Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Other Worldview by Peter Jones - A Review

Peter Jones’ book, The Other Worldview, was published by Kirkdale Press in June of 2015. Having received a complimentary copy from Lexham Press/Faithlife Corp. it’s my pleasure to offer this brief review.

The Other Worldview, written by Peter Jones, is a sober wakeup call and warning to the West. Chronicling the decline of the Christian philosophical underpinnings of Western culture, Jones documents the resurgence of ancient paganism in modern dress. Indeed, the author frames the situation with the metaphor, “where the dark forces of Sauron have taken power in the once-Christian Shire of Western culture.” If that seems far-fetched to you, then this may be a worthwhile read as Jones makes an effective case. This “other worldview” is what Jones labels as Oneism, a philosophical system which
“sees the world as self-creating (or perpetually existing) and self-explanatory. Everything is made up of the same stuff, whether matter, spirit, or a mixture. There’s one kind of existence…”
Essentially this is a worldview and belief system which denies that there are two distinct realities in the universe, the Creator God who is independent and self-existent and his very dependent creation. This worldview opposing Oneism is what Jones labels as Twoism:
“The only other option is a world that is the free work of a personal, transcendent God, who creates ex nihilo (from nothing)... There is God, and there is everything that is not-God…”
In the Oneism worldview all reality, seen and unseen, is of one unity, that of the creation. There is no recognition by creation of the sovereign “Other.” This is actually fairly standard Christian doctrine as Jones’ notes, taught in Scripture in places like Romans 1. What is new is how Jones frames Oneism and Twoism as today's epic cultural battle. He traces Oneism's roots back to the old religions of paganism and he makes the case that Twoism (essentially biblical Christianity) is the foundation upon which western cultural has been built. The evidence convincingly concludes that Oneism is supplanting Twoism.

To make his case, Peter Jones makes abundant use of Scripture while supplying ample references to and quotes from secular writers/thinkers such as Carl Jung, Saul Alinsky, Deepak Chopra, Descartes, Heinrich Himmler, Camille Paglia to name several. Jones gives a convincing  if not troubling diagnosis of our present western culture. So much so that the reader may feel at times a bit overwhelmed by the reach of this new godless reality as it becomes more and more mainstream. He traces the reappearance of this Oneism or paganism over the past 100-plus years in order to establish that It is now the dominant “religious” belief system animating much of the West. 

Laying out a plethora of historical evidence, Jones contends that the modern day wellspring feeding this new Oneism is found in the teachings of 20th century psychologist Carl Jung. Now that may sound surprising and it was somewhat so to me, even though I had come across Jung in my biblical counseling studies in seminary. Jones effectively unpacks the lesser known but more authentic Jung for the reader, that of a spiritual pantheist whose mystical and philosophical musings are found to be interwoven with various modern movements such as the Sixties sexual revolution, the so-called Age of Aquarius, new age mysticism, yoga, redefinitions of gender and sex and the related redefining of the institution of marriage. In this “new” yet really old worldview all good and evil, all right and wrong, male and female, indeed all creational opposites of importance simple cease to exist as such... defined away. Rather than separate entities or opposing realities they are just various integrated parts of the whole. All is homogenized and accepted as good because it exists. The only wrongs are biblical moral distinctions and the acknowledgment of a sovereign Creator God.

The book is divided into three sections:
Part 1 - Coming Apart traces Oneism’s initial threats to biblical Christianity growing from the 18th thru 20th century, the rise of secular humanism (materialistic Oneism), the promotion of pagan mythology and sexual liberation, and the undermining of the “moral virtues that were still presupposed.”

Part 2 - Given Over examines how what once was a Christian cultural consensus slowly eroded “through secularism, Jungian psychology, the cultural changes of the Sixties, and the appearance of Eastern religions in the West.
Part 3 - Not Giving Up is the wakeup call to arms, so to speak. What are those presently living in the West to do in order to stem this Oneism tide? In general Jones’ answer is biblical Christianity and more specifically the Gospel. The goal is to regain “Christian living (Rom.12:1) and Christian thinking (Rom. 12:2)." And in so doing “gear up for a struggle with a culture under the powerful sway of Satan.” He highlights how parts of the Christian Church have unwittingly adopted some of Oneism’s worldview and practices. And so the call goes out for Christians to wake up and turn back to their biblical foundation. The power for this new living and thinking is nothing less than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And Jones clearly presents it as the Truth that counters the Lie, the Good News that is the remedy for the Bad News. 

It’s not entirely clear to me how much Jones sees the gospel as a means to a cultural end, i.e. reconnecting western culture to its biblical moral moorings or, simply that any cultural benefits which may occur are just the possible positive side effects of the Gospel earnestly going forth. To a degree in some parts of the book the former might be a fair inference as Jones’ main concern seems to be that of restoring the West’s traditional worldview. That said, Peter Jones clearly presents the Gospel of Salvation through faith in Jesus Christ as the hope not only for the declining culture of the West but more importantly for lost souls who need to hear the Good News of forgiveness of sins through faith in Christ in order to counter the Bad News of sin and this fallen world into which all are born. Jones wonderfully writes near the end, “So the gospel is all about God’s work: the forgiveness of our sins and a future life resurrected with him.” Amen!

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