Month: July 2006
The Apostle Paul spent time with the Athenians, reading their poets and watching their people at worship before addressing them. Likewise, serious apologetics requires that Christians dialogue with followers of other religions with understanding and respect .
Andrew J McLean says that Christians need to put aside fifteen hundred years of offhanded dismissal and listen to pagans as having something intellectually serious and spiritually viable to say. Only in this way can we begin to dialogue.
This important article has been posted at Apologetics Index since 2006. We have just updated it by reformatting the article to make it easier to read.
Numerous traditions and diverse beliefs and practices come under the generic classification of Paganism.
Most neopagans affirm the existence of a pantheon of gods. Unlike the ancient gods, these gods are not in competition with each other but are archetypes of one god.
Almost all neopagans subscribe to a single creed: `Do as thou wilt, only harm none'. Anarchy is self-rule based on this creed.
Pagans are opposed to the abuse of any individual and of nature, both animate and inanimate. For pagans, abuse of the land is abuse of their mother.
Pagans also reject western views of sexuality. For them the body is sacred and pure. Public and ritual nakedness is affirmed by some, though probably not the majority. Tabloids and papers make much of the sexual perversion of witches, but pagans believe that society has a suspicious and dirty-- minded view of sex: it sensationalises and titillates. But sexuality is a part of life's cycle to be celebrated in an open and pure fashion. The intertwining of sex with religion lifts it above the perverse and shameful act that it has become in western society.
Paganism is now the fastest growing religion in the western world.
Paganism is about experience, not teaching. It is about changing self, others and therefore reality through magickal acts.
Wiccans use a variety of methods to produce these altered states: candle magic, dancing, drumming, chanting, daydreaming, meditation.
Some pagan groups use sexual magic or nudity in ritual, most do not. Gardnerian Wicca, a highly ritualistic British tradition, insists on practitioners being 'skyclad', weather permitting, but others are robed or in street clothes.
Paganism known eight Sabbaths or festivals. Magick is said to be particularly powerful on these 'power days'.
What most Christians fail to realise is that Wicca has something serious to say and indeed offers some significant theological challenges to the Church.
Pagans often assume that much of western ideology comes from an inherently Christian world view. Pagan ideology clashes with western ideologies on many fronts: materialism, globalisation, consumerism, obsession with shallowness, sexuality, concept of beauty and ecology, to name but a few.
Many neopagans work with an outdated view of the church and a caricature of Christianity. The Christian apologist must annunciate clearly the doctrines of the church and debunk the fables.
The Christian church is seen as the victor that has squashed pagan religion by force and misguided missionary zeal. The `burning times' are a painful reminder to many pagans of the evils of the church. We need to acknowledge that pain.