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Author Topic: Pagan Christianity - is anyone familiar with this??  (Read 7311 times) Average Rating: 0
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jnorm888
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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".







JNORM888
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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
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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

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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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"Those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion is." -- Mohandas Gandhi
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