Monday, July 14, 2014

The Pagan Heart of Today's Culture

P&R continues to release great booklets to equip the Church.  In the latest release renowned cultural critic Peter Jones has been enlisted to help explain the evolving worldview of a postChristian, postsecular Western world.  Jones sets out to display “the heart of our culture through a prism of isms”, specifically: postmodernism, Gnosticism, and polytheism.  Jones shows how these three “isms” are “strangely connected” and “help to explain the nature of today’s pagan worldview and its opposition to the truth of the Gospel.” 

Jones begins by giving brief and clear definitions of “modern” and “postmodern” and why he, and others, see our society as moving or even being beyond postmodernism and having moved into a “postsecular” age where metanarratives and absolute truths will once again begin to become prominent.  Jones sees growing discontent with the skeptical empiricism that voices itself in atheistic terminology and argues that atheism will soon be replaced with pantheism.  When the intolerant atheistic argument is replaced by the tolerance of pantheism, “this postsecular mystical search for meaning in the nonrational is to be observed in the return to the modern world of the ancient religious system known as Gnosticism.” 

Jones gives a detailed (for a booklet) look at Gnosticism and leads into a basic discussion of Oneism and Twoism, the topics for which he is well known.  He gives a taste of his arguments in this booklet but the reader is definitely left wanting more.  Jones cites frequently from a wide range of sources so the endnotes section turns into a pretty extensive “To Be Read” list for anyone who finds this work compelling, which should be anyone who reads it!

The new spirituality of our Western world is actually an old spirituality being repackaged and reintroduced.  Gnostic polytheism that seeks to destroy the Creator-creature divide by arguing that all is one is not the least bit new.  It does allow for the ignoring of a being that is Other (and thus anything he might say or require) and encourages a bowing of the knee to the Lord Tolerance—both of which any surface observation of our current culture would recognize as current and growing.

The postmodern destruction of secular rationalism has become the breeding ground of a renewed Gnosticism (seen in everything from academic philosophy to Jungian psychology to nominal Christianity) and the promulgation of Oneism, the worship of the creature.  Jones makes a compelling case as to why he sees this becoming the prevailing view and why the Christian needs to be prepared to address “the pagan heart of today’s culture.”  This is an alarm that needs to be sounded and Jones does it in a manner urgency and confidence befitting a worshiper of a sovereign God.  This is 50 pages worth reading and following up with some more of Jones’ work.  This is another great booklet from a great series.

*I received a review copy of this book from the publisher through Netgalley.