Dr. Peter Jones is one of the world’s foremost experts on paganism and founder of Truth Xchange. Interestingly enough, Jones also grew up with John Lennon.
When Jones came to America in 1964, he was shocked—he’d never seen a culture so impregnated with the Christian faith.
Jones believes that the real American Revolution happened not in 1776, but in 1966—because there you see a massive change about how people think deeply about everything.
He says that while the rising generation of Christians is optimistic, and there is a genuine revival of solid Christian faith, we continue to be unaware of the spiritual revolution. Too much optimism can blind us to the opposition, and we can sometimes be seduced by the “progress” proposed by today’s version of “the Lie.”
That brings us to the real issue:
Are we regressive or progressive in our beliefs?
Christians today are called “regressive” because of so-called old fashioned values; the modern spin seeks to intimidate people to keep them from speaking the old story of Christian faith.
The problem according to Jones is not one of outmoded values, but that we are in the context of two worldviews in profound conflict with the other. And neither can be called progressive.
There is nothing new: These worldviews are as old as the hills.
What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already in the ages before us. (Eccl. 1:9-10)
“Everyone goes backwards—even the people doing yoga are going backwards to the Buddhist practices from the 6th Century B.C.,” he said.
We tend to be very self-critical. We see the unpopularity of Christianity as our fault. And if we can fix it, maybe we can be more popular again. The culture sees Christians as inept and unloving, deserving of their bad reputation. And if we were nicer, then the culture would like us (maybe).
The other problem is bad fundamentalism:
- The self-righteous “God-hates-fags” Fundies
- Hard-nosed Christian rationalists
- Ghettos and “holy huddles”
- Christian materialists and money-obsessed TV televangelists who are unconcerned for the poor
- Impersonal, program-dominated Megachurches
These things are part of our history and maybe we’ve been guilty of them. And from these, Jones pleads, O Lord deliver us!
What have been our solutions?
Solution 1: Change our Image. So we find the right program. Use non-offensive discourse and tweak witness techniques. We update our vocabulary, take better care of the earth, and have more compassion on the poor. This will make people like us.
Solution 2: Change the message. According to men like Steve Chalke in The Lost Message of Jesus, the modern church as the Gospel all wrong. We need to avoid unpopular ideas like sin, the cross or personal salvation (“Have these ever been popular?” quips Jones.) In this case, social justice is our message.
Solution 3: Change the Experience. Here, we replace sola scriptura with spiritual enlightenment (sola experientia). A chilling example:
I cannot say exactly what we believe except that experience is a higher authority than Scripture. I do not believe that the Bible is the Word of God, I believe Jesus is…Scripture has no hierarchy over other books, it is inspired and inspiring the way a quantum physics book is. (Danielle Shroyner of The Journey Church, Dallas TX)
Solution 4: Change the focus. Fundamentalism is modernist. Either/or thinking creates antagonism. We respond by adopting mutually affirming dialogue with other religions. The gospel turns into a “big dreams” social agenda for “human flourishing.” It’s “deeds, not creeds.” So we dig wells, but don’t talk about the well of salvation found in the atoning work of Christ.
Solution 5: Change the Subject. It’s suggested that religious relativism will end racial and cultural tensions. Anyone who claims to know the truth is a religious terrorist, and Christian beliefs about God, morals and sexuality in particular, breed malice, bigotry and hate. So we see evangelical student ministries threatened and intimidated. Christians adopt a mindset of survival and clear, open speech about the Christian gospel is no longer possible.
But who is the real enemy? “Fundamentalist” fathers or the Father of all lies with his age old deception? (Col 2: 1-15) And rulers always hate being put to shame by the cross. (Psalm 2) There is enmity between the two worldviews.
History is going backwards.
“I’m convinced all roads lead to Rome, to the pre-Constantine Rome,” says Jones. Pagan Rome outlawed and persecuted Christians; they’ve often been unpopular, especially in the first three hundred years of the faith.
Roman Christians were (falsely) accused
- Disruption of business
- Gross immorality (even incest!)
- Introduction of novelties
- Lack of patriotism
- Antisocial behavior
- causes of disasters
They were even called “haters of humanity” because of their beliefs.
The world wanted us to say Caesar is Lord, but we continue to say “Jesus is Lord!” That’s the enmity—The world hates that message. So we can change that message. The world will love us, but Jesus won’t.
Why has Christianity become so unpopular in America?
The culture is hostile to Gospel values. Western culture is torn from its biblical values:
- People rely on their feelings; there’s been a subjectivist turn of modern Western culture
- The turn from life as “established roles” and “given orders of things” to states of consciousness
- Focus on the unconscious leads through imagination and mysticism into the occult
- Era of Carl Gustav Jung—studied consciousness and ended in the grip of the occult
- Era of Pagan Apocalypse Now
- An era of imagination for a Mythical Utopia
- Dawning of the Age of Aquarius
- Jewish Kabbalah
- Second Coming of the Goddess
- Eschatological Sodom
- Mayan Calendar
- “Deep Shift,” “The Great Emergence” (Brian McLaren, Phyllis Tickle)
All of the issues can be summed up in what Jones calls “One-ism.” One-ism is the belief that “all is one” and that everything shares the same essential nature. It’s the consubstantiality of all things (meaning “with substance”).
Two-ism, the opposing view, is the belief that while all of creation shares a certain essence (everything other than God is created), the Creator Himself, namely God, is the only uncreated being, whose will determines the nature and function of all created things. There are basic theological and anthropological implications to one-ism and two-ism. The source of the conflict:
They are two antithetical views of meaning.
What is the Christian response? Speak Truth
All I want is the truth now. Just gimme some truth now (John Lennon)
Don’t retreat: Fearful of the culture some Christians withdraw from the world to wait for the second coming
Don’t reclaim: Christians are not called to take back the culture, the “reclaim” the America fo the 1950s by force of political action
Don’t conform: Revival by a renewed mind. (Rom. 12:2)
And live out two-ism for the sake of God’s glory.