When it comes to worldviews, belief systems and religious practice, we live in an age of seemingly unparalleled and unlimited options. North Americans today enjoy meditation, practice yoga, and dabble in a variety of different religious practices as they seek to find something that brings meaning, purpose and fulfillment to their lives.
But according to Peter Jones, the choice is really much more simple: There’s the Truth and the Lie. And in One or Two: Seeing a World of Difference, Jones explains how our worldview affects our understanding of God, what we worship and our sexuality.
One or Two is an incredibly challenging read, especially in an age when it’s controversial to be anything but affirming of all beliefs and religions. Tolerance is seen as the highest of values in culture, and increasingly in the Church as well. So doctrinal distinction is downplayed; gender distinction is eliminated; social causes become the new mission of the Church… and eventually Christianity looks no different than anyone or anything else.
But according to Jones, this should not be. He writes, “Western culture . . . is being hijacked by a spiritual ideology that I call Neopaganism.” (p. 11) Neopaganism is at the heart of radical environmentalism, the more extreme elements of the social justice movement, and theological liberalism.
However, Jones writes, “If there is any hope for us in the twenty-first century, gorged as we are on materialism, One-ist pagan spiritualities, endless sensual fantasies and cock-eyed global utopian illusions, the old rabbi [the Apostle Paul] must speak to us again.” (pp. 13-14)
Jones builds his argument by carefully examining culture through the lens of Paul’s writing in Romans 1:24-25:
Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
What we learn is that these words have, perhaps, rarely been more relevant than today.
At the heart of Jones’ critique is the concept of One-ism versus Two-ism. One-ism is summed up as the belief that all is one; that everything is a piece of the divine. Two-ism, however, “believes that while all of creation shares a certain essence (everything apart from God is created), the Creator of nature, namely God, is a completely different being, whose will determines the nature and function of all created things.” (p. 17) In One-ism, this necessary distinction is lost, and as a result, humanity worships and serves the creature rather than our Creator. Life, spirituality, sexuality becomes inwardly focused—looking into ourselves to find meaning and purpose, rather than to the God who created us for His purposes.
While there’s a strong desire among many to see everyone get along, the reality is that it’s not possible. One-ism and Two-ism are diametrically opposed—The Truth and the Lie cannot both be true and they cannot coexist. And Jones’ purpose in writing the book is not to cause readers to go on a witch hunt for paganism within their churches, but to help each of us understand the implications of what we believe. He writes:
If Christians, in the name of love, harmony and human flourishing, fail to recognize the clamor of the religious war, they will not be armed to defend the Truth of the Christian Gospel. (p. 65)
Jones arms us well. Coming away from One or Two, I had a much stronger understanding of the implications of One-ism and its prevalence, and greater opportunities to share with clarity the greatness of the good news of the gospel. Jones’ explanations allow readers to understand the categories of different belief systems in such a way that one can easily explain to someone who practices some form of Neopaganism (e.g. justification by recycling) the differences between our beliefs. This is extremely helpful in providing us with new opportunities to share the gospel in a culture that increasingly under the sway of One-ism.
In One or Two, Peter Jones gives readers a powerful appeal to understand and embrace the Two-ist reality of creation and to give Paul, “the old rabbi,” an opportunity to speak to us once again.
And speak he does—loudly and powerfully.
The question is, will we listen?
Title: One or Two: Seeing a World of Difference
Author: Peter Jones
Publisher: Main Entry Editions (2010)