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Friday, November 25, 2005

Syncretism Continued (Christian Pagans?) 

From Ogmios:

The term "Christian Pagan" is occasionally seen as a description of an individual who participates at some level within an established Christian church, while functioning at a deeper level as a Pagan who has yet to "come out of the broom closet". There has been a significant amount of discussion in print and on-line publications, internet discussion groups, and Pagan-friendly chat rooms regarding whether this is a "legitimate" religious position - and, whether Paganism and Christianity can be considered even remotely compatible....

Does syncretistic behavior weaken one's fundamental beliefs? This last point is critical because one can argue quite effectively that Paganism and Christianity are two of the world's most syncretistic religious positions....

Modern Pagan practice (aka neo-Paganism - eg Wicca, Asatru, Huna) is, in general, partially a result of "handed down" wisdom, and partially a "reconstructed set of beliefs and practices". As such, it is often an amalgamation of multiple traditional belief systems. Celtic Path practitioners have no difficulty in acknowledging or calling upon an Asatru deity; modern Huna practitioners may utilize an approach primarily known through the traditional Hindu belief system....Julius C├Žsar...[linked] Gallic deities to their "Roman counterparts", but -despite this historic precedent - belief systems do not have interchangeable parts....

Christianity's immaculate conception, virgin birth, grotto/manger setting, December 25th date, attending shepherds, Madonna and Child images, Easter eggs, and All Saints Day are all drawn from other religions. This is actually a very common practice among major religions (appropriating pieces from each other), and does not necessarily detract from the validity of the underlying message of the particular faith....

The most fundamentalist and traditionalist Christians (e.g. Baptist, Mennonite, Roman Catholic, Orthodox) generally consider Christ to be "God incarnate" - literally, God in human flesh (i.e. Jesus of Nazareth). Over the years, there have been serious divisions within the Christian religion over specific, intricate interpretations of exactly what this means....

Although many Christians would like to define Christianity to include only those people who believe as they do (and require a belief that "Jesus is God in human form"), the presence of so many patently Christian groups that are only comfortable with stating that Christianity is "the faith that follows the teachings and example of Jesus the Christ" requires us to broaden our basic definition of Christian to include these people as well....

This is probably the point to interject that I don't agree with everything in this article. Having said that, let's continue:

Paganism envelops a very broad range of beliefs - incorporating the beliefs and practices of hundreds of established paths, as well as the highly modified variations practiced by thousands upon thousands of solitaries....

So, can someone be both? Not really; however, the two belief systems are, in many ways, more alike than they are different - particularly in their ritual and traditions. There are notable similarities between the Pagan wheel of the year and the Christian liturgical year, and this extends even more to holidays. In a number of instances, various aspects, rituals, and even the very origin of the holiday are almost certainly pagan. So, while it would be extremely difficult to conceive of someone who believes in the essence of both Christianity and Paganism, finding someone who practices both is not too difficult to imagine. The question thus becomes "why?".

As the saying goes, "it doesn't take a rocket scientist" to realize that, for many people, "passing" as Christian can significantly simplify their public life. And, although this deception may be offensive to the purist, it is generally not very difficult for the closet pagan to participate in most ostensibly Christian practices....

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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