Monday, April 21, 2008

Pagan influence on Christianity

The Christian religion was developed in an era of the Roman Empire during which many religions were practiced. With the wide variety of culture and religious practice there was a lot of interaction between the culture and their religious beliefs. Christianity was both greatly influenced by, and exerted influence on, non-Christian (pagan) cults and mythologies. There are several theories of where the Pagan religion originated. One I found interesting suggests that Christianity developed in the 2nd and 3rd centuries leading an underground existence as an illicit mystery religion. According to this theory there was a merger between Roman imperial cult and Hellenistic philosophy in the 4th century. This merging process ended by AD 391 with the ban on pagan cults by Theodosius I.

As far as advantages of blending pagan and Christian religions there is a fine line in differentiating the two. There is such a great influence that many current day Christians are influenced and take part in pagan influenced practices. One major advantage of the pagan and Christian religions is the fact that they are very similar to one another.
Such as Christmas, which is believed by many to be strictly a Christian holiday with its basis on the birth of Christ. A lot of Christmas decorations that we put in our homes were pagan traditions as well. The Christmas tree was originally a pagan tradition; candy canes and holly wreaths decorated the pagan temples back in times of ancient Greece before the times of Christ. Another “religious” holiday in Christianity is Easter. Once again it also has pagan influence. The name Easter was named after the pagan goddess Ishtar. The food that she ate to keep her immortal was the egg and the animal that was associated with her was the rabbit.

Among differences Pagans believe that everything has a soul. Christians believe in one God. Pagans and Christians both have deep beliefs and religious practices through their faith. Both religions practice prayer. During the time of the conversion from the pagan religion to Christianity many people were forced into switching religions. Those who resisted were often outcasts or done away with. When Christianity was becoming popular, the vast majority of people were pagans. When Constantine named Christianity the official religion of the state I’m certain there was a lot of hesitance from people. People do not adapt well to change. In conclusion many people believe that the pagan religion has a lot of “Dark” practices in history. Some may even associate it with witchcraft. This could be due to the fact that the pagan’s worship the earth rather than an entity. Many Christians see this as being abnormal therefore they do not accept it. Little do many people realize that many of their daily practices have a huge influence from the pagans. Whether it be from superstition or holidays we celebrate.

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