Christo-Pagans and Bible study

Questions from Pagan Perspective on Youtube:
from Ruenig–“Question: OK, so I’m a pagan with a pretty (I’d say it was) open minded view and I was thinking of joining a bible study group with some people, as I find a lot of the texts very interesting. I’ve been honest with them of my own faith, and they seem comfortable with that and assured me they won’t be telling me how I’ll burn in hell! XD Anyway, the question(s?) is really, in what ways do you think that the bible can help pagans learn about deity, whether you think there is possibly room for a sort of mix of the faiths and how do our philosophies stand together? Thanks in advance if you get the chance to look at this but if you don’t, I’ve taken a look at the questions here and appreciate why I might not see an answer for this! XD Much love.”

from Wyld Silverwolf–“Could you guys talk about the idea of someone calling themselves a christo-pagan, christo-witch, christian-wiccan etc… and being pagan/wiccan… and having christian themes in their practice. what about someone being a Christian and having “pagan” themes in their practice (other then the ones that people say the church “stole”)”

 

 First, I would like to tell Ruenig – go for it!

This questions from this week’s PP called out to me like fire set on my front lawn (no indication to KKK, honestly), because in this case I can say – I have been there.

If you have read my posts in the past, I’ve explained that for long time I prepared myself to be baptized when I turn 18. I wasn’t brought up in pagan household or in Christian and the only religious decision taken on my path by my parents was that I decide when I’m in legal age. Well, my life took a different turn and I’d say I’m happy with it. But it hasn’t come easy.

 Most of my life was spent trying to understand what religion to take. I felt strong for both Christian and Pagan view of life and I do admit that at that time I had more relations through Christianity than anything else – I read their literature since third grade and I had many friends from different forms of Christians. So it seemed natural to me to follow my path and accept Christian faith.

 But then my intuition came to play and suddenly I didn’t feel alright in Christian faith any more. It forbid most of what I considered normal and soon I realized that I can’t deny it just because a book tells me to. This put me in odds. Not with people, but with myself. My friends were surprisingly accepting of my decent from one religion to another. Perhaps to them it was obvious already then that I wouldn’t make a good Christian. And thus the age of 18 came and went and I still don’t want to be baptized

 What I learned from that journey, which has lasted for so long, is that never put down the opportunity to learn and compare. But while you do that, make sure people understand what you are and that you are not doing this to convert to their religion – don’t give them false hope. Respect them. I have done that mistake once, when I was younger, and it came back biting. Foolish age, I have no other excuse to that.

 Another thing I learned, is that you don’t always need Bible study groups to learn about Christianity or Bible. The two groups I’ve been have both had pretty much the same up-built – they tell you what they believe in and then search sentences or paragraphs from the book to show you the proof. They don’t leave enough time for you to go through the rest of the chapter, because, if you do, you might end up reaching different conclusion about it. I don’t think it is specifically bad, because it does actually give good example on how they understand the Bible and how and why they have certain views on their lives. But it doesn’t give you the full understanding.

 If you are thinking about joining a group, how about first thinking on this – you don’t need to get involved with a group to learn Bible – read it yourself on your own terms. There really isn’t any better way to understand their basics. How about reading Bible in a year? There are many reading schedules online. It isn’t that hard actually if you read it one story at a time. I know, because I did it. And for this I do suggest – oh mighty all thunders – buying the book. Not some short version, not some simplified one, the one that has more than one testament – a real, normal Bible. I don’t even suggest some app, but a real paper form book where you can highlight anything you like, add questions on the sides. You can easily purchase one from any book shop or church shops. It really is that simple. It’s how I started to learn about it and it’s how many others begin – from the book itself. And if you get stuck – search what things mean, read theological works, use dictionaries and of course, talk with your friends.

 I have no doubt Bible isn’t helpful to your growth in your own path. The truth is – we live in Christian world. Not just by laws, but even the history and art have many influences from it. Thus it is pretty much crime against yourself not to familiarize yourself with it. Not only will it help you recognize the similarities between your religions, but also show you great deal about the history of your own religion, too. That unknowingly the Bible is filled with little hints on pagan traditions that co-existed with Christian traditions and predated them. Tree of Life being one of them (I especially suggest searching out Dr. Francesca Stavrakopoulou  intriguing theories) or other deities mentioned throughout the Bible. At the same time it helps you to understand their holidays better too. Even if you were Christian before, but wasn’t active, I suggest rereading it now that you’re grownup. You get very different view on the topics.

 For some time I hoped or dreamt that I will continue my life as Pagan Christian. It was the time, when one couldn’t dominate over the other and I didn’t know how to let it go. When I was about 14, things changed. Shultz and Jung were the two, who screwed up the way I saw the world and I am grateful they did.

 Taking this look in my life, I pretty soon realized there is no real need to mix religions. It is normal for Pagans and Wiccans to mix their religion together from different systems around the world. Is it necessary? Christians have much straightforward view on witchery – no. It is topic talked about in the Bible with extra restrictions to recognize and keep Christians from scoundrels. Any true believing Christian will tell you so. I battled for months last year with this topic, because I felt draw to Christianity again, and it finally helped to come to terms with who I am – a full-blooded Pagan. It wasn’t because the Christians said no or scared me with anything. It was, because I knew that no matter how strongly I deny it, I wanted to stay truthful and it is just something I don’t want to lie to them about. You can’t lie to God. So if you have rules that tell you not to do magic and you still do it, knowingly – your conscious can be a hard brick to carry in your chest.

However, there was time, when anything unknown was magic and science seemed as magic, so it seems harsh to condemn Christians like that. I’ve come to conclusion that there is difference between magical and magic – if the man takes a candle and curses another, then they perform a sin. But if it God’s own creation at work and you call it magic just because you don’t understand it, then it isn’t the same.

 Many gypsy witches are also Christians. Or if you visit South America – nothing stops them visiting witches right after church ceremony. To them it is important to be baptized if you work with spirits, because it protects. I think it’s true. One of the strongest tools around can still be Our Father prayer.

 Pagan with Christian lines in their beliefs is a different story. I love Catholics, despite all the equally nasty things they have done, because they are full of amazing mystery, when it comes to their religious practices. I also love to see how much methods are similar between Pagan traditions and Catholic tradition. I have tried and personally, I can’t work with saints most of the times. But I love those, who can. Hoodoo, anyone? This tradition is full of Christian tradition and it bothers no-one.

 If you struggle with your beliefs – ask yourself the same questions I asked. It might help you. My main idea throughout how I define, what I want in my worldview and what I feel ok to leave aside, is – do you need it? Pagan beliefs are much related with our surroundings, thus being deeply location defined. If you add it to your belief system – do you feel, does it replace something that you already have? Something that can be found local? Do you need to bring in fertility goddess from desert if you have local goddess that is much better acquainted with your region? Goddess that cares for fish’ fertility shouldn’t be pushed to make cows more fertile.

I think how much you want it, if you are open-minded in sense that you know about the other beliefs and respect them, it is good, but if you try to add all of it to your belief without really filtering anything, then it will make you only look twofaced. Call me hypocrite, but I believe it. Using Christian God “just in case” as a backup to your own pantheon is disrespectful. It has nothing to do with being backlashed by both Christians or Pagans – that’s secondary – it is disrespectful to both your main gods and to Jehovah. If you use them – make sure you respect them the same way you respect your own and that you are in good terms with them. Using anyone as backup is bad for the business.

If you can make it work, using both in your tradition, then I think it’s great. For keeping things simple, I would suggest, especially for starters, keeping to one regional family at a time. Best if they are local or have routs in your family already and if you add anyone, it is self-explanatory that you learn who they are first. Many have Jesus image up in their house and consider him one of the greatest teachers around and I think so too. I see nothing bad about it, but as far as public goes – it is good to be in one religion instead of two. Christians have strict rules in Bible and though we do like to think that we are allowed to break them and call it freedom of religion, if you name yourself as Christian, then you ARE just Christian. It doesn’t make you look better if you keep Christian in the title. Pagan doesn’t exclude Christian influences. Christian, however, does exclude pagan influences. At least in word. We all know the traditions follow the same cycle and many our traditions have merged ( = melted together, NOT “stole”), but if things go pedant, then there’s big difference.

For last I do want to address the issue of “stolen” in traditions. If you use the term, “stole”, then any other religion has bone to chew on your religion too, because all you really do, is also stealing something from their religion and adding it to your own without fully (and I mean fully) understanding it. The reality is, over the times, they have merged together rather than stolen from someone. We tend to forget that people were Christians too. The pastors and priests were part of that people. You could come and say that this holiday is from now on known as St. Martin’s Day. The reality was you renamed it, added your tradition to theirs and hoped that over time it grew more importance. And yet at that day, people still dress up and go through fertility rites. So the process wasn’t taking over the holidays, but merging the new ways with olds and increasingly adding so the new takes over the old. They merged.

After all – it’s all just titles. With our reality today, it is hard to be part of two things at the same time. If you want, you can call however you like. The reality is, you’ll have to face up the incoming insults that will follow and then it’s usually easier to be part of one. Traditions are different and Christian traditions are different, too. I know groups that absolutely forbid any craft-related activity while in South America it is known tradition to have home shrines for saints and it is normal. Same way some Pagan groups think it’s violation of their belief if someone dares to say they like Christian God while others recommend being baptized if you work with curses. The best and only guide – follow your heart and listen it well.

 Yes, well, I would like to remind you that this five cents in the pot is my oppinion on the matter and based on my beliefs and experience.

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