Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The old gods.

The Muses Leaving their Father Apollo to Go Out and Light the World - Gustave Moreau

A better title for this article might have been 'The Dark Gods.' From a Christian perspective, all false religion is darkness. In this blogpost we'll examine the broiling potion of contradictions that is paganism.

This is the interesting thing about paganism; oftentimes we mistake it for anti-Christian hostility, and in a sense it is, but only because it doesn't honor God. When we assume that paganism is one vast, unified arsenal aimed to destroy Christianity, with only minor logical flaws here and there that our characters must cleave to in order to make any headway at all--we draw not on the data, but on our own experience. The more modern religions that we face today (especially secularism and Islam) were, in a sense, formed in opposition to Christianity. Paganism was not so. Odds are, it formed long ago in opposition to true worship of the Creator; however, a lot of time passed between the initial rebellion of paganism and foundation of the true Faith.

Since paganism was not formed in opposition to Christianity, it didn't have some elements of religion that we tend to take for granted today. For example, it didn't even attempt to be holistic. Most world-views today center around one core truth, or universal mystery. That's because most (although not all) either sprung out of Christianity or were heavily influenced by it. Even modern paganism tends to be centered, consistent and orthodoxic to a point. Neopagans today talk loudly about how God is everything and everything is God. Such pantheism was foreign to most pagans of old.

The reason for this is that true pagans don't try to explain the world. Religion is not always a method of uncovering the world we live in, contrary to the claims of some atheists. Sometimes it is the world we live in. We have an inherent sense of the supernatural, and when left alone with both our sin and our concept of the otherworld, we tend to make something like paganism. It's scattered, and distorted, and vague, with no one answer to the question of existence if you ignore the intervention of God or demons in religion (there is Biblical evidence for both).

I think one of the ways God prepared the earth for the coming of Christianity was that paganism had no one answer for the universe at large. Questions about existence, such as 'why are we here?' and 'what is our purpose?' often went unanswered. If you wanted to know something like that, you went to the philosopher, not the local priest.  A second way God prepared the pagan world, was that until Christianity, morality (someone's concept of good and evil) wasn't tied to the divine. Good and evil was a something that philosophers figured out, not gods.

In that way, pagan thought was very different from that of Christianity or other modern religions . It wasn't skeptical. It didn't try to figure out the way the world worked. It just saw the world as certain way and didn't question it. Often, when Christianity was introduced to these places, the pagans saw it as a dangerous and radical grain of thought that went against the traditions of the elders.

So when we write about pagan religions, we need to grasp the fact that paganism isn't a set religion. It's a chaotic stew of ancient man's thoughts, feelings, imagination and views. The only thing that keeps it together is tradition.

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