The Epic Journey
TC1

The Epic of Paganism

By

Tim Case

The noted philosopher George Santayana coined the phrase, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” It is amazing how many repeat this adage without questioning its legitimacy. Somehow it is fitting that repetition should make this maxim stand as the truth, given that hedonism far better describes western society than does the ethos of Christianity.

The Holy Scripture is clear that Jesus Christ has not abdicated His throne. Nor does Scripture portray creation as a wind-up toy that God set in motion then retired from to observe the results. Rather, Scripture reveals a God that is active, second by second, in His creation through His covenant (Genesis 8:20-22), constantly revealing Himself to man (Romans 1:19-20). Thus a far better axiom would be: “Those who continue acting in the same manner as pagans of history are doomed to repeat their punishment.” 

It is to Christianity’s lasting shame that the tenets of paganism have taken root in western thinking to the point of even perverting the simplest principles of Christian doctrine. It is a curse of Christianity that the very concept of paganism is not mentioned, but rather is shrouded in terms that lead the educationally challenged to think that we are facing something new, modern, unparalleled in history, and it caught the Christian community by surprise. So we call it humanism, modernism, post-modernism, or a host of other cute names. God forbid that we should ever call the devil by his real name; someone might realize that there is a hell.

The knowledge that the principles of humanism are to be found in the ideals of the eastern religions of Confucianism and those branches of Buddhism that stress man’s responsibility to manage his own life without gods or religion is kept within the confines of discussion among the ministerial elite. Still others whisper among themselves that the concepts of humanism are to be found in the philosophies of the fifth century B.C. Greeks. That “Golden Age” was to be the first time the western mind used objective reasoning, freeing science and philosophy from the shackles of superstition and religion.  It is incredible, but the “Golden Age” simply changed the gods of classical paganism from the imaginary gods of the Iliad and the Odyssey to the man-gods of the philosophers, philosopher kings, and elite citizens of the various states. Paganism was then repackaged to be sold as that “Golden” influence that cast a long shadow over the Roman Empire and the classical world.

Frederick W. Farrar in his work The Early Days of Christianity writes of the social conditions brought about by the Golden Age and man’s attempt to establish himself as god:

Its marked characteristic was despairing sadness, which became especially prominent in its most sincere adherents.  Its favorite theme was the glorification of suicide, which wiser moralists had severely reprobated, but which many Stoics praised as the one sane refuge against oppression and outrage.

 

It was a philosophy which was indeed able to lacerate the heart with righteous indignation against the crimes and follies of mankind, but which vainly strove to resist—and which scarcely even hoped to stem, the ever swelling tide of vice and misery. For wretchedness it had no pity; on vice it looked with impotent disdain….

 

Even for those who had every advantage of rank and wealth, nothing was possible but a life of crushing sorrow ended by a death of complete despair.

The crushing sorrow Mr. Farrar speaks of can be emphasized by the events in the lives of the leading philosophers, writers, and historians of the time. Zeno, founder of the Stoic philosophy, and Cleanthes (Zeno’s successor in the school of Stoics) both committed suicide. Tactitus, Suetonius, Pliny, and Seneca, along with many other historians and writers of these times, fully document the frequency of suicide under the Greek and Roman Empires. During Trajan’s reign suicide almost became a national pastime; accordingly the Latin phrases to describe it multiplied to such a degree that there were more descriptive phrases for suicide than for any other act in life, including sexual activity.

Socrates had sought to change the sophism of philosophy into a logical conclusion by asking questions. He did this by challenging every logical conclusion with another set of questions. He did not ridicule religion, but sought purity of thought rather than ridicule and confrontation.  But in spite of his intentions, he succeeded only in shifting the direction of the argument from man’s relationship to the gods and his destiny, to “What is man?”  Socrates had converted the discussion of the corrupt pagan religions into an exhilarating humanism. He converted sin into simple ignorance, which with ample education could be corrected. He made the search for truth of greater importance than the search for righteousness.  In short, Socrates had moved philosophy from sophism to sophistry; from one plausible but fallacious conclusion to another plausible but equally fallacious conclusion.

Man had slid into a hopeless state of either seeking escape from the hurt and cruelties of fate and the boredom of life by allowing themselves no feeling at all—Stoicism—or by completely abandoning all restraint and adopting a policy of eating and drinking and being merry while living only for the pleasure of the moment—Epicureanism.

Not only was there decay in purity of thought, but Paul says concerning this degeneration, “For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator…. Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, He gave them over to a depraved mind, and to do what ought not to be done.  They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity.  They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice.  They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parent; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless…” (Romans 1: 21-31).

Now anyone with any sense can clearly see that clothing paganism, with its heathen ideology, in scientific terms does completely away with its fallacy and will always benefit humanity. Of course, to believe this you have to ignore history and change Scripture but then that is part of modern Christianity.  It has become more than acceptable to many in the Christian community to claim a new enlightenment rather than to have to face the possibility of God’s anger. After all, Jean Paul Sartre proclaimed “To be a man means to reach toward being God.” It is strange how man can, by self promotion, suddenly have morphed into a new, closely related but higher life form.

Yet with all the information showing the results of man’s attempt at scientific paganism during the centuries of the Greek and Romans, modern man still insisted that man could be god. The results were predictably the same. Without God, without His direction and His laws, the modern humanist has nothing but crushing sorrow ended by a death of complete despair—pessimism. Didn’t Nietzsche drive himself insane? Wasn’t Nietzsche’s’ insanity preceded by his seeing modern Europe falling into an abyss, when in the 1880s he prophetically warned of a new Age of Barbarism: “There will be wars such as have never happened on earth.”

Who will argue with the Nazi neo-pagan Carl Jung’s declaration: “It is becoming more and more obvious, that it is not starvation, not microbes, not cancer but man himself who is mankind’s greatest danger?” By this are we to conclude that if man wishes to assume the role of god then man is going to be held responsible? Wasn’t this question the source of Nietzsche’s insanity?

Pessimism has always been the offspring of paganism. The heathen have no choice but to see the world in the gloomiest possible view. As long as man refuses the ethics of God’s law then all things ultimately tend toward evil. It can be no other way; the Law of God is King, but man as king is not the law.

We wonder what has brought man to the point of desperation in his societies today. Why are governments disobeying their own laws?  Where does this lawlessness in the social government contract come from?  How can the American judicial system allow the state to do what it is illegal for individuals to do? Why is there the constant war and rumors of war? For the answers to these questions many turn to the modernist philosophers and find nothing but more questions.

It was Augustine and then Calvin who emphasized the problem of evil and man’s unwillingness to accept evil as being not just theological but relational. Both men clearly saw that a breach of man’s relationship with God entailed a breach in all of his relationships. The adoption and adherence to pagan ideology is theological, between God and man; sociological, between man and other men; psychological, between man and himself; and ecological, between man and God’s creation.

The result of scientific paganism that so often characterized Nazi Germany is happening in America today and it is happening with the consent of the Christian community, just as German Christians justified the Nazi paganism of the 1930s. Is it any wonder that the nature of the persecution that the Nazi’s leveled against the German Church can be seen beginning to occur in the United States?

Claire Hulme’s and Dr. Michael Salter’s research into the criminality of the Nazis against the Christian Church argued the very act of law-making was considered a war crime, since it subverted the very basis of the rule of law. “Throughout the period of National Socialist rule, the Nazis employed a combination of ‘lawful’ and criminal devices to persecute the Churches in a cynically opportunistic manner designed to minimize damage to their other interests.”

[R]eligious liberties in Germany and in the occupied areas were seriously impaired. The various Christian Churches were systematically cut off from effective communication with the people. They were confined as far as possible to the performance of narrowly religious functions, and even within this sphere were subjected to as many hindrances as the Nazis dared to impose. Those results were accompanied partly by legal and partly by illegal and terroristic means.

Jesus Christ came to elevate man from the depths of his self induced pessimism and in so doing give mankind the dignity that he was created to enjoy. This dignity defines itself in the social liberty and spiritual freedom of man, because only then is man worthy of esteem or respect.

Both Aristotle and Plato correctly held and taught that most humans are by nature slavish and suitable only to be slaves. Most men do not have the nature worthy of obtaining let alone retaining their freedom nor the dignity that is proper for free men. Thus the Greeks did not apply the term dignity to all human beings but only to a very select few.

In this the Scriptures agree with the ancient and modern pagans.  “…wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14). To paraphrase Elmer Davis, neither freedom nor Christianity were established by cowards, and cowards will not preserve either.

If we wish to be a free Christian nation then we need to learn the lesson taught by Stonewall Jackson concerning the source of courage.

“General,” I [Captain, later Brigadier General John D. Imboden] remarked, “how is it that you can keep so cool and appear so utterly insensible to danger in such a storm of shell and bullets as rained about you when your hand was hit?” He instantly became grave and reverential in his manner, and answered, in a low tone of great earnestness: “Captain, my religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time for my death. I do not concern myself about that, but to be always ready, no matter when it may overtake me.” He added, after a pause, looking me full in the face: “That is the way all men should live, and then all would be equally brave” (G.F.R Henderson, Stonewall Jackson and the American Civil War, Vol. 1, p. 163).

Christians nationwide will either find the courage to repent and change or they will continue acting in the same manner as pagans of history, in which case America is doomed to repeat their punishment. Let’s pray that our nation’s fate is not the complete despair that the German people suffered starting in 1933. 

August 7, 2003

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