Make the Younger Generation Good Pagans

Pagan Wheel of the YearI attended a seminar recently on the topic of Paganism. You know… those people who worship Thor, Freya, Odin, and engage in mystical rites out in the woods, usually around a fire. No, they don’t worship Satan. No, they don’t practice black magic.

Today, of course, is Winter Solstice, one of the most religiously significant days of their year. Today is the day when they believe that the dividing wall of separation between men and women and gods and goddesses is the thinnest.

In the seminar, I was shocked at how “Christian” the Pagan belief system really was. Of course,  if you ever told a Pagan this, they would smile and say, “What you mean to say is how Pagan the Christian belief system really is…. Most of Christian theology and practice was stolen from Paganism, after all.”

Though most Christians are shocked to hear it, the Pagans might have a point. In fact, Frank Viola wrote a book about this very thing a few years back (Pagan Christianity?), and I wrote one specifically about the Pagan roots of our Christmas traditions (Christmas Redemption).

But in the seminar I attended (which was taught by a Pagan High Priestess, by the way…), I noted the belief of a creation, of an ongoing battle between good and evil, and of a coming final last battle, in which humans will join in the fight to defeat and vanquish evil from the universe. There was talk of a tree, and getting knowledge from the tree, but at great sacrifice. The similarities go on and on.

C. S. Lewis on Paganism

The reason I bring this up is because of something I read from C. S. Lewis a while back. As he watched the world slide into debauchery and atheism, he believed that while we ultimately want people to accept Christian beliefs about God, Jesus, and the afterlife, it is not easy to lead a person to that point straight from atheism. C. S. Lewis said that before a person can believe in a divine law, they first need to believe in a natural law. The way the world is going, people tend not to believe in any law. Paganism, at least, believes in a natural law, and it is an easy jump from there, says C. S. Lewis, to teach people the divine law as recorded in Scripture and revealed through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

CS Lewis on PaganismI am butchering what C. S. Lewis said. Here is his exact quote:

But… certainly I feel that very grave dangers hang over us. This results from the apostasy of the great part of Europe from the Christian faith. Hence a worse state than the one we were in before we received the Faith. For no one returns from Christianity to the same state he was in before Christianity but into a worse state: the difference between a pagan and an apostate is the difference between an unmarried woman and an adulteress. For faith perfects nature but faith lost corrupts nature. Therefore many men of our time have lost not only the supernatural light but also the natural light which pagans possessed.

But God, who is the God of mercies, even now has not altogether cast off the human race….We must not despair. And (among us) a not inconsiderable number are now returning to the Faith.

So much for the present situation. About remedies to the question is more difficult. For my part I believe we ought to work not only at spreading the Gospel (that certainly) but also at a certain preparation for the Gospel. It is necessary to recall many to the law of nature before we talk about God. For Christ promises forgiveness of sins: but what is that to those who, since they do not know the law of nature, do not know that they have sinned?…Moral relativity is the enemy we have to overcome before we tackle Atheism. I would almost dare to say ‘First let us make the younger generation good pagans and afterwards let us make them Christians’ (Yours, Jack; p. 219).

Any Youth Pastors out there? Try suggesting in your next planning session that you are going to start teaching Paganism to your youth so that they will learn the natural law. See how well that goes over.

But seriously, I think Lewis might be on to something here.

Jesus Walks All Roads

Someone once said (though I do not remember who) that while not all roads lead to Jesus, Jesus walks all roads to lead people to Him.

I think this is true of many of the world’s religions. They do not necessarily lead people to Jesus, but Jesus has no qualms whatsoever about walking into such religions to lead people to Him.

celtic treeI think that the reason there are so many similarities between Christianity and other religions is not because Christianity borrowed or stole from these other religions (though some of that might have happened too), but because the Spirit of God was at work in the hearts and minds of the people who developed these religions to write eternity into their hearts, to foreshadow the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to give men and women a longing for grace that could not be achieved in any other way than through Jesus.

Just as Paul wrote that the Law was given to lead people to Jesus (Gal 3:24), so also, other religions and pagan traditions and ideas about creation and the afterlife and defeating evil were given to lead people to Jesus. I have written about this previously here: Merry Mithras!

Don’t worry. I am not about to start teaching or practicing Paganism.

I will, however, wish you a Happy Winter Solstice: Tomorrow, may the light of God’s love in Jesus Christ shine brighter and longer through your life than it did today. May the Son of God be made flesh again as you love and serve others.



Comments

  1. Josh Quintal says

    This makes sense, it takes time for people to adjust and fully understand the reality of god, beyond the age old, passed down tradition and portrayal of him, in essence they would begin in a religious fundamental understanding, and that’s why it may be hard for more “intellectual” people to get passed that stage, as they do not give the benefit of the doubt, and only seek to point the finger at supposed fallacies, of course on the contrary, there are many who doubt his existence, but then come to a conclusive realistic understanding of his nature which only then make a rational conversion

    • says

      Ironically, many theologians, pastors, and teachers today fail to realize that much of our “traditional” understanding of God came not exactly from Scripture, but from Greek philosophy.

      This doesn’t make it necessarily wrong… but it is something to take into consideration.

      • myallpurposeacct@sbcglobal.net says

        Yes, especially in c. 6, “The Most Reluctant Convert”. Lots of Christians fail to recognize that “presenting the Gospel” to people who didn’t grow up in church has very little chance of getting a positive response, especially for the many people in our culture who have a negative impression of Christianity.

      • Sam says

        Yes, especially in c. 6, “The Most Reluctant Convert”. Lots of Christians fail to recognize that “presenting the Gospel” to people who didn’t grow up in church has very little chance of getting a positive response, especially for the many people in our culture who have a negative impression of Christianity.

  2. says

    If you haven’t yet, you should check out Eternity in their Hearts by Don Richardson. It’s fascinating, giving story after story of how foundations were laid in various cultures long before they ever came to learn of Jesus.

  3. Shawn GardenParty Smith says

    Forget about telling folks they are sinners in need of salvation. How about this instead?: “He came that you may have life, more abundant life. He makes you free simply that you may enjoy being free.” Great article!

    • says

      Shocking words, but true! While Jesus did talk about sin, it was usually in the context of offering them such a better way of living…. abundant life in the Kingdom of God! Sin enslaves, Jesus gives freedom and life!

    • David Wieberg says

      The law – the 10 commandments – is a schoolmaster that leads us to Messiah. It explains to us what we need saving from! If you don’t understand what you need saving from, the gospel sounds like complete nonsense! In fact, God defines love as “obeying His commandments”, so, if you accurately tell people about getting in on His love, you will eventually have to get ’round to talking about what His definition of “love” is, which leads right back around to the law!

      Yahshua told people not to even bother starting out after Himself if they were not willing to pay the price of total commitment, and total death to this world, the flesh, and the demonic. He was, and is, honest right up front! He does not want you if you won’t acknowledge, take responsibility for, and repent of your sins against Himself, His Father, yourself, and others! He taught repentance from dead works, and THEN faith in God. In other words, He told them about their sins, and that they had to get away from them! And if they stuck around after hearing that, He told them how to do it! If they did not like what they heard, and left, He let them go! And He is our Example!

      Paul preached Messiah put to death on a tree to pay the price for our sins. Paul knew what the gospel was, and he brought it the way that he was told! He wasn’t the flavor of the month, though, in many places that he went. Demons get rubbed the wrong way sometimes when they are exposed. He did not adopt a new, better strategy for evangelism based on how those demons responded! He never tried to come up with a way to smooth things over with those demons, and/or to make sure they didn’t pitch a fit, and/or that they were never made to feel uncomfortable! Demons were not able to retrain him to share the gospel a different way! He is our example, too! If he did not veer from that way of preaching with all of what he suffered, how could we think that there is some other way to do it? Telling people about the coming judgment of sin will not make us the flavor of the month either, but that is the gospel! “Fear God, worship, and obey Him!” is the everlasting gospel!

      God loved the people on the earth in Noah’s day, too, but He let the whole bunch drown! He will do the same with anyone that won’t come through repentance from all dead works, and faith in His Son! And there is no provision in the gospel, by the way, for salvation through joining His “love club”! He is the One that can drop 100 pound hailstones right on anyone He pleases whenever He decides to, and He deserves to be held in the highest reverence just on the basis of His power alone! And it’s all, or nothing with God, too! Telling people anything less is dishonest, and a disservice to them! I have done it too many times, and pray that I never will water down, and pervert the gospel again!

      Once someone humbles themselves before God, they are ready to receive lots of love! If they are offended by the true gospel, and/or think it is nonsense, and walk away, they can’t receive love any way! Let ‘em go! Telling a proud, stiff necked, selfish person how much God loves them is not going to impress them! They’re going to figure that He has every reason to love someone as wonderful as themselves! But tell them that they put our Savior through persecution, torture, and death, and that they are separated from God because of their sins, and maybe they will repent, and be born again after the Spirit, instead of just “serving” Him after the flesh!

      • says

        Lots of exclamation points. Are you yelling?

        Anyway, I do understand that your view of God, the gospel, and Jesus is popular, but I think you are confusing and conflating all sorts of passages and biblical terms. The “Gospel” is different than “eternal life” and both are different again from “salvation.” Faith is not equivalent to repentance, and both have different conditions and different results. It sounds like you know the Bible quite well, so you can study the differences in those terms on your own.

        As to hailstones, telling someone that God can rain down 100 pound hailstones on their heads doesn’t sound much different from the pagan pantheon found in Greek, Roman, and Celtic traditions… It looks nothing like Jesus. When asked if he could call down fire on people who rejected Him, He rebuked His disciples for such a thought (Luke 9:54).

        • David Wieberg says

          I am exclaiming, and proclaiming!

          Where is it popular at? Please point me to it! “Faith in God for being conformed in thought, word, and deed to our Savior is salvation!” has never been popular! Few there be that find it! His enemies are our enemies! His suffering is ours, too! That’s why most walked away from our Savior, and why Paul was so severely persecuted.

          Everything in the Word is tightly woven together! Throw just one errant doctrine into it, and it works it’s way all through it! But the gospel that conforms you completely to Godliness is consistent through, and through, and cannot be refuted! That is the key that ties it all together! With that key, all the scriptures can be understood plainly. Without it, we need some smart folks to explain it to us because it get’s real complicated trying to hold faith, the gospel, eternal life, salvation, repentance, and all the other teachings together with any kind of congruity.

          Psa 18:12 At the brightness [that was] before him his thick clouds passed, hail [stones] and coals of fire.
          Psa 18:13 The LORD also thundered in the heavens, and the Highest gave his voice; hail [stones] and coals of fire.

          Rev 8:7 The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.
          Rev 11:19 And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.
          Rev 16:21 And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, [every stone] about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great.

          I believe that a talent is about 100 pounds. 100 pound hail is coming in the future, and therefore, we know that God is able, and willing to send it!

          • says

            Such a view is the most popular religious idea on the planet. Every single religious teaching says that if you are a true believer, your faith will transform your thoughts, words, and deeds. If your thoughts, words, and deeds do not match what you claim to believe, then you are not a true believer. I invite you to find me one religious person (Christian or otherwise) who does not believe this.

  4. His way says

    I used to think that way, but it is a longer and more dangerous road. Why bother with all that work.. Jesus has already done the work!
    I have found that the shortest way to the heart is always through the expression of love.

    • says

      You are probably right that the shortest way to the heart is through expressions of love, especially if we leave out the religion that has been built up around Jesus.

  5. Stephen says

    Having been born into a “pagan” culture, Pikanii Blackfeet I shall speak from the perspective of one who has and to some degree is there. 1st. let me remind you that when the western European immigrants arrived in North America (and Central and South America) the indigenous peoples had beliefs, spirituality, religions (or whatever label you choose to use generalize my ancestors with) and the land. The Caucasian western Europeans had the “book” (the Bible).

    Now the immigrants have the Bible and the land. The indigenous peoples have many Bibles of differing “authority”, versions, and mere pittances of the land my ancestors started with.

    So when you say, let’s make them all pagans then Christians, what are you prepared to give up in order to “make” them Christians. Which I, by the way, I do not see and never have seen as a viable method of offering then helping people (if they want it) come to Christianity (what ever “flavor.”
    We will take the land back, if offered, return to our pagan beliefs. As I walk with Christ, as opposed to being Christian–I despise labels–I am seeing and amalgamating the two, my ancestors faith, you call pagan, and my walk with Christ.
    Walk a mile in my moccasins. Hope to spark some dialogue!!

    • His way says

      I am sorry for the ethnic cleansing that my people caused to your ancestors. This was wrong and this is the way of the world. This is not the way of Jesus or “real” Christianity. I do not think that it would be possible for your people to forgive the theft of your country. It is only through Jesus that real forgiveness can be made. To those of your people that may find forgiveness to my people through the love of Jesus, I offer as reconciliation, to join you in a new land… without borders… in fact it is a Kingdom … a Kingdom of God.

    • says

      Stephen,

      I grew up not far from the Blackfoot river and the Blackfoot Reservation. I am part Cherokee myself.

      I agree with what “His Way” has said to you, that the stealing of this land was not “Christian.” It was done under the name of “Jesus” which makes such theft all the more evil.

      Please know that when I referred to “Pagan” it was not derogatory in any way. Nor, however, was I referring to “Native Americans.” But that is beside the point.

      I, personally, am thrilled that you are a follower of Jesus who has found a way to continue to practice some of your traditions in conjunction with Christ. Most Christians think this is wrong, but what they don’t realize is that they have simply chosen different “Pagan” traditions to incorporate… traditions that came from Graeco-Roman culture.

      • His way says

        Thank you for drawing a comparison to the Graeco-Roman culture. I did not immediately realize that my own cultural position was tainting my perspective on paganism. My family enjoys having the typical American experience on Halloween every year. While we do not believe the polytheistic/deity aspects of it we still participate in the common American tradition of trick-or-treat and jack-o-lanterns. To an outsider it might look like we are performing rituals.
        Actually, expanding further on this, I also see that Pagan ideas were very much and still present in our American scientific and medical fields. One example is that Louis Pasteur caused a belief that “germs” should be regarded nearly as evil deities. Yet modern science has been espousing how “probiotic” germs are good and that not all germs are bad. The more modern twist on this pagan idea is that probiotics may now even be “idolized” by some based on various articles and marketing that I’ve seen.

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