Monday, April 20, 2009

Advantages and disadvantages of blending pagan and Christian elements in art and theology.

Historically the Christian faith has blended pagan elements into their art and doctrine. To a culture living a pagan lifestyle, it seems incorporating pagan imagery into their art would have made the transition to Christianity easier, since that is what was familiar. To portray the image of Christ as a sun god would be to symbolize to all that he is a god. The same would be true for portraying Christ as the emperor in a toga. This image would have conveyed him as a powerful ruler. Showing Christ as a philosopher, such as in the seated Christ from Civita Latina, Italy, would have given the common man who knew the importance of a philosophers words an instant recognition or understanding that the words of the Christ were an important life lesson.
Disadvantages to this practice of incorporating paganism would be would be that the most pious of Christians would look upon these images of the Christ as idolatry. This is also true of doctrine. If pagan ideals were blended into doctrine, the masses would not be confronted with something that was totally foreign to them. The doctrine may have become more readily digestible if concepts were introduced that seemed familiar. For example, Mormonism and Catholicism have very different doctrines, but share similarities as well. Christ is the center of each of these religions and both implement rituals of one sort or another. This may make a conversion of Mormonism to Catholicism or vice versa easier than a conversion between two religions which bear little to no similarities.

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