Results tagged “paganism” from Reformation21 Blog

Rebirth of the Gods: The Sexual Revolution

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The presupposition of our world right now is that we create our own identities and our own values. Therefore, if you make a statement of judgment, that's seen as a personal attack. It's a very delicate place to be as a Christian; if we make any kind of statements, we are dismissed as being hate-filled.

Behind all this is the attack on the binary. Stanford University offers a course entitled "Destroying Dichotomies: Exploring Multiple Sex, Gender and Sexual Identities." Two lesbians write an article, "Can We Put an End to the Gender Binary?" This is, of course, the notion that is currently driving our culture in terms of sexuality. A short time ago, a public school department in Texas sent a message to its schoolteachers, telling them they must no longer refer to children as boys and girls. What's going on here? It's the abolition of the binary. And so our culture, which was based on the binary--God creating the world separate from himself and putting distinctions within his creation--is now under massive attack in a deliberate attempt to get rid of any notion of distinction...in order that we can never again remember God as distinct from us.

People like Hugh Hefner and Alfred Kinsey concurrently attempted to destroy the binary by changing how we view sexuality. At the time of his Hefner's death, his son described his father's achievement thusly: "My father was a leading voice, advocating free speech, civil rights and sexual freedom." Piers Morgan, after being invited to an event at the Playboy Mansion, said "It was the nearest thing to a Caligula-style Roman orgy I have ever experienced."1 We're back to Rome. We're back to the Roman orgies and that's seen as good. It's viewed as sexual liberty, and that's what the culture now looks forward to.

I met a brilliant German intellectual named Gabriele Kuby during a trip to Korea in 2017. Kuby, a radical feminist and atheists during the 1960s, helped bring about the so-called Sexual Revolution. But then she became a Christian. Kuby argues in her book, The Global Sexual Revolution, that this movement started with a student rebellion and is now a revolutionary cultural agenda of the world's power elites that rejects any standards of sexual morality as it attempts to create a new human being. It is aimed at a person's innermost moral structure. A person who is sexualized from childhood is taught that it is right to live out all of your instincts without reflection, and that it is wrong for you to set boundaries for those instincts.

When I was a student during the 1960s, I noticed the liberation of heterosexuality. But now we're seeing the liberation of homosexuality, which offers a brilliant way of proposing and encouraging one-ism. Because everything is basically the same, we cannot and should not make clear gender distinctions. Morally, you cannot say that one is better than the other.

The whole revolution of non-binary thinking has received a powerful expression through this homosexual movement. In 1970, most of us didn't know that the Gay Revolution Party Manifesto said, "The Gay Revolution will produce a world in which all social and sensual relationships will be gay, and in which homo and heterosexuality will be incomprehensible terms." And we are moving now, are we not, into this time of a gender-free society, with sex any way you want to practice it? Queer theory insists that all sexual behaviors and identities and all categories are normative. It insists that "deviate sexualities" are just social constructs, and the idea of sexuality as an essential, biological, and eternally-objective category is wrong.

This is the world in which we are to proclaim the gospel. These are the ways that our eternal foe is changing the way we think about existence. And it has led to a surprising development: we have begun to enter into what some intellectuals describe as a "post-secular" world. We've gone beyond two extremisms--the extremisms of theism and atheism. According to our philosophers, we don't want extremism, so there's only one middle ground where we can land: pantheism.

This view of existence is now being proclaimed as the coming together of secular humanism and religious paganism. I recommend Richard Tarnas's The Passion of the Western Mind. Tarnas talks about a new synthesis: the union of atheistic humanism and spirituality. The latter includes platonic and pre-Socratic philosophy, hermeticism, mythology, the mystery religions, Buddhism, Hinduism, Gnosticism and the major esoteric religions, and neolithic European and Native American spiritual traditions. All of this is gathering now on the intellectual stage, in Tarnas's view, as if for some kind of climactic synthesis. The intelligentsia--who once rejected all these kinds of approaches as simplistic and not worthy of the human mind--are now adopting these spiritual methods as a means of putting our world back together again. As Tarnas observes, "The deep passion of the Western mind has been to reunite with the ground of its being; that is the birthing womb of Mother Nature."

The elevation of Mother Nature: that is the great synthesis where anti-Christian, anti-biblical thinking plans to arrive. Recall Melanie Phillips: "The attack on Western civilization, at its most profound level, is an attack on the creed that lies at the very foundation of that civilization." Coming from a Jewish woman, Phillips's next words are astounding: "That creed that must be eliminated is that of the first line of the Apostles Creed: 'I believe in God the Father Almighty, the Maker of Heaven and Earth.'"

1. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4929898/PIERS-MORGAN-Hef-King-Sex-champion-freedom.html


Dr. Peter Jones is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and is the Executive Director of truthXchange. He is the author of One or Two: Seeing a World of Difference

*This is the third post in a series on new paganism

Rebirth of the Gods: The Normalization of Pagan Spirituality

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We used to talk about the New Age. When I first began to think about how a worldview can shape culture, New Age was all the rage. Now noone even mentions New Age. So it must have failed, right? Actually, quite the opposite: it became normal. That phrase "spiritual but not religious" is just one indication that people have accepted the paganism which New Age tried to establish.

During the 1990s, First Lady Hillary Clinton took on an advisor by the name of Jean Houston. Jean Houston is a brilliant thinker, but she's also a medium and very much a child of the New Age.1 Houston said in 1995, "At this time, we are living in state of both breakdown and breakthrough: a whole system transition requiring a new alignment that only myth can bring." And the myth that she proposed was in the book that she published that very year, The Passion of Isis and Osiris.2 Houston assured readers that they were living in mythic times, and that they could communicate with those mythic beings remembered as Isis and Osiris. That vision of the future, based on ancient myths, can be clearly seen in the reconstruction of our culture. Some of the powerful people in this movement talk about a new humanism, a new cosmology, a great work that we have to produce. And many of those people find themselves in the United Nations.

There has been some serious work done on this subject, including two important books recognized by anthropologists as essential to understanding who we are. The first one is Colin Campbell's The Easternization of the West: A Thematic Account of Cultural Change in the Modern Era.3 Many sociologists endorse this book as a plausible case. Campbell himself says that, "Easternization is currently occurring in the West...quite unlike anything previously experienced." He continues, "And what has been lost is faith in Christianity and the power of reason." That's very interesting; Christianity and secular humanism are both victims of this turn toward Eastern spirituality.

The second book was written by Phillip Goldberg, a western Jewish convert to Hinduism. His book is entitled American Veda: From Emerson and the Beatles to Yoga and Meditation--How Indian Spirituality Changed the West.4He says "We are all Hindus now." And also, "America is engaged in a reconfiguring of the sacred, based on Hinduism--a reconfiguration Goldberg says is "comparable in power to the Christian great awakenings of the 18th century."

In perhaps the most luminous verses in the Bible, the apostle Paul tells us about this kind of paganism: "they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever!" (Rom. 1:25). In an incredibly insightful statement, Paul actually says there are only two ways to be a human being: you either worship creation in a thousand different ways, or you worship the Creator who is blessed forever. That statement, uttered in the first century, has always been true, and it's certainly true today. Some might say, "Oh, these are such complicated issues. There are hundreds of different ways to worship God." No, there are only two ways: you either (1) worship creation in hundreds of different ways, or (2) you worship God, the Creator who is distinct from us.

To make this simple, I came up with two phrases: "one-ism" and "two-ism." The Bible is basically simple. One-ism stems from the worship of nature, which only sees nature as reality. Everything in nature is united together and worshiped as ultimate. Thus, everything is the same. The view that "all is one" comes from this perspective. In this way, one-ism becomes the great solution to all our problems, actually. Its approach is as follows: "We're divided, we must bring people together." To do that, of course, we must get rid of distinctions. And so one-ism tries to obliterate all distinctions, and any notion, of the binary.

What does binary mean? It means distinctions. It means "two-ism." And, of course, that's what worshiping the Creator actually requires. If there is not only nature but also the Creator of nature, there are two kinds of reality. This is the essence of the Christian faith, and it's the very first line of the Bible: "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth" (Gen. 1:1). In other words, there is God, the Creator, and then there's everything else: creation. That makes two kinds of existence, right? And these two--God and creation--cannot and must not be confused. This is exactly what happens in paganism, where God is brought into the creation as simply that sort of power that is inside everything and everyone. Christianity's two-ism, you see, is in direct opposition to what we see today in our culture, which is the determination to destroy the binary in all its forms.

This determination to eradicate the binary is prevalent in non-Christian spirituality. I once came across a lecture by Andrew Cohen, another formerly-Jewish Hindu. Cohen asked, "Why is it important that there is only one, not two?" I was surprised to hear this, since I had just published my book One or Two: Seeing a World of Difference5 (a book he should have read). "All our problems stem," he said, "from those who believe in duality." He concluded that the discovery that there is only one, not two, is the solution to all our problems. Even more fascinating was Phillip Goldberg's statement in American Veda: "Americans are now buying a fundamental notion of Hinduism which is known in Sanskrit as Advaita." To my great surprise, I discovered that Advaita means "not two." Hinduism, which has come into our world with such power, carries the message, "Not two; everything is one." And that kind of spirituality is driving so many ideas, even within our churches, causing us to quickly change the way we look at existence in terms of the being of God and the nature of ourselves as human beings. We want to cram everything into one.

In the next post in this short series, we will give consideration to how shifting world-views have impacted sexuality in American culture. 

 

1. In her role as a medium, Houston at that time purportedly got Hillary Clinton involved in some kind of relationship with Eleanor Roosevelt. A disclaimer: the newspapers said it was an instance of two brilliant women simply talking about Eleanor Roosevelt.

2 In Egyptian mythology, Isis is the goddess of the magic, fertility, motherhood, death and healing while Osiris is the god of the afterlife and the underworld.


*This is the second post in a series by Dr. Peter Jones.

Rebirth of the Gods

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When I moved to the United States from Great Britain in 1964, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. America seemed so Christian then. The only dark blot on the landscape was that people feared the rise of Marxism throughout the world. Communism was the great threat, the political expression of what we call "atheistic humanism."

Two years after I had arrived in America to study theology, I was asked to be part of a seminar on the "Death of God" movement. Some time ago, there was a group of so-called theologians describing the death of God, and it was taken seriously enough to be part of a seminar in a theological school. The whole point was (as expressed by one of its leading theologians, T.J.J. Altizer) that God had so completely incarnated himself in the world by the act of dying on the cross that he liberated man from any alien transcendent divine power. As we sat around, my professor and the students were convinced that this was clearly an indication that secular humanism was victorious--that it was going to overtake the West, and that this was the great opponent of the Christian faith. What we didn't realize was that there was another member of the "Death of God" group by the name of David Miller, who was Professor of Religion at Syracuse University and was actually on the publishing committee for the Society of Biblical Literature. This man had a powerful role in determining what was published on the Bible.

David Miller actually published a book in 1974 (which I discovered much later), entitled The New Polytheism.1 In that book, Miller gave this prediction: at the death of God, we will see the rebirth of the gods and goddesses of ancient Greece and Rome. It was a confusing prediction: the rebirth of the gods? What does that mean? Miller seemed to know something about the so-called great achievement of secular humanism that nobody else did.2 What Miller had understood was that the death of God was not the death of the notion of the divine; it was the death of the God of the Bible (as Altizer had said, any alien transcendent divine power). You see, that's what people don't want; they don't want the God who is transcendent, sovereign, and independent of us, and so that God has to be killed. Since that time, in their minds, this God has been slowly put to death.

The Demise of Secular Humanism and Postmodernism

We have seen how Christianity has diminished in its cultural influence, but what's surprising now is the demise of secular humanism. Secular humanism is pulling back, losing power. And in its place we see what you might call the rebirth of pagan beliefs. The death of secular humanism occurred after a whole series of events. Humanism promised that by reason-- by man's brilliant thinking--we would save the world. But then we saw two world wars and the destruction of millions of people via the so-called secular humanists, men like Stalin, Pol Pot, etc. And people began feel alone, facing a world without any kind of spirituality.

Many intellectuals of the 19th and early 20th centuries predicted that expressions of religion would finally disappear. Karl Marx considered man the supreme deity and religion "the opiate of the masses." Friedrich Nietzsche said "God is dead... and we have killed him." Freud, in his book, The Future of an Illusion, spoke of religion as a mass delusion or collective neurosis from which we needed healing--a kind of mental illness. "Secular humanism is bound to take over," they reasoned as a group.

That was the prediction, but not the reality. Secular humanism failed because of all the problems that it brought us. Many factors contributed to its destruction. One of the things that has been destroying secular humanism is postmodernism. Postmodernism uses reason to critique the use of reason by the secular humanists. The problem with that is that it is impossible to think rationally, and there are no objective explanations of existence. That meant the death of postmodernism as well; after all, why should we believe the rational analysis of these postmodernists who are claiming there is no such thing as rational analysis?

We have seen the death of secular humanism and even postmodernism. But what about the transformation in our culture that was predicted by David Miller--the inroads of the gods and goddesses of ancient Greece and Rome? Miller probably should have added the gods of the East as well, because that's really what we have seen. If a picture's worth a thousand words, we can learn a lot from a picture posted by the Huffington Post in 2016: that of twenty Canadian policemen, in formal dress, sitting on prayer stools in a Buddhist temple.3 This was organized, I guess, by the chief of this group of policemen, who had these policemen practicing mindful meditation from Buddhist philosophy. The photograph offered an interesting juxtaposition between traditional Western values for law and order, and a wholly different worldview of Buddhism.

How does this take place? Our culture has changed in ways we were not expecting. Our culture is not a secular humanist success, but is in fact deeply spiritual. You know the phrase, "I'm spiritual, but not religious?' That is a useful description of where we are now as a culture. People want spirituality; they don't want secular humanism. Something odd has happened to make this possible. Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, the former hippie-radical-intellectual, made an incredible statement about the 1960s revolution towards the end of her life. She said, "Within a remarkably brief period, a cataclysmic transformation of the very nature of our society took place." As this "cataclysmic transformation" took place, we saw the reemergence of ancient paganism in the West. Another observer, journalist Melanie Phillips, saw the same thing. The real agenda of what she calls the "attack on Western civilization" has been the use of sexuality as a battering ram, destroying the fundamental tenets of Western culture and replacing them with a new type of society altogether. Included in these tenets are all those Christian notions of who God is.

In the forthcoming posts in this series, we will turn our attention to consider the shifts that have occurred in American culture--specifically with regard to two overarching categories, spirituality and sexuality.


1. David Leroy Miller and James Hillman, The New Polytheism (Thompson, CT, Spring Publications, 1981).

2. As it turns out, Miller was a close friend of Carl Jung, and actually taught in the various Jungian foundations.

3. See Mohamd Omar, "Meanwhile in Canada, Peel Regional Officers Meditate in a Temple," Huffington Post, April 14, 2016.


Dr. Peter Jones is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and is the Executive Director of truthXchange. He is the author of One or Two: Seeing a World of Difference

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