IO 79: Worldview Gridlock

by Dr. Peter Jones on June 9, 2011

Freeway traffic gridlock with an exit sign showing the destination 'Two-ism'

Illustration modified from Flickr image. Used under Creative Commons license. Contact truthXchange for attribution.

At truthXchange we are sometimes accused of being reductionistic by limiting all worldview options to only two: One-ism or Two-ism. I admit that this approach could seem overly simple, but the Bible is finally very simple. There are not 365 different ways to relate to the world. According to the apostle Paul there are only two. He says with clarity and simplicity in Romans 1:25 that you either worship creation (One-ism) or you worship the Creator (Two-ism). Support for this approach comes from odd places.

I recently wrote a book arguing my case: One or Two: Seeing A World of Difference (2010). Then I discovered two older books with similar titles, plus a book with an intriguing term I hadn’t heard before:

Cover of "The Two and the One" by Marcus EliadeThe Two and the One (London: Havill Press, 1962) was written fifty years ago by Mircea Eliade, the world-famous expert in the history of religions and editor of the massive Encyclopedia of Religion. Eliade sees in the myths and symbols of the world’s religions two fundamental concepts—that of “polarity [or distinctions, Two-ism] and the coincidentia oppositorum [the joining of the opposites, One-ism]” (206).

Cover of "Two Be One" by Ernest SteedTwo Be One (Plainfield, NJ: Logos International, 1978) was written by a world-traveler, Ernest Steed, who in his research sought to show how every non-biblical religion has as its goal “Oneness,” joining the opposites to domesticate and relativize evil.

Cover of "American Veda: How Indian Spirituality Changed The West" by Philip GoldbergThe odd term is Advaita, a Hindu term mentioned by Philip Goldberg, American Veda: How Indian Spirituality Changed the West (New York: Harmony Books, 2010). Goldberg shows that Western culture is becoming Hindu and that the defining term of this spirituality is Advaita, which means  “not two.” Goldberg clearly states that Advaita is the affirmation that God and the world are not two.

We have reached worldview gridlock in the once-Christian West. Pagan one-ism affirms that “All is One,” “Not Two”; Biblical two-ism affirms that “All is Two,” and “Not-One.” At this worldview level there is no neutrality. This explains:

  • why there are no debates on many college campuses;
  • why you cannot understand how radicals hold the “crazy” ideas they do;
  • why political discourse seems so polarized;
  • why homosexual behavior, judged wrong throughout the whole of Judeo-Christian history, is now defended as a moral value;
  • why many outside the church and many within, affected by the one-istic, conflict-averse “culture of niceness,” and ignorant of the issues of worldview, now accuse orthodox Christianity of being unloving and judgmental.

Two diametrically opposed, irreconcilable worldviews have locked horns in an epic battle. They both claim to be normative and therefore to define public policy. One-ism, which always sees good and evil as necessary elements of reality, must  join them by integrating and relativizing them.

For instance, ancient pagan accounts of creation perceive the world as emerging from an original chaos of warring gods, good and evil. In the Babylonian “Enuma Elish” myth (18th century BC) the storm-god Marduk fights with and wins over the sea dragon Tiamat, establishing creation. These ancient accounts are a One-ist mythical dramatization of everyday reality, for everywhere in pagan spirituality, the goal of One-ism is the elimination of distinctions by the joining of the opposites of good and evil, in the mystical experience of the conjunctio oppositorum where the real world is rejected as illusion. Since the divine pacification of evil and good is seen as the way life originally emerged, so in human experience our dark and light sides must be “balanced” to produce present human deliverance leading to the coming earthly utopia. This operation, however, turns the real chaos of a genuinely troubled conscience into a false state of “guiltless bliss” and creates a morally bankrupt world where only power rules. Ironically for this peace-loving system, we are back to the warring gods of the original myth, and a frightful dystopia.

In Two-ism, good and evil are never joined.

In Genesis, God speaks creation into existence from His own good will,  unforced by any external, competing power. He makes everything distinct, after its kind,  and calls it “good.” Evil has no part in His creating activity. There is no biblical doctrine of mystical spirituality that integrates good and evil and eliminates all distinctions—whether cultural, sexual or theological—for the sake of humanly devised oneness. In Scripture, evil is resisted, denounced and defeated. The new creation’s “unity in difference” is made possible by God’s genuine, righteous defeat of evil at the cross of Christ, which produces an objective reconciliation between the Lord of Glory and forgiven transformed creatures. Both Creator and creature remain their own “kind,” since God remains Creator and human beings remain creatures. A true utopia is coming, in which evil is forever banished. There will be no more tears, and redeemed creatures will live forever, united to our Savior Jesus.

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