Wednesday, May 2, 2018

--- Pagan Christianity ---

"Pagan Christianity"

That phrase always confused me. Pagan is supposed to be the opposite of Christianity, but, of course, I had to look.

There was evidently a time when "pagan" meant "rural" or "close to the soil". The impression I get is that "pagan" was the Roman equivalent of "redneck".

I am a very orthodox Christian, in the sense that I can, in all good conscience, read the Apostle's Creed in a crowd. But since an early age, I've had what I describe as shamanic experiences. Modern Christians seem to have a problem with the concept of "Christian shaman" but if you study the life experiences of shamans across the world and compare them with the life experiences of Old Testament prophets and Christian mystics, you see that there is very little difference. Take a shaman, change "spirit guide" to "Holy Spirit" and - boom! you have a mystic.

A big difference between modern Christianity and early Christianity is that the mystic element has been deleted. The church still uses the language, but if a person mentions that they had been attacked by a demon, things would get suddenly frosty. An early Christian wouldn't have bat an eye at that. Demons exist as a topic of discussion in a Bible class, but not out in the real world where things are....well, real.

And nature isn't a cooperative mind as it seemed to be to early Christians. Flowery language in the Psalms about nature worshipping God can be ignored as "poetic imagery" (although some of the "imagery" makes absolutely no sense as "poetic imagery.") but when someone like Paul states that nature looks forward with us to the return of Christ, I have a hard time accepting that he's being poetically flowery. His usual allegories concerned soldiers and sports.

Frank Viola Author and George Barna coauthored a book called "Pagan Christianity" that explored the prechristian and folk roots of many modern Christian practises and traditions. It's a good read and seems a little edgy about all that. I don't have a problem with it except maybe the parts that drive people from the church - the parts that smack, in modern times, of elitism.

Maybe I'm a pagan Christian.

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