IT IS TIME FOR CULTURAL APOLOGETICS Pt. 1
Our mail is sometimes discouraging. People who follow TXC often tell us with sadness, that their children have walked away from the faith. This is not unusual. Studies show that a large percentage of Christian Millennials, after the first year in college, abandon the faith of their youth. There are many reasons: the radical thinking of college professors; the cultural marginalizing of orthodox faith making belief “uncool”; mere experientialism typical of modern Evangelicalism no longer has appeal since they can find “religious experiences” in all kinds of alternative spiritual options available today.
Our culture is careening out of control. We in our lawless “good intentions” – ever seeking our godless utopian world – have left out of the social equation the notion of a God-fearing father and mother, personal responsibility, accountability, morality, the Laws of Nature and the fear and reverence of Almighty God the Creator of Heaven and earth. To put it simply and to visualize our current state, we, in our reprobate lawless bent and narcissistic mindset, have sought to put out the culture’s ravishing social fires with ideological gasoline, as the prophet Isaiah said: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” (Isa. 5:20). Is that not simple enough for all to understand? Yet to convey such common sense reality today is to be called insensitive, bigoted, extreme, radical and a host of other slanderous names in an attempt to silence truth and hold onto subjective, godless and lawless delusions (Rom. 1:18-32).
Our rising generation desperately needs to be trained in cultural apologetics, that is, the theological analysis of contemporary culture using terminology that speaks to this new, de-christianized situation. For most of us, the “Christian experience” of our parents is not enough. We need to see how Scripture addresses the whole of reality when faced with a radically pagan culture, like our own has become.
In cultural apologetics, Christianity’s teaching about the nature of the world and the being of God is not merely a sentimental or spiritual preference. Christianity is inextricably tied to a cosmology that fits the deep nature of existence. The apostle Paul takes us to ground-zero with his statement that there only two ways to exist, either worshiping creation or worshiping the Creator (Rom 1:25).
I called the worship of creation Oneism because worshiping creation implies that everything is divine. If that is true, then essentially everything is the same and, ultimately, there are no distinctions. This is the essence of paganism and polytheism, but also of atheism. You could call this worldview a homocosmology. (All Is One)
If, on the other hand, you worship the Creator, you have understood that there are two essential realities in existence—the reality of God the Creator and the reality of everything else, which is fundamentally different from God because it is created. You could call this worldview a heterocosmology. (All Is Two)
I came to cultural apologetics through culture shock. I needed to understand what had happened to the culture. For 18 years I taught theology in secular “godless” France. When I returned, I wrote my first book in English: The Gnostic Empire Strikes Back: An Old Heresy for the New Age (1992), arguing that the New Age Movement was not a weird sect but a major apostasy that would change the very soul of the culture. This once Western “Christian” culture has returned to ancient but new-look “religious paganism,” going from a form of Twoism towards radical Oneism.
In biblical terminology, the equivalent of Twoism is “holiness,” not to be confused with “wholeness.” Behind these two English words are two unrelated Greek words—hagios and holos. In the Bible, the Greek term hagios translates the Hebrew term, qodesh from the verb, qod, “to divide.” Things that are holy, like “holy ground” (Ex 3:5) or the Sabbath day, are separate, set apart. God “blessed the seventh day and made it holy” (Gen 2:3). To “sanctify” something is to dedicate that thing to God’s possession “as something exclusively belonging to him.” This term is supremely applied to God as separate from his creation.
On the other hand, in Greek, holos is translated as “whole” or [w]holistic, from which we get “catholic.” “Kat’ holos” means “according to the whole, or “universal.” Holos thus means “whole,” “complete,” “full.” Nothing is set apart, as in “holiness.” Everything is included.
In this sense they are opposite in meaning. Behind these two words, wholly and holy, so close in sound, is a world of difference, indeed, two antithetical worldviews, Oneism and Twoism. They just sound similar but the etymology that ties them together is false.
By holistic, modern spirituality means what Jung taught about the joining of the opposites. An ex-Jungian academic correctly shows that Jungian “holism” constitutes a rejection of the moral order. He states: “For Jung good and evil evolved into two equal, balanced, cosmic principles that belong together in one overarching synthesis.” The pagan joining of the opposites is what progressive spiritualists mean by “wholeness,” the holistic joining of the dark and the light side.
How interesting that via these different terms of “holy” and “holism” we come back to our starting point, the fact of only two religions, Oneism or Twoism. Oneism is a form of spiritual holism where everything is included—including God. Twoism is the very essence of holiness, where things are not confused but have their special, God-ordained distinct places. The two terms could not be more different.
As we look for a meaningful response to our contemporary world that explains everything from a Oneist perspective, we have a compelling cosmology of holiness, that is, the biblical vision of an ordered, God-created cosmos. As I suggested, this is the biblical way of speaking about cultural apologetics. We will examine three related topics:
1. a holy God;
2. A holy universe;
3. a holy people
To be Continued…
 Stauffer, Hagios, 89.
 Stauffer, Hagios, 91.