy of this liberal inclusion can be witnessed in the loss of biblical authority, the non-acceptance of biblical inspiration and the erosion of biblical areas of morality and practice. The consequence of these tendencies is Dualism’s under-girdings of a supposed greater knowledge that transcends Scripture is embraced as viable, and validation of Scriptural authority is ignored. The inevitable loss of Christian value systems becomes the logical outcome. Homosexuality becomes acceptable, a fetus’ viability is dubious, and morality is defined through the lens of personal pleasure in an existential format of lifestyle philosophy, not biblical norms.


[1] Eusebius, op. cit. pp. 91-3

[2] Virkler, Henry, Hermeneutics, Baker Book House, Grand rapids MI, 1981, pp. 58-62

[3] Gnosticism, New Bible Dictionary, Douglas, J.D., organizing ed, Tyndale Publishers, ILL, 1962, pp. 424-6

[4] ____ Ibid. pp. 424-26

[5] ___ Ibid. pp. 424-26

[6] ___ Ibid. pp. 424-26

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