Book Review: One or Two, by Peter Jones
It is no difficult task to discern that great cultural changes are afoot in the Western world, and that these changes are not friendly to Christianity. But just where are these cultural changes coming from, what is driving them, what are their real implications for the unique message of biblical Christianity, and how should Christians respond? Peter Jones' perceptive analysis of the new paganism contains invaluable information that all who claim the Name of Christ would be foolish to disregard, and a sobering prognosis that calls for much serious reflection. I would recommend this book both to non-Christians, who might be surprised where so many of the current cultural and political trends really originated, and what the alternative to them is; and also to Christians, who will doubtless be enabled by it to explain the differences between true Christianity and every other option in much more detail.
Anyone who is familiar with Tolkien's masterpiece will appreciate the analogy Jones employs at one point in his book:
"A scene in the movie, The Lord of the Rings, shows the band of heroes hopelessly surrounded by thousands of orcs in the Mines of Moriah. Then, miraculously, the ugly crowd, in a squealing frenzy, dissolves into the shadows. Relief registers on the travelers until... a far more fearsome enemy emerges from the depths of the earthâ€”a Balrog, demon from the beginning of time.
Christians were relieved when secular humanism, long-time enemy of biblical supernaturalism, scurried off into the shadows. Little did we realize that a demon from the beginning of time threatens our â€œFellowship of the King.â€ That demon comes in disguise, offering spiritual help from the one place where it cannot be found: within the human soul."
So what, in Jones' analogy, is this â€œdemon from the beginning of time? The bad news is that it is a system that has been in existence from the beginning, and has served as the foundational basis for all the great religions of the world. It is the â€œOne-istâ€ view of the world â€“ that all creation is essentially the same, that we all partake of it, and that we are to derive all our own answers and beliefs from it. In a word, whether Buddhist, Hindu, or any of the old pagan systems of old, it is â€œThe Lie,â€ which exchanges the glory of the invisible God for the lesser glory of his created things. The good news is that the Lie has already been exposed by the Truth â€“ the â€œTwo-istâ€ view of reality, which recognizes that all creation is utterly distinct from the Creator, and that who we are and what we ought to think and do and be must come from outside ourselves and outside all of creation.
This â€œTwo-istâ€ worldview overcame the old paganism many centuries ago, after Julian the Apostate failingly attempted to reinstate it in the stead of Christianity, and ended his attempt with his death-bed cry of defeat, â€œYou have conquered, Galilean!â€. But have the forces behind the modern cultural revolution succeeded where Julian failed? Is there really a new rebirth of the old paganism afoot? Is that what the revolution of the sixties was all about? And if so, what does it mean for the future of Christianity in the Western world?
Jones has obviously thought about these issues very carefully, for a very long time. He has gathered together piles of examples and documented immense changes. And what he has found is that the beliefs of the new culture, which is rising up to replace the old â€œsecular humanismâ€ of the past generation, is precisely in line with what Paul argued against in Romans chapter one: instead of the truth about God, the Creator of all things, there is a renewed emphasis on the supremacy and divinity of nature and the environment. Instead of the true worship of God by offering up our bodies as living, holy sacrifices, there is a renewed emphasis on a false spirituality, which seeks enlightenment by discovering the truth within, or being freed from the bonds of the physical body. Mystical meditation, ancient shamanic practices, and many other such false spiritualities are rapidly gaining ground as legitimate religious practices. Finally, instead of heterosexuality, which by God's design represents the â€œtwo-istâ€ nature of reality and the union of Christ with his Church, where â€œOneâ€ and â€œTwoâ€ are finally joined, there is a widespread push for â€œpansexualityâ€ â€“ accepting as legitimate every form of sexual expression, including homosexuality, which is clearly against the commandments of the Creator, but which is in full harmony with the â€œOne-istâ€ view of the supremacy of creation.
Jones summed up the point of his book when he said, â€œYou will never understand cultural conflict, debates in the Church, or your own questions about life if you do not understand that the world is divided over Truth. A timeless antithesis exists: Is everything God (One-ism), or is reality divided into the Creator and everything else (Two-ism)?â€ As a broad, â€œbig-pictureâ€ overview, One or Two provides a helpful foundation for recognizing just how deep-seated and important the differences really are between true Christianity and everything else, which, in spite of the great variety, is at heart fundamentally the same in its opposition to the Truth that Paul so clearly proclaims in his letter to the Romans.