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In Practice

Book of Deuteronomy Theological Point Of View In Practice

Getting Biblical in Daily Life

The Doctrine of the Two Ways

Have you ever seen a superhero movie?

Yes?

Then you know all about the Doctrine of the Two Ways. This is the rule that says that the good guys are rewarded and the bad guys are punished. And it's at the heart of Deuteronomy.

In Deuteronomy, being a good guy means kicking idols to the curb and worshipping God in Jerusalem. If you do what's right, God will reward you. Do the wrong thing, and God's punishment will hit you harder and faster than a speeding bullet.

Okay, sounds pretty simple. If you do good and bad things happen, according to the Deuteronomy, it means you've sinned. You can show people your temple attendance record. You can tell them about that time you smashed the idols in your neighbor's front yard. But if bad things happen to you, you're a sinner. Case closed.

Sticky Situations

As we all know, though, things aren't usually that cut and dry. In later years, writers will have to confront the fact that the Doctrine of the Two Ways doesn't explain all of human life. Whereas things in Deuteronomy are painted in very black and white ways, a book like Job represents a much more sophisticated treatise on life.

It's not that life was simpler or more straightforward during the historical moment that Deuteronomy was written, but the writing was designed to create a community. Communities are created by building in-groups and out-groups, right? You're either in (and good) or out (and bad).
Because the Doctrine of the Two Ways isn't sophisticated enough to cover all the complex life situations, Deuteronomy gives us case law, too—if Bob steals your sheep on a Saturday, do this. If he steals it on a Sunday, do that.

Do you think any of the more specific regulations in Deuteronomy contradict the Doctrine of the Two Ways?

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