The False Dichotomy Between the “Sacred” and “Secular”

sacred secular

The tendency to emphasize the good of the spiritual realm to the neglect of the physical world has led many Christians to an unbiblical view of the world and a false dichotomy between the ‘sacred’ and ‘secular.’

—Kenneth T. Magnuson, professor of Christian ethics, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

The tension of God’s kingdom that is “now but not yet” makes interacting with the material world a complicated affair. Are we simply foreigners living in a temporary world or does the here-and-now matter to God? If we truly believe the gospel is an all-encompassing worldview, it should apply to every area of human existence—physical, emotional, and spiritual. The way we think about the material world has implications for our families, our workplaces, and our communities.

Every-Good-Thing_PDPIn Every Good Thing, David Jones explains why we should be concerned with the material world—for our own good, for the good of our neighbors, and for the glory of God. Scripture frequently speaks about issues such as wealth and poverty, work and rest, and creation and stewardship. God cares deeply about the material realm, and Jesus’ example was one of engagement with, not detachment from, the physical realm.

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What scholars are saying

The quote from Kenneth Magnuson above was pulled directly from his endorsement of Every Good Thing. Here it is in full:

The tendency to emphasize the good of the spiritual realm to the neglect of the physical world has led many Christians to an unbiblical view of the world and a false dichotomy between the ‘sacred’ and ‘secular.’  In Every Good Thing, David W. Jones offers a helpful corrective to this tendency, grounding his arguments in a thoroughly biblical perspective, with significant implications for how Christians think about their calling, work, rest, wealth and poverty—in short, how we ought to think about our lives! Every Good Thing is an important introduction to these issues that will benefit readers greatly.

Jason Duesing echoes Magnuson’s sentiments with a historical twist:

One grand mischaracterization of the Elizabethan Puritans was that they ‘were so heavenly minded they were of no earthly good.’ While largely wrong of them, there is an element of truth to the claim and all in the evangelical tradition that came from them. That is why a book like Every Good Thing is so timely and helpful. Even though believers in Christ are merely pilgrims in this world on a journey toward a future heavenly home, David W. Jones rightly grounds us in the present to remind us of the stewardship that is ours in the world we have been given for our own good and, even more, the good of others.

—Jason Duesing, provost and associate professor of historical theology, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

A handsome little trilogy

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These three books offer insightful Christian cultural analysis for the modern world. Faithfully engaging with the world around us can be difficult and complicated, but Bruce Ashford, Benjamin Quinn, Walter Strickland, and David Jones give us a framework for glorifying God in all aspects of our lives.

For the next two weeks, get Every Good Thing, Every Waking Hour, and Every Square Inch are just $10 each! Get all three for just $30 now!

Comments

  1. Eng Lai, Tan says:

    There is a thin line between a truly biblical steward of the material world and the spirit of worldliness. The Puritans were rightly concerned about the allurement of worldly temptations that they continuously caution all men against their inability of overcoming them without the enablement of the Holy Spirit. Today, it is too easy for one to criticise the Puritans without being aware that was the Puritans who founded the legacy of the Christian work ethics which many successful enterprises are now enjoying.