Paganism – What is It?
Paganism has been broadly defined as anyone involved in any religious act, practice, or ceremony which is not Christian. Jews and Muslims also use the term to refer to anyone outside their religion. Others define it as religions outside of Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism, while some simply define it as being without a religion.
In the strictest sense, paganism refers to the authentic religions of ancient Greece and Rome as well as surrounding areas. It originated from the Neolithic (Stone Age) era. The term, pagan, is derived from the Latin word, paganus, which means a country dweller. The pagan usually has a belief in many gods (polytheistic), but only one is chosen as the one to worship which represents the chief god and supreme godhead.
As Christianity progressed into the present age, a pagan became referred to anyone not being a Christian, and paganism denoted a non-Christian belief or religion. If the religion did not fit into the Judeo-Christian-Islamic or Eastern mould, then one practicing that religion was said to be involved in paganism.
Paganism – What is the history?
History records that worship of many gods, goddesses, and deities was viewed by people as important in worship. It was thought that everything had a spirit and was polytheistic, so people had gods and goddesses of the forest, sea, and all aspects of nature.
When the civilizations began to change and develop, the gods grew and changed with the people as they began to acquire gods of their occupations, or gods relevant to their village life. The old gods remained, but were changed or conformed to the changing lives of the people. Gods played an important role in every aspect of society influencing everything from laws and customs to general workings of the community. Reincarnation (rebirth of the body into another bodily form) was believed by the people, but they did not believe in the existence of heaven and hell.
Today, Paganism (neo-paganism) celebrates the Earth, living creatures, nature, and so on. Most modern-day pagans believe in more than one god, while others are atheistic.
Paganism – What are some pagan systems and religions?
- American pagans practice a variety of forms of traditions, but the most popular are Celtic, Greco-Roman, Native American, ancient Egyptian, and Norse.
- Kabbalah: During the Middle Ages, this Jewish mystical and magical system developed.
- Shamanism: This tradition is practiced by the Native American cultures. Drumming is the technique used, and in traditional societies, the shaman travels to the spirit realm to gain information regarding the community’s needs like healing or spiritual growth.
- Egyptian: This is very popular today, and involves complex spiritual and magical systems centering on death and rebirth. It developed in ancient Egypt when priestesses and priests became known for their level of knowledge and skill in magical arts.
- Druidism: The original Druids were priestesses and part of the judicial class of the ancient Celts.
- Discordianism: This began as a Buddhist practice with the main idea being “existence is orderly chaos.” Meditative procedures, confusion and enlightenment, chaos and order, pain and pleasure are revealed as inseparable parts of a total vision of reality.
Paganism – How does it compare with Christianity?
It is difficult to compare paganism with Christianity since the term pagan can be used to identify many different sects and beliefs.
These are the major differences, out of many:
Biblical Christianity professes one God, where paganism often teaches many or no god.
Biblical Christianity teaches that the Bible contains God’s words and message to mankind. It is infallible and inerrant. Paganism does not have one main religious text or set of beliefs to follow.
- Biblical Christianity teaches that Jesus, God’s Son, came to earth as a baby, died on the cross as an adult for the sin of the whole world, and rose to life again. Some pagans believe in Jesus as one of the gods, but do not put significance in Him as Christians do.
“Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another” (Romans 1:22-24). Learn More About Jesus!
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