IO 84: Only Two Religions? That Can’t Be True!

by Dr. Peter Jones on November 5, 2011

A neon sign which reads "Come and worship"

We all worship. But do we worship the Creator? Or do we worship some aspect of His creation? (This image is used under the Creative Commons Agreement and can be attributed in its original format to Flickr user lizjones.)

In our multi-cultural, all-is-one, anything-goes world, the distinction between the Truth and the Lie clearly has to go!

The Church must understand the present struggle between the Gospel and the growing, multi-faceted opposition to it in our time. In 1991, returning to the States after seventeen years in France, I was shocked to discover a deeply anti-Christian spiritual movement incubating in America, once the fortress of Christianity in the modern world. Reading voraciously to understand what the spiritual “progressives” were saying, I was driven to a deceptively simple text— Romans 1:25. Here Paul sums up in 25 Greek words the bedrock nature of spiritual conflict, be it in the Garden, in his own time, or, by implication, in ours. In this verse he lays out an irreducible age-old conflict between two opposing world views:

1.      the worship and service of creation;

2.      the worship and service of the Creator.

These two options sum up the whole of reality. A British theologian, Colin Gunton, without reference to Paul, said of the question of origins:

There are, probably, ultimately only two possible answers…that the universe is the result of creation by a free personal agency, or that in some way or other it creates itself.

Logically, these are the only two possible religions, or worldviews, as Paul affirms.

Over-Simplified Reductionism?

I’ve never heard anyone charge Paul with being over-simplified, but some suggest that the terms One-ism and Two-ism are indeed simplistic. Though these terms only bring Paul’s antithesis into focus for today, some say they fail to account for the complexity of reality.

Let me explain.

One-ism:

Worship of creation grants to all created forms the same divine quality. If everything in creation can be worshiped, then everything must share the divine nature. Everything is One.

Two-ism:

Worship of the Creator implies that reality is divided into two types of being, as Paul teaches­—the transcendent, uncreated eternal Creator, and finite creatures. Everything is Two.

There are no other possible religions.

According to Paul, there are only two pure, radically opposed, irreconcilable religious systems. You cannot practice both at the same time!

The truth may be simple, but people are complicated. They hover inconsistently between these two possible worldview trajectories. Satan is the most consistent One-ist. Jesus was the only true Two-ist.

But, you will say, What about Two-ist Jews and Muslims? Alas, anyone who denies the personal Trinitarian Creator becomes a practical One-ist, worshiping an impersonal, unknowable singularity. This leads to various forms of spiritual One-ism, such as Jewish Kabbalah and Islamic Sufism, where the adherents, hungry for love, turn to “the god within.”

Atheists are materialistic One-ists, who reject the transcendent Lord, and “worship” a universe that takes care of itself.

Even evangelical Christians unwittingly embrace various One-ist spiritual techniques. Rick Warren endorses “Centering Prayer,” a practice that the Jewish Hindu, Philip Goldberg (author of the must-read American Veda) characterizes as “the highest level of Indian spirituality.” Richard Rohr collaborates with non-dual shamans, zen-Buddhists, Sufis and Kabbalists, while not so unwittingly teaching non-dual/One-ist spirituality to evangelical Christians across the land.

Some of those evangelicals are becoming One-ists about sexuality. Rohr, in his acceptance of homosexuality as normative, has presided over a wedding ceremony for a lesbian couple. A professor at the evangelical Messiah College, Jenell Williams Paris, in her book, The End of Sexual Identity (IVP, 2010; see my review on Amazon) prefers the One-ist description of sexuality of the depraved Alfred Kinsey as a “continuum of five elements,” because it does justice to “sexual fluidity” and to “sex as a spectrum.” The Two-ist sexual binary of Genesis 1:27 is gone.

The self-identified evangelicals Karl Giverson and Randall Stephens, in the New York Times (October 17, 2011) vilify “The Evangelical Rejection of Reason,” but offer no reasonable theological criteria to explain why they  espouse “secular knowledge,” promote a social gospel, tolerate gay marriage, and reject  the full authority of Scripture. From June 2011 to February 2012, Giverson will have taken his “forward-looking” Evangelical message to the rising Christian generations at Indiana Wesleyan University, Greenville College, Suffolk University, Eastern Nazarene College, Point Loma University, Azusa Pacific University, Hope International University, Westmont College, Seattle Pacific University, and the College of Idaho.

People of God! The Evangelical movement is doomed unless we engage in a bold declaration of the Gospel, based on the Spirit-revealed sanity of Paul’s antithetical categories of only two kinds of worship. The essence of Gospel Truth is not brushing the neighborhood’s autumn leaves “so that they will like us,” but worshiping the Creator who, in the triumphant Two-ist act of Re-creation, transformed the corpse of the Savior into a glorious resurrection body—which is the only hope of the world.

 

Additional Resources:

An Introduction to One-ism and Two-ism by Mark Driscoll at the Exchange Conference

15 Minutes on One-ism and Two-ism by Mark Driscoll

One or Two: Seeing a World of Difference
Cover image of Peter Jones's "One or Two"

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