The pagan christian

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.

Shalom, Art
Alive in The Word

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About aliveintheword

Missouri, USA Married to Marty, 45 years 2 sons (with 2 daughers-in-law) and 2 granddaughters Life dedicated to serving Jesus Christ and delivering the Good News
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14 Responses to The pagan christian

  1. granbee says:

    For me, I gain freedom from “pagan Christianity” by EXPERIENCING Him in my early morning meditational walks and prayer time. The resulting light just blurs out everything else.

  2. mtsweat says:

    Encouraged by the escape clause, “we all do it” Art. But we shouldn’t! As you state so plainly, only One is worthy of all worship. The pagan activity of taking from His glory and bringing glory to anything else (especially myself) is displayed too often in my life. What is amazing is the grace and mercy of our God to continue loving us in His Son. When others treat us as we treat Him, we are ready to disown… but He gives more grace. This fact alone should cause us to weep over our pagan sins, to love Him with our everything… because He first loved us! God bless, good friend.

    • Uh, Mike, my good buddy, my dear friend…. that wasn’t an escape clause. I was leveling charges!

      At times, I wonder when that “bucket full of grace” with my name on it is going to empty out. It hasn’t, it won’t.

      As Angela says: We serve an amazing God!

      Shalom, Art

  3. So many people call themselves ‘Christian’ even though they have NO idea whatsoever about the Person of God and many believe that Jesus never lived or at best was just a good man. Asked why they call themselves a Christian, they reply they were born in a Christian country, or were ‘baptised’ a Christian as a baby, or a number of other ‘reasons’. I would call them pagan christians as they follow a man-made religion.

    We serve an amazing LIVING God who delights to bless His children.

    • Other than the uttering of “grace” before occasional meals, many self-proclaimed “christians” never do any of the 4 things listed at the end of the blog. Oh, what they are missing.

      Thanks for the comment.

  4. Scott Sholar says:

    Thank you for sharing, and God bless you. Here is my latest post: http://scottsholar.com/2012/04/29/power/

  5. rebelsprite says:

    Yes, yes, yes – get to know God, pray to God, experience God – there’s nothing sweeter, and the difference between God and the idols will be more than clear – the idols will fall down!

  6. ptl2010 says:

    Many “pagan” Christians in the East too when converted bring pagan supertitions into family and everyday living. e.g. “touch wood”, bad luck association with “13” or “4”(sounds like death in a chinese dialect), good luck associated with “8” ,*88″, *888″.Some out of fear even participate in “feng shui” (geomancy) when they locate/relocate an office or doorpost ofpurchased house, to ensure bringing prosperity rather than losing it. They celebrate some festivities (need to separate cultural from religious) because their families still in idol worship celebrate them when they should be separate and also participation in funeral rites under cloak of filial piety.

    On the reverse, perhaps it is good to adopt praying 5 times a day and fasting, from Islam when one converts? – just a thought.

    • Indeed, history, family relationships and culture shape many of our practices. The muslim prayer practices, the Seder ritual of the Jews are strong, but they are means of worship. Hope I don’t fall into that trap… God willin’ ‘n the creek don’t rise.

  7. I’ve been thinking about this very topic. There are numerous way to think about it and approach it. Not the least manner of approaching it the fact that the Jews of Jesus’ time would have considered me, a non Jew, a pagan. In faith. I am saved by grace. That seems to leave the door open to quite a lot as long as the essentials of the Way are maintained…

    Christopher

    • Christopher, thanks for the visit and comment. This becomes a very touchy topic, in part because of the roles various objects and symbols play in various denominations.

      The jews certainly would have considered us to be “gentiles” at least. I was hesitant to publish this. My wife and I had a long discussion before I “pushed the button.” She views “pagan” in some very different terms.

      But, as with all of my blogs of this type, my goal is not to convince, but to get folks to thinking in ways they may not have before.

      Shalom, Art

      • I understand completely, Art, which is why I have been hesitant to write the post as well. Thereis much that one could define as ‘pagan’ in modern Christianity. Some are traditions that have cultural significance and some are preached regularly from the pulpit and written in popular books. People have no idea…. the implications are astounding really.

        You are a brave man. Keep asking tough, important questions.

        Shalom

      • Christopher, thanks, but bravery has nothing to do with it. Messages frequently come to me fully formed. I am merely the scribe. This is one of those messages.

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