ON THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN PAGANISM AND CHRISTIANITY

Pagan transition to ChristianConsider the ending of the Declaration of Independence.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

What is honor? Why would it be sacred? Honor is not easily defined, but perhaps it is safe to say that to have honor we must be honorable.

honorable (adj.)

early 14c. (mid-13c. as a surname), from Old French honorable, from Latin honorabilis “that procures honor, estimable, honorable,” from honorare “to honor” (see honor (n.)). Related:Honorably.

“Now, George, you must divide the cake honorably with your brother Charlie.”–George: “What is ‘honorably,’ mother?” “It means that you must give him the largest piece.”–George: “Then, mother, I should rather Charlie would cut it.” [“Smart Sayings of Bright Children,” collected by Howard Paul, 1886]

Honorable men and women live according to a code of conduct that embodies certain principles. Americans of the 18th Century lived according to the principles taught in the Bible. Did they have disagreements about how they should interpret the Bible? Yes, but they eventually agreed that Bible taught they should allow everyone the freedom to live by the dictates of his own conscience.

Why do people become Christians? Every Christian has their own story. Did I become a Christian because I wanted to be a Christian? No. When I was younger, I was like that little boy named George. I wanted the larger slice of cake, but I am fascinated by history. So I studied history. In time I reached the conclusion that I could not make any sense of history without studying Christianity. So I started to read the Bible and study it. Then I learned how much God loves me, and I was ashamed I had not returned His love.

How did Christianity change the world? What made the life of Jesus the most important event in history? Writers far better than I have written about this. So I have excerpted a passage from such a writer’s book, Heretics by G. K. Chesterton. In what follows, Chesterton comments on the ideas of one of the heretics who served as the subject of his book. Here he explains the differences between what the ancient Pagans believed and what Christians believe.

Let me set about making the matter clear. There is one broad fact about the relations of Christianity and Paganism which is so simple that many will smile at it, but which is so important that all moderns forget it. The primary fact about Christianity and Paganism is that one came after the other. Mr. Lowes Dickinson speaks of them as if they were parallel ideals—even speaks as if Paganism were the newer of the two, and the more fitted for a new age. He suggests that the Pagan ideal will be the ultimate good of man; but if that is so, we must at least ask with more curiosity than he allows for, why it was that man actually found his ultimate good on earth under the stars, and threw it away again. It is this extraordinary enigma to which I propose to attempt an answer.

There is only one thing in the modern world that has been face to face with Paganism; there is only one thing in the modern world which in that sense knows anything about Paganism: and that is Christianity. That fact is really the weak point in the whole of that hedonistic neo-Paganism of which I have spoken. All that genuinely remains of the ancient hymns or the ancient dances of Europe, all that has honestly come to us from the festivals of Phoebus or Pan, is to be found in the festivals of the Christian Church. If anyone wants to hold the end of a chain which really goes back to the heathen mysteries, he had better take hold of a festoon of flowers at Easter or a string of sausages at Christmas. Everything else in the modern world is of Christian origin, even everything that seems most anti-Christian. The French Revolution is of Christian origin. The newspaper is of Christian origin. The anarchists are of Christian origin. Physical science is of Christian origin. The attack on Christianity is of Christian origin. There is one thing, and one thing only, in existence at the present day which can in any sense accurately be said to be of pagan origin, and that is Christianity.

The real difference between Paganism and Christianity is perfectly summed up in the difference between the pagan, or natural, virtues, and those three virtues of Christianity which the Church of Rome calls virtues of grace. The pagan, or rational, virtues are such things as justice and temperance, and Christianity has adopted them. The three mystical virtues which Christianity has not adopted, but invented, are faith, hope, and charity. Now much easy and foolish Christian rhetoric could easily be poured out upon those three words, but I desire to confine myself to the two facts which are evident about them. The first evident fact (in marked contrast to the delusion of the dancing pagan)—the first evident fact, I say, is that the pagan virtues, such as justice and temperance, are the sad virtues, and that the mystical virtues of faith, hope, and charity are the gay and exuberant virtues. And the second evident fact, which is even more evident, is the fact that the pagan virtues are the reasonable virtues, and that the Christian virtues of faith, hope, and charity are in their essence as unreasonable as they can be.

As the word “unreasonable” is open to misunderstanding, the matter may be more accurately put by saying that each one of these Christian or mystical virtues involves a paradox in its own nature, and that this is not true of any of the typically pagan or rationalist virtues. Justice consists in finding out a certain thing due to a certain man and giving it to him. Temperance consists in finding out the proper limit of a particular indulgence and adhering to that. But charity means pardoning what is unpardonable, or it is no virtue at all. Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all. And faith means believing the incredible, or it is no virtue at all.  (from here)

Chapter XII Paganism and Mr. Lowes Dickinson of Heretics is too long for one blog post, but there is another virtue. Therefore, here is one more paragraph.

It has been the boast of hundreds of the champions of Christianity. It has been the taunt of hundreds of the opponents of Christianity. It is, in essence, the basis of Mr. Lowes Dickinson’s whole distinction between Christianity and Paganism. I mean, of course, the virtue of humility. I admit, of course, most readily, that a great deal of false Eastern humility (that is, of strictly ascetic humility) mixed itself with the main stream of European Christianity. We must not forget that when we speak of Christianity we are speaking of a whole continent for about a thousand years. But of this virtue even more than of the other three, I would maintain the general proposition adopted above. Civilization discovered Christian humility for the same urgent reason that it discovered faith and charity—that is, because Christian civilization had to discover it or die. (from here)

When they read Chesterton’s words, some will counter by saying Jesus was a genius, merely a great philosopher. Christianity was just an evolutionary leap forward in Philosophy.  But how could a poor carpenter and His twelve disciples (just ordinary men) have invented and spread this philosophy we now call Christianity?

We also must wonder about Jesus’ miracles and the miracles His disciples performed in His name. Were these too just inventions by the men who wrote the Bible? The New Testament was written by Jesus’ contemporaries, men who had seen or spoke to those who knew Him. If Jesus was not the Son of God, these men had to know better, and all they could expect from their “inventions” was martyrdom.

Therefore, we have a puzzle. We have men with nothing to gain who gave their lives to spread an odd philosophy, and we have accusers who say they either lied or they were deceived. When we think about that accusation of lies, why aren’t we filled with wonder? Why would anyone tell lies to promote the virtues of faith, hope, charity, and humility?

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PRINCE WILLIAM & MANASSAS FAMILY ALLIANCE VIRGINIA 2014 VOTER GUIDE

voter

This post provides our Voter Guides for Virginia’s 1st, 10th and 11th U.S. House Districts.

These voter guides are in two PDF files.  A free copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader is available at this link.

When we printed the voter guides, we combined the 10th and the 11th House District with the 1st House District to save printing costs. Please feel free to print your own copies and forward the files to your friends. If you wish to assist us in the distribution of the voter guides, please use the contact information provided here: Volunteer or donate to help us fight for family values.

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FOLLOWING A FALSE TRAIL IN THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS

drinking for happiness
An expert on alcoholism I am not. So why a post on the subject? I don’t imbibe alcoholic beverages, but I don’t campaign against them. The Prince William-Manassas Family Alliance also doesn’t campaign against the use alcoholic beverages. So why a post? From personal experience I know the abuse of alcohol harms families. That’s why I don’t touch the stuff. I am frighten I might abuse it. Nevertheless, I have always been curious as to why some people can use alcohol with any serious problems, and others cannot use it without abusing it. So when I discovered G. K. Chesterton‘s strange bit of wisdom on the abuse of alcohol in Heretics, I thought it might be worthwhile to share it.

A new morality has burst upon us with some violence in connection with the problem of strong drink; and enthusiasts in the matter range from the man who is violently thrown out at 12.30, to the lady who smashes American bars with an axe. In these discussions it is almost always felt that one very wise and moderate position is to say that wine or such stuff should only be drunk as a medicine. With this I should venture to disagree with a peculiar ferocity. The one genuinely dangerous and immoral way of drinking wine is to drink it as a medicine. And for this reason, If a man drinks wine in order to obtain pleasure, he is trying to obtain something exceptional, something he does not expect every hour of the day, something which, unless he is a little insane, he will not try to get every hour of the day. But if a man drinks wine in order to obtain health, he is trying to get something natural; something, that is, that he ought not to be without; something that he may find it difficult to reconcile himself to being without. The man may not be seduced who has seen the ecstasy of being ecstatic; it is more dazzling to catch a glimpse of the ecstasy of being ordinary. If there were a magic ointment, and we took it to a strong man, and said, “This will enable you to jump off the Monument,” doubtless he would jump off the Monument, but he would not jump off the Monument all day long to the delight of the City. But if we took it to a blind man, saying, “This will enable you to see,” he would be under a heavier temptation. It would be hard for him not to rub it on his eyes whenever he heard the hoof of a noble horse or the birds singing at daybreak. It is easy to deny one’s self festivity; it is difficult to deny one’s self normality. Hence comes the fact which every doctor knows, that it is often perilous to give alcohol to the sick even when they need it. I need hardly say that I do not mean that I think the giving of alcohol to the sick for stimulus is necessarily unjustifiable. But I do mean that giving it to the healthy for fun is the proper use of it, and a great deal more consistent with health.

The sound rule in the matter would appear to be like many other sound rules—a paradox. Drink because you are happy, but never because you are miserable. Never drink when you are wretched without it, or you will be like the grey-faced gin-drinker in the slum; but drink when you would be happy without it, and you will be like the laughing peasant of Italy. Never drink because you need it, for this is rational drinking, and the way to death and hell. But drink because you do not need it, for this is irrational drinking, and the ancient health of the world. (from here)

“I need a drink.” For years I have consider that short, little sentence one of the saddest and most common in the English language, and now I have a good explanation.

Don’t we all know people who think they cannot party without a drink? Are these people the life of the party? Instead of enjoying their company, don’t we end up worrying about them? As Chesterton observed, when we drink to be happy, our choice may seem perfectly rational, but the result is unhappy.

Is alcoholism then strictly a matter of attitude? I don’t know. I just know we cannot find happiness in a bottle.

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CAN PROGRESSIVISM BE AIMLESS AND STILL REPRESENT PROGRESS?

HeriticsCultures can seemingly change overnight, but I think the more significant changes — those based upon heartfelt beliefs — require decades.  So it is I have spent considerable time in recent years reading old books. I want to understand how we got in this mess. The human race is always in a mess, but each era has its own mess. Therefore, this mess is mine to understand and do what I can to improve.

One author I just recently discovered is G. K. Chesterton.  In just two of his books, Everlasting Man and Heretics, I have already found much to admire in Chesterton’s writing ability and wit. Here is an example, the subject of this post, from the end of Chapter 2 of Heretics.

The case of the general talk of “progress” is, indeed, an extreme one. As enunciated today, “progress” is simply a comparative of which we have not settled the superlative. We meet every ideal of religion, patriotism, beauty, or brute pleasure with the alternative ideal of progress—that is to say, we meet every proposal of getting something that we know about, with an alternative proposal of getting a great deal more of nobody knows what. Progress, properly understood, has, indeed, a most dignified and legitimate meaning. But as used in opposition to precise moral ideals, it is ludicrous. So far from it being the truth that the ideal of progress is to be set against that of ethical or religious finality, the reverse is the truth. Nobody has any business to use the word “progress” unless he has a definite creed and a cast-iron code of morals. Nobody can be progressive without being doctrinal; I might almost say that nobody can be progressive without being infallible—at any rate, without believing in some infallibility. For progress by its very name indicates a direction; and the moment we are in the least doubtful about the direction, we become in the same degree doubtful about the progress. Never perhaps since the beginning of the world has there been an age that had less right to use the word “progress” than we. In the Catholic twelfth century, in the philosophic eighteenth century, the direction may have been a good or a bad one, men may have differed more or less about how far they went, and in what direction, but about the direction they did in the main agree, and consequently they had the genuine sensation of progress. But it is precisely about the direction that we disagree. Whether the future excellence lies in more law or less law, in more liberty or less liberty; whether property will be finally concentrated or finally cut up; whether sexual passion will reach its sanest in an almost virgin intellectualism or in a full animal freedom; whether we should love everybody with Tolstoy, or spare nobody with Nietzsche;—these are the things about which we are actually fighting most. It is not merely true that the age which has settled least what is progress is this “progressive” age. It is, moreover, true that the people who have settled least what is progress are the most “progressive” people in it. The ordinary mass, the men who have never troubled about progress, might be trusted perhaps to progress. The particular individuals who talk about progress would certainly fly to the four winds of heaven when the pistol-shot started the race. I do not, therefore, say that the word “progress” is unmeaning; I say it is unmeaning without the previous definition of a moral doctrine, and that it can only be applied to groups of persons who hold that doctrine in common. Progress is not an illegitimate word, but it is logically evident that it is illegitimate for us. It is a sacred word, a word which could only rightly be used by rigid believers and in the ages of faith. (from here)

We can find some Chesterton’s books at our local library. Otherwise, we download them for free (even good audio versions). That’s the best thing about old books that are well on their way to becoming classics.

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2014 CHRISTIAN VOTER GUIDES

vote for americaHere are the websites of Christian organizations that provide voter information relevant to Virginia’s 2014 election.

For more resources, check 2014 ELECTIONS.

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WHY OUR VOTES DON’T SEEM TO MATTER ANYMORE


Declaration of IndependenceToday the Supreme Court refused to consider a slam dunk case. Here is one version of the story.

Supreme Court Refuses To Hear Same Sex Marriage Cases

In a major surprise, the United States Supreme Court has said today that it will not hear any of the seven same-sex marriage cases that were pending before the court, leaving the decisions of three US Circuit Courts of Appeal to stand—for now—as the law in the affected states.

In each of the seven cases seeking review before SCOTUS, the federal circuit appellate courts had sided with lower court decisions that had struck down state laws prohibiting gay couples from marrying. However, each of these decisions came with a stay—blocking the states involved from permitting gay marriages to go forward until the Supreme Court had the opportunity to weigh in on the question.

Now the Court has decided not to hear the cases, the decisions of these appellate courts will stand as the law, the stays will be lifted and gay marriage will be legal in each of the five states—Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Indiana—where the bans had been struck down. (continued here)

Thus, same-sex marriage is now legal in Virginia. Should we have been surprised? In retrospect, probably not. We have not been respectful of our blessings; we have not made sufficient effort to understand them.

What is the founding document of this nation? Upon what principles was the United States established? Are these principles in The United States Constitution? No! If we read the Declaration of Independence, in that document we will find them. In that document thirteen American colonies declared that God, not the king or any assembly of men, gives us our rights.

Why did that declaration make such huge difference? The Founders understood the difference between God-given rights and the “rights” given to us by our rulers. When God gave us our rights, He gifted them to us without any strings attached. Moreover, He gave of Himself. He did not take from some people to give to other people. When our rulers give us our “rights,” we cannot trust them. Our rulers are only ambitious men and women. Except for what they take from our neighbors, our rulers have nothing to give us. At best, when we elect honorable men and women, our rulers can only help us to protect our God-given rights.

Nevertheless, we have elected too many politicians who have promised us too many of other people’s things. So now they lead us into envy, strife, and division. Instead of protecting our God-given rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, they insist we murder the unborn, strip God from the education of our children, and burden us with taxes and debt.

Just consider the absurdity. What is marriage? Is it not an institution designed to help us raise our children with both a responsible mother and a father? If that is the case, how can two people of the same sex be married? That is as silly as a square circle. Just the same, judges, supposedly just interpreting the Law, have found a right to same-sex marriage in laws written by men who never imagined any such thing.

There is only one solution. We must turn to our Lord and beg His forgiveness. Then we must demonstrate our repentance. Instead of voting for politicians who promise us more government benefits, we must vote to protect each other’s God-given rights, particularly from scheming politicians.

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WHAT IS TRUTH IN A FALLEN WORLD?

crossTwo thousand years ago the vast majority of the inhabitants of the Roman Empire were pagans. They worshiped gods — idols — fashioned by human hands. Among the Peoples of that day, the Romans were considered an honorable lot. So it is that even now we still respect Roman justice. Even though it was harsh, we regard it as being relatively fair, a step ahead of what might have expected from any other People from that time period.

Why harsh? Men of that era found it too easy to believe that might made right. Idol worship, worshiping gods fashioned after men, animals, planets — things drawn from our imagination — makes brutes of men. Only about a century and a half before the birth of Christ, in 146 BC, the Romans had conquered Carthage. Carthage too was a republic, but the way that people worshiped their gods included sacrificing some of their own children (Ancient Carthaginians really did sacrifice their children and Carthaginians sacrificed own children, archaeologists say).

What the Carthaginians worshiped was darker than most. Nevertheless, the Romans were a hard people, and history says Pontius Pilate was a hard man. Was he harden by what he had been taught to worship? Perhaps. Perhaps that’s why he asked Jesus the right question, but then without listening for an answer, walked away.

John 18:33-38 New King James Version (NKJV)

33 Then Pilate entered the Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?”

34 Jesus answered him, “Are you speaking for yourself about this, or did others tell you this concerning Me?”

35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me. What have You done?”

36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.”

37 Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?”

Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”

38 Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, “I find no fault in Him at all.

Pilate found no fault, but he still ordered that Jesus be beaten and crucified. Even the Romans, because the Truth was not in their gods, did not respect the Truth, not even when He stood before them.

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