Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Did it ever really die?

It is important to recognize that paganism was not merely a set of superficial practices and only half-believed myths—or, as Lactantius put it, “no more than worship by the fingertips.” In past work I have been as guilty as most early church historians of underestimating the depth of paganism. Indeed, late fourth and fifth century pagans often are portrayed as little more than “nostalgic antiquarians.” But, in fact, theirs was an active faith “premised upon the conviction that the world was filled with the divine, and that proper sacrifice brought the human into intimate communion with the divine.” Although the rapid and extensive Christianization of the empire showed that pagans were very susceptible to conversion by their friends and relatives, the failure of legal prohibitions to dent paganism demonstrated that coercion was no greater deterrent to commitment to the gods than it had been when used against commitment to the One True God.— The Triumph of Christianity, pages 190-191

<idle musing>
Again I ask, did it ever really die? I would suggest that most of what passes for Christian belief is just paganism with a light Christian veneer. As long as the emphasis remains on me, we show that we don't understand the good news that is the gospel...
</idle musing>

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