One thing I’m pretty sure of is that if God exists as Trinity and has created humans in God’s image, then most of our monisms and dualisms are distortions of the way the world really is.
At dictionary.com monism is defined…
Monism: the reduction of all processes, structures, concepts, etc., to a single governing principle; the theoretical explanation of everything in terms of one principle.
I’ve found a new word which seems to get at some of what my angst is toward typical American Evangelical pop-theology. The word is Christomonism. This is what I take it to mean.
Christomonism: a cultural accommodation of the Christian faith based upon the exaggerated focus on the autonomous individuality of discrete human persons resulting in a de facto denial of the Trinitarian nature of God and a reduction of the gospel to a distorted Christological monism.
That’s not a definition out of a book, that’s just my understanding of the word. I’ll tease it out a little bit.
Radical individualism (which pervades the American Christian culture perhaps more deeply than any other sect of our society), results in a autonomous view of the person. Radical individualism says that we are essentially disconnected individuals over and against the view that we are essentially connected persons. I think the church has, to the extent (which I believe is extremely high) that it has bought into radical individualism, become coopted by this cultural construct.
Much of my concern about the theology that people like John MacArthur seem to represent is that it reduces the whole story of God, the entire bible, to the saving work of Christ on the cross, largely ignoring extremely important parts of the story such as creation, the living presence of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit’s continued work in the life of the church, the central, essential & Trinitarian nature of the resurrection, etc. It results in a whole system of theology which, while professing to “believe in the Trinity,” fails to offer a truly Trinitarian faith. Instead it offers a Christomonistic faith that either distorts or ignores the role of the 1st and 3rd persons of the Trinity and focuses solely on the 2nd.
With a monistic view of the person, it does not surprise me that people like MacArthur would begin to distort the Trinitarian faith into a Christomonism that reduces the scope of God’s redemptive project to saving discrete individuals from hell, wholly ignoring the other parts of the story of God. One primary result is an over-emphasis on a now distorted Soteriology and a complete denial of the eschatological nature of the church and the already-not-yet kingdom of God. In MacArthur’s own words, eliminating the guilt of sin is “the only reason he [Christ] came.” That’s Christomonism. That’s really not orthodox Christian thought.
Sometimes I wonder if, in 200 years, when one surveys the Christian landscape, the modern evangelicalism will have morphed into a sort of Christian cult religion – something akin to Mormonism – that is largely seen as a distortion of the true message of Christ. If that is the case, I think it will be in large part due to the exaggeration of Christomonism.