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December 22nd. 2013 ...
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Death of a Friendship within the Craft
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Pagans and Jesus
Article ID: 11215
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 2,570
Times Read: 4,222
RSS Views: 73,877
Author: Chris K Underwood
Posted: February 25th. 2007
Times Viewed: 4,222
I have seen numerous times an article floating around on the web proposing the theory that if Jesus were alive today, he would be a Witch. Other articles abound proclaiming that Jesus was a Witch or listing his "Witchy" attributes. Another article I read recently spoke of how pagans should use Jesus as deity just as any other gods or goddess.
I have nothing against the well-meaning authors of these articles and can appreciate their beliefs and attitudes. However when I talk about subjects like this one, someone invariably accuses me of either not being “tolerant” or with having some kind of problem with Christianity.
Neither is true. People can worship and believe as they chose and I have no problem with Christians. This does not concern tolerance. Instead, it is about my opinion on the topic.
From my perspective, Jesus has no place in paganism or Wicca.
Lets examine why I feel this way.
Jesus was a Jew who lived approximately 2000 years ago. Whether the man actually existed at all is subject for debate. The Jews during that time period, of course, had their own theology and legends -- not to mention their close association with pagan individuals and groups.
Most contemporary Jews did not consider Jesus to be a god or the “embodiment” of god. There were a number of “Messiah” figures during that time period and the primary attitude of both the Jews and Pagan Romans was that these individuals were either fakes or deluded.
The purpose of this article is not to debate these issues; I will leave it up to the followers of Jesus and other interested parties to debate whether the man lived and/or was a god.
My purpose here is to talk about any supposed relation Jesus has with paganism currently or historically.
The word ‘pagan’ itself does not lend credence to the idea of adding Jesus to pagan beliefs. Literally meaning, “the people from the country”, the etymology of the word stems from a historical period when many were converting from Pagan beliefs to Christian ones. In most cultures, especially from around 300 CE to 1800 CE, the people of a given land were required to believe and worship as the monarchy or other leadership dictated.
Having little choice (since the alternative would invariably result in death), the people had to comply. Still some held their pagan beliefs in secret -- especially those who lived and worked outside the main urban areas. They were ‘pagans’.
Let’s look at some of the more popular Pagan cultures from before the time of Jesus.
The Sumerians, Babylonians, Egyptians, Norse, Celts, Romans, Greeks, and many other cultures worshiped their Pagan gods hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of years before the birth of Jesus. Since these groups were not Christians, and flourished long before the advent of Christianity, they are the Pagan cultures that were later displaced by Christianity. Thus in its very essence, the word ‘pagan’ describes those who follow ideas that are pre-Christian in nature.
Another example of a predominantly Pagan trait is a polytheistic theology or system. Almost all of the ancient “Pagan” religions shared this common belief. It wasn’t until the advent of the “One God, one way” religious systems that polytheism was even debated or its believers forced to go underground. Christianity was not the first or last religion to foster this attitude, but due to the increased travel and expansion of civilization, the Christian monotheism belief spread.
Christianity has always had a ‘convert or destroy’ attitude toward other cultures and religions. Christmas is a prime example of this.
Originally, Christmas was celebrated on December 24 as the winter solstice since that was the original date in the old calendar system. With the spread of Christianity, the holiday was converted from pagan beliefs to Christian ones. Instead of being about the re-birth of the pagan god, it became about the birth of the Christian one. Traditions like gifts, Yule logs, decorated trees, and many others that were originally Pagan were given new Christian meanings.
My essay is not about Christian policies or habits. Many of the people who practiced these rites were former Pagans themselves who had converted. The issue here is how non-Pagans tend to try and Christianize those Pagan practices that they could not destroy.
So, are not these articles that encourage Pagans to use Jesus as deity doing the same thing?
Pagan beliefs and practices are just that: “Pagan”. This is well outside the Christian mainstream and has no relation whatsoever with Christianity.
It is not adversarial to our views, just separate. Much like the old adage about apples and oranges: they are similar things, but certainly different. If you want oranges, you are not going to go to an apple tree to get them.
Jesus of the New Testament is wonderful and certainly worth study. However, if you wish to follow and worship Jesus, then you are (by the very definition of the word) a Christian. If you are going to be a Pagan or Wiccan, then this person really has no devotional meaning beyond intellectual curiosity.
If a person claims to be pagan, but laments on Jesus as deity, then I submit that this person is not a pagan at all, but instead a Christian who either has one of two possible agendas.
One being that he/she wishes to become a Pagan but has not yet been able or willing to give up his/her original Christian beliefs in favor of a new Pagan theology. To put it bluntly, they wish to be Pagan but just can’t get past their Christian fears and guilt. (I’m not judging. To me, it does not matter if this person ever gives up their Christian leanings- they can do as they please.) Just remember that such personal beliefs do not give the person the right to change what everyone else believes.
The other possible agenda is that this is a person with a possible ulterior motive: that of a Christian who is claiming to be a Pagan in an attempt to convert (or reconvert) pagans back to Christianity.
This is not as far fetched or fantastic as it seems. I personally have spoken to Christians who admitted that they do this. A few of the well-known Christian denominations have “Pagan nights” at their establishments. Some of them are friendly and open; others are lures to get pagans inside who are then subjected to conversion techniques.
To those of you reading this who may think that I'm badmouthing Christians, please note that I am not. They are entitled to their beliefs. Even if those beliefs include believing that Pagans are wrong and a wish to convert them.
Please remember these thoughts are also about respect. Even if you do not believe in the Pagan gods and religions, you should respect those who do. Attempting to convert Pagans using a Jesus as deity tactic is disrespectful, not only to the Pagans who follow those systems, but to the Pagan gods as well. Think about how Jesus would feel if people a thousand years from now were proclaiming that L. Ron Hubbard is a Christian god!
The concern here is not over what some individual people wish to do and/or believe; it is about protecting the rights of others to do the same thing free from misinformation, subterfuge and guile.
Jesus is the Christian god; Pagans are those who study and worship gods who were known and revered prior to Christianity.
You can be a pagan and say that you worship Jesus as deity if you wish to.
I only ask that you refrain from teaching that it’s a pagan concept.
Written by: Chris K Underwood
Edited by: Peter Hamel
Copyright: Permission to freely distribute is granted as long as the original content and credit is maintained.
Chris K Underwood
Location: Palm Beach County, Florida
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