Earlier today I was listening to an episode of the Isaac Morehouse Podcast where Isaac interviews David Gornoski, a scholar of René Girard’s mimetic theory. In it, he explains current events in terms of each person’s desire to mimic the models & patterns they see in other people in order to derive the value that those people have. He goes on to explain how this mimetic process, when crossed with violence and revenge, can escalate society into a state of rivalry and war. To end this cycle, he argues, a scapegoat is required–a person, group, or thing on which society can blame its ills.
He notes that Christ is the most groundbreaking scapegoat in all of human history: a blameless man who carries the blame of the world. In his view, Christ’s work in life and death is central to the narrative of western civilization, but only for his participation in the cultural patterns of mimetic theory and the scapegoating process. There is no mention of man’s condition, except to say that rivalries are part of a natural cycle of human behavior. There is no mention of who Christ is, but only a number of anecdotes about how radical and non-violent his actions were in his time on earth–how great of an example he was. There is no mention of what kind of work Christ did on the cross, but only how it put culture’s guilty minds at ease. Real sin, justice, and salvation are not explored here, but only used as props in a grand unified theory of everything that is much younger than the Christian scriptures.
I have also seen this pattern of exploration in Carl Jung, Jordan Peterson and others. Like an asymptote, their thinking seems to grow ever closer to the Gospel without touching it. It’s as if Christ sacrificing himself to save his children from their sin was too simple…too on the nose. A supernatural work is required to finally bridge the gap.