The author, Charles Upton, began life as a conventional Catholic. In The System of Antichrist, Upton seeks to make explicit the suppositions. The System of Antichrist examines the present religious and cultural scene from the standpoint of traditional metaphysics and critiques the New Charles Upton. The System of Antichrist: Truth and Falsehood in Postmodernism and the New Age. Front Cover · Charles Upton. Sophia Perennis, – Religion – pages.

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Here is an excellent example of why I still think John J.

The System of Antichrist « Sophia Perennis

Reilly has something to say all these years later. This book review is a synthesis of ideas he had been working on for nearly ten years, nicely antixhrist by the links he put in to his earlier work. And also, this paragraph:. Reminds me of this current controversy in the Catholic Church. These ideas haven’t gone away, or even changed very much.

Globalization, the New Age Movement, cbarles postmodernism did not merely arise at about the same time, according to The System of Antichrist. Rather, they are all manifestations of a common impulse, one that is not entirely of human origin.

They are in fact symptoms of the impending end of the world. As is the way with eschatological analysis, much of the book’s argument is best taken metaphorically. However, these are the sort of metaphors you neglect at your peril. The author, Charles Upton, began life as a conventional Catholic.

He experienced the ‘s Counter Culture and subsequent New Age spiritualities, which he now views as pathologies that have been marketed to a mass audience. Eventually, he washed up on the shores of Tradition, and became a Muslim Sufi. Suffice it to say that Antichrits is a curious blend of neoplatonism and comparative religion that was devised in the late 19th century and the first half of the 20th.

Tradition, or corruptions of it, crops up in the most extraordinary ov, from Black Metal music to the writings of Robertson Davies. As a matter of intellectual history, it belongs in the same class as Madame Blavatsky’s Theosophy, Jung’s psychology, and the comparative mythology of Mircea Eliade and Joseph Campbell. Additionally, I think it important to point out that Tradition is also closely related to the reaction against speculative philosophy that we see chadles Heidegger, with the vital difference that Traditionalists find that the Transcendent, rather than Being, is inescapably “thrown” to them.

As we will see, Traditionalists tend to believe that the state of the world is very unsatisfactory, and fated uptob get worse. Wicked Traditionalists not only believe that the world is ending, but are keen to help it along. One of the most puzzling features of this book is the failure to engage directly the esoteric fascism of Julius Evola. Uphon the sense in which Upton uses the term, however, “Tradition” means almost the opposite of world-hating Gnosticism. Anticrist deny the value of the world; Traditionalists see eternal value in the world.

For Tradition, the creation of the world was not a mistake, but an act of divine mercy. Everything in it tells us something about God. These things include the human institutions ordained by God, the most important of which are the world’s revealed religions. This is where Tradition differs from ordinary syncretism. Tradition is a spiritual practice that needs a revealed matrix.

Traditionalists can be Muslims, or Jews, or Christians, or Buddhists, or even shamanists, but they cannot mix and match. These traditional religions, at least according to the Traditionalists, are united by the transcendent object toward which they look. Each represents a revelation of the divine nature; the differences between them can be resolved only eschatologically. The attempt to create a world spirituality, in fact, is one of the satanic counterfeits of these latter days.


Antichrst of its theological points are perfectly orthodox. For one thing, Upton never departs from the principle that eschatology is fundamentally personal. Creation and apocalypse are always present. Antichdist history is only a symbol antichrsit the death of the ego and its replacement by God. In one sense, you are the Antichrist, and in your own latter day antichriist tyrant will be overthrown.

On the other hand, there is no denying that eschatology also has a universal dimension. The book usually works on the assumption that a personal Antichrist will appear in the penultimate stage of world history; several of the world’s religious traditions say as much, and personification facilitates the discussion.

However, Upton reminds us repeatedly that the concept of Antichrist can also be taken to refer to a collectivity, one that has existed as long as Christianity itself.

That collectivity becomes coherent and visible as the end nears. In The System of AntichristUpton seeks to make explicit the suppositions behind that story:.

If you don’t like esoteric metaphysics, this would still be an interesting statement about the history of philosophy. The rejection of the transcendent resulted in materialism, which, like all monisms, is at best incomplete.

By the middle of the 20th century the materialist edifice was riven by skepticism toward scientific and historical knowledge. With the coming of postmodernism, very strange substitutes for metaphysics began to appear.

Upton means much more than this, but this is one way to look at it. The Intellect is the faculty of the mind by which we perceive “self-evident truths. In consequence, emotion became divorced from the truth.

The affective part of human nature was expressed, for a while, as the irrational sentiments of Romanticism. The postmodern declension from Romanticism is emotional numbness, enlivened by atrocity and sinister fascination. There is such a thing as emotional intelligence, and the trajectory of the postmodern world is to stultify it. Postmodernism removes the possibility of romantic heterosexual charlew as a spiritual exercise. Worse yet, it makes God inaccessible. In th civilizations, there is a hierarchy of the religious life: The New Age collapses these layers, so that the uoton element that had been the object of esoteric spirituality is lost.

All that remains is the psychic, meaning both ordinary psychology and the shadowy realm that surrounds the material world but is not necessarily superior to it. The result is people who channel extraterrestrials, or embrace psychological management techniques, or are attracted to some of the less-grounded forms of Pentecostalism.

The forgetting of the distinction between psyche and spirit makes Antichrist’s counterfeit of the spiritual possible. Like Foucault, Upton notes that evolution in modern thought replaced ontological hierarchy with historical development.

In fact, the fallacy that makes all the other New Age fallacies possible is the belief that new Truth that, is truth not already contained by Tradition can come to light in history.

The System of Antichrist: Truth and Falsehood in Postmodernism and the New Age by Charles Upton

Upton’s critique in this regard is not so different from other criticisms of “Process Ot which might be summarized by the principle that God is the best that exists at any given time, not the best that can be. Anti-historicism is central to Systsm.

The school arose in opposition to that other tradition, the one that proceeds from the French Revolution. Tradition denies the possibility of historical progress. It is resolutely anti-Hegelian. Also, largely in response to the uptln postmillennialism of the Theosophical Society, it will have nothing to do with the concept of evolution. Even if new forms of life appeared over time, they were simply the instantiation of preexisting archetypes. The only historical change is decay:.


One could expand at length on the misapprehensions in this book about evolution. The chief one is the common error that the Second Law of Thermodynamics forbids local increases in order. As a corrective, one might refer to Robert Wright’s chzrles non-zero-sum ” model of evolution, which gives a persuasive explanation for why history must be, in some sense, both progressive and teleological. Actually, the idea that evolution may be a process by which “ideal forms” incarnate sytsem not so far off the scientific reservation, according to Simon Conway Morris.

However, even a Platonic approach to evolution requires that higher forms appear with the passage of time. Be this as it may, the point Tradition tries to make is that religious novelty is never for the better.

The System of Antichrist: Truth and Falsehood in Postmodernism and the New Age

This has proven to be the case with the New Age. There is such a thing as a New Age agenda, one with a long pedigree. New Agers suppose that belief in anything beyond the psychic is patriarchic oppression. The major New Age writers usually envisage the end of Christianity, and particularly of the Catholic Church. Upton gives us a selective tour of some of the fashionable New Age belief systems of the past three decades.

Upton does hit the nail on the head by calling the cult of the books a manifestation of “New Age singles culture. Some of these writers have always been obscure and have become only more so with the passage of time. Still, their ideas have permanently affected the popular imagination. It is based on the channeling of the “Seth Material” by Jane Roberts. As you might expect, this is a lengthy revelation that is supposed to come from a supernatural entity named Seth. The resulting doctrine does, at least, accept the existence of a divine absolute.

The problem is that the absolute is so absolute that God does not even know this world exists. Sysrem was previously unfamiliar with “A Course in Miracles. Remarkably, “A Course in Miracles” adapts the Many Worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics as the basis of a theory of simultaneous incarnation.

With Both Hands

That is unlikely to be true, but it is very ingenious. Upton is so impressed by the Seth material that he wonders whether it may have been designed to lead astray the metaphysically inclined. He has particularly harsh words for its treatment of the question of whether God is personal: We may use it, but it can make no demands on us. In Christianity, Antichhrist points out, the meaning of the incarnation of the Second Abtichrist is that no one may approach the Godhead except through personality.

There is a larger metaphysical point here that charlex worth a little attention: An abstract idea is merely a selection of common features. Upton’s notion of a transcendent idea, in contrast, sounds like a “phase space. Archetypal ideas are ideas of this order. In Upton’s system, an entity of this sort is just what we mean by a “person.