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How much of Christianity is based on Paganism?

 
 
Reply Sat 3 Jan, 2009 09:31 am
I was already aware that Christmas carried many elements of Paganism, but more and more I read that many other elements of christianity are also derived from pre-existing cultural beliefs. It seems that the basic themes of Christian myth are echoed in cultures centuries older than Christianity.

The short video below is a good slice to start with as an example. The astronomical information in this video seems accurate, but I don't know much about the references to earlier gods/deities. The similarities between the pre-christian myths and Christian myth presented in this video are remarkable, but are they accurate impressions of pre-christian myths?



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Type: Discussion • Score: 58 • Views: 39,078 • Replies: 652

 
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Jan, 2009 09:52 am
@rosborne979,
Chrismas, Easter, St Blaize day, human sacrifice, dogs and cats yadda yadda.....
Diest TKO
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Jan, 2009 09:53 am
@rosborne979,
Wow. Cool find Ros. Very well put together.

I think it's a reasonable conclusion that what is now taken as literal was more of a symbolic belief. Perhaps pragmatically, stories that helped teach about the cycles of nature in terms of weather and crops.

how did we get where we are...?

T
K
O
0 Replies
 
Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Jan, 2009 11:25 am
I don't think ANY of Christianity is based on Paganism. Some Christian customs naturally contain resemblance to some Pagan customs because after all most or all of the first non-Jewish Christians converted from Paganism. (There are elements of Christian ritual and celebration that were also held over from the Jewish faith.) It is only natural that they would make symbols and celebrations already familiar to them and convert those into Christian symbols and celebrations just as the first Americans brought their European culture and customs with them when they first immigrated to this country and converted those into something that was not European but rather uniquely American.

American fashion gurus took French and Italian designs and adapted those into their own thing which, though they bear traits of French and Italian design became their own thing. Uniquely American cuisine uses spices and techniques that was developed elsewhere. All or at least most language has similarities to older languages.

And religion is no different. That some Christian lore, myths, traditions, customs, and practices bear similarities to Pagan traditions, customs, and practices does not translate into a reasonable conclusion that any of Christianity is based on Paganism.

Christianity is based on the fundamental acknowledgment that God became incarnate, suffered, was crucified, dead, and buried--all concepts completely foreign to any Pagan beliefs of that time--before He rose again to demonstrate to all the reality of eternal life and His continued involvement with us via the Holy Spirit. All the myriad ways that religion is 'practiced', defined, explained, and the dogma that has developed, merged, emerged, and waned over the millenia is coincidental to that core principle that has nothing to do with Paganism.
saab
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Jan, 2009 11:28 am

Christianity is almost 2000 years old and the development over the centuries is Christian and not based on paganism.
The churches, the liturgical colours, the ritual of church service, priest hood, cloisters, hymns and music composed by famous musicians are all in honour of Christianity and not based on a connection to paganism.
The changes within Christianity like the Reformation was done as people wanted a reform within the Christian church and it had nothing to do with paganism.
The majority of people don´t know or even care about that there might have been a certain connection once in a far away history. As a matter of fact we don´t even really know how the Scandinavians celebrated the winter feasts before Christianity so how can we even feel that our Christmas celebrations are connected to paganism. After 1000 of years our Christian traditions get to be more important than some for us unknown celebrations.
Diest TKO
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Jan, 2009 11:38 am
@saab,
Forgive me saab, but it sounds as if your reply is "the less you know the better."

You don't care if your traditions are based off of something as long as you don't know much about it. People not caring about the connection between Christianity and Paganism is immaterial to whether or not they are in fact connected. Understand?

I may not care how the engine was invented, but that will never matter in the face of the facts of how it was invented. The engine may have been invented a long time ago, that doesn't mean it's unimportant. Most importantly, if I have my belief on how it was invented, me not caring or thinking it is important to know does not mean that my view is supported.

You should care. This is important.

T
K
O
saab
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Jan, 2009 12:51 pm
@Diest TKO,
Please tell me about the connection between Scandinavian Christianity and the paganism of Scandinavia as you take for granted I don´t know anything about it.
What I know is that the old Christianity and the Roman culture met and then the heathen culture of Scandinavia met with the old Christianity and those three elements melted together. How much of the heathen Roman and heathen Nordic cultur already had melted together is something the cultural scientiests still are looking into. Chrstianity developed different in Scandinavia after the Reformation than in some of the other European countries, which influenced the Christian traditions.
That is what I know so please fill out my ignorance about the rest.
saab
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Jan, 2009 01:41 pm
@saab,
And I like to add that even if there is a slight connection after 1000 of years the majority of people don´t care. For them it is pure Christianity. If you start asking people about the traditions very few will connect anything in Christianity with old pagan ideas.
Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Jan, 2009 02:22 pm
@saab,
saab wrote:

And I like to add that even if there is a slight connection after 1000 of years the majority of people don´t care. For them it is pure Christianity. If you start asking people about the traditions very few will connect anything in Christianity with old pagan ideas.



Correct.

The connection is in familiar customs that were continued and adapted within a new concept. There were flags long before the early Americans chose to break away from England and become their own self-governed nation. So the English flag was discarded in favor of a uniquely designed American flag. This was because a flag was a customary symbol to identify a place or nation at the time and that custom has continued to the modern day. Using the logic the anti-Christian crowd uses, the fact that the Americans use a flag as a national symbol and that the 18th century British used a flag as a national symbol is proof positive that the Americans base their nationality and culture on 18th century England. Or the fact that the ancient caveman wore clothes and modern people wears clothes translates to modern humanity basing its entire culture on the caveman culture.

Of course we don't think of England when we see the American flag now; nor do we think of cavemen when the new spring fashion line is introduced. But some sure seem to want to believe that all Christian things are based on paganism and therefore Christianity has no validity as its own thing at all.

Oh well.
0 Replies
 
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Jan, 2009 02:56 pm
@Foxfyre,
I'm curious, did you watch the video I provided?
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Jan, 2009 03:18 pm
@Foxfyre,
All concepts well-known for millenia before christianity....where, just as one example, year-kings were sacrificed to similarly bless and give life to the land....where gods born of virgins were a common myth....where, in myth cycle after myth cycle, gods die to save the world....
0 Replies
 
chai2
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Jan, 2009 03:21 pm
@saab,
saab wrote:

And I like to add that even if there is a slight connection after 1000 of years the majority of people don´t care. For them it is pure Christianity. If you start asking people about the traditions very few will connect anything in Christianity with old pagan ideas.



That's because most people are sheep.
saab
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Jan, 2009 03:36 pm
@chai2,
How much do you know about the pre Christian traditions in Scandinavia? Or the Scandinavian traditions in general? Which ones are purely Christian and which ones are secular?

dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Jan, 2009 03:37 pm
@chai2,
I suspect it is because the christian apparatus demonised, then ruthlessly extirpated (while taking over many of the key festivals.....and key figures, like Mary as a pale imitation of the mother goddess) the practices and beliefs and key figures of the older religions....which seems to be a bit of a feature of monotheisisms.

Kind of not a very good "do unto others", eh?

The jews did a pretty good job in their area before the christians....and the monotheist pharaoh...(was it Tut??????)...almost destroyed Egypt doing the same.
Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Jan, 2009 03:38 pm
@rosborne979,
rosborne979 wrote:

I'm curious, did you watch the video I provided?


Yes. It has been posted by anti-religious and/or anti-Christian advocates on at least a half dozen sites that I check in on occasionally--or it has been posted by Christians as an illustration of anti-Christian bias. It provides interesting theories for why things are as they are but no more proof than do U.S. customs that are similar to other national customs prove that one copied from the other. I also write about and teach this stuff including the reason for and the origins of many Christian legends, customs, rites, and rituals or, more succinctly, how Christian thought has developed.

The core of the argument is that the legends, myths, rites, rituals, customs, symbols, etc. are extraneous to and sometimes purely human inventions to Christianity in its pure and unfettered form. Sort of compare it to some of the rites and rituals and language that you see/here in a court of law or in the House or Senate in Congress. These often have nothing at all to do with the legal or legislative process, but they are custom and just seem right when they are done. The legal and/or legislative process could still be accomplished without them as Christianity would still be Christianity without all those customs and symbols that some seems so anxious to use to discredit Christianity in its entirety.
chai2
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Jan, 2009 03:39 pm
@saab,
saab wrote:

How much do you know about the pre Christian traditions in Scandinavia? Or the Scandinavian traditions in general? Which ones are purely Christian and which ones are secular?




What's this hard-on you have about Scandinavia?

I know **** about Scandinavia.

Fortunately, this discussion isn't limited to the land of the midnight sun.
chai2
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Jan, 2009 03:41 pm
@dlowan,
dlowan wrote:

I suspect it is because the christian apparatus demonised, then ruthlessly extirpated (while taking over many of the key festivals.....and key figures, like Mary as a pale imitation of the mother goddess) the practices and beliefs and key figures of the older religions....which seems to be a bit of a feature of monotheisisms.

Kind of not a very good "do unto others", eh?

The jews did a pretty good job in their area before the christians....and the monotheist pharaoh...(was it Tut??????)...almost destroyed Egypt doing the same.



but What ABOUT the Scandinavians!!!????
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Jan, 2009 03:44 pm
@chai2,
Well, they ruthlessly suppressed the Norse gods, too.

That being said, if that video is the one I think it is, it's kind of a bit nutso.

Not that I am rising in defence of the Norse gods so much...the whole Valhalla concept for those who die in battle seems pretty close to the Muslim extremist crap about going to some adolescent boys' fantasy of heaven if you kill yourself and a bunch of others in service to some demented god.
Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Jan, 2009 03:45 pm
@Foxfyre,
Further to Ros:

I meant to add to my previous post. We learned studying Bible in a seminary program the similarities in the story of Jesus's birth when compared not only to Mithra but some other pagan legends. So was the virgin birth a legend that grew up around First Century events? Or was it known by a God who knew of those other legends and cleverly used the concept to introduce Himself to an unsuspecting world?

You see there are all kinds of theories one can use in these things. The proof inevitably comes down to a personal experience with the living God, however. Ultimately that is all that is important, and everything else is window dressing though even that can be interesting and instructive.
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Jan, 2009 03:48 pm
@Foxfyre,
Foxfyre wrote:

Further to Ros:

I meant to add to my previous post. We learned studying Bible in seminary the similarities in the story of Jesus's birth when comparied not only to Mithra but some other pagan legends. So was the virgin birth a legend that grew up around First Century events? Or was it known by a God who knew of those other legends and cleverly used the concept to introduce Himself to an unsuspecting world?

You see there are all kinds of theories one can use in these things. The proof inevitably comes down to a personal experience with the living God, however. Ultimately that is all that is important, and everything is is window trappings.


Snort.


So you have some mysterious way of knowing that their similar beliefs are "myth" while your twin version is truth.

Just as they thought....


Just as everyone with some god or other thinks.

Except, the pagans tended to be tolerant of other people's gods and beliefs.
 

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