Remember that game chutes and ladders, you played as a kid, or maybe still do with your own kids (or not). For some reason this game popped into my head when I was thinking about what it means to have a Christ conditioned understanding of how we have knowledge of God. The rest of this post is simply going to be me thinking and conversating out loud.
I think the issue of dualism has got to be put to bed, and Thomas Torrance, as well as Karl Barth hammer this point home. The reality is, is that you as a human being and God as God are not in competition. There is no ladder high enough, no tower of Babel grand enough to reach the heavens. You aren’t trying to climb your way up to God, not in salvation, and not in knowledge of God. And yet, most people, most pew-sitters have been fed this non-stop for years and years; and so this way of thinking about God has become intuitive, to the point that to suggest something different might sound alien or even like sin. Surely, the pew-sitter and most of her pastors would never say such things; they would never say that they believe that they can climb their way up to God (this would be to deny faith alone, in Christ alone, by grace alone) in salvation. But, their informing theology demands this. If we don’t believe that our humanity—is grounded in Christ’s humanity—then necessarily we now are functioning with a dualist conception of how humanity relates to God, and we must now endeavor to build a bridge to God out of our own resources, even if we qualify our resources by saying they have been given to us by grace. We have now, at this point, functionally denied what is implicit to the ecumenical Church Council of Chalcedon, which in a nutshell is this:
(iv) The Council of Chalcedon in AD 451, which affirmed that in Jesus Christ there are two distinct natures in one person, and that in the one person of Christ they were hypostatically united ‘unconfusedly, incontrovertibly, indivisibly, inseparably’, or ‘without confusion, change, division or separation’. This was affirmed against the Eutychians and Monophysites. [Thomas F. Torrance, Incarnation.]
And so we are operating in heresy, and we don’t even know it.
This is a rather hard topic to broach in a kind of accessible way, but I hope this is making some sort of sense for all of you pew-sitters out there. I am sure that you do not want to operate as a functional heretic, but you are if you don’t start thinking from what happened in the Incarnation of Christ (which is different than thinking about it or affirming it). This also gets into issues that orbit around theories of the atonement, but I will save that for another time.
This post is only simply intended to provoke more questions, than provide answers.