The Noxious Gases of Paganism

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Generally speaking I don’t seek out anti-Pagan rhetoric from conservative Christians. I know it’s out there, and it is easy enough to find if you know where to look, but reporting it does nothing to change their minds or further our causes (which is why I rarely comment on the “news” that emerges from places like WorldNetDaily). But occasionally you come across something that is so explicitly aimed at your community you can’t help but comment. Such is the case with the recently released anthology “Only One Way?: Reaffirming the Exclusive Truth Claims of Christianity”, in which a group of evangelicals compose an apologetic defending Christianity against “postmodern relativism”.

“Each chapter proclaims, defends, and explains the Christian truths that are most directly challenged by postmodern relativism. Our God is the God; Jesus is not merely a savior, but the only Savior; and the truth revealed in the Bible is divine truth. As readers grasp these essential ideas and their implications they will be able to witness powerfully by articulating these claims with clarity, conviction, and love.”

Even still, I hardly keep track of the Christian publishing industry, and I wouldn’t have noticed this title if it weren’t for the fact that they cite one of my favorite books concerning polytheism “The Deities Are Many: A Polytheistic Theology” by York University professor Jordan Paper. Paper’s book is referenced in the section “One God” by Peter R. Jones, who is one of the truly rabid anti-Pagan crusaders and who spares no time abandoning reasoned discourse to heap insults on perceptions of the divine outside his rigid boundaries.

“These [pro-polytheistic] trends signify a genuine threat to the world that is presently emerging. These ideas are like noxious gases escaping from the first small crack in the earth’s crust before a major volcano breaks open a massive fault line, and the burning lava consumes all around it. In the appearance of this marginal alternate spirituality we are witnessing the first signs of a major religious revolution that threatens to sweep all before it.”

In addition to comparing the growth of Paganism to a deadly volcano that is spewing poisonous gas, Jones also heaps scorn on Bill Clinton, the UN, ancient Pagan cultures, and the practice of preserving pre-Christian ceremony and culture in our modern era. People like Jones represent the “shadow” side of the Christian call to Witness. A “calling” that won’t rest in combatting anything outside a “Biblical” world lest the (often invoked) days of a Christian minority under a Roman pagan yoke emerge once more.

“We and our children in the planetary empire of the twenty-first century must be ready, like our faithful Christian forebears, to face a new form of that ancient imperial decadence, similarly clothed in enabling power of occultic pagan spirituality.”

One would think Christians like Jones would have bigger worries, but Pagans, Heathens, Witches, and other “heretics” have always been a popular scape-goat for the world’s ills in certain Christian communities. Though some Christians, including author and apologist Anthony Horvath feel that better Paganism than the true horrors of secular atheism.

“As I recall, C.S. Lewis was once asked if he feared that Britain was turning to Paganism and responded “If only she were.” I might say the same about America. You see, ‘pagans’ actually believe in something beyond the materialistic world, but it is philosophical naturalism winning today, not paganism. If paganism were the threat du jour, that would actually be an improvement.”

While it would be nice to see a day when Christians of Jones’ stripe can acknowledge our right to exist and thrive, but I fear the polytheist world view threatens their core belief systems so deeply that we can be nothing other than tools of Satan bent on subjugating the Christian world. When the exclusivity of truth is the cornerstone of your theology, any other claimed truth becomes fair game for demonization and aggressive “mission” efforts to remove the threat. But I suppose it is a step in the right direction that they are reading excellent books on polytheism.