Talking About Paganism and Christianity

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Yesterday, a group of Christian bloggers participated in a “synchroblog” (an agreed upon day in which all post on the same pre-chosen topic) on the subject of “Paganism and Christianity”. Many of the posts were quite thoughtful, and give an interesting perspective of our faiths from the outside looking in. One post of note includes Phil Wyman’s essay concerning the inherent problems facing communication between Pagans and Christians.

“As Evangelical Christians, we will regularly be faced with communicating our faith, and consequently challenging the faith of others whose faith defines who they are. Their beliefs are personal, because they are the culmination of life experiences. These differences in the source, and direction of faith create tension in communication of belief systems between the Evangelical Christian and the Neo-Pagan. Evangelical Christianity has the call to proclaim its faith. It is therefore necessary for the Christian to understand that others may receive challenges to their beliefs as attacks against their being. We may well find ourselves in debate contests between those whose faith defines their being, when we think that beliefs are less personal and rooted in a hopeful becoming. For another faith is a personal journey defined by who they have become, and now are. My Evangelical definition of faith tells me it is less personal.”

Also worth a read is Julie Clawson’s exploration of the different methods Christians can take when approaching modern Pagans, Tim Abbott’s meditation on if modern Paganism is slowly becoming the ‘default spirituality’ of teenagers, Paul Walker ‘walks on the wild side’ and visits a Pagan forum for the first time (spoiler: we’re nice!), and Steve Hayes talks literature, religion, and his different experiences with different generations of Pagans.

“But what I think may be even more significant is the time. I got the impression (which could be mistaken) that the neopagans of the 1960s and 1970s were engaged in a search for spiritual values in reaction against secular modernity. They failed to find those values in Christianity, because many Western Christians had sold out to secular modernity … In the 1990s, however, when I began communicating with neopagans and others electronically, I got a different impression (which could also be mistaken) – that many people who had turned to neopaganism in the 1990s had reacted not against secular values, but against religious ones, and those religious values were those of Christianity, or, perhaps more accurately, those which American sociologists have called “Judeo-Christian” when trying to describe the middle ground of US culture.”

I encourage those interested in Christian-Pagan dialog to visit the participating sites and share your own thoughts and opinions.