Can there be such a person as a “pagan christian?” Sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it. Yet, I submit that in practice there are many self-proclaimed “christians” who are exactly that. How so, you ask?
The term “pagan” has many and broad meanings. One is any religion or theological system (set of beliefs and practices) that does not fundamentally follow the God of Abraham. Under this definition any theology other than christian, jewish or islamic would be termed “pagan.” There are, of course, tremendous differences among the three Abrahamic religions. Those are far beyond the scope of this blog. The key word in this definition is “follow.” In Christianity, this is often called “discipleship.” It means believing in, following and obeying the commands of Jesus Christ.
Another definition is those who follow and believe in the deity of manmade objects, idols. “Manmade” is not restricted to physical objects, but applies to anything where man places greater importance on the object of attention than they do to God (the Holy Trinity.) This can include physical figurines, like the one pictured, or it can be any other things that demands our primary attention. Under this definition, the game of golf could become an idol.
So, how do we arrive from this to there being “pagan christians?” There are those, and they are many, who have never gotten past the challenge of unquestioning faith in an unseen God. Although they may proclaim differently, they don’t fully believe that Christ Jesus was resurrected from the dead and is living today. Unable to accept that, they cannot establish that up-close, personal relationship with Jesus that became available to all when the Veil of the Temple was torn in two.
In lieu of that relationship, they then worship other things, believing themselves to be worshiping God (again, the Holy Trinity.) It’s comforting and easy to do. It’s safe.
These substitutes can be some of Christianity’s most revered symbols and aids to worship. They can and often do include such things as the altar, rites (sacraments), the Madonna, the cross and even the crucifix. All of these have their very important roles to play in our worship of God. But none of them ARE God. None of them are worthy of worship in lieu of God.
To place worshipful emphasis on anything other than God (again, the Holy Trinity) is to bring a form of paganism into our lives.
Unfortunately, in some measure, we all do it. It is in our nature.
How can we strive to remove these pagan elements from our lives?
STUDY the Bible. Get to KNOW God, the living God, and His character, His plans for us.
PRAY! Don’t just talk to God, but also listen.
EXPERIENCE God. Look for God as you are out in the world. See His creation, its beauty, complexity and magnificence As see what happens when we humans screw it up.
DO God’s work in the world today. He’s commanded us to bring heaven to earth.
Alive in The Word