Thursday, December 7, 2017

Christianity vs. Paganism

By Reverend Mark Hunnemann

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,[g] in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for the lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. (ESV, but partially personally translated..Romans 1:18-25, bold added)

There is a visceral yearning to know that life is meaningful and has a basis for universal morals-the 2 are connected.And countless young people are seeking meaning in paganism. This is not merely an academic debate. In our spiritual quest for meaning, some of you are deeply confused or struggling…

Fundamentally, there are only two worldviews, and they are mutually exclusive: one based on the ultimacy of creation, which is paganism, and the other is based on the ultimacy of the self-existent Creator, which is Christianity. Paganism is not just another religious rival to Christianity, it is its antithesis or opposite because it denies the duality at the heart of all things (not dualism)—the transcendent Creator and His creation. As Camille Paglia put the difference: In the beginning, God vs. In the beginning, Nature.

From the text in Romans, pagans are guilty of the ‘great exchange’ (which is not so great) because they suppress the knowledge of the true God, and exchange it for the lie (definite article in Greek)-- which is worship of nature. As you can see from the text, this displeases God immensely.
I realize that paganism is an eclectic religion with many beliefs under its wide umbrella, but I trust that I express the hallmark of paganism accurately.
First, let me state emphatically that pagans do not worship Satan; they worship nature. Many don’t even believe in Satan.  Lucifer factors in for many, but I don’t have time to pursue that.

“Paganism sees the world as self creating (or perpetually existing) and self-explanatory. Everything is made up of the same stuff, whether matter, spirit, or a mixture. There’s one kind of existence, which, in one way or another, we worship as divine (or of ultimate importance) Though there is apparent differentiation and even hierarchy, all distinctions are, in principle, eliminated, and everything has the same worth. This is “Homocosmology”, a worldview based on sameness. The classic term for this is ‘paganism’. Worship of nature.”

”The only other option is a world that is the free work of a personal, transcendent God, who creates ex nihilo (from nothing). In creating, God was not constrained by or dependent on any preexisting conditions. There is God, and there is everything that is not God—everything created and sustained by the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This worldview celebrates otherness, distinctiveness. We only worship as divine the distinct, personal, triune Creator, who placed essential distinctions within the creation. (male/female, right/wrong, humans/non-humans, etc.) This is “heterocosmology”, a worldview based on otherness and difference. This is Christianity. (Peter Jones, The Other Worldview)

The Triune God structured the fabric of the cosmos on a principle of distinctions within unity, reflecting the very nature of the Trinity…answering the One and Many (unity and diversity)problem philosophers have argued about for millennia. Something you can see as soon as you step outside and see the astonishing diversity but underlying unity of nature.  The interpersonal communication between the members of the Trinity gives meaning to human communication. Paganism lacks this.

I say this gently, but Paganism does not have any evidence to support its veracity—unless you count its antiquity and experience as evidence.  But in the Garden of Eden, the first humans, Adam and Eve, were monotheists. It was soon afterwards that the ‘great exchange’ became exceedingly common. Nevertheless,  the evolutionary theory of religion has been debunked, which is precisely what the Word of Truth reveals happened. This is a crucial point but I can’t address it in detail. Perhaps a part 2…

 And its vast variety, which is seen as paganisms strength, is actually its weakness. Celtic, Nordic, Egyptian gods-which gods do you choose? It is like a spiritual smorgasbord in which WE determine what god exists for us. What kind of god is it that depends on our belief to exist? And are these gods strong enough to put all your weight on for meaning….especially in trials?

In Christianity, there is a consistent and persistent insistence that the Living God is the only God that is really there—who has spoken to us true truth in human language in the bible—not exhaustively, but truly. But there are no agreed upon sacred texts in paganism to subject to scrutiny to see if they are historically reliable, as there are in Christianity. The Old and New Testament documents have been subjected to intense and rigorous analysis— have been shown, beyond a reasonable doubt, to be reliable and trustworthy regarding historical details, and without contradiction or error, and supported by the archaeological evidence in astonishing detail. Albright and other archaeologists state that no findings in archaeology have ever contradicted the bible—and many findings confirm the astonishing accuracy of biblical record.

Hundreds of fulfilled prophecies…Dozens of fulfilled prophecies of Jesus (e.g. when, where He would be born)which will blow your mind-one in trillion 13th power as one converted Jew estimated…convincing evidence for the resurrection, evidence of the reliability of gospel narratives, evidence of design and personal Creator ect..If you are interested in this evidence, there are many lines of evidence to support Christianity (see Lee Stroebels books ) for honest seekers to pursue. Christianity is logic on fire, eloquent reason-an adequate basis for meaning, without unscrewing your head. No other religion claims God has entered space and time and left “footprints”. Certainly paganism can’t claim this.

One pagan wrote, in response to overwhelming evidence for Christianity:”the value of a religious faith is not how much it can be factually proven, but in the way it nurtures and facilitates a relationship between the worshipper and the divine. That is a metric that can only be evaluated by the people involved”.  In Christianity, it’s not an either/or. Rather we can confidently embrace the Lord with all of our heart because we know in our minds it’s true, because of the evidence.

Experience is a form of evidence—does it work? Christianity ‘works’ because it’s true, not vice versa. Numerous folks I know, like Laura Maxwell  (please see her Facebook page, “A Spiritual Quest”), used to be pagans and relied on their spirit guides and practiced various forms of divination, but when they began to question what they believed, they were attacked by these same entites, which God calls demons, and were freed by the saving power of Jesus of Nazareth, the God/man who died to set us free from demonic oppression.  I have helped dozens of families with hostile haunts. It is through the name of Jesus, and only through the name of Jesus, that unclean spirits are forced to leave—I’ve seen this with my own eyes many times. Pagan tools or means of cleansing houses is at best a temporary solution. My friend Dana Emmanuel has written an excellent article on faulty, pagan cleansing methods. She used to head a well-known paranormal investigation group.

Sage and other Spiritual Cleansing Techniques by Ex Paranormal Investigator – Dana Emanuel November 16,   this article has to do with all forms of spirit communication

It grieves me to say this, but the vast majority of hauntings can be causually traced back to various forms of pagan divination—tarot cards, EVP's, Ouija boards, etc.; this is empirically verifiable. When you attempt contact with spirit realm, which God lovingly forbids, then you are jumping into a diabolical domain. And you will be oppressed, whether you realize it or not. I ask this lovingly, but how many of you who are pagans have paranormal activity in your home?  All paranormal activity is demonic activity.

If you accept the Big Bang, then the scientific principle of Occam's Razor shaves away any notions of polytheism, and leaves us with one Creator. And Darwinism has faltered in the face of concrete facts and hard reason.

The only adequate pre-condition for meaning and morals is the triune God who has spoken true truth to us in the bible. As the great philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein cried out in despair that Nature was silent regarding the most basic questions-meaning. Nature cannot be self-explanatory as pagans assume. Nothing is big enough or personal enough to give us an “outside perspective”. How can we know something as basic as the meaning of life, unless Someone outside and above Nature communicates with us?  The universe, as physicists tell us, is not infinite and neither are the finite pagan gods…and nature is fundamentally impersonal. We NEED revelation from our Infinite/personal Creator to find meaning. Otherwise we are self-referential…trying to give ourselves meaning.  If we are merely the products of evolution-impersonal plus time plus chance, then we are personal warts on the face of an impersonal universe. Impossible to find meaning in that scenario.

If you saw a pool of spilled milk on the kitchen floor, you wouldn’t ask the spilt milk how it got there. You would ask a PERSON how it got there. I say this gently, my contention is that pagans (in a sense) ask the spilled milk how it got there when they look to Nature to explain nature and the meaning of life and morals. Like a pool of milk, Nature is not a Person nor is it infinite—it does not have the transcendent, Personal perspective to explain to us the “spilt milk”—the meaning of life and guidance in morals…and divination of nature and the universe is the same thing. Starting from ourselves and the universe we live in, our perspective is so severely limited, we are left painfully clueless. Why look to astrology or divination of nature when you can talk to the all-powerful, all-loving Creator of Nature for guidance or comfort? Besides, God condemns divination, in all forms. (Deuteronomy 18).

In the homo-cosmology of the pagan system, there is no qualitative difference between humans and the animals or even between humans and the grass…because all is one, and there are no creational distinctions, and all is equally endowed with the divine. There is no basis for a unique human dignity. Yet each of us knows deep down that there is a profound distinction between us and animals., not to mention the grass. Ironically, with its focus on nature, paganism is profoundly unnatural because its contrary to everything we existentially know about ourselves and nature.

Pagan gods and nature are finite. However, as Jean Paul Sartre, the atheistic French Existentialist, stated that “if a finite point does not have an infinite reference point, it is meaningless and absurd.” Everything is a finite point. You are..I am…From the finite, expanding universe to finite humans, we are ultimately absurd in pagan system, because there is no infinite reference point to give any of reality meaning. Nothing is big enough—not their gods, nor the universe…nothing is personal enough either. But the Christian God is infinite and personal, on the high order of Trinity…the only sufficient reference point to give life meaning.  He is both transcendent and immanent, as opposed to paganism where all is immanent.

The Living God has spoken to us regarding the meaning of life-love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength…and your neighbor as yourself. Simple, but simply profound and life-changing. An existential walk with the Creator of the universe who is too great NOT to care about all of our needs and fears.

Perhaps one will herald science as supportive of paganism, but Christianity is a necessary pre-condition for science.

Both AN Whitehead and Oppenheimer, neither who were Christians, stated that modern science could only have arisen in a Christian millue because the early modern scientists presupposed that a reasonable God created a reasonable universe, whereby man (who is created in His image) by use of his reason could discover God’s reasonable scientific Laws.  In other words, there is meaning.

They agree that paganism and its view of nature and reality, could never have given rise to modern science.

What about morals? You may express moral outrage at what Christians and their God have done. And Christians have acted horribly at times, and for that I’m sorry. But does the pagan system of homo-cosmology (sameness, fusion of opposites, as Jung said) have a sufficient basis for objective truth or morals? In this case, pagans are adamant that objective, absolute truth does not exist. Truth/morals is relative and subjective. I ask,” Are you Absolutely certain that absolutes do not exist”-that is a self destructive statement. In that system, right and wrong are human constructs. If that is the case, then the Marquis de Sade is correct…as is Dostoevsky…what is, is right.

Nature, for all its beauty and alleged divinity, is red in tooth and claw..full of cruelty. Natural disasters kill millions every year. The survival of the fittest is the credo of nature. Nature can’t be our guide. Without objective,moral absolutes, all we are left with are sociological or statisitical averages, or preference…morals as morals cease to exist…and who could say that Hitler was wrong, in a pagan system?  And yet nobody lives this way because they can’t. If one cannot live with the logical ramifications of their belief, then something is wrong. Some cultures have embraced pedophilia, cannibalism, polygamy…what if they claimed it helped them find self-realization and helped psychologically to embrace the divine within, who could say definitively they are wrong?  The 20th century was the bloodiest in history because the tyrants denied the reality of real morals. It leads to a horror of great darkness.

For the Christian, morality is permanently revealed in the bible, and is based on the unchanging character of the Triune God. Hence, moral absolutes exist and we can make ethical evaluations and distinctions. I add, they are given as a loving guide from a loving Father: Like tracks for a train to run on. What would happen if one day the train said that it was fed up with the constraints of the tracks, and jumped off the tracks? It would quickly wreck because it was MADE to run on the tracks…finds freedom within the form of the tracks.

Pagans are explicit in insisting on their autonomous freedom by jumping off the very tracks that were meant to guide and protect us from wrecking.  I know from talking to pagans that the desire to cast off all exterior moral constraints is central to the pagan mindset.

However, like the train, humans find freedom within the form of the tracks of normative biblical ethics, as well as security and protection. We punch ourselves in the face when we sin. God’s moral laws are woven into the very fabric of nature, as well as our conscience. Pagan ethics are unnatural because they ignore the God who created both humans and nature. Is it wise to brush away your Maker and then worship what He made?

In the bible the infinite/personal God communicates with finite/personal creatures and tells us what we couldn’t discover on our own. He alone can explain the spilled milk…give meaning and moral direction to our lives.

Please read the gospels and ask God to reveal to you who Jesus really is. He is your Creator and will give you eternal life if you bow before Him as your Savior and Lord.

Mark Hunnemann is the author of Seeing Ghosts Through God's Eyes: A Worldview Analysis of Earthbound Spirits. It's also available in eBook format.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I strongly disagree with the way you bash my religion. I'm a good person with a loving heart but because I'm not christian and I believe in Paganism I guess that doesn't matter. You can condemn us all you want but honestly I'd rather be peacefully in tune with my deities than fear them. I converted to Paganism when I was 18 years old and now I'm 35 years old and that was the best decision I ever made spiritually. It has helped me through hard times and has helped me overcome a lot of fears I used to have. I am at peace with Nature and myself. So if worshipping Nature and having nothing but good intentions in life makes me "evil" then so be it. Just remember christianity has Pagan DNA and that can never be changed.