False Dichotomies In Christianity

There is no doubt about the existence of false dichotomies. Kapic does an excellent job in articulating and constructing false dichotomies seen in contemporary Christianity. As someone who was raised in a Christian environment, I have seen and experienced the effects when individuals wrongly make one idea the antithesis to another.

The false dichotomy of small faith and great faith is one I have heard echoed through the ages. When someone quits their job and gives up the means to their financial livelihood, it has been said that this person not only has great faith but this person is really walking by faith. When statements as the one mentioned are quoted in a particular tone, it conveys the idea that the individuals who do not walk away from such things are not truly trusting God. It sends a condemning message to people who are not called to leave their secular occupation but to be a Christ-like influence within their work place. When emphasizing someone who is alleged to have great faith, it can send the wrong message to a faithful believer, for in the minds of men, they are turned into a faithless generation. I could argue that those who make such decisions to leave everything may not have the great faith we often suppose they possess on the premise of Jesus’ words regarding what constitutes little faith.

And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. (Matt 17:20 KJV) [1]

Jesus argued his ability to heal from a posture of little faith when he taught his disciples that nothing would be impossible for the one who possessed such faith. The point is one ought not to make little faith the antithesis to great faith for in doing so; we risk condemning those who may find themselves in the perceived lesser category of faith. When discussing the dichotomy between learning and devotion, Kapic writes:

Recruiting officers do not dispute whether it is better for soldiers to have a right leg or a left leg: soldiers should have both legs. Sometimes we hear it said that ten minutes on your knees will give you a truer, deeper, more operative knowledge of God than ten hours over your books. “What!” is the appropriate response, “than ten hours over your books, on your knees?”[2]

In order to reconcile the tension between this false dichotomy, it is important to give weight to the perceived lesser side of the issue for Jesus equated moving mountains with someone who has little faith. The issue should not be between little faith and great faith but the true dichotomy of faith and unbelief. Kapic would do as I have attempted to do and homogenize the two ideas of little faith and great faith and assist one in understanding the finitude of every theologian.

Kapic, Kelly M. A Little Book for New Theologians. Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2012. P. 68

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