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Author Topic: Pagan Christianity - is anyone familiar with this??  (Read 7920 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: May 21, 2008, 04:22:11 PM »

I'm on another online forum and one of the members is recommending Pagan Christianity by Viola and Barna (George).   Red flags went up everywhere with a title like that.  I haven't read it, so how can I honestly respond to it.  Has anyone read the book?  Can they give me a synopsis and what its major flaws are?

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« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2008, 04:33:37 PM »

In the synopsis I read, it looks like they just point out how Church traditions (especially Catholicism) are rooted in Paganism. Even if the original Pagan meaning of the ritual has been replaced by a Christian one, that's 100% true, so I think it might be worth a read.
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« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2008, 04:48:54 PM »

This is from Amazon:
Quote
From the Inside Flap

Sorting out truth from tradition

Many Christians take for granted that their churchs practices are rooted in Scripture. Yet those practices look very different from those of the first-century church. The New Testament is not silent on how the early church freely expressed the reality of Christs indwelling in ways that rocked the first-century world.

Times have changed. Pagan Christianity leads us on a fascinating tour through church history, revealing this startling and unsettling truth: Many cherished church traditions embraced today originated not out of the New Testament, but out of pagan practices. One of the most troubling outcomes has been the effect on average believers: turning them from living expressions of Christs glory and power to passive observers. If you want to see that trend reversed, turn to Pagan Christianity . . . a book that examines and challenges every aspect of our contemporary church experience.
This begs the question of what they consider to be the Church. According to their introduction, "the church in its contemporary, institutional form has neither a biblical nor a historical right to function as it does (p. xx)." So what are they looking at as the contemporary, institutional church? At any rate, it sounds intriguing.
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« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2008, 05:28:55 PM »

The phenomenon of dvoeverie has received a fair amount of study.
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« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2008, 06:59:15 PM »

Wow, you guys are much more accepting than me.  I immediately assumed the worst.

Thanks

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« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2008, 07:01:30 PM »

The phenomenon of dvoeverie has received a fair amount of study.

I'm not sure what this is?  Huh
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« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2008, 07:08:38 PM »

I'm not sure what this is?  Huh

dual-faith, aka, syncretism?

such as the slavic penchant for mixing aspects of paganism and eastern orthodoxy? that's what comes to my mind anyhow.
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« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2008, 07:34:28 PM »

About this "dvoeverie" - oh yes, there is a lot of that in Slavic countries... In Ukraine, virtually everyone is confident that on February 2 (15), we are celebrating Stritennya, which literally means that Spring is meeting with Winter and replacing it. The week after Christmas is Kolyada, the word coming from the ancient Kolo Lada, "Circle of Order," a very old Pre-Christian symbol of eternal order established by the numerous gods of the forces of nature. People sing "Kolyadky," where it is sometimes mentioned that Christ is born, but a lot more often - that we wish this or that family to have more cattle and sausage and money in this New Year. The week after the Pentecost is Zeleni Svyata, Green Holidays, when people gather green twigs and grass and put that on the floor of their houses. St. John's Feast Day in June is always Ivana Kupala, when young people jump over bonfires in the woods, girls make wreaths of flowers and let them swim downstream forest creeks, and people are looking for a mysterious "fern flowers." Fall Orthodox holidays are Didy ("Grandfathers"), a series of extremely pagan feasts celebrating the memory of ancient founders of the tribe.

One of the funniest customs is on St. Basil's Day (January 1/14, an "old" or Julian New Year), when Ukrainians traditionally celebrate the "Malanka." For some reason, the folk tradition imagines Vasyl' (Basil) as a young lad who plows his field, and accidentally meets a young girl called Malanka, who is looking for two lost ducks. They fall in love, make out, etc. There is a very beautiful Malanka dance, which in recent years was somewhat modified, modernized, so it began to resemble a waltz. Of course, nobody ever mentions or remembers the "great Cappadocian Father," St. Basil the Great, St. Basil of Cesarea... Yet, I am sure that he does not mind and rejoices in heaven anyway. Smiley
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« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2008, 07:56:56 PM »

dual-faith, aka, syncretism?

such as the slavic penchant for mixing aspects of paganism and eastern orthodoxy? that's what comes to my mind anyhow.

The church certainly did not stamp out that which existed before.  The fervency of devotion to the Bogoroditsa was probably a direct carryover from earlier times.  It was at least an idea that made sense.

http://www.byzantines.net/epiphany/pentecost.htm
http://www.winterscapes.com/slavic.htm
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« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2008, 08:22:21 PM »

About this "dvoeverie" - oh yes, there is a lot of that in Slavic countries... In Ukraine, virtually everyone is confident that on February 2 (15), we are celebrating Stritennya, which literally means that Spring is meeting with Winter and replacing it. The week after Christmas is Kolyada, the word coming from the ancient Kolo Lada, "Circle of Order," a very old Pre-Christian symbol of eternal order established by the numerous gods of the forces of nature. People sing "Kolyadky," where it is sometimes mentioned that Christ is born, but a lot more often - that we wish this or that family to have more cattle and sausage and money in this New Year. The week after the Pentecost is Zeleni Svyata, Green Holidays, when people gather green twigs and grass and put that on the floor of their houses. St. John's Feast Day in June is always Ivana Kupala, when young people jump over bonfires in the woods, girls make wreaths of flowers and let them swim downstream forest creeks, and people are looking for a mysterious "fern flowers." Fall Orthodox holidays are Didy ("Grandfathers"), a series of extremely pagan feasts celebrating the memory of ancient founders of the tribe.

One of the funniest customs is on St. Basil's Day (January 1/14, an "old" or Julian New Year), when Ukrainians traditionally celebrate the "Malanka." For some reason, the folk tradition imagines Vasyl' (Basil) as a young lad who plows his field, and accidentally meets a young girl called Malanka, who is looking for two lost ducks. They fall in love, make out, etc. There is a very beautiful Malanka dance, which in recent years was somewhat modified, modernized, so it began to resemble a waltz. Of course, nobody ever mentions or remembers the "great Cappadocian Father," St. Basil the Great, St. Basil of Cesarea... Yet, I am sure that he does not mind and rejoices in heaven anyway. Smiley

That's extremely interesting! Maybe the little pagan girl in me has always been secretly fond of Ivana Kupola! ;)See there I am in the meadow, seeking flowers for my wreath!  Now (the tiresome question), how should we feel about this as Orthodox Christians? I know the Evangelicals would find this horrifying, offensive, and Evidence of the "darkness" of Orthodoxy...Evidence that their faith is the pure, unadulterated light of the Gospel and ours is some sort of diabolical compromise...after all, George has plainly laid out the damning evidence before our very eyes...

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« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2008, 08:34:19 PM »

The church certainly did not stamp out that which existed before.  The fervency of devotion to the Bogoroditsa was probably a direct carryover from earlier times.  It was at least an idea that made sense.

http://www.byzantines.net/epiphany/pentecost.htm
http://www.winterscapes.com/slavic.htm

Totally cool links, AMM. I always love learning about the old pagan ways, for some reason (is this wrong?).
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« Reply #11 on: May 21, 2008, 09:52:52 PM »

That's extremely interesting! Maybe the little pagan girl in me has always been secretly fond of Ivana Kupola! ;)See there I am in the meadow, seeking flowers for my wreath!  Now (the tiresome question), how should we feel about this as Orthodox Christians? I know the Evangelicals would find this horrifying, offensive, and Evidence of the "darkness" of Orthodoxy...Evidence that their faith is the pure, unadulterated light of the Gospel and ours is some sort of diabolical compromise...after all, George has plainly laid out the damning evidence before our very eyes...



Ho Hum.

The alphabet we are writing with has pagan (and religious) origins.

The days of the week in most European languages, as well as the months of the year have pagan names.  In the case of the months, the orgins are pagan: ditto the Hebrew calendar.

When Solomon built the temple, he had pagan Phoenicians do it.

Plenty of pagan temples ended up as Christian Churches (e.g. the Parthenon).

We don't celebrate the Unconquerable sun on Dec. 25: we celebrate the birth of the Unconquerable Son.  This might be a bad example, as it has now been argued that the Feast of the Unconquerable Sun was a pagan imitation of Christmas, in an attempt to coope the Church, much like Julian the Apostate would do later.

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy-mediate on these things.
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« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2008, 10:26:51 PM »

Totally cool links, AMM. I always love learning about the old pagan ways, for some reason (is this wrong?).

It shows the church isn't about obliterating culture but transforming it.
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« Reply #13 on: May 22, 2008, 04:39:24 AM »

I think G.K. Chesterton said something about Christianity preserving the good of paganism.  He was Catholic (though he said that as an Anglican, I think), but the same could apply to Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #14 on: May 22, 2008, 08:22:00 AM »




PAGAN-PARALLEL THEORY REFUTED

http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/cri/cri-jrnl/web/crj0163a.html

BOOKS REFUTING THE PAGAN PARALLEL THEORY

 Myth Became Fact, by C.S. Lewis

 The Gospel and the Greeks, by Nash

 The Case for the Real Jesus, edited by Lee Strobel

 The Riddle of Resurrection, by Mettinger

 


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« Reply #15 on: May 22, 2008, 08:53:03 AM »

I am sending this topic to the Free for all Religous Forum as the appropriate site for this topic. Please feel free to continue to post there.

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« Reply #16 on: May 22, 2008, 10:11:54 AM »

Why deny all the peoples but the ancient Hebrews who happened to live before Christ came the possession of parts of the Truth and prophetic insights? I personally love studying ancient mythologies and actually find in them proof of the universality of Orthodoxy - all peoples were prepared for the coming of the Messiah, not just the Jews!
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« Reply #17 on: May 22, 2008, 10:45:25 AM »

That's extremely interesting! Maybe the little pagan girl in me has always been secretly fond of Ivana Kupola! ;)See there I am in the meadow, seeking flowers for my wreath!  Now (the tiresome question), how should we feel about this as Orthodox Christians? I know the Evangelicals would find this horrifying, offensive, and Evidence of the "darkness" of Orthodoxy...Evidence that their faith is the pure, unadulterated light of the Gospel and ours is some sort of diabolical compromise...after all, George has plainly laid out the damning evidence before our very eyes...

Well, who was it - Origen, or Tertullian, or someone else? - who said that the human soul is always Christian... Smiley In this regard, really, I don't see any evil in the tacit transformation of the ancient Pagan holidays into Orthodox holidays WITH (not without) the local culture, customs... To me, it's so much better when young girls in Ukraine launch the traditional Ivana Kupala flower wreaths downstream and sing songs not mentioning "sweet Jesus," then when these same girls go to some adrenalin rush-based Charismatic gatherings and sing about "sweet Jesus" being accompanied by the roar of electric guitars, and then listen to a sermon by some pastor imported from the USA, teaching them that God particularly likes you when you are rich...
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« Reply #18 on: May 22, 2008, 11:15:57 AM »

Why deny all the peoples but the ancient Hebrews who happened to live before Christ came the possession of parts of the Truth and prophetic insights? I personally love studying ancient mythologies and actually find in them proof of the universality of Orthodoxy - all peoples were prepared for the coming of the Messiah, not just the Jews!

I completely agree... its just that there is a certain vein in Protestantism that, like Rosehip said, finds this appalling.  I have friends who refuse to use the word "Easter" because of the its pagan origins  Roll Eyes  I asked them why they were so afraid of a little word like "Easter".  But, that just offended them and they started quoting scriptures like "Whatever proceeds from the mouth...."  (insert: throwing up hands in frustration).
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« Reply #19 on: May 22, 2008, 11:26:35 AM »

I completely agree... its just that there is a certain vein in Protestantism that, like Rosehip said, finds this appalling.  I have friends who refuse to use the word "Easter" because of the its pagan origins  Roll Eyes  I asked them why they were so afraid of a little word like "Easter".  But, that just offended them and they started quoting scriptures like "Whatever proceeds from the mouth...."  (insert: throwing up hands in frustration).


Next time point out only English and German say Easter, the rest of the world says Pascha, the word for Passover in Hebrew.  They have a problem with the Hebrew Scriptures?
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« Reply #20 on: May 22, 2008, 11:35:22 AM »

Next time point out only English and German say Easter, the rest of the world says Pascha, the word for Passover in Hebrew.  They have a problem with the Hebrew Scriptures?

Not trying to quibble, but I thought Pascha was a Greek word derived from the Hebrew word Pesach, meaning Passover.
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« Reply #21 on: May 22, 2008, 11:40:23 AM »

Not trying to quibble, but I thought Pascha was a Greek word derived from the Hebrew word Pesach, meaning Passover.

That is the essence of his point, no?
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« Reply #22 on: May 22, 2008, 11:50:50 AM »

This article seems to show Orthodox missionaries utilizing evangelization with aspects of non Christian cultures that are within boundaries of God's natural law. http://www.theandros.com/witchcraft.html.
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« Reply #23 on: May 22, 2008, 12:49:49 PM »

There is a latin term that escapes me at the moment, describing exactly the replacement of the older order with a new one, converting the former´s symbols of authority to its own, to establish its power. And I think there has been a conversation about this in the past. Where the Christian Church prevailed over pagan religions, took over traditionally sacred places converting them to churches. The scope I think is precisely this: Replacement. There is not a pagan church AND a Christian church, a pagan celebration AND a Christian celebration. In the collective conscience, one must replace the other, leaving no space for both. In the collective mind, a place of worship can remain holy or sacred or special even after its decadence and the same happens with certain dates and religious customs that form part of a cultural tradition. Christianity incorporated and adapted some of them in its tradition (small t), when and where suitable, in order to reform the collective conscience accordingly. If something is holy, let it be holy because it is Christian now. It is a kind of consecration or Christian "baptism" of institutions, places and days, to make them new and good, for the sake of the new Christians. This is a humble theory, and badly put at that, as I have not studied the subject. I only remember my religion teacher who was a priest, telling us that the form of the Liturgy was partly inspired by the Greek ancient theatre in an attempt to appeal to the Greeks and the Romans when the Church was trying to get to the western world.
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« Reply #24 on: May 22, 2008, 06:21:24 PM »

Next time point out only English and German say Easter, the rest of the world says Pascha, the word for Passover in Hebrew.  They have a problem with the Hebrew Scriptures?

I have done that.  It wasn't much help...
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« Reply #25 on: May 22, 2008, 09:56:55 PM »

There is a latin term that escapes me at the moment, describing exactly the replacement of the older order with a new one, converting the former´s symbols of authority to its own, to establish its power. And I think there has been a conversation about this in the past. Where the Christian Church prevailed over pagan religions, took over traditionally sacred places converting them to churches. The scope I think is precisely this: Replacement. There is not a pagan church AND a Christian church, a pagan celebration AND a Christian celebration. In the collective conscience, one must replace the other, leaving no space for both. In the collective mind, a place of worship can remain holy or sacred or special even after its decadence and the same happens with certain dates and religious customs that form part of a cultural tradition. Christianity incorporated and adapted some of them in its tradition (small t), when and where suitable, in order to reform the collective conscience accordingly. If something is holy, let it be holy because it is Christian now. It is a kind of consecration or Christian "baptism" of institutions, places and days, to make them new and good, for the sake of the new Christians. This is a humble theory, and badly put at that, as I have not studied the subject. I only remember my religion teacher who was a priest, telling us that the form of the Liturgy was partly inspired by the Greek ancient theatre in an attempt to appeal to the Greeks and the Romans when the Church was trying to get to the western world.

Do you mean incultration?
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« Reply #26 on: May 23, 2008, 05:01:59 AM »

Why deny all the peoples but the ancient Hebrews who happened to live before Christ came the possession of parts of the Truth and prophetic insights? I personally love studying ancient mythologies and actually find in them proof of the universality of Orthodoxy - all peoples were prepared for the coming of the Messiah, not just the Jews!

Yes!  Orthodoxy is the perfection of all ancient religions.  Christianity is as universal as truth itself.
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« Reply #27 on: May 23, 2008, 05:22:54 AM »

I completely agree... its just that there is a certain vein in Protestantism that, like Rosehip said, finds this appalling.

Indeed.  I must say that the outright labeling of all things pagan as EVIL is a Protestant invention.  Unfortunately, it is a foolish presupposition that ultimately leads to agnosticism and even atheism.  On the internet forums alone, you will find many atheists attacking Christianity for being "pagan" as they win converts along the way.
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« Reply #28 on: May 23, 2008, 11:02:11 AM »

Indeed.  I must say that the outright labeling of all things pagan as EVIL is a Protestant invention.  Unfortunately, it is a foolish presupposition that ultimately leads to agnosticism and even atheism.  On the internet forums alone, you will find many atheists attacking Christianity for being "pagan" as they win converts along the way.

I think I agree to an extent. I have noticed that when Christians become over-zealous at blasting things "pagan" and equating them with things evil, the response usually is, "look, you yourself are a bunch of ignorant rootless, culture-less robots." There is a tremendous uprising of Neo-Paganism in my native Ukraine today, and perhaps to some extent it is provoked and nourished by the negative attitude of some Christian clergy to ancient pre-Christian customs, feasts, songs etc. Incidentally, the word "pagan" in the modern vernacular Ukrainian sounds like "pohanyn," and, very unfortunately, immediately reminds of the word "pohanyj" (bad, evil), even though semantically the word "pagan" means simply native, ethnic - not "bad."
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« Reply #29 on: May 23, 2008, 02:09:09 PM »

I recently found some photos of a group of wooden pagan gods in a Russian clearing. Apparently some zealous Orthodox stepped in and razed them to the ground, and in their place set out icons and candles. Wasn't sure if this was the most diplomatic  of gestures either...

Ironic that there are those who would accuse the Orthodox of being too lenient in allowing traces of paganism to coexist with the religion and yet the Orthodox also have their limits of tolerance in some cases.
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« Reply #30 on: May 23, 2008, 02:59:14 PM »

I think I agree to an extent. I have noticed that when Christians become over-zealous at blasting things "pagan" and equating them with things evil, t=

Yuri, yet this trait of separating the Sacred (good) and Profane (evil) is a basic tenant of Paganism.
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« Reply #31 on: May 23, 2008, 06:39:42 PM »

Next time point out only English and German say Easter, the rest of the world says Pascha,

This is incorrect.  There are some other languages that use a form of the word Easter such as Japanese where it is "I-suta-"

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« Reply #32 on: May 23, 2008, 06:59:30 PM »

I completely agree... its just that there is a certain vein in Protestantism that, like Rosehip said, finds this appalling.  I have friends who refuse to use the word "Easter" because of the its pagan origins  Roll Eyes  I asked them why they were so afraid of a little word like "Easter".  But, that just offended them and they started quoting scriptures like "Whatever proceeds from the mouth...."  (insert: throwing up hands in frustration).


Well, we avoided this subject during the Spring for the last couple of years, so I guess it's time to bring out the true information again.  "Pagan Origins"?  "Easter" in English comes from the Anglo-Saxon/ Old English word for the feast of the Resurrection.  There is one reference in Bede to his theory that there was some 'goddess' named "Eostre" and even saints can make mistakes.

In the Anglo-Saxon language "east" means "east" as in the direction the sun rises.  In John R. Clark Hall's A Concise Anglo-Saxon Dictionary can be found the list of words that have "Easter-" in them.  They refer in some way to the Christian feast, including "Eastremonad" ( the "d" is really an "eth" a letter we don't have now for a 'th' sound) which is "Easter-month" , that is April.

There is no Anglo Saxon 'goddess' named "Eostre", and I've seen some other really dubious things associated with this non-existant being such as a claim that the homone "Estrogen" is gets it name from that source.  (It doesn't)

So "Easter" is not a "pagan" word.   

Here are the links to the pertinent pages of Clark Hall:

http://lexicon.ff.cuni.cz/png/oe_clarkhall/b0085.png
http://lexicon.ff.cuni.cz/png/oe_clarkhall/b0086.png

They'll show up in very tiny print. Click on the symbol in the lower right corner to enlarge.

Ebor
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« Reply #33 on: May 23, 2008, 07:19:42 PM »

Ebor,

It's in the same vein as the whole "Samain was a Celtic God who demanded human sacrifice; hence Halloween is a satanic festival - and would you really like to sacrifice your children to the devil?" confusion that gets touted every October.
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« Reply #34 on: May 23, 2008, 08:54:42 PM »

Ebor,

It's in the same vein as the whole "Samain was a Celtic God who demanded human sacrifice; hence Halloween is a satanic festival - and would you really like to sacrifice your children to the devil?" confusion that gets touted every October.

Oh yes, and we've had a thread here about that in which that story was in, as I recall, the writings of an EO Bishop.  There is no such 'god' as "Samain/Samhain/Soween etc etc".  (just to make it plain to the casual reader  Smiley )

It's important to get the real, true information out, I think.

Ebor
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« Reply #35 on: May 23, 2008, 08:58:41 PM »

I completely agree... its just that there is a certain vein in Protestantism that, like Rosehip said, finds this appalling.  I have friends who refuse to use the word "Easter" because of the its pagan origins  Roll Eyes  I asked them why they were so afraid of a little word like "Easter".  But, that just offended them and they started quoting scriptures like "Whatever proceeds from the mouth...."  (insert: throwing up hands in frustration).


Just for information's sake, btw, the "Easter" is a pagan word from an Anglo-Saxon goddess bit has shown up in some EO places such as some time back on the "Indiana List" as I recall.  It's not just some branch of the Protestant Churches that puts that out.

Ebor
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« Reply #36 on: May 23, 2008, 09:02:00 PM »

Oh yes, and we've had a thread here about that in which that story was in, as I recall, the writings of an EO Bishop.  There is no such 'god' as "Samain/Samhain/Soween etc etc".  (just to make it plain to the casual reader  Smiley )

It's important to get the real, true information out, I think.

Ebor

I wholeheartedly agree. Last October, I received an email from a friend regarding what the EO Bishop had written, with the accompanying dire warnings, so I sent an explanation that he was just so far off base as to not even be on the field. Funny thing is, though, people would still prefer to believe the misinformation. I suppose it's more sensational than the truth.
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« Reply #37 on: May 23, 2008, 09:03:55 PM »

Just for information's sake, btw, the "Easter" is a pagan word from an Anglo-Saxon goddess bit has shown up in some EO places such as some time back on the "Indiana List" as I recall.  It's not just some branch of the Protestant Churches that puts that out.

Ebor

Exactly!
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« Reply #38 on: May 24, 2008, 07:17:11 AM »

I wholeheartedly agree. Last October, I received an email from a friend regarding what the EO Bishop had written, with the accompanying dire warnings, so I sent an explanation that he was just so far off base as to not even be on the field. Funny thing is, though, people would still prefer to believe the misinformation. I suppose it's more sensational than the truth.

Isn't that the truth.
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« Reply #39 on: May 24, 2008, 07:19:46 AM »

Thanks Ebor your explanation was helpful as well.
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« Reply #40 on: May 24, 2008, 07:25:22 AM »

Thanks Ebor your explanation was helpful as well.


You're very welcome.  I hope to be of service.  Smiley

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« Reply #41 on: May 24, 2008, 03:43:12 PM »

In terms of pagan influences, doesn't the Coptic Church use the Ancient Egyptians names for the months of the year?? They also use the Kemetic symbol, the ankh, AFAIK.

Last year for my history course, I wrote a paper on the Varangian-Rus (Scandinavians) and their influence on the early history of what is now Ukraine and Russia. I came across an article which was not bad, written about the Conversion of Ukraine in 988. Although I disagreed with the "dumbing-down" of a hagiographical account to the point of being just a sociological response to the events of the time, I do agree with the basic premise. That, all in all, past religions DO have an influence on a culture's acceptance of Christianity.

The Nine Noble Virtues of Asatru: Courage, Truth, Honour, Fidelity, Discipline, Hospitality, Self Reliance, Industriousness, Perseverance. Are any of those anti-Christian?? I don't think so. I think we should all practice those virtues. In this aspect, Asatru is perfectly valid as opposed to Satanism or the like. THAT SAID, believing in more than One God is NOT a belief I would espouse. The Orthodox Church is the Fullness of Truth. But others might have some truth.
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« Reply #42 on: May 24, 2008, 04:55:24 PM »

Last year for my history course, I wrote a paper on the Varangian-Rus (Scandinavians) and their influence on the early history of what is now Ukraine and Russia. I came across which was not bad, written about the Conversion of Ukraine in 988. Although I disagreed with the "dumbing-down" of a hagiographical account to the point of being just a sociological response to the events of the time, I do agree with the basic premise. That, all in all, past religions DO have an influence on a culture's acceptance of Christianity.

The Nine Noble Virtues of Asatru: Courage, Truth, Honour, Fidelity, Discipline, Hospitality, Self Reliance, Industriousness, Perseverance. Are any of those anti-Christian?? I don't think so. I think we should all practice those virtues. In this aspect, Asatru is perfectly valid as opposed to Satanism or the like. THAT SAID, believing in more than One God IS not a belief I would espouse. The Orthodox Church is the Fullness of Truth. But others might have some truth.


That is a very interesting point for consideration, Ukiemeister, and one that might be worth some more discussion.  The thought is in my mind about "pagan" that is pre-Christian *culture* as well as the religioun and how it has an influence on the acceptance of Christianity.  Two examples that came to mind (and this isn't totally thought through I'll admit) are Iceland and Japan.  The Icelanders voted to become Christian at the "Althing" the Gathering of the people to go over laws and suits and other affairs.  In Japan after some initial acceptance by some lords and a presence of about 45 years, the missionaries were expelled by order of Toyotomi Hideyoshi and there were martyrdoms.  From my reading this was based on the view of how Christianity would disrupt the social structure of the country as well as a possible threat from the Spanish and Portuguese to take over. The social aspect had to do with loyalty to one's family head/lord/Shogun in the hierarchy.   There were Christians there for some years but eventually it was forced deeply underground with known believers being executed and any attempts by missionaries to land there after the "Closing" dealt with by death.

What do you think?

Ebor
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« Reply #43 on: May 25, 2008, 05:37:06 PM »

That is a very interesting point for consideration, Ukiemeister, and one that might be worth some more discussion.  The thought is in my mind about "pagan" that is pre-Christian *culture* as well as the religioun and how it has an influence on the acceptance of Christianity.  Two examples that came to mind (and this isn't totally thought through I'll admit) are Iceland and Japan.  The Icelanders voted to become Christian at the "Althing" the Gathering of the people to go over laws and suits and other affairs.  In Japan after some initial acceptance by some lords and a presence of about 45 years, the missionaries were expelled by order of Toyotomi Hideyoshi and there were martyrdoms.  From my reading this was based on the view of how Christianity would disrupt the social structure of the country as well as a possible threat from the Spanish and Portuguese to take over. The social aspect had to do with loyalty to one's family head/lord/Shogun in the hierarchy.   There were Christians there for some years but eventually it was forced deeply underground with known believers being executed and any attempts by missionaries to land there after the "Closing" dealt with by death.

What do you think?

Ebor

I think Iceland and Japan are but two examples of the trend. Smiley Atheims in truth does not exist, everyone believes in a god, some merely choose to worship a false God; sex, power, wealth etc. The fact that religion exists outside of Christianity is indicative that humanity as a whole is subconciously aware that our humanity in its current state is a shattered and corrupted form of our true destiny. Thus, everyone tries to correct themselves, through seeking money, success, etc. or by worshipping Odin or Wesir or Krishna, or by seeking to follow the path of Buddha.

It is also interesting to note that the Japanese belief in the Emperor as divine is not dissimilar to what the Apostles expected Jesus to do, establish His Kingdom on Earth.
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« Reply #44 on: May 25, 2008, 07:54:01 PM »

I think Iceland and Japan are but two examples of the trend. Smiley

Well, yes, they were the first two that came to mind of cultures that shared some of the virtues mentioned.  And I think it might be worth a thought.

Quote
Atheims in truth does not exist, everyone believes in a god, some merely choose to worship a false God; sex, power, wealth etc.

I'm not an atheist, but I think that there would be some who would disagree with you on that point. 

Quote
The fact that religion exists outside of Christianity is indicative that humanity as a whole is subconciously aware that our humanity in its current state is a shattered and corrupted form of our true destiny. Thus, everyone tries to correct themselves, through seeking money, success, etc. or by worshipping Odin or Wesir or Krishna, or by seeking to follow the path of Buddha.

C. S. Lewis wrote about this more then once.  The Abolition of Man looks at some of the common morals and ethics in different places and times.  He also wrote of God sending "Good Dreams" to people in the times before the Incarnation.

Quote
It is also interesting to note that the Japanese belief in the Emperor as divine is not dissimilar to what the Apostles expected Jesus to do, establish His Kingdom on Earth.

 Huh  I'm sorry?  Could you please explain a bit of what you mean here?  I cannot see anything like that in the Kojiki that tells of the origins of the 'kami' and the descent of the Japanese Imperial House.   And "State Shinto" wasn't codified until after the Meiji Restoration in the mid-19th Century.

I would suggest that a more similar parallel for Christianity in Japan would have been that of "Amida Buddha" in Nembutsu and "Pure Land" Buddhism

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pure_Land

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« Reply #45 on: August 07, 2008, 06:13:14 PM »

I'm on another online forum and one of the members is recommending Pagan Christianity by Viola and Barna (George).   Red flags went up everywhere with a title like that.  I haven't read it, so how can I honestly respond to it.  Has anyone read the book?  Can they give me a synopsis and what its major flaws are?




Ben Witherington (a methodhist) wrote a four part review about it on his blog. I don't know if we are allowed to post blog links, but if you can find his blog....you'll see it.




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« Reply #46 on: September 23, 2008, 08:54:17 AM »

I'm on another online forum and one of the members is recommending Pagan Christianity by Viola and Barna (George).   Red flags went up everywhere with a title like that.  I haven't read it, so how can I honestly respond to it.  Has anyone read the book?  Can they give me a synopsis and what its major flaws are?




Ben Witherington (a methodhist) wrote a four part review about it on his blog. I don't know if we are allowed to post blog links, but if you can find his blog....you'll see it.




JNORM888

Thanks JNorm.  I found the blog. I bought the book over the summer, but didn't make it as far as Pastor Witherington.  I don't have a strong enough stomach (or an apologetic mindset) for this type of stuff. 

I was particularly miffed when they quoted Schmemann for their purposes but didn't give a reference so I could read it in context and figure out what the Father Alexander actually meant. 
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« Reply #47 on: October 01, 2008, 12:36:47 PM »

I will post a little of what he said on his blog: The mods can delete it or edited it as they see fit.


http://benwitherington.blogspot.com/2008/06/pagan-christianty-by-george-barna-and.html

Quote
"First a word of disclaimer. I know Frank Viola, indeed for some years he has asked me loads of good and telling questions via email. I did not really know what his take was on various matters, but I gladly answered his questions. It is interesting to me that this book appears to take no notice of various of these answers which I have given, nor are any of my works found in the bibliography at the end of the book. Perhaps I have missed something in the minutiae of the truly minute footnotes at the bottom of each page, but now I am wondering why exactly I have answered all those questions over the years. It’s a pity.

Frank Viola is a sharp person, but neither he nor George Barna really interact in this book with the scholarly literature that would call into question their strident claims and theses. They are arguing a particular case, and so they largely cite sources that support their case, for example Robert Banks’ work on Pauline house churches comes in for heavy usage. Their claim to present us with bare historical fact and to stand always on the Biblical high ground needs to be seen for what it is from the outset--- good and powerful rhetoric meant to warm the cockles of the hearts of all who affirm Sola Scriptura, but when one actually examines some of the major claims closely, they will not stand close and critical scrutiny.

I am quite sure that the immediate reaction of some to this book will be “Just what we need—another lambasting of the institutional church, by grandchildren of the radical Protestant reformation, sometimes called the Restoration Movement!” But we should all abide our soul in patience and hear the gentlemen out before deciding.............ect"

And this is a little of what he said in the second part

Quote
"WHAT’S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE’S PICTURE?’
In the second main chapter of Barna and Viola’s book Pagan Christianity, we are given a brief history of some forms and orders of worship, with perhaps a special emphasis on low church Protestant worship. Missing is a discussion of Catholic worship, various forms of Orthodox worship and Anglican worship. I suppose it is just assumed that these forms of worship are so unBiblical, that don’t even warrant discussion.


Perhaps, to be fair, it is because Barna and Viola are mainly preaching to their own choir (except they don’t much favor choirs or worship leaders), or at least to low church Protestant churches in general. My concern in this post is less with the historical analysis, though there are some flaws in the argument and flies in the ointment there (e.g. Zwingli did not hold a purely memorial view of the Lord’s Supper—see the work of Dr. Steinmetz of Duke fame on this point), but with its theological underpinnings which are faulty in various ways.


My concern is especially with the supposed Biblical view of worship they assume, assert, and sometimes argue for. I realize that the positive constructive project, where they argue their positive case is coming in their subsequent book Reimagining Church, however there is more than enough here in this book to make my hair stand on end, so I will be responding here especially to pp. 74-83.


Let me ask at the outset-- Is there anything wrong with small group meetings with lots of sharing—absolutely not, and God bless them. Is it worship? Well maybe in part when it gets around to focusing on God and not on talking to each other or exhorting each other or laying hands on each other. Mutual participation and open sharing is the model Barna and Viola are uplifting. A time together without an order of worship, without a liturgy, without a worship leader. What should we think of this notion?

Let’s start with a general point. If we want to base our theology of worship on a particular reading of 1 Cor. 11-14, as Barna and Viola seem largely to do, then the least we could do is get the analysis of the Pauline material right. The beginning of the description of bad and good worship actually happens in 1Cor. 8—and continues on through 1 Cor. 14. I do not have the time or the patience to work through all these chapters here--- again one can read what is said in my Conflict and Community in Corinth.

Some general points need to be made. It is interesting to notice how Paul actually contrasts real pagan worship with Christian worship. Firstly, Paul is contrasting real ‘pagan worship’ with Christian worship, not what Barna and Viola call pagan Christianity in their book with what they see as true spiritual Christian worship. Secondly, Paul does not critique pagan worship because it involves purpose built buildings, nor because it involves worship led by priests, nor because it involves sacrifices, nor because there were fellowship meals involved of various sorts. None of those things come in for any criticism at all in 1 Corinthians, which is passing strange if Paul had problems with those aspects of truly pagan worship.


As I say, none of these factors come in for Paul ‘sturm und drang’ in his critique. What he critiques is the spiritual influence of false gods, which he calls ‘daimons’ -- the only time he uses such language in his letters. He assumes that what is behind paganism is not nothing, not no spiritual forces or beings, but rather false gods who are in fact unclean spirits, or demons who can bewitch, bother and bewilder Christians. And so he wants his Christians to stay away from their deleterious spiritual influence. No more going to pagan feasts or worship in pagan temples. And no causing one’s brother or sister to stumble by forcing them to violate their conscience by eating meat once sacrificed to an idol, if they have scruples against it.


Especially telling is when Paul says “you cannot drink in the cup of demons and the cup of the Lord too. You cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons.” Paul assumes that both the pagan and the Christian meals are sacramental in character that a spiritual transaction of some kind happens in them, and that the influence of the former leads to spiritual pollution and danger, whereas the influence of the Christian meal leads to spiritual renewal, communion with God and union with Christ’s body. To partake of it in an unworthy manner can lead to spiritual illness and even physical death.

Notice at the beginning of 1 Cor. 10.1-5 how very sacramental the language is that Paul uses to describe the Red Sea crossing and manna in the wilderness miracle. He draws an analogy with Christian baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Why? Paul knows perfectly well that the Red Sea crossing was not really a baptism, nor the manna miracle not really a communion meal.

There are two reasons he does this: 1) because he wants to warn his Corinthian converts that just because they had partaken of the Christian sacraments, this did not provide them with ‘eternal security’ from judgment or for that matter a spiritual protection from all spiritual harm if they went on participating in real pagan worship (not to be confused with current high church or institutional church worship); 2) equally importantly he does this because Paul believes there really is something going on in Baptism or the Lord’s Supper of a spiritual and even miraculous nature. The analogy breaks down if one admits miracle in the Red Sea Crossing and the manna, and then suggests that the Christian rites involve nothing more than potent symbols or memorial signs.

But this brings me to a further point. Why exactly had Paul referred to the Lord’s Supper using the term ‘the Lord’s table’? The term here is not ‘meal’ in the Greek, but ‘table’—trapedzēs. Could it be that there was actually a table involved, a piece of liturgical furniture, or something turned into a special table, in early Christian worship, even in homes? Well yes, this is not only possible but likely. The Lord’s Supper was not just a regular part of reclining and dining. It had its own table, and was a part of the regular Christian worship service in a home. This would be no surprise to a Gentile host who had his own altar, and indeed religious cabinet with the masks of his ancestors in it. My point is this-- even in homes there would have been religious items, religious altars, religious furniture. There is no reason Christian might not also have had such things in their homes, rededicated to Christ for example. And so let us analyze for a minute what Paul tells us in 1Cor. 10-14............ect"





It's a long 4 part review of the book itself. He may make some mistakes (because he's looking at the issue with Protestant glasses on), but over all it should be good. After all, the book was written by radical protestants, and this review is from a scholarly protestant. Who teaches at Asbery Theological Seminary (A methodist Seminary).


He also posted a 4 part review for the second book that just came out by the same people that wrote "pagan christianity".







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« Reply #48 on: June 30, 2010, 08:59:56 PM »

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,20708.msg449718.html#msg449718 (A refutation)
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« Reply #49 on: July 01, 2010, 03:40:21 AM »

For those enquiring about the word "Easter,"  I am taking the liberty of sending this posting by Caedmon Parsons which has appeared on many Orthodox lists.
Fr Ambrose
            ~*~*~*~*~*

There does not seem to be *any* English form of the word "Pascha"; Orthodox England never called the feast anything but Easter.

There is absolutely no evidence for a Germanic goddess *Eostre with a name in any way resembling the word "Easter". Rather than the term being derived from a goddess, the supposed goddess is derived from the term. She was postulated by certain 19th century Germanic scholars in an attempt to explain the etymology of the word. These same scholars (foremost among them the Grimm brothers, famous for their folk-tale collections and less well-known as the discoverers of the "Indo-European" linguistic family) had a very definite nationalist/ethnic agenda in which they were trying to rediscover the "real" roots of German culture. Thus the folk-tale collection's avowed purpose was to search for "survivals" of pre-Christian Germanic religion and culture.

The later connection of this invented figure to Astarte was sheer fundamentalist propaganda based on a coincidental similarity in sound.  Having dismissed Nativity/Christmas because it's timing coincides with a number of pagan solar festivals, those fundamentalist groups which criticize all celebration of "holy days" thereby sought to discredit "Easter" whose general timing is well laid out in the Bible. If there was a connection, it would be the only case of a Sumerian/Canaanite word coming into the Germanic languages without first passing through Hebrew and/or Greek into Latin and then into Germanic via the medium of Christianity.

There is some by no means conclusive evidence of a festival or holy day connected to the spring solstice. However, every recorded instance of the word's usage has clear Christian connotations (i.e., if it ever was a pagan festival, it had effectively disappeared by the time people wrote using the term "Easter"). As to why this word is used in English and German: It is used in German for the simple reason that the pagans of modern-day Germany were missionized by Anglo-Saxon Christians such as St. Willibrord or the two St. Hewalds. The Germans thus got "Easter" the same way the Russians got "Pascha. -from those who missionised them

In England itself, this is the type of theoretical issue Anglo-Saxonists enjoy arguing. There appears to have been a very strong cultural bias among the Anglo-Saxons against other languages. While their Latin
missionaries and then their own churchmen obviously knew and used Latin, there was remarkably little borrowing from Latin into English at this time. In almost every instance, the English Church took existing English words to express ecclesiastical terms (thus "sanctus" was translated by "haelig" [holy, healthy, whole] and Old English uses haelige John not St. John, "haeliged" [hallowed] rather than sanctified, etc) rather than simply borrowing the Latin (the modern preponderance of Latin loan words for ecclesiastical terms is a product of the post 1066 Norman invasion) In addition to Latin books, Old English had the most active vernacular literature (primarily Christian) of any Western area prior to the millenium. There is an extant translation of the gospel of John which is the oldest translation of the Bible into a western vernacular with the exception of Bishop Wulfilas Arian translations into Gothic (itself another Germanic language).

IOW, the presence of the word "Easter" is actually a product of the vibrant "Orthodoxy" of the Anglo-Saxon Church which unlike later periods did not suppress the resident culture in favor of an all-embracing Latinism but rather transformed (in accord with the guidelines given to St. Augustine of Canterbury by St. Gregory the Great) the entire language and culture. Although I myself generally use "Pascha" because it is the common usage among Orthodox now, I find attempts to dismiss as "pagan" a genuinely true survival of English Orthodoxy very problematic.

The roots of the word conveyed an image of both "rising" and "dawning."

Word-list (from J.R. Clarke-Hall's _A Concise Anglo-Saxon Dictionary_)
*east*  I. adj. east, easterly. II. adv. eastwards, in an easterly
direction, in or from the east*eastan* from the east,
easterly*eastanwind* east wind *eastcyning* eastern king*eastdael*
eastern quarter, the East*easte* the East
*eastende* east-end, east quarter*Eastengle* the East Anglians: East
Anglia
*Easteraefen* Easter-eve*Easterdaeg* Easter-day, Easter Sunday
*Easterfaestan* Easter-fast, Lent*Easterfeorm* feast of Easter
*Easterfreolsdaeg* the feast day of Passover
*Eastergewuna* Easter custom (appears only in the 9th century sermons of
Aelfric where he is reffering to Christian Easter practices)
*Easterlic* belonging to Easter, Paschal*Eastermonath* Easter-month,
April
*Easterne* east, eastern, oriental*Easterniht* Easter-night
*Eastersunnandaeg* Easter Sunday*Eastersymble* Passover (lit. Easter
gathering)
*Eastertid* Eastertide, Paschal season*Easterthenung* Passover
*Easterwucu* Easter Week
and then we return to compounds of "east-" [eastern x] except for
thenominative
*Eastre* Easter, Passover, (possibly) Spring.

Furthermore, there does not seem to be *any* English form of the word "Pascha"; Orthodox England never called the feast anything but Easter.

And while I find the etymological connection of Easter and astiehen (the infinitive of the verb the revived post referred to) doubtful, the *pun* of Eastre, astah is very obvious in Anglo-Saxon.
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« Reply #50 on: July 01, 2010, 03:47:16 AM »

There was no deity called Samhain who was the Lord of Death. The Orthodox bishop who apparently believes in him has picked up this canard from who knows where. 
 
Let's not take up arms against the resurgence of paganism by equipping our people with false "truths"..  We are doing them a disservice by offering them weapons of untruth.
 
Samhain is pronounced "sow-in" (where "ow" rhymes with "cow").  Samhain is simply Irish Gaelic for the month of November. 
 
The god Samhain myth first appears in the year 1770 when Col. Charles Vallency wrote a 6 volume set of books which attempted to prove that the Irish people once came from Armenia!!    Geoffrey Higgins Samhain then  promoted this error of a supposed god in a book in 1827 when  he attempted to prove that the Druids originally came from India. The error might have originated in confusion over the name of Samana, an ancient Vedic/Hindu deity.

I have located a website which may not be everyone's favourite but it will provide a resource if anybody has the interest in dealing with this modern myth of a god named Samhain.

http://www.religioustolerance.org/hallo_sa.htm

Fr Ambrose
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« Reply #51 on: December 16, 2013, 03:35:00 PM »

Pagan Christianity is really an anti-liturgical, sola-scriptura screed.

For what it's worth, the sequel to Pagan Christianity -- Reimagining Church -- is free today and tomorrow. (Not that I recommend it, but it is free, so hey.)
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« Reply #52 on: December 16, 2013, 08:48:11 PM »

The theory that Easter or Halloween were named after Pagan gods is incorrect from a Pagan standpoint as well as a Christian one. Surprisingly enough many pagans fight the same misinformation within the Pagan circle as Christians do within the denominations. The term "pagan" technically comes from the Latin paganus meaning country dweller or civilian, so yes like a pp said native would be a correct translation of this. When it comes to religions pagan religions encompass a large group of religions which would include just about anything non-Abrahamic. A lot of people mistakenly deduce paganism to witchcraft and Wicca which it often isn't. Wiccans are a type of pagan and most do practice some form of witchcraft although there are other pagans that practice witchcraft without being Wiccan and still more pagans that are neither Wiccan or practice witchcraft.

As for the holidays, Samhain is said to be from the Gaelic word for "November" and is thought to be derived from sam-fuin, meaning end of summer. This festival was considered the Celtic New Year and was a time for honoring the dead and cleansing in preparation for winter (the dark part of the year). Eostre or Ostara (OH-star-a) is still very much debated. It is commonly considered to be named after a spring goddess named Eostre as previously mentioned and this theory is in debate even among the pagans. The Anglo-Saxon name for April when Ostara often falls was Eastermonath and is said to come from that goddess. The Frankish name for this month is Ostarmanoth and is where the Ostara version of the name comes from. Regardless of the name debates though this festival occurs at the Spring Equinox and is considered to be a time of renewal and rebirth when the light part of year begins again.

Finding the links between the various cultures and religions over time can be intriguing but I honestly think it's so misunderstood because so many people don't want to be understanding and accepting. Contrary to popular belief paganism isn't usually evil in any sense beyond being non-Christian. The most common evidence of this is the Wiccan Rede or other Three Fold Law and similar commonly believed and practiced by most pagans, which basically boils down to "Harm None." It is always wrong to do something to intentionally harm another living being and karma is strongly believed in.

And although they hate to hear it... Satanism and other devil worshiping groups are NOT pagan. They are Christian. The devil is a Christian invention/belief/etc and is not believed in by pagans thus anyone worshiping the Devil adheres to some Christian beliefs even if they've taken to the dark side with it.

I agree with the culture appropriation though. There are many similarities in religions and I don't believe any of it is based on any one group "stealing" from the other. Most festivals in ancient times were based off of a astrological or agricultural event and that determined the theme of the festival and time of year for it. This kind of influence would have applied to many people regardless of specific religion. Even if the Christians did get some things from Paganism I don't see the harm in it. If it is not explicitly against doctrine then there is no harm. I think it really comes down to intent. If you can use something to your benefit to help you connect to God and have a better relationship with him then use it!
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« Reply #53 on: December 16, 2013, 09:18:22 PM »


And although they hate to hear it... Satanism and other devil worshiping groups are NOT pagan. They are Christian.
Christians worship Christ. Satanists do not worship Christ. Therefore, Satanists are not Christian. QED.
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« Reply #54 on: December 17, 2013, 12:59:40 AM »


And although they hate to hear it... Satanism and other devil worshiping groups are NOT pagan. They are Christian.
Christians worship Christ. Satanists do not worship Christ. Therefore, Satanists are not Christian. QED.

They are a sect of Christianity like the many other denominations. The Devil is an aspect of Christianity. If you did not believe in the Bible or any information in it you also would not believe in the Devil that is derived from said Bible. Thus Satanism is a sect of Christianity although people that believe in Christ and follow him are called Christians and people that believe in the Devil are called Satanists they are both still sects of the same arena.
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« Reply #55 on: December 17, 2013, 09:42:37 AM »


And although they hate to hear it... Satanism and other devil worshiping groups are NOT pagan. They are Christian.
Christians worship Christ. Satanists do not worship Christ. Therefore, Satanists are not Christian. QED.

They are a sect of Christianity like the many other denominations. The Devil is an aspect of Christianity. If you did not believe in the Bible or any information in it you also would not believe in the Devil that is derived from said Bible. Thus Satanism is a sect of Christianity although people that believe in Christ and follow him are called Christians and people that believe in the Devil are called Satanists they are both still sects of the same arena.
I think the word you're looking for in describing satanism is "biblic" (deriving from the Bible) rather than "Christian" (centered on Christ).
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If you will, you can become all flame.
Extra caritatem nulla salus.
In order to become whole, take the "I" out of "holiness".
सर्वभूतहित
Ἄνω σχῶμεν τὰς καρδίας
"Those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion is." -- Mohandas Gandhi
Y dduw bo'r diolch.
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