The concept of religions mingling is something that makes even the most liberal of people take pause. Is it possible for two religions normally seen as polar opposites to meld into one? Can pieces of Christianity and Paganism truly connect to form any set of beliefs that are coherent and true to a person’s view point on life? To be truthful, this isn’t the first time that a melding of the “old ways” and the “new ways” have melded, and it’s not the first time that those unwilling to look at all the angles have denounced such a connection. Through politics, melding of families, and general ideals, the two have been connected for hundreds of years.
Let’s begin by stating the obvious: there are many on both sides of the fence when it comes to this debate. There are also some on the fence. Then there are those that are so steeped in their own beliefs that they dig in their heels and scream to the moon that this can not be, that there can be no mingling between Christianity and Paganism. No way, no how. (Some go so far as to openly state that one can taint the other, and that’s where the terms Christain Pagan and Christian Paganism come from, such as Bill Muehlenberg in his article “Combating Christian Paganism.”)
What most of these folks seem to be lacking is an understanding and an acknowledgment that the two religions have a history that is tightly intertwined, flowing from one to the other, and in all reality, allowing them to mingle very easily. Many Pagans are quick to point out that Christianity started its roots very close to Paganism. The concept of animal sacrifices, the use of herbs, and following both lunar and solar dates have long been openly known to be in both. While most of the examples from the Bible come from the Old Testament, some can also be seen in the New Testament.
But what about the concept of polytheism? If we’re claiming that there’s a possibility that one can claim to be Christo-Pagan in today’s world, how we address that? As Vision stated so wonderfully, “Like many other philosophical terms, monotheism is a product of the 18th-century Enlightenment. It’s not that the belief in “one God” did not exist before then; it most certainly did. But that belief had never been named.” Aside from that, Christianity isn’t technically the first to be monotheistic. If we look at the concept of the High God that predates Christianity, we can easily see monotheism. The “lesser gods” can be seen as the parallels of prophets and saints from Christianity. Even more pronounced was the concept of “philosophers’ monotheism:”
For addressing the idea that Christianity is lacking the ideal “feminine portion” of divinity, the Esoteric Theological Seminary has an interesting article on their site that mirrors many of the same ideas that are echoed among those that strive to point out the parallels in religion. The one sentence that really helps to sum up the entire idea is this: “Even Christianity couldn’t quite stamp Her out, and she has come down to us as Mother Mary, Sophia, even Mary Magdalene. And the Mother Goddess is still part of Christian culture in a watered down form as “Mother Nature.””
In the literary world there are very few truthful examples that show the interconnectedness between Christianity and Paganism. In Parke Goodwin‘s historical fiction novels Sherwood and Robin and the King, we see a wonderful example of this through Marian. Often through the book she is referenced as being a “good Christian” who still practices in the “old arts” of herbal medicines and calling on the “lesser divinities” when she feels she needs specific help. Robin himself is often seen as not appearing at church and instead takes time to pray and contemplate life and the political struggles he is facing in the woods around his shire, which is more Pagan than Christian in concept.
Not only do the religions have multiple underlying connections, but the history pulls them to one another as well. Even if one wants to argue down every possible connection between the two, the fact still stands that if people want to claim freedom of religion and desire the right to call themselves Pagan, Christian, Buddhist, Jew, Muslim, or what have you, why should those desiring the term Christo-Pagan be denied that right as well? As uncomfortable as it makes those that are fist pounding, nightly casting, Bible-thumping devotees to their respective religions, it is possible for people to claim being Christo-Pagan, Christian Pagan, or a Pagan Christian, however they want to term it.