On the Road to Duality

This is not the right path. But to introduce the concept to 24/7 Christians it may be a place to begin.

The new book is called Christian -Atheist, by some megachurch pastor somewhere. The email from Christianity Today plugging the book asked, “Are you living a dual existence?” My answer, “why, yes I am.” In fact, hyphenation is exactly what the life of exile requires – we live here but this is not our home. The advertisement adds, “If you profess a belief in God, but live as though He doesn’t exist, you may be more divided than you think. Read The Christian Atheist and join author Craig Groeschel as he looks to resolve a conflict that affects the lives of countless Christians.”

I do think I’ll pass.

But it is an interesting thought experiment whether the way I ride the subway, cross the street, teach at a secular university, root for the Phillies, or read John Updike differs from non-Christians performing those same tasks in any sort of visible way. At least, it does differ on the common days of the week since my Christian self avoids teaching, rooting, and reading Updike on the Lord’s Day. Crossing the street and riding the subway may actually be works of necessity to participate in worship.

So even if the dichotomy is wrongheaded – Christian-Atheist – the idea of hyphenation is one that needs to be cultivated, as in Christian-Americans, Christian-Phillies fans, and Christian-historians. We have a lot of divided loyalties out there 24/6, and negotiating them is the task of that wonderful Protestant doctrine of vocation.

(By the way, why doesn’t the Christian side of this guy shave?)

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  1. Posted April 8, 2010 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    Dr. Hart,

    I think the stubble is part of a calculated effort to appear as if he doesn’t care…just because he is a Christian doesn’t mean he can’t be hip.

    On a serious note, I am trying to run down some good resources while I am working through issues surrounding Sabbath. Any book or article recommendations would be helpful.

  2. Posted April 8, 2010 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    Personally I think the best and most accessible book on the subject of the Christian Sabbath is Dr. Joseph Pipa’s book “The Lord’s Day”. You can pretty much find it anywhere good Reformed books are sold.

  3. Posted April 8, 2010 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, I’ll look it up on WSC’s online bookstore. I did read the OPC’s ruling on Sabbath, I still see the merits of the Minority Reports though. The Sabbatarianism of Covenant theology is still a bit of a reef for me, before I made the move to Presbyterianism DA Carson’s position on Sabbath had most influenced my thinking. It’s hard to form convictions here when I see the merits of both positions.

  4. CVanDyke
    Posted April 8, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    DGH,from my scan of Christian Atheists, I think the author’z point is primarily directed to professing Christians who live lives of unrepentant, flagrant sin as a way of life. Pious on Sunday, cheat and lie on Monday. I do think that he is on to a widespread problem in the Christian church today where vast numbers of professing believers, often members of megachurches, engage in wholesale, unrepentant sin as a way of life. Easy believism is rampant in megachurhes. From anecdotal experience with many who attend these megachurches, there is good reason to question whether they are regenerate persons. (Ex: the man who told me that what he likes about ___ Church is they don’t ram religion down my throat.”) I haven’t read the book, but from the reviews, I think this is more the burden of the burden of the book than the idea that plumbers who happen to be Christians should do their plumbing job differently than non-Christian plumbers.

  5. Posted April 8, 2010 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    Hasn’t Sabbatarianism always been a reactionary position? At first it was a reaction of the Puritans against Mediaeval ceremonialism; now it seems to be a quietistic reaction to activism within the polis.

  6. dgh
    Posted April 9, 2010 at 3:21 am | Permalink

    Vern, would you regard someone who took the third commandment so seriously as reactionary? How is it reactionary to set Sunday apart from the other days?

  7. Andrew Duggan
    Posted April 9, 2010 at 6:20 am | Permalink

    Has anyone offered to pick up at Olney, or do you have to transfer to the 22 bus and walk?

  8. Posted April 9, 2010 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    And, Vern, in addition to pointing out the categorical difference between the Sabbath and the six days, it’s also worth pointing out the difference between activism and being active when doing the polis. I know it’s radical, dude, but my sense is that if you show me someone who doesn’t get the former I’ll show you someone who really doesn’t get the latter.

  9. Posted April 9, 2010 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    Daryl, if you observe Sunday, then you are NOT observing the sabbath as given in the 10 commandments. Go ask your local rabbi….And Zrim, St. Paul tells us only weaker Christians make religious distinctions with respect to days, i.e., sacred time.

  10. Posted April 9, 2010 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    So, Vern, does that mean it’s also weak to distinguish between God and idols, true worship from false, mistresses from wives and truth telling from perjuring?

  11. Posted April 11, 2010 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    Hi Zrim
    Weakness is defined by St. Paul, not by me. Remember what he said about eating things sacrificed to idols.

  12. Zrim
    Posted April 11, 2010 at 1:41 pm | Permalink


    The way I have always understood Paul on the weaker brother is he who is not made up in his own mind about that which is adiaphora, like eating meat sacrified to idols, substance use and worldly amusements. Weakness is not to refrain from a thing indifferent, but to be unsure. I fail to see how the fourth commandment is a thing indifferent, which is what you seem to be implying here. Chopped liver is chopped liver, take it ot leave it, but how is the Sabbath chopped liver?

  13. Posted April 11, 2010 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    Zrim, the Jews observe the Sabbath, not Christians. St. Paul made that pretty clear.

  14. dgh
    Posted April 11, 2010 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    So Vern, Christians don’t observe the other nine commandments? Just because the day changes means the fourth commandment is null and void?

  15. Posted April 11, 2010 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    dgh, what verse of the NT says the Sabbath day changes?

  16. dgh
    Posted April 12, 2010 at 3:11 am | Permalink

    Vern: Acts 20:7. So you’re a NT Christian? You seem to rely a lot on the OT for your views of politics. Go figure.

  17. Posted April 12, 2010 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Acts 20:7?

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