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What is the “Other Worldview” in Conflict with Christianity?

What is the “Other Worldview” in Conflict with Christianity?

Posted January 05, 2016 by Sean McDowell

SeanMcDowell.org

Recently I received a book in the mail from Dr. Peter Jones entitled The Other Worldview: Exposing Christianity’s Greatest Threat. Given my interest in learning and teaching worldview, I had to delve into it. And I was pleasantly surprised at both the content as well as the unique approach Jones takes to worldviews. He was kind enough to answer a few of my questions. Enjoy!

SEAN MCDOWELL: What personally motivated you to write a book on worldviews?

PETER JONES: I taught New Testament for 18 years [1974-1990] in secular France, and upon returning to the States in ’91, I suffered culture shock. I discovered a spirituality I thought long-gone, namely a modern form of ancient Gnosticism, called the New Age. It was not a weird or outlandish cult, as many Christians at the time believed. It was something much more threatening. I had studied Gnosticism for a Ph.D. in the 70s and what I had known as a dead apostasy, I now was meeting in Christian America as a very live spiritual practice.

This I had never seen before, so I was stimulated to try to understand it theologically. It was clearly not just an odd heretical deviation but also a major antithetical/alternate/mirror-image/upside-down form of orthodoxy—a true apostasy, a complete “standing away from,” and yet deeply spiritual.

MCDOWELL: You make a distinction between "Oneism" and "Twoism." What is that distinction and why is it important?

JONES: I was looking for antithetical theological systems and after much reflection I came up with the only two possible ways of being in this world, namely “Oneism” and “Twoism,” the only two worldviews on offer.[1] I found this in the writings of Paul who makes it very simple. He says in Romans 1:25 “They exchanged the truth of God for the lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator who is blessed forever.” This means that there are only two ways to be human, either as human beings who worship nature (in a thousand different ways), or as human beings who worship the Creator. If you can count from one to two you can understand worldview. Worship of nature is Oneism because nature is all there is and everything is made of the same stuff. All is one! Worship of created things, idolatry, is the essence of paganism. Worship of the Creator means, according to Scripture, that in the whole of reality there are two kinds of existence: the existence of the uncreated Creator, and everything else that is created. That is Twoism. With other terminology this is confirmed by the English theologian Colin Gunton (1941–2003), who stated:

“There are, probably, ultimately only two possible answers to the question of origins, and they recur at different places in all ages: [either] that the universe is the result of creation by a free personal agency, or that in some way or other it creates itself. The two answers are not finally compatible, and require a choice, either between them or an attitude of agnostic refusal to decide.”[2]

The Oneism/Twoism distinction is important because it is biblical, clear and simple to use for all Christians.

MCDOWELL: You claim that Secular Humanism is "withering." What do you mean by that, and what's your evidence?

JONES: Secular humanism dominated the West from the Enlightenment until the middle of the 20th century. Secularism had claimed for itself an exclusive access to reality. The scientific mind, committed to naturalism was the only way of knowing anything about anything. Such a commitment went hand in hand with the belief that religious superstition would certainly disappear in the twenty-first century. The belief became entrenched in the West among well-informed people that “as people become more educated and more prosperous, the secularist story line goes, they find themselves both more skeptical of religion’s premises and less needful of its ostensible consolations.”[3]

Two world wars broke the spell of the promise that human reason would save us, and Postmodernism exposed the self-referential incoherence of humanism’s attempt at justification. In addition, as my book seeks to document, the growing hunger for some kind of spiritualty [but not biblical spirituality] was exploited by, in particular, Carl Jung, the Swiss psychologist, and early disciple of the secularist, Freud. Jung, however, developed a method of psychotherapy based on the notion of spiritual freedom from classic, guilt-producing Western Christian spirituality and the chains of monogamous heterosexuality. Guided by pagan visions of the liberated self, true humanity could be realized by giving expression to one’s spiritual and sexual fantasies. The Sixties sought enlightenment in New Age methods and that has now gone mainstream as many now call themselves “spiritual but not religious.” Atheists in Iceland are joining the fastest growing religion in that Western country, Zuism, a pagan faith from ancient Sumeria. Faerie Magazine, a lifestyle publication, is the 19th most popular lifestyle title of the 157 sold at Barnes & Noble—for people who believe in fairies! Our contemporary world now embraces Eastern pagan spirituality, practicing meditation and yoga to be released from the bondage of the opposites, by joining the dark and light sides of existence. In rediscovering “The Force,” many fans of the Star Wars phenomenon have embraced pagan spirituality.

Some scholars now speak of the Post-Secular age, implying that the dominance of secularism is over, noting that many intellectuals have now agreed that what they once dismissed as primitive superstition, like Eastern spirituality, is now considered a valid, even necessary part of the human experience.

MCDOWELL: You have an interesting section titled, "The Marriage of Sexuality and Spirituality." How is the sexual revolution related to pagan Oneist cosmology?

JONES: We hear more and more the constant programmatic call for the “denial of the binary.” In an article in the Huffington Post (August, 2015) a teacher of 4 year olds says, in a clear immediate social implication of the Supreme Court decision to legalize same sex marriage: “I work to create a classroom environment where differing points of view [men marrying men, women marrying women] can be addressed and explored. My goal is to model nonjudgmental behavior and challenge binary thinking.” The attempt to eliminate “binary thinking” is especially evident in gender politics where the destruction of the gender binary defines the essential goal of sexual freedom. It is the destruction of the Twoist sexual structure, to be replaced by sexual Oneism, where gender distinctions are being rapidly erased. It can be shown that Oneist homosexuality has been a part of religious paganism throughout time and space. As this becomes widespread in contemporary culture, and is practiced in many churches, non-binary sexuality will give rise to a non-binary approach to thinking and every-day living. In this way, in the years ahead, paganism will become the only-tolerated form of official cultural discourse. Understanding this, especially by churches, Christian schools in and committed individuals, will be essential for Christian survival.

MCDOWELL: Once we have properly identified and understood the "Oneist" worldview in our culture, how do Christians best a) influence culture with the gospel, and b) engage in evangelism with their neighbors?

JONES:

1. Influence culture with the gospel: it is crucial to understand the nature of the Oneist/Twoist hermeneutic to be able to understand the direction of the culture, and to show the Twoist nature of the Gospel, without which the Gospel is meaningless. It is the God who is other who divests himself of glory to save sinners. Also, part of our witness is to live out the Twoist lifestyle before our friends and neighbors, that is, Twoism in word and deed.

2. Engage in evangelism with their neighbors? Getting people to think along Oneist/Twoist lines may well be an effective way to begin an evangelistic conversation in our time, putting down on the table what people think in a non-judgmental or threatening way, in order that the good news is evident from the perspective of its Twoist presuppositions and is not misunderstood by passing it through a Oneist grill.

Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, a best-selling author of over 15 books, an internationally recognized speaker, and a part-time high school teacher. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog at seanmcdowell.org.


[1] See my book One or Two: Seeing A World of Difference (2010).

[2] Colin E. Gunton, The Triune Creator: A Historical and Systematic Study (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998).

[3] Mary Eberstadt, How the West Really Lost God: A New Look At Secularization, (Templeton Press, 2013), 1.


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