Christianity and Neopaganism


Christianity and Neopaganism
A combined Christian cross and Pagan pentagram, symbolizing the overlapping of beliefs.
A combined Christian cross and Pagan pentagram, symbolizing the overlapping of beliefs.

Christianity and Neopaganism overlap when the beliefs or practices of one religious path influence, or are adopted by, the other. Historically, Christianity sometimes took advantage of traditional pagan beliefs when it spread to new areas – a process known as syncretism. Thus newly established churches took on sites, practices or images belonging to indigenous belief systems as a way of making the new faith more acceptable.[1][2]

More recently, in a parallel process, some followers of modern pagan paths have developed practices such as ChristoPaganism by attempting to blend Christian elements into Neopagan practice.[3] The combination of two religions, each traditionally considered at odds with the other, is frequently criticized by those who are members of only one.

Contents

Historical syncretism

Christianity and classical Paganism had an uneasy relationship with each being at different times persecutor or persecuted.[4] However each also influenced the other. For example, a 10th–11th-century manuscript in the British Library known as the Lacnunga[5] describes a charm against poison said to have been invented by Christ while on the cross, which has parallels in Anglo-Saxon magic.

Modern syncretism

In the modern era, examples of syncretism may include Christians seeking to incorporate concepts of the Divine Feminine from Neopaganism into Christianity[6] or Neopagans seeking to incorporate figures such as Jesus or Mary into Wiccan worship.[7]

Christopaganism

The use of this term to refer to a modern Christian neopagan synthesis can be confusing, since the word "Christopaganism" is already in use in academic circles to describe historical accommodations to Christianity by indigenous peoples (often incorporating elements of their past religions — see folk Christianity, folk Catholicism).

Joyce and River Higginbotham define ChristoPaganism as: "A spirituality that combines beliefs and practices of Christianity with beliefs and practices of Paganism, or that observes them in parallel."[8] They give examples of people identifying as Pagan but observing both Pagan and Christian liturgical years, using the Rosary or observing a form of Communion.

Christian Wicca

This has been described in a self-published book by Nancy Chandler who now prefers the term Trinitarian Tradition. Chandler asserts that "This tradition is not eclectic nor is it ChristoPagan because our devotion lies exclusively with the Christian pantheon. Trinitarian practitioners celebrate the Wiccan Way, observing the 8 Sabbats, the 13 Esbats, and upholding the Wiccan Rede."[9]

Objections to syncretism

Christian

The most common Christian objections to Neopagan syncretism are the direct objections to witchcraft found in the Old Testament, particularly in Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy. Contemporary Christians may object to Neopagan beliefs in reincarnation, to their rejection of the existence of the Devil or to their polytheism.[10]

Neopagan

Neopagans may object to this syncretism for some of the same reasons as Christians. Other reasons cited include a Neopagan rejection of the doctrine of Original sin, an objection to evangelizing and a rejection at least some of the Ten Commandments.[11]

References

  1. ^ Madsen, William. Christo-Paganism: A Study of Mexican Religious Syncretism (1957). New Orleans: Tulane University.
  2. ^ Yamamori,Tetsunao. Christopaganism or Indigenous Christianity (1975). William Carey Library Publishers
  3. ^ St Clair, Adelina. The Path of a Christian Witch (2010). Woodbury MN: Llewellyn Publications. ISBN 978-0-7387-2641-0
  4. ^ Fox, Robin Lane. Pagans and Christians: In the Mediterranean World from the Second Century AD to the Conversion of Constantine (London: Viking, 1986, ISBN 978-0-670-80848-9; Penguin Books Ltd new edition, 2006, ISBN 978-0-14-102295-6)
  5. ^ Pettit, Edward (ed). Anglo-Saxon Remedies, Charms, and Prayers from British Library MS Harley 585. The Lacnunga, (2001). Mellen Critical Editions and Translations, 6. Lewiston: E. Mellen Press, I: Introduction, Text, Translation, and Appendices, pp. 133–49.
  6. ^ McColman, Carl. Embracing Jesus and the Goddess: A Radical Call for Spiritual Sanity (2001). Gloucester, MA: Fair Winds Press
  7. ^ Pittman, Nancy Chandler (2003) Christian Wicca: The Trinitarian Tradition 1st Books Library, ISBN 1-4107-5347-6
  8. ^ Higginbotham, Joyce & River. ChristoPaganism: An Inclusive Path (2009), Woodbury MN: Llewellyn Publications. ISBN 978-0-7387-1467-7
  9. ^ Christian Wicca homepage at: http://www.christianwicca.org/ accessed 23rd November 2010
  10. ^ Spotlight Ministries website. Christian Wicca? The Ultimate Oxymoron. Available at: http://www.spotlightministries.org.uk/christianwicca.htm Consulted 23rd November 2010
  11. ^ Wicca for the Rest of Us website. The Problem with Christian Wicca. Available at: http://wicca.timerift.net/christianwicca.shtml Consulted 23 November 2010
  • Pearson, Joanne (2007) Wicca and the Christian Heritage, Routledge.
  • Winston, Kimberly. Retooling Rosaries For Pagan Rituals; Former Catholics Find A New Spirituality In Prayer Beads (5 May 2007). The Washington Post. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-5890287.html

See also


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