Does Dualistic Thinking Lead Us to the Idolatry of God?

by Mark Votava


art by Tom French

I have found in my life that it is easy to make my idea of God into an idol.  Getting stuck in this idolatry is a major struggle for me as I want to experience God in the here and now of my everyday life through local ways of embodiment where I live.  But so often God becomes nothing more to me than an intellectual theology detached from an embodiment of compassion that feeds my consumeristic addiction to certainty and satisfaction.  Maybe I have missed something?

  • Dualistic thinking keeps us from experiencing the ordinary as sacred

Our dualistic thinking keeps us from seeing God in all of life within the place we inhabit in everyday life.  This keeps us from experiencing the ordinary moments of life as sacred.  It keeps us in our narrow ways of thinking that revolve around the perceptions of us/them. It fosters a reactive stance rather than a life-giving posture that frees us to come alive without fear.

  • We hold onto our idolatry of God

Dualistic thinking keeps us safe and comfortable.  We hold onto our idolatry of God.  By that I mean we hold onto our perceptions and ideas over our real life experience of God in the present moment of everyday life together.  Our experience of God is always evolving within us as long as we are alive in a particular context within a local community.

  • Turning the good news of Christianity into the bad news of idol worship

In his wonderful book The Idolatry of God Peter Rollins writes, “What we see taking place in the church today is the reduction of God to an Idol, that is, to a thing that will satisfy us and fill the gap we feel in our hearts.  In thinking of God in this way, the church ends up mimicking every other industry by claiming that they can take away the sense of loss that marks our life.  In this way, they make God into nothing more than an impotent MacGuffin.  By misunderstanding the nature of faith, they turn the good news of Christianity into the bad news of Idol worship.  By claiming that God is the way to fill this gap, they reduce the divine to the level of a product.”

  • Our ideas of God become an addiction to certainty and satisfaction

When we cease to seek God within the parish, we resort to our ideas of God which become an addiction to certainty and satisfaction.  We begin to experience a duality between our intellect and an embodied experience of our spirituality in everyday life.  We no longer care about embodiment.  We care more about protecting our perceptions of certainty and satisfaction that are wrapped up in our ideas of who God is.

  • It is easy to act like we have all the answers

Our dualistic thinking becomes an idolatry that Christianity is embedded in.  We have become masters of the idolatry of God.  It is easy to act like we have all the answers and the complete “truth” to everything.  But most likely we don’t understand as much as we claim to.  And becoming aware of our dualistic thinking is the first step toward living out something that is more redemptive in everyday life.

Do you experience dualistic thinking as keeping you from being alive?