Stephen Sizer used the term Manichean Theology within his article (below) and while you ‘smarties’ out there probably knew exactly what the definition of the term was, I didn’t.
When that happens I go searching… and you may have noted I did locate the definition and provided a link within the article.
Anyway, while looking for the definition I also came across a note concerning the Manichean Worldview, which I thought was very interesting and wanted to share a few quotes from it:
Democracy, patriotism, internal and external wars, all political tactics based on factional conflict are supported by a worldview which I call the manichean worldview (“manichean” referring to an ancient religious dualist movement, but nowadays applied to any polarizing, black/white belief).
…propaganda… lead(s) the way in promoting this worldview, and has contributed to its insinuation into public discourse.
A few principles ..isolated from it:
1. There are “good people” and “bad people.” People can be divided into two general camps, “good” and “bad.” “Good” means: anyone who is on our side. “Bad” means: anyone who is against our side. There is zero consideration of morality whatsoever in those evaluations, as they denote one’s faction exclusively. “We” (the side with which the person is assumed to identify) are never “bad.”
2. “Good people” are pretty, smart, happy. “Bad people” are ugly, stupid and ill-tempered. “Good people” are the “light side,” “evil people” are the “dark side.” No “evil person” believes that he is doing the right thing: “evil people” are always corrupt and angry.
3. Anything a “good person” does is “good,” even if it consists of actions which are universally condemned, like theft, murder or torture. In the manichean worldview, the end completely justifies the means, no questions asked. In the “good” world, there is no moral responsibility whatsoever. Just belonging to the “right faction” gives you total free reign.
“Bad people,” on the other hand, bear full moral responsibility for their actions. If a “bad person” steals, kills or tortures, he should be punished for doing so, unlike “good people.” As a part of that, we also have a tendency to generalize positivity and particularize negativity towards members of our in-group (e.g. “atheists are great people,”), and do the reverse to others (e.g. “Pat Robertson came out for pot legalization,” “Christians are stupid”). There can be times when the distortion between what the manichean perceives as “good” and the actions of the “good person” becomes too great: the “good person” is then either called an “anti-hero,” or everyone denies that the person was on their side to begin with. No “bad person” or “bad” label can ever, ever be pinned on the “good side.”
4. The world is a struggle, which can only be won by violence. The “evil people” must be subdued by force, because they are on the wrong side by definition. When victory is achieved, “the end” has been met, and nothing could possibly go wrong from that point on. (source)
Obviously this was not written by a Christian nor does it claim to be looking at this through the lens of Christianity or come from a Christian website. But what I found interesting was how much this worldview can be applied to many American Christians today. Not only those who claim to be Christian Zionists but to those who see the world’s population as being divided into “bad” and “good” people – not saved or lost…or in Christ or without Christ. In fact, many of my fellow Christians even view entire Nations or groups (races) of people through this non-biblical distorted lens. As a consequence of this manner of viewing our fellow man, we, the Church, project hate toward those who we claim are “bad” people by continuing to demonize them, while at the same time pointing out just how “good” and “moral” we are – instead of obeying the command to love them and present to them the the Gospel which leads to everlasting life.
Perhaps I’m not explaining my thoughts very well…