How Paganism Has Re-Emerged Through the Failure of the Church to Be Faithful
As the next to last entry for the fall series on things that go bump in the night we need to talk a little bit about a subject that can illustrate for us some of the dangers of the world in which we are currently living, especially in the West. When I say “the West” I mean Europe and North America. The cultural fishbowl in which all of us live in our day-to-day. Despite what your DEI representative (and I can’t be the only southerner who reads that as Dale Earnhardt, Inc.) told you at the last HR meeting it is okay for us to identify and express ourselves as Western. We are men and women who are the result of a bunch of dead white guys philosophizing about the world and we are also the result of the infiltration (in a good way) of the Bible into how we see and understand everything around us. It’s not white supremacy to notice our own culture, and even think that it is good and in fact better than what came before Europe became the Europe it became after Constantine’s dictate. We should celebrate the fact that we don’t sacrifice babies on the altar (well, more on that in a second) and force women to die with their husbands. Those things are bad. White men passing laws that stopped it were good. We shouldn’t be ashamed to say so. The art, philosophy, science, religion, etc… that produced the Christian states of Europe were and continue to be a blessing to all those downstream from them. Yet, there is a problem.
In our prayer and worship help today we are going to talk about the world in which we live today and how the same men tasked with building up have been working to destroy and tear down. We are now experiencing the results of this evil. In some sense the reappearance of the strong gods, the pagan culture we left a millennia or more ago is all a result of men abandoning their responsibilities in accordance with the Fifth Commandment. Everything comes back to the law of God, and whether society will bow their knee to Christ or seek to be their own god. Psalm 2 and other passages warn us as to the consequences of such. I get calls/texts regularly from folks both within and outside the congregation about why we see such rampant licentiousness and sin in the world today. On one hand the earth has been so since the days of Adam’s fall. However, there were times when it was better, even if sin was still present. The golden age is not yet with us. In our Thursday catechism lesson this week we are going to hear about Stews, and as will be opened there that means brothels, houses of ill-repute. Why did our Westminster Divines write about this? Because it was a problem. They were all over the place in Seventeenth-Century England. How many open, public, state-authorized spaces do we have for this practice in Clover? I am not naïve enough to not know that there is availability for such if you were desiring to look. But none of them are posting billboards on 321 or have a storefront downtown.
That all being said you’d have to either be a blithering idiot or a co-laborer with evil not to recognize the winds have changed today. One of my favorite novels is Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes. In the film version starring Jason Robards and Jonathan Pryce the movie opens with a weathervane switching around as dark clouds roll into the town. It is implied that things have changed in Green Town. They’ve changed in the West as well. As biblical Christianity has receded and the mainline churches have become apostate oozing back up through the cracks is good ole fashioned paganism. We see this in the way people talk, in the way they plan, and in the way they orient their lives. It may sound controversial, but Sunday athletics is a sign of this. As the high holy day of the year approaches in February notice how the culture around us fixates itself on that day, and not on the day God has set aside for His glory. Another way this paganism manifests itself, despite what I or our older Presbyterians may think of it in a religious sense, it’s been how easily even the church has capitulated to the commercialization of Christmas and Easter. Be honest, do you spend more time planning and organizing for Santa and the Easter Bunny or the Nativity and the Resurrection? Do your young ones fixate their hearts on presents or the greatest gift ever given? Where do they get those ideas from one wonders…
A blind man could see how our “Christian culture” would respond to such a survey.
When Israel started to leave its first love the first thing that went by the wayside was the worship of Jehovah. Feasts started going uncelebrated, the Passover was forgotten, and even the priests of God used the tabernacle for personal gain and pleasure. The gods of the surrounding nations became the idols of the Jewish home. Another aspect of this is the way the least of these are forsaken. The adults rather than self-sacrifice for the betterment of the children instead while remaining children themselves seek their needs above and before the next generation. It’s all incredibly short-sighted, and thoroughly pagan. The idolatry of the self leads to the end of the community. I was talking with a friend recently and we were both lamenting how a subculture we live and breath in was through the death of Christian life reverting back to animalism and the tribal religions men like Columba and Patrick had brought them out of. A hatred of the living God leads directly to the hatred of neighbor.
If we want to fear anything this Halloween season it must be the rise of our cultural former manner of life after years of Christian conditioning by the State and by the Church. Our true enemy is death, and a nation which celebrates the death of the unborn and seeks to put the elderly to sleep through medical euphemisms is a country not long for this world. God will not be mocked. In the midst of all this what is our hope? It’s not a bland anti-serious spiritualism which lops sophistry and plaudits of cheap grace against an invasion of evil. You might as well hold back Hurricane Andrew with a shotgun house. It begins with the Church recognizing first how pagan it has become, then rooting out our rotten structures and rebuilding them in the eyes of the Word and His word. We can’t hope to overturn the advances of Satan with a gospel that doesn’t even move those who already believe it. Our preaching must be with power and assurance, and our discipleship needs be ordered to shape all the areas of life that a Believer needs prepared to face. And none of this can come about without prayer. We so underestimate what prayer can accomplish because we fail to comprehend the God we pray to.
In closing, we didn’t talk about the demons or the demagorgan or the werewolf today. Our monster is much more powerful and much more real: human beings. We are own worst enemy and we are the ones responsible for the coming of the wicked way because we have abandoned what we have received, the inheritance fought so hard for by the saints who came before. It really is not that hard to go back in a sense. All it will take is our getting rid of the Ashtaroth trees and Ba’al temples we have made. The question is…is the Church ready and willing to lead the way? Because if our hope is in princes and chariots then we have already lost.
There is a better way. Matthew 28:16-20.
Blessings in Christ,
Rev. Benjamin Glaser
Pastor, Bethany ARP Church