Message 3, Paganism in Today’s Culture:
Many consider paganism a dead religion that was practiced thousands of years ago. However, paganism’s ideas still affect us today. In this session, Dr. Peter Jones describes how paganism continues to be a force in today’s culture. He points out places where pagan thought affects the world’s way of thinking, and he describes how Christians can guard against that influence. He also explains ways that Christians can renew their minds and live as children of God among a twisted generation.
My subject really is, in what kind of a world today are we called to Christian witness? And I call the world in which we live today a pagan world. I have a thesis, it goes like this, that the rising generation, the millennial generation is the first generation of our modern era to receive a fully developed neo-Pagan cosmology masquerading as the correct view of history and demanding to be inscribed in public policy.
It is, indeed, a well-worked out cosmology that is a worldview about the nature of existence, and it is thoroughly Pagan, and I have produced these materials, and the point of my lecture as well, is really to try to describe to millennials that the culture in which they now live, in which they were born, came from somewhere. It’s not neutral. It is being affected by profoundly anti-Christian notions passed off as the truth.
But, I think for Christians generally, not just for millennials, we need to know exactly what that thinking is, and just to give you a flavor of the kind of thinking that has taken hold in the West in recent years, I want to cite a statement by Jeremy Rifkin, who in 1983 declared this, you will be amazed, “We no longer feel ourselves to be guests in someone else’s home, and therefore obliged to make our behavior conform with a set of pre-existing cosmic rules.
It is our creation now, we make the rules, we establish the parameters of reality, we create the world and because we do, we no longer feel beholden to outside forces. We no longer have to justify our behavior, for we are now the architects of the universe. We are responsible for nothing outside ourselves, for we are the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever and ever.” That man is an important thinker in the European Union since 2002. He establishes, really, the way the present culture thinks.
And, I felt that last week we got on primetime television a clear statement that this notion of the way we put the world together was given on CNN by the anchor, Chris Cuomo, who programmatically stated last week, “Our rights do not come from God, they come from man.” This is the culture on primetime television that our young people are hearing and buying as the truth.
This is the world in which we are called to proclaim the truth of the gospel. And the creation of this cosmology, and I mean by that a coherent, well worked out way of looking at things, has been developed over the last few years. In 1993, the magazine, ‘The Nation’ said this, “If the gay rights cause,” — that’s 22 years ago — “a small and despised sexual minority is to survive and eventually succeed, it will need to invent for itself a complete cosmology.”
And I think we have watched down the recent period of our own history the development of that cosmology, and maybe the success of this way of thinking is because the Christian cosmology has dissipated in the minds of people in the West, because we have gone through a period where people no longer believe the Bible. They no longer believe that what we say is true. There’s a long history to this.
For most of western history, Christianity dominated, and God the Father was the fundamental notion of who God was, but then we had the attack of secular humanism which brought about its own, in its own way a decline of Christianity where man is God, where the reason of man is the only source of truth, and that lasted form really, if you want to give it dates 1789-1989, namely the fall of the Bastille in Paris, and the French Revolution and then the bringing down of the wall in East Berlin in the seven, in 1989.
That two-hundred year period represents the high point, really, of secular humanism. I think it’s important that we as Christians understand these long traditions because they affect the way we still think, and there are many people today, especially in universities at the professorial level who still believe in secular humanism.
But, the strangest thing happened — at the end of the nineteenth century and during the beginning of the twentieth century, while these secular humanists with their hubris were predicting the end of religion, and indeed, you remember Marx said it was the opiate of the people, Young said it was a psychological disability from which you needed healing.
In our time, oddly enough, we are seeing the decline of secular humanism. It is no longer in a certain sense the massive tool of the devil to attack Christian truth, because what is arising to replace it is a belief not in God the Father, but a belief in the return of the divine mother. That is to say, a rejection of this rationalism of the secular humanists to an irrationalism based on ancient Pagan myths. Who on earth would have imagined that this proud, sophisticated culture based on reason would now be seduced by the pagan myth?
I believe that’s where we are today. For many, many people, turning away from the so-called optimism of atheist and secular humanism, pure materialism looking for spirituality somewhere, and they heard the critique of post-modernism that founded secular humanism was totally circular, that it believed that its reason was true, but had no way pf proving it except by assuming that its reason was true, which is circular.
And so, it came with the critique of post-modernism itself needing to make a rational statement that there is no such thing as a rational statement. There’s no such thing as truth. You see, we can’t get out of this world that God has created where we need to say true things. But, those kinds of effects produced and are producing the decline of this atheistic, secular humanism.
In its place, and I never expected to see this. When I came to America, I thought I came to the promised land. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven, and one of the reasons was, ministers could play golf for free on Mondays. For a European, that was really a miracle. But, I came in ‘64 on a different plane from that of the Beatles in the two senses of that term, ‘plane.’
And I discovered a culture that was so thoroughly Christian. I never in my wildest dreams imagined that this very center of the Christian faith is sending out missionaries to the ends of the earth, would become a creation of a toxic, pagan idea in this very same place, and it made me go through culture shock when I returned to the states in ‘91 and began writing some of the books of which I speak.
I mention this book that’s just come out 10 minutes ago and the video that Ligonier produced a few months ago, and they both belong together, so if you’re interested in those — but, I’ve written quite a number of books because I went through culture shock trying to figure out what had happened between 1964 when I came to the states and then when I came back in ‘91.
America was still a very religious culture, but it was changing religion, and the religion that I believe is now at the basis of what I call this pagan cosmology, is pagan Romanticism, the worship of nature, and there’s a whole chapter in this book where I try to put my finger specifically on one important influencer by the name of Carl Jung.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, he with Freud basically invented psychology, but I believe Jung succeeded because he believed in spirituality, and he was very critical, really, of secular humanism. He wanted a place for spirituality, but it wasn’t the spirituality of the Bible even though he was raised in a Lutheran home. His father was a Lutheran pastor.
And, he had this vision at the beginning of the twentieth century of a new humanism, and it was based on pagan myths. He was an expert in alchemy, Gnosticism, Hinduism, and his goal was to eliminate from the West the very notion of guilt, and he realized that in these pagan myths, and in the eastern world, there is no such thing as guilt.
And the reason is because in these pagan systems, you’re able to see the opposites that conflict and join them yourself, a total revitalization of good and evil where you bring what you think is good and evil, and you join them together, you transcend them, and you are a valid mature human being. And, that was the basis of Jungian psychology, and he called on people to develop their sense of the unconscious and of the fantasies that our subconscious develops. Does this sound modern to you?
As we flock to see ‘50 Shades of Grey,’ the fantasies that we accept now as truth where a man 6‘4” with hairy arms can go and use a woman’s bathroom because they’re now convinced they’re women?
I tell you, we are in the world of fantasy where we’ve left the very solid notions of the biblical world, and of course all that is surrounded by enticing notions of pagan spirituality and mysticism of the paranormal world. Indeed, Jung was involved in the occult, and he proposed liberation for human beings on the basis of the liberation of spirituality through Paganism and through free sex.
Now, you may doubt that my finger in Jung is correct, but I was fascinated to find a biographer of this important figure, a secular Harvard researcher by the name of Richard Noll who produced two books on Jung, and as an intellectual he tried to place Jung in the context in the whole of western culture, and in the foreword to his book he says, “I looked around to find a figure of equal importance to Jung in the history of western thinking.” And his finger fell on Julian the Apostate who in AD 358, he was the nephew of Constantine, you remember the Roman emperor who had converted to Christianity?
This man had been raised in a Christian home, but when he became emperor, he tried to turn the empire back to the worship of Isis, the goddess of magic and the underworld, the worship of nature. He failed. It is said that on his death bed, he uttered the words, “You have conquered Galilean.” He couldn’t beat Jesus, but this man Noll, Richard Noll, says we need to compare Jung to this man, Julian the Apostate, because Jung has succeeded where Julian failed.
Julian tried to turn the Christian world back to Paganism, Jung has succeeded. He says the patriarchal monotheism of Orthodox Judeo-Christian faith has all but collapsed, and filling the void we find Protestant Catholics and Jews adopting alternate syncretistic systems that often belie a basis in Jungian psychological theories.
When I came to the states as a student in 1964, in ‘66, ‘67, at a Christian seminary, we were required to study this movement called ‘The Death of God.’ Some of you may remember the period in time where that became all the rage. And as we studied these theologians who talked about the death of God that man no longer needed God anymore, he’d come of age, we interpreted this as the success of secular humanism and that from then on, you know, there’d be less and less of spirituality in western culture because of the death of God.
But, there was one of these theologians by the name of David Miller, a death of God theologian, who I found later wrote a book in 1974 entitled, ‘The New Polytheism’ and here’s what he said, “That the death of God …” — and it was actually — I didn’t realize this — it was actually the death of the God of the Bible of which they were speaking, and this man made it clear, and he was by the way, a Jungian scholar. “That the death of God freed the West of the tyrannical imperialism of monotheism.”
And then he said, “At the death of God, we will see the rebirth of the gods and goddesses of ancient Greece and Rome.” Isn’t that amazing? In 1974, this man was mapping out the future, and the reason why he knew it was because he was a Jungian scholar and realized the power of Jung’s interpretation of the whole approach of psychology to get us in touch with the inner gods.
Now, I told you when I came to the states in ‘64 and discovered Christian America, I never thought America would ever be called Hindu, but I’ve been reading books these days that make a very strong case that this has become the case. Phillip Goldberg, ‘American Veda: From Emerson and the Beatles to Yoga and Meditation and How Indian Spirituality Changed the West,’ a book that appeared in 2009, recognizes how eastern, how Hindu we have become. Newsweek stated, “We are all Hindus now.”
As we all use these Eastern terms like ‘mantra’ and practice yoga, and this man, Phillip Goldberg, said that the identity or the notion that America is now adopting is the Hindu notion of Advaita. A-D-V-A-I-T-A, Advaita, and to my surprise, I discovered what it meant, not to.
I just produced a book entitled, “One or Two,” and what I’m trying to say in that book was that there are only two religions. One religion emphasizes that all is one, and then the Biblical religion that says all is two, that there is the creation and then separate from the creation is the creator which makes two kinds of existence.
So, all is not one, all is two. So here we have this Hindu term now being plastered throughout the nation that all is one, and not two. That’s a fundamental, anti-Christian notion, do you understand that? This is the world in which we are called upon, you see, to preach the gospel in our time. And this change Phillip Goldberg describes, “This way America is engaged in reconfiguring the sacred comparable to the great awakenings of the eighteenth century.” Oh, what a change though? What a spiritual revival in reverse.
Well, you may wonder if what I’m saying really is the case. How much is this affecting us? Well, I happen to know that this kind of vision has reached high places of power. In the 90’s, Gene Houston, a channeler, whom I have heard lecturing a brilliant woman, was the spiritual counselor and channeler for Hillary Clinton to get in touch with the spirit of Elanor Roosevelt. And during that period, Gene Houston produced a book, the same time that she was in the corridors of power in the White House, came out her book entitled ‘The Passion of Isis and Osiris,’ and so in a certain sense you could say indeed, Jung succeeded.
Julian failed in turning the world back to Isis, but now Jung has succeeded and we see it in this book.
We are in the presence then, of a cosmology, of a worldview that is committed to the destruction of a Christian worldview by supposedly proposing something even superior. It is all-embracing, I call it one-ism, just to be simple. I have a simple mind, and I find lots of other people do as well, and so we get along fine.
There are only two religions I would argue. There’s the religion of one-ism or the religion of two-ism. In one-ism, everything is one, there are real no distinctions, everything is made of the same stuff, matter is eternal, and it has this spark of divinity within it.
So, we can worship it. So, that’s the basis of nature worship, there’s no category for sin, because think of a circle, everything is within the circle, rocks, trees, good and evil, man and God. Everything is one, and so in that circle, we can do whatever we want to. We can invent gender and marriage, we have a tolerance for all religions, all lifestyles, whereas in biblical two-ism, we have the wisdom of God based on his being as totally separate from the things he made. That’s the message of the Bible from the first statement in the Bible, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
Everything else in the Bible from that stage on is pure commentary on that profound truth that God is separate from the creation. I have as proof C.S. Lewis: “To say that God created nature while it brings God and nature into relation also separates them. What makes and what is made must be two, not one.” Anybody who can cite C.S. Lewis must be good.
But you see, that notion of two-ism has dominated in the West, really since the defeat of Julian the Apostate, but now we see this one-ism coming so powerfully into our time, a sort of self-justifying, all-inclusive cosmology clad in liberal pseudo-values of diversity, self-expression, justice, peace, tolerance, equality, self-affirmation, civil rights, equal protection, non-discrimination, personal empowerment, and human flourishing. Who could not buy this new view of existence?
As you can tell, I’ve been following this stuff for some time, and, I was intrigued to read in a book entitled ‘Androgyny Towards a New Theory of Sexuality’ which was published in 1977 by a psychologist named June Singer. Now, she was a personal friend. She was at his bedside as he died, and she wrote in this book calling for a new view of sexuality, namely the joining of the two genders, of male and female which is what androgyny is. And in this book, she seeks to push forward Jung’s vision of a new humanism.
Here’s what she says, “What lies in store as we move towards the long for conjunction of the opposites” — that’s the bringing together of all these different categories into one. “The question is, can the human psyche realize its own creative potential through building its own cosmology and supplying it with its own gods?” There you have it.
You see, immediately these new pagans want to develop not just a personal experience through meditation and individual enlightenment, but to develop a whole worldview that could be applied to the entire culture. In, 2011 I went online to listen to a webinar entitled ‘Beyond Awakening: The Future of Spiritual Practice.’ You might wonder what happened to the new age. Well, the new age has gone mainline, that’s all.
No one uses the term anymore, but you can tell it’s gone mainline because now people say, “I’m spiritual, but I’m not religious.” You’ve heard that phrase many times. You see, the new age has gone cosmic, and this title ‘Beyond Awakening: The Future of Spiritual Practice’ was — featured all the old, new age proponents on this program pushing for future practice, some future vision of the way we could apply this individual experience now to the whole of culture, and one of them, Ken Wilbur, a brilliant philosopher, produced a book entitled ‘A Theory of Everything.’
So, you can see that this intention has been to now develop this coherent view of everything based on this fundamental notion, this principle of one-ism. And we see this at work now, especially in a book that I appreciate, and I’m sure Rosaria will affirm that what I’m saying is true, by a scholar who doesn’t really bring Christianity into his argumentation in his book ‘Gay Is Okay,’ where he talks about a comprehensive rationalization where in this rationalization of the expression of multi-sexuality as Rosaria said, ‘Acceptance is demanded.’ And no other viewpoint is allowed, you’ve noticed that recently.
There’s no debate, we are silenced. This is a deliberate rationalization of something that God does not accept, but we cannot hear the statements that the Bible says, we must rationalize our lives.
Just a few lines from Robert Riley, he says, “The power of rationalization drives the culture war. It may draw it’s energy from desperation, but is all the more powerful for that. Since failed rationalization” — you can’t afford to fail, you see — “means self-recrimination, failure must be avoided at all costs.
This is why the rationalization is animated by such lively sense of self-righteousness and outrage” The accusation of hate speech. “Since the necessity for self-justification requires the complicity of the whole culture, holdouts cannot be tolerated because they are potential rebukes.”
You see, behind this gay agenda is not simply giving civil rights to a few people, and then they’ll go away and be happy, it is actually a whole reconstruction of the way we think about existence. You could tell that if you knew about the statement of the Gay Liberation Manifesto in 1972. Which says, “Equality is never going to be enough. What is needed is a total social revolution, a complete re-ordering of civilization including society’s most basic institution, the patriarchal society.”
That was written in 1972. Now, I would argue that the gay agenda is merely the tip of the spear of an ideology that wants to re-invent the notion of civilization. Now, I understand what my hippy friends in the 60’s meant when they were saying, “Hey ho, what ya know, western civ has got to go.” What did that mean? Now, I understand.
We are in the presence of a cosmology which is an all — put your thinking caps on here, an all-embracing, egalitarian, homo-cosmological sameness, otherwise known as a totalizing one-ism. I’m sure you got all that.
In other words, as this is driven by 1.7% of the population now identified as homosexual, behind it is a massive worldview of egalitarianism or one-ism where every — egalitarianism means everything’s the same, which is exactly what one-ism is. “And so, everything must be deconstructed. Any notion of sexual morality must go, all sex is good.” I’m sure you read a couple of weeks ago about the young girl who is planning to marry her father.
In London, Selfridges, which is a wonderful department store where you can buy anything, now is developing three floors of non-gender identified clothing. Can you imagine trying to find something for yourself? Three floors with no indication of what gender of the clothing is all about, and this is what they say, “It’s a space where clothing is no longer in view with directive gender values, enabling fashion to exist as a purer expression of self.”
You see, we are re-inventing ourselves. It gets worse, really. In Dartmouth last year, students complained about the Dartmouth College administration for its institutional and structural aggression in its racist, classist, sexist, heterosexist, transphobic, xenophobic, and ableist structures all in the name of equality.
That’s the leveling that plans to take place. And, it really, while that’s typical student language, is giving expression to a much deeper movement that I’ve been trying to talk to you about which is a understanding of the world from a deeply pagan notion, and this thinking which has been adopted by some key leaders is expressed by Richard Tarnas’ ‘The Passion of the Western Mind.’ For those of you who like to read books, Richard Tarnas is a brilliant pagan intellectual, an apostate Roman Catholic. I sort of liken him to a Van Til of paganism, so if you like Van Til, read this alternate version.
He talks about a powerful crescendo as many movements gather now on intellectual stage as if for some kind of climatic synthesis, and he believes that the collective psyche is in grips of a powerful archetypal dynamic in which the long alienated modern mind, rationalism, is breaking through out of the contradictions of its birth between two systems to reach hold of pagan Romanticism.
And this is really the agenda, to bring together these rationalist intellectuals with a new form of spirituality, and oddly enough — and I get into this in my book but I cannot get into it now — Carl Jung is seen as the key bridge being accepted as a psychologist and a scientist, but actually his work is based on the occult — he is the key to bringing the atheists and these pagan spiritualists together on the stage for what’s called the post-secular era. Do you hear what I said? I didn’t say the post-Christian era, I didn’t say the post-modern era, I said the post-secular era. That’s what’s being predicted.
So, I would suggest that as the millennial generation and those of you who talk to them need to realize, that what I have seen in my lifetime is not a typical cultural change as generations pass the baton from the old folks to the young, but what has happened is a radical, catastrophic religious change from a two-ist civilization with all its problems, to a militant one-ist civilization. From a Christian to a pagan culture.
I believe we are facing an ideological leviathan, a thoroughly worked out pagan cosmology, and it’s in that context that we need to speak the gospel. So, what do we do? All I can tell you is my hope and prayer. I believe the only answer to a self-justifying, rationalizing, all-inclusive cosmology based on the lie, one-ism, is a robust, convincing, courageous cosmology of the truth, two-ism. Only a discourse at this level will save the millennial generation, and us too, as Christ church on earth. Thank you.