Ha ha ha! Will the real Manicheans please stand up?

In Romans 2:1 it says:  “Therefore you have no excuse, O man, whoever you are, when you judge another; for in passing judgment upon him you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things.”


This piece by James R. Rogers at LibertyLawsite is, I found quite funny.  But oh oh, maybe it’s a hate site, since it’s in Texas, has Liberty in the title and is ‘Murrican and on the wrong side of the good/evil dichotomy.

The irony is that Spadaro and Figueroa succumb to the Manichean temptations, and apocalyptic rhetoric, which they ascribe to their subjects. We’ll return to that in a moment. The point I think they try to make, but lose in their ham-handed argument, is that conservative Christians in the U.S. need to be wary that, in the heat of political battle, political commitments don’t efface their more-important spiritual commitments. This is a temptation to which American evangelicalism, in particular, too-easily succumbs, and seems also to be a risk for a segment of American Catholicism today. (Politically Progressive American Christians have their own idols as well, but of a different ilk than Christian conservatives.)

First, Spadaro and Figueroa charge their subjects with political Manichaenism. I prefer the term be used to describe dualistic religious views in which good and evil are equally powerful. While there is a tendency towards forms of Manichaenism in the folk-spirituality of many American Christians (and is ubiquitous in Hollywood films portraying supernatural evil), these Christians typically are highly pietistic, and not particularly political.

Spadaro and Figueroa use the adjective not to identify any real Manichean heresy, however, but instead to communicate their disapproval of the rhetorical use of what they consider over simplified black and white moral categories.

Before we get to their argument, one must note the irony of Spadaro and Figueroa’s article is that there is no gray in their treatment of those they accuse of Manichaenism. It’s all just black and white for them as well; just absolute good versus absolute evil. The only difference is what they condemn as absolute good and absolute evil.

I am not a dualist who sees black and white, good and evil as equal.   No, I believe in an all good, all powerful God in three Persons, Father Son and Holy Spirit and that Christ has conquered evil, sin and death.   I also do not wish to participate in polemics and partisanship.   But sometimes, it’s a little bit fun to see someone hitting back at people who traffic in stereotypes and label and dismiss tactics that all too often are applied against Christians of all stripes except the most progressive.

I work in a secular environment that is largely dominated by left-leaning people who have little or no understanding of religion and some have the most ridiculous stereotypes about Christians.  I have also seen those stereotypes used by political parties in Canada to demonize politicians who are Christian and prolife as somehow “scary” and unCanadian or anti-Canada’s Charter of rights and freedoms.   These are libels and cheap shots that could easily make an already marginalized group—-Christians who take their faith seriously—into scapegoats.  But it happens nonetheless and has been employed even by past prime ministers of this country (and used even by members of the same religious groups they are attacking, because in politics all’s fair in love and war or something).

I have also found that among many folks I meet on the left, it’s considered objective reality that equal marriage is a civil rights issue, or euthanasia is a right so people can choose how and when they die or abortion is a women’s rights issue.   Anyone who disagrees is deemed evil, stupid or both.   Sometimes, I get tired of it.

So, ha ha ha, may the real Manicheans please stand up.


1 thought on “Ha ha ha! Will the real Manicheans please stand up?

  1. I’m reminded of the words of a very astute pastor: “You become what you despise.”

    When launching the communist revolution that formed the Peoples’ Republic of China, Mao Tse-Tung is quoted as having told his followers, “Before the revolution, people oppress people. But after the revolution, the reverse will be true.” The paradox here is that the reverse of “People oppress people.” is “People oppress people.” Rather, we need to bring an end to the cycle of oppression of those perceived to be one’s adversaries.



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