Dichotomy of Focus

A dichotomy is a division into two parts or concepts. These parts/concepts can be equal or unequal. They can be complimentary or contradictory. Essentially, what the parts/concepts are is less important than the fact of their division/separation.

Focus, obviously, is the intentional attention directed at a particular point or object.

Dichotomy of Focus, then, is having intentional attention directed at one of two separated parts or concepts, points or objects. It’s not having one’s focus divided or diverted; rather it’s focusing solely in one direction as opposed to another.

A simple example will suffice. In a dish of ice cream, one may have vanilla ice cream topped by chocolate syrup. These two, separate–and in this case, complimentary–ingredients make up the dichotomy. As you eat, you may focus your attention through your taste buds on either the vanilla or the chocolate. You may even focus on the co-mingling of favors, as well. But if you are to taste the difference between the two ingredients, you must have a dichotomy of focus. If your taste buds are to determine which part is vanilla ice cream as opposed to which part is chocolate syrup, your brain must make a concentrated effort to focus solely on the taste of the vanilla and not on the chocolate.

In an example of a contradictory dichotomy, we can listen to a song that makes us feel happy or we can listen to a song that makes us feel sad. We then have a dichotomy of emotions: happiness and sadness. These are opposites, and so, contradictory. Depending on our mood, we may choose one song over another, and so focus our attention on one particular emotion. There may even be songs that are bittersweet, with a co-mingling of such emotions. But if we want pure happiness (or vice versa, i.e pure sadness) we must reject the bittersweet song and listen only to the song that makes us happy, and etc. This, again, is our dichotomy of focus.

In sum, complimentary dichotomies are usually joined by an “and”. Contradictory dichotomies are usually joined by an “or”.

Now let’s get spiritual. There will come a time in your life, if you believe in God and follow the Lord Jesus Christ, that you will come to a dichotomy of focus. Let me explain. In the Bible, there are many dichotomies. Some are contradictory, and some are complimentary. An example of a contradictory dichotomy is “heaven or hell”. An example of a complimentary dichotomy is “the blood of Jesus and the remission of sins”. In both of these cases, the items in question are different, and thus divided into two concepts. But in the first example, “heaven or hell” are contradictory in that they do not share the same qualities, have a different purpose for their existence, and are two wildly different places to which one’s eternal soul may go. The second, however, are complimentary because, though two different things, they inform and influence one another. Said another way, they go together. They are by no means a matching pair, but hand-in-glove, they are designed, one for another. Heaven and hell are not like this. One doesn’t go to both after they die. They are mutually exclusive to each other.

So then, what is this dichotomy of focus to which we all must come? It comes down to this: what will our focus be? In any given, Biblical dichotomy, like heaven or hell, life or death, lost or saved (examples of contradictory dichotomies) or like the Father and Son, faith and works, commandments and obedience (examples of complimentary dichotomies), we will inevitably pay more attention to one than the other.

We can focus on heaven or hell. We can focus on life or death. We can focus on the lost or the saved. Eventually, no matter what we do, we end up paying more attention to one than the other. Even in complimentary dichotomies, we tend to focus more on one than the other. Some people focus more on the Father than the Son, some on faith more than works, and etc. It just naturally happens.

Of course, we must strive for balance and not over-emphasize one to the neglect of the other. But let’s be honest. Who actually takes a balanced approach? Very few people do, in my experience. Take the Godhead debate. One can side so much with the trinitarian view that they end up in tri-theism. And one can dive so deeply into oneness they end up believing divine flesh. It is innately in us to go for the extremes, set up camp, and so, forever live there, in whatever side of the dichotomy we choose.

The question then is: What side or part of these various dichotomies will you choose to focus on? It is a supremely important question that must be asked. My answer, your answer, any given church’s answer, will determine what we believe, preach, teach, and uphold as the standard for true orthodoxy and orthopraxy. If we allow ourselves an unbalanced approach (which is our natural tendency) we may end up over-emphasizing one aspect of the Bible to the exclusion of the other.

One may preach and teach the love of God so much that they, along with their listeners, come to forget about the wrath of God. Some may preach or teach so much against sin, that grace is never mentioned or is so infrequently mentioned, as to become meaningless with no real world application to those who constantly are warned about the consequences of sin.

Make sense?

Here are two Scriptural examples, both of which are found in Romans, to help explain what I mean.

Romans 4:25,

25. Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.


Romans 6:23,

23. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

In both of these verses, dichotomies are presented (These happen to be examples of contradictory dichotomies, but it wouldn’t matter which kind they are, since the main point is that they are dichotomies, not that they are equal or unequal, etc). So then, we have a choice. We can make our focus be on one or the other, but not both. We may switch our focus at times, but it’s very difficult to balance such concepts together, i.e focus on both of them at the same time, especially at all times.

So what end’s up happening? This: we either end up focusing on Jesus being delivered for our offenses and that the wages of sin is death or we end up focusing on His resurrection which causes justification and eternal life.

I submit that we need to try and not allow this to occur. Doing this divides the Gospel and thus, never allows for the other side of the story to be told. Focusing solely on the problem never allows a solution to be implemented. Conversely, attempting to solve everything without correctly analyzing and understanding the problem is a disaster waiting to happen.

Therefore, this tendency towards a dichotomy of focus is actually, Scripturally and Biblically speaking, not a good thing. When it comes to ice cream or music, it doesn’t matter all that much and maybe not at all. But to do this to God’s Word is eventually detrimental to our cause as Christians. An imbalanced approach, such as we so often take, leads us to having undernourished saints who can’t get over the hump because they’re lacking the other half of the equation in their life and walk with God. To me, this is all just another sign of our demonically controlled and influenced bi-polar world.

The truth is, Christ came for many reasons to this earth. One of them is so that we could be made complete, i.e. whole, in Him (Colossians 2:10). But right now, we are a divided Body, full of bi-polar type faith in God. We lack balance and the spiritual rest that comes with balance. Very few love God just to love God. Now, it’s either out of fear and the feeling like we to have walk on egg shells around our Savior, or because we think God’s just some sugar daddy who can’t say no to our kind of Veruca Salt “affections”.

We need a healing Church, both individually and locally, corporately and globally. This bi-polar approach is slowly strangling the life right out of our faith. I don’t know about you, but I can feel the pain of the Lord through the Spirit for an ailing, spiritually-as-opposed to mentally-ill, dysfunctional Bride.

The bottomline is this: Faithful messengers must tell the WHOLE old, old story of the Savior who came down from glory, not just the parts most easily focused on and so, allow the Word to do It’s chief work: which is restore lost souls into a right, saving, healing relationship with the God of the Word.

To conclude, I make no other demands than this: Please prayerfully seek God and ask Him:

– What, if anything, am I missing in my walk with Him?


– Do I have a bi-polar dichotomy of focus that leads me to trump only one side of the Word to the harmful neglect of the other?

If God shows you that you are missing something and then also answers yes to question #2, then ask Him:

– To please send restorative, spiritual healing and so, make you whole


– To heal others who have so divided His Word that they can’t faithfully embrace all of it or at all without constantly drawing lines in the sand and/or compartmentalizing It to pieces to find the parts they like.

After that, simply wait and trust that He will answer.

God bless you all and I hope this helps. Peace.


~ by votivesoul on 11/01/2012.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Mark Showalter's Blog

Always seeking to know God more

Theo-sophical Ruminations

A collage of theological and philosophical musings

%d bloggers like this: