(NOTE: Some of the themes of these articles may not be appropriate for young readers. Please keep that in mind when sharing this information).
It is written:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
The Lord Jesus has instructed His church to preach the Gospel to every nation and every creature (Mark 16:15-16). This mandate includes taking the Good News to those who are followers of pagan religions.
Many are not aware of the rise of pagan religions in America in the last several decades. Indeed, throughout Eastern Kentucky, we have been blessed to meet with and work with many individuals who identify as pagan.
Yet what does the word “pagan” actually mean?
The phrase “pagan” as we use the term today actually embraces several religious themes and ideas, almost all of them a combination of polytheism (belief in many gods and goddesses), Hinduism, Buddhism, and witchcraft. Geisler, in his article on “Neopaganism,” summarizes it well:
“Neopaganism is not a monolithic movement. It springs from the soil of paganism, “Hinduism, wicca, and, indirectly, atheism, and other systems. Modern *atheism fertilized the soil out of which contemporary neopaganism grew. David Miller describes it as rising from the ashes of the “death of God” heralded by Thomas *Altizer and others in the 1960s and 1970s. “The death of God gives rise to the rebirth of the gods,” according to Miller. When God died in modern culture, the ancient gods rose again. Monotheism was holding back paganism. Ancient Polytheism. Of course, the main root of Neopaganism is ancient Greek and Roman polytheism….This tradition may be behind recent interest in the occult, magic, extraterrestrial life, Eastern societies and religions, communes, new forms of multiple family life, and other alternative life-style meaning systems that seem so foreign (ibid., 11)….Hinduism. Not all modern paganism comes from Greece. The revival of “*Buddhism and especially Hinduism, with its multi-millions of gods, also supports New Age religion and Neopaganism. Hinduism has infiltrated virtually every level of Western culture, tailored to fit Western humanism by teaching that each of us is a little god. Witchcraft (Wicca) and Radical Feminism. Another stream is the religion of wicca. This movement, popularly known as witchcraft, has a strong overlap with the feminist movement. Wiccans have an abhorrence to monotheism (see THEISM). Feminist witch Margot Adler expresses this view. Adler refers to monotheism as one of the totalistic religious and political views that dominate society (Adler)….Obviously a variety of beliefs are practiced under the broad neopagan heading. There are some generally shared characteristics and beliefs that draw on polytheism, the occult, relativism, and pluralism.” (Norman Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia Of Christian Apologetics, 523 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Books)
Paganism is an umbrella term that encompasses several different philosophies and beliefs. As Christians who are charged by God to share the Gospel with very creature, we need to be familiar with this growing religion so that we may adequately reach our friends and neighbors who are involved in these belief systems (cf.1 Peter 3;15).