Peter Jones. The Other Worldview: Exposing Christianity’s Greatest Threat. Bellingham, WA: Kirkdale Press, 2015. See here to buy the book.
In The Other Worldview, Peter Jones distinguishes between
two worldviews. He calls one “Twoism,” and the other “Oneism.” Twoism,
which Jones believes, distinguishes between the creator and the
creation. That is why it is called “Twoism”: there are two parties,
creator and creation, and one is separate from the other. Twoism also
honors the distinctions that God made in creation (i.e., male and
Oneism, by contrast, conflates God with creation. This occurs in a
variety of manifestations. According to Jones, paganism treated nature
as divine. Pantheism regards the cosmos as divine. Gnosticism believes
that there is an inner divinity within humans with which they should
get in touch.
Jones contends that Oneism is prevalent today, and he believes that
Oneism is dangerous. For Jones, Oneism promotes narcissism, as people
search for the God within. Oneism has also encouraged the sexual
revolution, according to Jones. It dismisses God’s distinction between
male and female through its acceptance of homosexual sex and
transgenderism. The psychologist Carl Jung, who is particularly
criticized in this book as anti-Christian, did not conform to
traditional Christian views on sexuality (i.e., fidelity within
marriage). Although Oneism speaks highly of social justice, Jones does
not believe that its adherents have the capacity to create a just
Jones does not just criticize Oneism, but he also promotes Twoism,
particularly Christian Twoism. For Jones, Twoism encourages love for
others rather than a narcissistic search for the divine within or a
feeding of one’s fantasies. Twoism worships a being higher than
oneself, gives God thanks, and submits to God in holiness. Twoism hopes
for God’s eschatological renewal of the cosmos.
Jones asserts that there are only two perspectives: Oneism and
Twoism. One either worships the Creator, or one worships the creation
(Romans 1:25), as far as Jones is concerned. Jones also seems to think
that Christianity is the only truly (or fully) Twoist religion, on
account of its belief in the Trinity. For Jones, God loves Godself
within the context of the Trinity and did not create humans out of any
neediness on God’s part, but rather out of love. This God is truly
independent of creation.
Jones does document his claims, or he at least points readers to
resources. He refers to Jung’s writings, Hebrew Bible scholarship about
paganism, and “Oneist” writings.
My main problem with the book is that it paints a picture of a
monolithic threat, when reality is more complex than that. That is the
impression that the book left on me as a reader. Jones, who went to
Harvard and Princeton, is probably aware of complexities and nuances,
but such an awareness was not salient in his book. In effect, Jones
lumped a bunch of people and ideas together, interpreted their beliefs
in a less-than-sympathetic or less-than-empathetic manner, and warned
Christians about this dangerous boogeyman whom he was presenting.
But not all of the people Jones was criticizing are Oneists. The
extreme sentiments of a few radicals on sexuality, even if they are
scholars, does not speak for all supporters of homosexual rights. Not
all (or probably even most) Oneists support narcissism, pornography, or
dehumanization of other people. People can take Oneist thoughts in a
positive direction (i.e., love the other, for the divine is in her,
too), just as one can take Twoist thoughts in negative directions (i.e.,
intolerance, self-flagellation for being a sinner, etc.). How would
Jones feel if a left-wing secularist were to make generalizations about
conservative Christians, painting them as a dangerous movement or a
sinister conspiracy? People have done that, using the sorts of methods
that Jones uses in his portrayal of Oneism. There may be something
valid in both pictures, but neither is entirely accurate, or fair.
Jones’ book would have been better, had there been more
acknowledgment of nuance. Jones could have acknowledged nuance, while
still mounting an effective critique of Oneism.
Moreover, from a scholarly perspective, I would have liked to have
seen more nuance in Jones’ portrayal of ancient Near Eastern paganism.
Jones does well to point to scholarly resources on this, including older
Hebrew Bible scholarship that held that the pagans divinized nature.
Still, ancient Near Eastern paganism did have creation myths, which
leans towards a Twoist model. Jones should have wrestled more with the
extent to which ancient Near Eastern paganism was Oneist, and the extent
to which it was Twoist. I recognize that Jones did not intend this
book to be a scholarly work of Hebrew Bible scholarship, but rather a
popular book. At the same time, some recognition of nuance would have
made the book better.
I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.
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