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Author Topic: Can a Person, by TC's Definition, Be Pagan and Follow the Teachings of Jesus?  (Read 27066 times)
Tana
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« Reply #15: January 13, 2010, 11:40:46 am »

Well, the question I pose as a pagan is why couldn't a he/she be a person is a Christian Pagan or Jewish Pagan? Why couldn't they follow and believe in Jesus in a pagan method?

On a personal level one can believe and practice whatever they want, how contradictory ever.
Problems start to occur if they start to claim to be a thing, that they are clearly not.

They can mix Christianity in, but they are not Christian, because this religion does not accept mixing and matching.
They can be a Christian witch, all they like, but strangely enough I've never met one, that accepted the fact, that they will end up in Christian hell for being this. Wink
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« Reply #16: January 13, 2010, 11:47:57 am »

On a personal level one can believe and practice whatever they want, how contradictory ever.
Problems start to occur if they start to claim to be a thing, that they are clearly not.

They can mix Christianity in, but they are not Christian, because this religion does not accept mixing and matching.
They can be a Christian witch, all they like, but strangely enough I've never met one, that accepted the fact, that they will end up in Christian hell for being this. Wink

Not all Christians believe you're going to hell for witchcraft. Some denominations (I'm thinking the Presbyterian church my family attends) don't believe that other religions are going to hell, either. There's a lot of variety within Christianity, and leaving out the less savory aspects doesn't necessarily make one not Christian. For example, one of the Christian witches who belonged to my school's Pagan group believed that she was following in the footsteps of Jesus as a healer and that her power came directly from God.
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« Reply #17: January 13, 2010, 11:54:44 am »

Not all Christians believe you're going to hell for witchcraft. Some denominations (I'm thinking the Presbyterian church my family attends) don't believe that other religions are going to hell, either. There's a lot of variety within Christianity, and leaving out the less savory aspects doesn't necessarily make one not Christian. For example, one of the Christian witches who belonged to my school's Pagan group believed that she was following in the footsteps of Jesus as a healer and that her power came directly from God.

That's true and the denominations are often enough in conflict about what's right to believe.
And AFAIK some call others no true Christians.

But there are some core things within, that never change, aren't they?
Like the 'No other gods' thing and so on.

But well, I'm no expert on this anyway.






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« Reply #18: January 13, 2010, 12:03:30 pm »

That's true and the denominations are often enough in conflict about what's right to believe.
And AFAIK some call others no true Christians.

But there are some core things within, that never change, aren't they?
Like the 'No other gods' thing and so on.

But well, I'm no expert on this anyway.

Not all Pagans are polytheists. One could easily see God as Deity. If one believes in other deities, it could be a form of soft polytheism and that they're all reflections of God.

In my Bible class last semester, we discussed the commandment "Thou shall have no other gods before me." There's actually room for interpretation on this. Did God mean to tell Moses that he is the One True and Only God? Or just that Moses couldn't worship any of the other gods? Or that Moses couldn't put any of those gods before Yahweh? Yes, the majority of Christian interpretation on this is the One True and Only God, though personally I would argue that this is not the most important aspect of Christianity. Then again, I'm no longer a Christian, and maybe I'm arguing about the color of my invisible unicorn. Smiley
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« Reply #19: January 13, 2010, 12:13:41 pm »

Not all Pagans are polytheists. One could easily see God as Deity. If one believes in other deities, it could be a form of soft polytheism and that they're all reflections of God.

And that would be fine from a pagan perspective, but it's a little more questionable from the Christian angle.

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In my Bible class last semester, we discussed the commandment "Thou shall have no other gods before me." There's actually room for interpretation on this. Did God mean to tell Moses that he is the One True and Only God? Or just that Moses couldn't worship any of the other gods? Or that Moses couldn't put any of those gods before Yahweh?

Did you go back to the original and discuss the ways in which that commandment could be translated, or did you work from an English translation?  I ask because I've seen this argument many times before and I can never remember whether I've seen anyone mention whether the original is a little clearer than "no other gods before me" than English translations tend to be...  I hesitate to say that there's a loophole there without knowing what was actually said to begin with.
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« Reply #20: January 13, 2010, 12:23:43 pm »

Did you go back to the original and discuss the ways in which that commandment could be translated, or did you work from an English translation?  I ask because I've seen this argument many times before and I can never remember whether I've seen anyone mention whether the original is a little clearer than "no other gods before me" than English translations tend to be...  I hesitate to say that there's a loophole there without knowing what was actually said to begin with.

We worked from NRSV and talked about the different hypotheses of when the Old Testament was written and what was going on politically/religiously at the time. Unfortunately most of my sources and notes are still at school, so at the moment I can't do much more than say "And this is what we talked about in class!"

I don't mean to say that if you take the Bible and squint, you can make it magically okay with Paganism. I feel like since not all Christians take the Bible literally, there is definitely leeway. Personally, I have no trouble with someone calling themselves Christian if they believe that there is Deity, Deity sent his son to make the world less sucky, and that the son says that people should be nice to each other. Then again, as you pointed out, I'm taking a very Pagan (and very loose) perspective on this, so your mileage may definitely vary.
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« Reply #21: January 13, 2010, 12:43:41 pm »

Has there ever been a poster here who is pagan and follows the teachings of Jesus, or is that even possible by the Cauldron's definition?  And did they have a label for themselves?  I understand that a "Christian Pagan" is an oxymoron, but if one believes in Jesus as a teacher and prophet, but not as Christ, then that person isn't Christian.

Another thing for you to think about whilst you are looking at all this: I was always taught to look to the Bible for answers when I was in school, and it is something that my family always say. One of the major differences between Paganism and Christianity, for me, is that Paganism isn't just about answers, it's about finding out what questions to ask. Learn to question, understand that you will never cease to learn, and you will begin to learn wisdom (and the only stupid question is the one that you don't ask). Philosophical, I know, but still true.  Smiley
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« Reply #22: January 13, 2010, 01:32:43 pm »

Not all Christians believe you're going to hell for witchcraft. Some denominations (I'm thinking the Presbyterian church my family attends) don't believe that other religions are going to hell, either. There's a lot of variety within Christianity, and leaving out the less savory aspects doesn't necessarily make one not Christian. For example, one of the Christian witches who belonged to my school's Pagan group believed that she was following in the footsteps of Jesus as a healer and that her power came directly from God.

Herein lies another question: what is the definition of Christian?

Now, I know it might seem easy, but with the huge number of different groups of Christians out there, is there a real solid definition of "Christian"? And, if there is, does being a Christian witch or Christian Pagan or any other amalgamation actually break the rules for what ids Christian?

For the record, when I was deep in my studies of comparative religion; my personal definition of Christian was one who followed the teachings of Christ (not necessarily the teachings of His followers). With that as the only caveate, it would be pretty easy to self identify as a Pagan Christian, or most any other kind of Christian for that matter.
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« Reply #23: January 13, 2010, 01:56:54 pm »

For the record, when I was deep in my studies of comparative religion; my personal definition of Christian was one who followed the teachings of Christ (not necessarily the teachings of His followers). With that as the only caveate, it would be pretty easy to self identify as a Pagan Christian, or most any other kind of Christian for that matter.

One follows the teachings of Christ, but one is also part of the community of Christ followers, and that community is unlikely to take a "Christian" who also openly considers themselves pagan as part of them.
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« Reply #24: January 13, 2010, 03:08:28 pm »

One follows the teachings of Christ, but one is also part of the community of Christ followers, and that community is unlikely to take a "Christian" who also openly considers themselves pagan as part of them.

*nods*  The official, theological definition of "Christian" is "in communion with Nicea" -- that is, the Nicene Creed.  There are a few exceptions:  the Mormons and the Unitarians differ in parts from the Nicene Creed, but because both grew out of a Christian theological context, they're still considered part of the family; as are the Copts, who, IIRC, predate the Creed.  If you're not in communion with Nicea -- or part of an established group that grew out of a community that was -- not Christian.

That said, for a major part of the history of Christianity, a significant number of people who were labeled -- and who understood themselves -- as Christian wouldn't necessarily have been fully so, by that definition, mainly because they wouldn't have been *aware* of big chunks of Christian teaching.  The Christian conversion of Europe was, after the first few generations, a very top-down affair, and education was a privilege of the upper classes.  Even priests were not necessarily likely to have much understanding of Christian doctrine; some were pretty much illiterate, and barely more educated than the peasants they were supposed to be guiding.  Pre-Christian stuff hung on all over the place: some were, as per Pope Gregory I's directive, incorporated into Christian practice; others were private enough, or considered insignificant enough, that they just kept on going.  Keith Thomas, in Religion and the Decline of Magic, remarked that the Christianity of the common people from late antiquity through the early Renaissance resembled syncretic religions like Vodoun and Santeria more than it resembled orthodox Christianity. 

While it's tempting for modern Pagans to label this as active resistance to Christianity, it probably wasn't, for most people.  This is a bit oversimplified, but Christianity is an orthodoxic (right-belief) religion, rather than an orthopraxic (right-practice) one, and you need to *learn* what the right beliefs are -- and education was a privilege of the few.  By the medieval period, most people considered themselves Christian, but there were also plenty of common folk doing all kinds of stuff that were clearly pre-Christian holdovers -- and not being aware of any problem with it.  There were plenty of churchmen willing to fulminate against "false gods" and the like, but whether or not the average peasant was connecting that to their own folk practices is unclear.  The problems came when folk practices started running up against the orthodoxy police.

So, historically, Christo-paganism is a very real thing.  However, it's difficult to say, once you get past the early conversions period, how much of it was a *conscious* choice on the part of believers.  By the High Middle Ages, most Europeans considered themselves fully Christian, even when churchmen attacked some of their practices as un-Christian.  Again, this is a natural consequence of an orthodoxic religious culture in which very few had access to formal religious education.

However, that's *historically*.  Today, with widespread education, it becomes a bit harder to jerryrig a Christo-pagan system; historical Christo-paganisms grew organically, out of a context in which comprehensive knowledge of Christian doctrine was a rarity.  That doesn't mean it can't or shouldn't be done, just that it's going to take some thought, and that you shouldn't call yourself a Christian, full stop. 

It's going to require some work -- a lot depends on what pieces of Christianity you're incorporating into which system -- but it's certainly not impossible.  There's nothing wrong with being, or saying, "influenced by Christianity."  Or of worshipping Jesus as "one among many" divine beings.  Or whatever.  There are *multiple* ways of incorporating Jesus into a non-Christian philosophy, from hard polytheism to the fairly common modern ecumenical attitude of "all are emanations of the One," and tons of stuff in between.  It ain't orthodox Christian doctrine, but again, as long as you're not calling yourself a full-stop Christian, with no modifying adjectives, it's both possible and historically well-attested, from the conversions period to the present day.       

I have no problems with either the concept or the term "Christo-paganism."  There have been numerous examples of such systems both historically and in the present day -- a lot of the 19th-c. occult organizations that many modern pagan religions owe so much to were effectively Christo-pagan, in that they tended to articulate where Jesus fit into their systems in some form.  And the term itself makes clear that it *is* a syncretism we're talking about, not plain old Christianity.                       
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« Reply #25: January 13, 2010, 03:20:44 pm »

Did you go back to the original and discuss the ways in which that commandment could be translated, or did you work from an English translation?  I ask because I've seen this argument many times before and I can never remember whether I've seen anyone mention whether the original is a little clearer than "no other gods before me" than English translations tend to be...  I hesitate to say that there's a loophole there without knowing what was actually said to begin with.

IIRC, the original idiom translates as "where I can see you".
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« Reply #26: January 13, 2010, 06:01:32 pm »

I just read Star's article on "Why We're Touchy About Defining Paganism" and I have a question, being new here and not having had time to read all the thousands of back-posts.

Has there ever been a poster here who is pagan and follows the teachings of Jesus, or is that even possible by the Cauldron's definition?  And did they have a label for themselves?  I understand that a "Christian Pagan" is an oxymoron, but if one believes in Jesus as a teacher and prophet, but not as Christ, then that person isn't Christian.

If you throw out the rest of the bible and just keep the gospels, it seems--to my interpretation--to be a great panentheistic revelation.  But according to most churches, of course, that's heretical.

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« Reply #27: January 13, 2010, 06:54:41 pm »

IIRC, the original idiom translates as "where I can see you".
Wait, like "no other gods where I can see you"?
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« Reply #28: January 13, 2010, 10:07:27 pm »

Wait, like "no other gods where I can see you"?

Yep.

"Before me" in that case being, I think, "in front of my face".
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« Reply #29: January 14, 2010, 03:18:16 am »

Yep.

"Before me" in that case being, I think, "in front of my face".

*scratches head*
Ooookeeeey...... now that's kinda strange.
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