Skip to comments.Comparing Christianity and the New Paganism
Posted on 05/09/2011 11:11:10 AM PDT by bronxville
Comparing Christianity and the New Paganism
The most serious challenge for Christianity today isn't one of the other great religions of the world, such as Islam or Buddhism.
Nor is it simple atheism, which has no depth, no mass appeal, no staying power. Rather, it's a religion most of us think is dead. That religion is paganism and it is very much alive.
Paganism is simply the natural gravity of the human spirit, the line of least resistance, religion in its fallen state.
The "old" paganism came from the country. Indeed, the very word "paganism" comes from the Latin pagani, "from the fields" or "country-dwellers." Country people were the last to be converted to Christianity during the Roman Empire, the last to abandon their ancestral roots in pre-Christian belief. Today, country people are the last to abandon Christianity for the "new" paganism, which flourishes in the cities.
The old paganism was a far greater thing than the new. In fact, Chesterton brilliantly summarized the entire spiritual history of the world in this one sentence:
"Paganism was the biggest thing in the world, and Christianity was bigger and everything since has been comparatively small."
There were at least three elements in the old paganism that made it great. And all three are missing in the new paganism
The first is the sense of piety (pietas), the natural religious instinct to respect something greater than yourself, the humility that instinctively realizes man's subordinate place in the great scheme of things. "Moderation" or "temperance" went along with this, especially in classical civilization. The motto "nothing too much" was inscribed over every temple to Apollo, along with "know thyself."
This natural modesty and respect contrast sharply with the arrogant attitude of the new pagan in the modern West. Only Oriental societies still preserve a traditional reverence. The West does not understand this, and thinks it quaint at best and hypocritical at worst.
The new paganism is the virtual divinization of man, the religion of man as the new God. One of its popular slogans, repeated often by Christians, is "the infinite value of the human person." Its aim is building a heaven on earth, a secular salvation. Another word for the new paganism is humanism, the religion that will not lift up its head to the heavens but stuffs the heavens into its head.
A second ingredient of the old paganism that's missing in the new is an objective morality, what C.S. Lewis called "the Tao" in his prophetic little classic "The Abolition of Man." To pre-modern man, pagan as well as Christian, moral rules were absolute: unyielding and unquestionable. They were also objective: discovered rather than created, given in the nature of things.
This has all changed. The new paganism is situational and pragmatic. It says we are the makers of moral values. It not only finds the moral law written in the human heart but also by the human heart. It acknowledges no divine revelation, thus no one's values can be judged to be wrong.
The new paganism's favorite Scripture is "judge not." The only judgment is the judgment against judging. The only thing wrong is the idea that there is a real wrong.
The only thing to feel guilty about is feeling guilty. And, since man rather than God is the origin of values, don't impose "your" values on me (another favorite line).
This is really polytheism many gods, many goods, many moralities. No one believes in Zeus and Apollo and Neptune any more. (I wonder why: Has science really refuted themor is it due to total conformity to fashion, supine submission to newspapers?) But moral relativism is the equivalent of the old polytheism. Each of us has become a god or goddess, a giver of law rather than receiver.
A third ingredient of the old paganism but not of the new is awe at something transcendent, the sense of worship and mystery. What the old pagan worshiped differed widely almost anything from Zeus to cowsbut he worshiped something. In the modern world the very sense of worship is dying, even in our own liturgy, which sounds as if it were invented by a Committee for the Abolition of Poetry.
Our religious sense has dried up. Modern religion is de-mythologized, de-miraclized, de-divinized. God is not the Lord but the All, not transcendent but immanent, not super-natural but natural.
Pantheism is comfortable, and this is the modem summum bonum. The Force of "Star Wars" fame is a pantheistic God, and it is immensely popular, because it's "like a book on the shelf," as C.S. Lewis put it: available whenever you want it, but not bothersome when you don't want it. How convenient to think we are bubbles in a divine froth rather than rebellious children of a righteous divine Father! Pantheism has no sense of sin, for sin means separation, and no one can ever be separated from the All. Thus the third feature, no transcendence, is connected with the second, no absolute morality.
The new paganism is a great triumph of wishful thinking. Without losing the thrill and patina of religion, the terror of religion is removed. The new paganism stoutly rejects "the fear of God." Nearly all religious educators today, including many supposedly Catholic ones, are agreed that the thing the Bible calls "the beginning of wisdom" is instead the thing we must above all eradicate from the minds of the young with all the softly destructive power of the weapons of modern pop psychology namely, the fear of the Lord.
"Perfect love casts out fear," says St. John; but when God has become the Pillsbury Doughboy, there is no fear left to cast out. And when there is no fear to cast out, perfect love lacks its strong roots. It becomes instead mere compassion something good but dull, or even weak: precisely the idea people have today of religion. The shock is gone. That the God of the Bible should love us is a thunderbolt; that the God of the new paganism should love us is a self-evident platitude.
The new paganism is winning not by opposing but by infiltrating the Church. It is cleverer than the old. It knows that any opposition from without, even by a vastly superior force, has never worked, for "the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church." When China welcomed Western missionaries, there were 2 million conversions in 60 years; when Mao and communism persecuted the Church, there were 20 million conversions in 20 years. The Church in East Germany is immensely stronger than the Church in West Germany for the same reason. The new paganism understands this, so it uses the soft, suggestive strategy of the serpent. It whispers, in the words of Scripture scholars, the very words of the serpent: "Has God really said...?" (Gen. 3:1).
The new paganism is a joining of forces by three of the enemies of theism: humanism, polytheism and pantheism. The only five possibilities for ultimate meaning and values are: atheism (no God); humanism (man as God); polytheism (many gods); pantheism (one immanent God); and theism (one transcendent God). The Battle of the Five Kings in the Valley of Armageddon might, in our era, be beginning. Predictions are always unwise, but the signs of the times, for some thoughtful observers, point to a fundamental turning point, the end of an age.
The so-called "New Age Movement" combines all the features described under the title of the new paganism. It's a loosely organized movement, basically a flowering of '60s hippiedom, rather than a centralized agenda. But strategies are connected in three places. There may be no conspiracy on earth to unify the enemies of the Church, but the strategy of hell is more than the strategy of earth. Only one thing is more than the strategy of hell: the strategy of heaven.
The gates of hell cannot prevail against the Church; in fact, God uses the devil to defeat the devil, just as He did on Calvary, when the forces of the Hebrew, Greek and Roman worlds united to crucify Christ, as symbolized by the three languages on the accusation sign over the cross.
The very triumph of the devil, the death of God, was the defeat of the devil, the redemption of mankind, "Good Friday" Because God, who spoke the first word, always gets the last word.
“There are some who believe that Islam is a pagan religion.”
In some respects, such as their lunar calendar, they are. Mostly, it is a corruption of Jewish and Christian beliefs with some violent, deluded drivel thrown in. When you read the Sura in chronological order the madness of Mohammed becomes readily apparent as his violence and his grandiosity become more evident with each subsequent passage.
La Civiltà Cattolica, Series written in 1850
.... pagan civilization is a regression for humanity, its liberty entailing the most shameful slavery and the liquidation of the human personality, absorbed by the omnipotence of the God-State. Therefore, even without my saying it, anyone can see by himself that modern liberalism, under the fiction of promoting liberty, tends to destroy it; under the shadow of desiring progress, it desires barbarism .It is not aversion to liberty or sympathies for despotism that lead the Church to fight their wicked efforts .Rather it is the love it feels for true liberty, its native repugnance for all kinds of despotism, the mission it has from God to save the personal independence of man that inspires it, and urges it to such a battle.-La Civiltà Cattolica, Series 1850
“There is nothing new about New Age,in fact it is the oldest lie. The Serpent said to Eve You shall be as gods....”
Yes, which is why the author makes the distinction between “old paganism” tactics vs “new paganism” tactics.
Good stuff! And as a (happy) Protestant, I nearly fully agree....(given a Church invisible...)
Think so, huh??? And Catholics countered that Pagan winter celebration with Christmas trees and decorations???
Your article does not refute Hislop...All it does, numerous times, is claim 'it is not necessarily so, if'....
Great Post!! Thanks!
Here is the link to the best document ever produced on the New Age Movement that goes into the depth of it through time
It’s well worth the long read
PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR CULTURE
PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE
THE BEARER OF THE WATER OF LIFE
A Christian reflection
on the New Age
Christians must begin to open their mouths and preach the word to a dying world. Not going on a mission to Africa or South American, but sharing the Gospel with friends, family and acquaintances right here at home in this shell of a Christian nation.
"And daily in the temple,and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ." Acts 5:42
"But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear." 1 Peter 3:15
It is necessary to be properly equipped. Read the Bible, know what the Gospel is.
"But the annointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you" 1 John 2:27a
Examine this short youtube video showing how to share the gospel.
"So then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God." Rom 10:17
C.S. Lewis once remarked that he was a converted pagan living in a nation of apostate Puritans - to a large extent, that’s the situation in which American Christians find themselves today. When one reflects it appears to have happened really quickly, it didn’t, our downfall was that we weren’t paying attention because we were too busy being robotic slaves and didn’t pay attention. The Church has been warning us over the centuries.
This more recent virulent onslaught -
1849 - NOSTIS et NOBISCUM - Pius IX
“18. As regards this teaching and these theories, it is now generally known that the special goal of their proponents is to introduce to the people the pernicious fictions of Socialism and Communism by misapplying the terms “liberty” and “equality.” The final goal shared by these teachings, whether of Communism or Socialism, even if approached differently, is to excite by continuous disturbances workers and others, especially those of the lower class, whom they have deceived by their lies and deluded by the promise of a happier condition.” http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Pius09/p9nostis.htm
1878 - QUOD APOSTOLICI MUNERIS - Pope Leo XIII
“1. At the very beginning of Our pontificate, as the nature of Our apostolic office demanded, we hastened to point out in an encyclical letter addressed to you, venerable brethren, the deadly plague that is creeping into the very fibers of human society and leading it on to the verge of destruction; at the same time We pointed out also the most effectual remedies by which society might be restored and might escape from the very serious dangers which threaten it. But the evils which We then deplored have so rapidly increased that We are again compelled to address you, as though we heard the voice of the prophet ringing in Our ears: “Cry, cease not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet.”(1) You understand, venerable brethren, that We speak of that sect of men who, under various and almost barbarous names, are called socialists, communists, or nihilists, and who, spread over all the world, and bound together by the closest ties in a wicked confederacy, no longer seek the shelter of secret meetings, but, openly and boldly marching forth in the light of day, strive to bring to a head what they have long been planning - the overthrow of all civil society whatsoever.
Surely these are they who, as the sacred Scriptures testify, “Defile the flesh, despise dominion and blaspheme majesty.”(2) They leave nothing untouched or whole which by both human and divine laws has been wisely decreed for the health and beauty of life. They refuse obedience to the higher powers, to whom, according to the admonition of the Apostle, every soul ought to be subject, and who derive the right of governing from God; and they proclaim the absolute equality of all men in rights and duties. They debase the natural union of man and woman, which is held sacred even among barbarous peoples; and its bond, by which the family is chiefly held together, they weaken, or even deliver up to lust. Lured, in fine, by the greed of present goods, which is “the root of all evils, which some coveting have erred from the faith,”(3) they assail the right of property sanctioned by natural law; and by a scheme of horrible wickedness, while they seem desirous of caring for the needs and satisfying the desires of all men, they strive to seize and hold in common whatever has been acquired either by title of lawful inheritance, or by labor of brain and hands, or by thrift in one’s mode of life. These are the startling theories they utter in their meetings, set forth in their pamphlets, and scatter abroad in a cloud of journals and tracts...”
Your post #22 reminded me of the above encyclicals which, if one retreads back in history, might well bring us to the beginning of this current infestation of evil.
A Christian reflection on the New Age
Thanks for the link. Bookmarked for later.
Do you agree fully with Hislop’s myths?
Thanks. The Judeo-Christians have been targeted for a long time. We’re in for a long fight where all good men come together, be they, Protestants, Jews, Catholics, Atheistists, Agnostics, etc.
Great post. We’ve been amazingly polite in our silence, being made to feel we were too imposing in our beliefs, which is no better than anyone elses since we each have our own godly truths.
The author of the article outlined moral relatism clearly and it’s been way too successful. Yes, we all need to arm ourselves with the Real Truth and become more bold in carrying it out into the world.
“”C.S. Lewis once remarked that he was a converted pagan living in a nation of apostate Puritans - to a large extent, thats the situation in which American Christians find themselves today. When one reflects it appears to have happened really quickly, it didnt, our downfall was that we werent paying attention because we were too busy being robotic slaves and didnt pay attention. The Church has been warning us over the centuries.””
I always appreciate this when people understand this! Sadly,very few people do,but as you pointed out through various papal encyclicals(some of my favorites),the Church saw the error immediately because it has battled similar things through the ages.
I’ll send you something you might like through freepmail-It’s not appreciated in open forum here on FR
Not much evidence for Christmas trees in Catholic Europe before the Reformation. Martin Luther thought they were cool, and helped to popularize them in Germany.
The have no religious significance in Catholicism anyway. Most Catholic churches do not have Christmas trees at Christmastime; they have manger scenes.
That was one of the big differences I noticed at a Catholic Church during the Christmas season as opposed the the Lutheran churches I attended so long, no Christmas tree in the Church. As I recall there was a nice tree and decorations in the nearby Catholic school, though, where the Church used the school gymnasium and kitchen facilities for get togethers.
I think Christians do engage with society in the UK, just not enough. The Pope's visit there showed the signs of a vacuum. And I lived in the UK for years and yes there are vibrant Catholic communities that are reaching out. However, yes, the CoE has failed people as has the Kirk.
Quite correct, Hinduism has forms ranging from atheism to polytheism to monotheism.
Aren't you tired of being shown that your posts are wrong over and over again? A simple reading before typing would help
The Christmas tree started and was kept in the upper Rhineland of Germany only, until the 18th century. This practice remained confined to the upper Rhineland of Germany and was regarded as a Protestant custom by the Roman Catholic majority along the lower Rhine and was spread there only by Prussian officials who were moved there in the wake of the Congress of Vienna in 1815.
There is plenty of information available that proves Hislop misinterpreted and made up everything in his book, “The Two Babylons”, and that almost every anti-Catholic book published since then, especially Davy Hunt's “A Woman Rides The Beast”, is based on the work of Hislop. Anyone who wants to know the truth will have no problem finding the facts, and the facts are that more than 99% of what is passed off as "the truth about" the Catholic Church having adopted anything pagan is nothing but pure bunk and hokum.
Since the Catholic Church worked very hard to eradicate pagan gods, holidays, and practices, it's not at all unreasonable for them to replace a pagan holiday with a feast day or something similar in order to deprive those inclined to remain pagan of that day for their holiday. Bunk and hokum sell very well, but they're still nothing more than lies told, retold, repackaged as little comic books or as “studious” works that rely on a reference to someone, who refers to someone else, and so on through multiple references, trying to hide the fact that all of the works referred to are based on Hislop' lies. That degree of misdirection is deliberate, not accidental, and by itself is enough to indict the majority of anti-Catholic works as frauds based on nothing but Hislop. The vast majority of those authors who write anti-Catholic books and articles don't care if it's all lies, as long as there are people who will pay good money to lap up those lies most authors are quite happy to retell them.
Not only that, but some of the authors are especially happy to have the opportunity to attack His One True Church because they are in reality, Gnostic anti-Christians. Slandering His Church and selling, the “Whoomp, there it is” version of salvation is their trade, not telling Christians the truth about Christ and His Church or anything else for that matter. Such authors and their followers believe that only the select few will be saved and so any lies they tell those who are lost anyway don't make a bit of difference. If they can package lies and make money selling them to misguided people, they're more than happy to do so.