Evangelical Resources on Wicca and Neopaganism
Table of Contents
- Magazines and Periodicals
Wicca, and the broader category of Neopaganism that encompasses it, is a very recent addition to the North American religious landscape. In particular, these new religions, which often make the claim to be a revival of the "old religion" of pre-Christian paganism, are in all points of fact completely new narratives on history. Although often seen as a religion, Wicca is essentially a psychological technique that denies absolutes and the correspondence of truth. It allows one to wear one's beliefs loosely, and as such is perfectly tailored as a post-modern religious movement.
The goal of this page is to present resources on the topics of Wicca and Neopaganism that would be useful to evangelical Christians. Additionally, I intend to make observations on the state of Wicca and Neopaganism as it currently exists at the University of Texas at Dallas. Because UTD is very different from other traditional University environments, observations made here should not be applied in general to other college and University settings.
As this page could be considered quite controversial, particularly by Wiccans themselves, I need to take a moment to emphasize that I hold myself to a higher standard of source material than a typical fundamentalist Christian (I am evangelical, not fundamentalist) and insist on the use of materials that are respectable in an academic setting. This is a dynamic movement within very dynamic environment; as such this page should, at all times, be considered a work in progress. If, however, you have an issue with any material presented here, I am willing to discuss such concerns by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I love Wiccans. As human beings made in the image of God, they have intrinsic value that is unmatched in any part of creation. They are not merely "souls for the trophy case" as Christians are so often accused of seeing them as, but indeed as people that Jesus Christ came to earth and risked everything to die for. I do love Wiccans, but I love the Truth foremost, and it is my hope and prayer that Wiccans, too, will come see the beauty of the true Logos.
Blessed be, indeed!
- Charlotte Allen, "The Scholars and the Goddess"
The Atlantic, January 2001.
[ http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/2001/01/allen.htm ]
"Wicca, sometimes known as the Goddess movement, Goddess spirituality, or the Craft, appears to be the fastest-growing religion in America. Thirty years ago only a handful of Wiccans existed. One scholar has estimated that there are now more than 200,000 adherents of Wicca and related "neopagan" faiths in the United States, the country where neopaganism, like many formal religions, is most flourishing." ...
"In all probability, not a single element of the Wiccan story is true. The evidence is overwhelming that Wicca is a distinctly new religion, a 1950s concoction influenced by such things as Masonic ritual and a late-nineteenth-century fascination with the esoteric and the occult, and that various assumptions informing the Wiccan view of history are deeply flawed. Furthermore, scholars generally agree that there is no indication, either archaeological or in the written record, that any ancient people ever worshipped a single, archetypal goddess -- a conclusion that strikes at the heart of Wiccan belief."
Understandably, Allen's article caused a significant uproar in portions of the Wiccan and Neopagan community, stirring quite a controversy. Their arguments were anticipated by Allen, as noted in this quote:
"Despite their ire, both Starhawk and Eisler, along with many of their adherents, seem to be moving toward a position that accommodates, without exactly accepting, the new Goddess scholarship, much as they have done with respect to the new research about their movement's beginnings. If the ancients did not literally worship a mother goddess, perhaps they worshipped her in a metaphoric way, by recognizing the special female capacity for bearing and nourishing new life -- a capacity to which we might attach the word "goddess" even if prehistoric peoples did not. "Most of us look at the archaeological artifacts and images as a source of art, or beauty, or something to speculate about, because the images fit with our theory that the earth is sacred, and that there is a cycle of birth and growth and regeneration," Starhawk told me. "I believe that there was an Old Religion that focused on the female, and that the culture was roughly egalitarian."
The most significant response is that of Starhawk, linked here:
Starhawk, "Religion From Nature, Not Archaeology: Starhawk Responds to the Atlantic Monthly"
January 5, 2001
[ http://www.starhawk.org/pagan/religion-from-nature.html ]
Starhawk's response is instructive to Christians on several points; most importantly it lays out briefly those things that Wiccans themselves define to be the differentiating elements of their religion. Some points worth noting:
- The source of revelation is clearly defined as esoteric and not exoteric. For a fuller description of the meaning of this distinction, see "The Essence of Paganism" listed below. As such, it is essentially defined subjectively and not objectively, a distinction better described by Mortimer Adler's "Truth in Religion."
- The direct relationship experienced by Wiccans is with the cycles of life and death. This is very different than a Christian's relationship with God that has been restored by Jesus Christ at great cost. Additionally, the cycles of life and death are discussed at length in Ecclesiastes 3, where Solomon uses them to point us to the fact of a sovereign and wise Creator.
- Christians and Pagans can agree strongly that God's creation has essential value and should be protected. Modern thought is typically confused by Wiccans as Christian thought, and thus it is incorrectly perceived that Christians hold to the fairly common modern view that the Earth is merely a collection of resources to be exploited. Christians would disagree with Wiccans as to the divinity of creation, as Christians insist strongly that creation is distinctly different from God (though God is immanently present with creation in His fullness). However, Christians should rightfully see themselves as stewards of God's creation, which they were given both dominion over, but also responsibility to maintain.
- In terms of the problem of abuse against women, this is an area where Christianity excels in generosity to those who have been hurt. No other interest group or religion spends as much money and volunteers as many resources or man-hours to this and related problems as the Christian church. Between homeless shelters, support lines, counseling services, crisis pregnancy centers, half-way houses, foster parents, day-care services, prison ministries, food pantries, and numerous other services performed by individual Christians daily to care for the needs of battered women, it would be difficult to make a case that Christians are uncaring and unconcerned with the plight of abused women. Vastly more resources are spent to this end than are spent on apologetics because Christians intuitively understand that each individual is precious in the eyes of Christ. Starhawk does not make an indictment against Christianity on this point in her article, but it should be clear that this strength of Wicca is more powerfully expressed in Christian charity. Also worth noting is that some of the most significant movements for change in American history were led by Christian women.
- Although it is only implicitly present, many Wiccans believe Christians see human sexuality in Puritanical terms, or as dirty or evil. The correct understanding, of course, is that our sexuality is a gift from a loving and wise Creator God, that was meant to be enjoyed within the confines of a loving relationship, and with the powerful meaning associated with the potential creation of new life. These are things celebrated by the Christian, if they understand the beauty and holiness of marital sexuality. Because it is a gift of God that is beautiful, filled with intimacy and vulnerability, essentially powerful and enshrouded with transcendent meaning, it has unfathomable worth that must be protected and honored. Sexual activity outside these bounds should be considered a marring of the picture of Christ and His church that has been given to us. The book of the Bible titled "Song of Solomon" contains some of the most beautiful ancient poetry written on the sexual love of a married couple.
- When Starhawk speaks of "[moving] outside of Jewish or Christian concepts of deity," she specifically means rejecting a Theistic worldview. Without going into too much detail, the Wiccan worldview is very dynamic in that it can change shape at will, and thus is best described as either Monism or Postmodern. A fuller description of worldviews is best described in James W. Sire's "The Universe Next Door" which lays out clearly why Christians believe that Christian Theism is superior to other worldviews.
Many more observations may be drawn from the response, however at this time I will leave this as a further exercise for the reader. For a more scholarly and methodical discussion of these issues, see the Carroll and Shiflett book, "Christianity on Trial," listed below.
- Michael Gleghorn, "Wicca: A Biblical Critique"
Probe Ministries, 2002.
[ http://www.probe.org/content/view/945/0/ ]
- Jenny Gibbons, "Recent Developments in the Study of The Great
European Witch Hunt"
Pomegranate #5 (Lammas 1998)
[ http://www.cog.org/witch_hunt.html ]
A pagan herself, Jenny Gibbons, M.A. in Medieval History, appeals to pagans to become aware of the misinformation promoted by Wiccans about their own mythological history. In particular, this article discusses at length why the "Burning Times" myth could not be justified historically, because it relied so heavily on out-dated and disproven information.
- Lauren Winner, "How My Pentacle Pointed to God"
[ http://www.boundless.org/2001/features/a0000507.html ]
- Sarah E. Hinlicky, "Witch Path Would You Choose?"
[ http://www.boundless.org/2001/features/a0000503.html ]
- Roberto Rivera y Carlo, "Pagan Chic"
[ http://www.boundless.org/2002_2003/features/a0000712.html ]
- Philip G. Davis, "Thanks to the University, the Goddess is
Alive and Well and Gaining Credibility"
[ http://www.boundless.org/1999/departments/pages/a0000032.html ]
An excerpt from Goddess Unmasked.
- Russ Wise, "The Goddess and the Church"
[ http://www.probe.org/content/view/674/65/ ]
"Reverence for the goddess is becoming more prevalent in our day. The goddess is embraced by witchcraft, feminism, the occult, and the liberal church. The New Age that is about to dawn upon us will be, according to the occult world, a feminine age. Likewise, those who hold this view believe that this current, masculine age has been an age of destruction and broken relationships among humanity. The New Age with its feminine energies will bring balance to the destructive aspects of the Piscean Age."
- Russ Wise, "Goddess Worship"
[ http://www.probe.org/content/view/675/65/ ]
A derivative version of this article was printed in the SCP Journal and can be found on SCP's website:
Russ Wise, Tal Brooke, "Goddess Worship"
SCP Newsletter, Winter 1998/99, Volume 23:2.
[ http://www.scp-inc.org/publications/newsletters/N2302/ ]
- Peter Jones, Tal Brooke, "The Essence of Paganism"
SCP Journal, Volume 26:2-26:3.
This article describes clearly the difference between esoteric and exoteric revelation:
"Pagan religion and biblical orthodoxy ultimately represent the only two possible major religious configurations, namely, the esoteric and the exoteric, the god within or the God without. To be sure, there are multitudinous variations. The many religious expressions confusedly mix elements of both in different doses and mind-numbering computations. However these two represent the pure, mutually exclusive forms. They express the two world views that have given rise to the classic theological distinction known as the "Antithesis"." ...
"Just as you cannot mix oil and water, so you cannot mix paganism and Christianity, esotericism and exotericism. The God of the Bible cannot be both the God of the Bible and, at the same time, a card-carrying member of the pagan pantheon."
Wiccan expressions are essentially esoteric, not exoteric. As a result, they place their emphasis on subjective religious experience, and not on historically verifiable facts. Christianity is exoteric, emphasizing facts that correspond with historical reality.
- Linda Harvey, "How Sorcery Chic Permeates
SCP Newsletter, Winter 2002/2003: Vol 27:2.
This article details the rise of pop-culture paganism. For Wiccans and Neopagans, the pop-culture has the benefit of giving their voices a much broader listening audience. However, this has been at the cost of an inaccurate portrayal as glamorized by Hollywood. Like it or not, the pop-culture has latched on in their own way, with no signs of letting loose the reigns any time soon.
- Andrew McLean, "Neopaganism: Is dialogue possible?"
Lutheran Theological Journal, 2002-12-01.
This article is highly recommended as an overview to the problems of Christian dialogue with Neopagan movements. There is much to commend this article that I do not state here, however I will include one particular quote:
"The Christian church is seen as the victor that has squashed pagan religion by force and misguided missionary zeal. The 'burning times' are a painful reminder to many pagans of the evils of the church. We need to acknowledge that pain. A woman at the Melbourne 'Body, Mind Spirit Expo', on learning that I was a Christian, proceeded to tell me about the nine million witches killed by the church. She spoke not with anger but with pain. When I asked her for forgiveness her face showed that I had done the right thing."
This observation shows the appropriate road to take when confronted with "the burning times". It is rare that even valid, documented, historical arguments on these periods of history will be accepted, especially observations on the admittedly dark chapter of the Salem witch trials. Some Wiccans will still believe strongly Christians are bent toward killing witches. They need freedom from their bitterness, and the Christian is perfectly positioned to give them the opportunity to free them from their prison, and open doors of opportunity where previously were only steep walls.
[As an aside, I find bitter irony in the fact that Salem receives so much attention, and yet there is little concern expressed for other documented atrocities in American history that have little Christian association, such as the regular lynching of blacks in the American South all the way up to the 1960s. Salem is indeed a dark chapter in history, made all the darker by the simple fact that it is unlikely that any of those murdered were actually guilty as they were accused. There were no martyred witches at Salem, only murdered people.]
- Philip S. Johnson,
"Wiccans and Christians: Some Mutual Challenges"
[ http://jesus.com.au/html/page/wicca ]
- Terence Gallagher, "The Neo-Pagans Are Giving Ancient Paganism
a Bad Name"
New Oxford Review, Feb '03, pp35-41.
Gallagher's thesis is that the recent disinterest in studying ancient paganism has resulted in a wholesale misunderstanding by Neopagans as to the original emphasis on wisdom by the ancient pagans.
"We must ... bring back our pagan grandfathers, and restore them to their rightful place in man's story; which is to say, restore to them their rightful role in the history of salvation." ...
"To be brief, the paleo-pagan and the neo-pagan are facing in opposite directions. At his best, and admittedly neither Christian nor pagan is very often at his best, the paleo-pagan was a seeker for the truth of the human condition, a lover of wisdom. That is why he invented the discipline of philosophy. On the other hand, the neo-pagan, with the truth of the human condition presented by revelation more clearly than the poor paleo-pagan could have dreamed, rejects this truth and wishes it buried." ...
The realization is that Neopaganism is a psychological technique.
"Seen in this light, neo-paganism is not a religion at all. It does not bind its adherents by obligation to or love for a higher power. It is simply another technique, a means of producing pleasant, carefully controlled emotions, of soothing deeply felt and deeply feared needs; it is a sort of anesthetic applied on a metaphysical level." ...
"[I]n the 20th century Western Christians have made the mistake of largely abandoning their pagan heritage. Earlier Christian history provides an impressive spectacle of the enthusiastic, sometimes reckless, enjoyment of pagan treasures."
Gallagher goes further to describe Christian studies in ancient paganism, including Ovid, Virgil, and Horace, among others.
An important observation to draw from this discussion is that as a technique, Neopaganism suffers from the same basic criticisms that Jacques Ellul so brilliantly illuminated in "The Technological Society". To summarize some key ideas, technological thinking entails understanding the problem and devising a technique to arrive at a solution. The "solution," however, becomes a problem until itself, as the end result of technology is a Huxleyan Brave New World. When technique is applied to religion, the pragmatic system is the one that results in positive psychological states. Truth then falls by the wayside.
- Craig Hawkins, "The Modern World of Witchcraft: Part One of
Christian Research Journal, Winter/Spring 1990, page 8.
[ http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/cri/cri-jrnl/web/crj0064a.html ]
Craig S. Hawkins, "The Modern World of Witchcraft: Part Two"
Christian Research Journal, Summer 1990, page 22.
[ http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/cri/cri-jrnl/web/crj0069a.html ]
- Craig S. Hawkins "Witnessing to Witches"
Christian Research Journal, Summer 1990, page 7.
[ http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/cri/cri-jrnl/web/crj0070a.html ]
- Ron Rhodes, "Paganism on the Rise: An Interview with Berit Kjos"
Christian Research Newsletter, Volume 5: Number 4, 1992.
[ http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/cri/cri-nwsl/web/crn0044a.html ]
"Concern for the environment has joined with mysticism to spark a return to ancient forms of nature worship. Paganism is on the rise, and the "Earth Goddess" is beckoning. Indeed, pagan beliefs are subtly entering peoples' lives through media, schools, and even the church. In this issue of the Newsletter, Berit Kjos -- author of Under the Spell of Mother Earth -- gives us her insights on this important issue."
- Marcia Montenegro, "Witchcraft, Wicca, and Neopaganism"
Christian Answers for the New Age
[ http://cana.userworld.com/cana_wicca.html ]
- Linda P. Harvey, "Heresy in the Hood II: Witchcraft among
Children and Teens in America"
[ http://www.leaderu.com/theology/teenwitchcraft.html ]
Linda Harvey's article discusses the pop-culture aspects of Witchcraft and it's increasing popularity.
- Norman L. Geisler, "Neopaganism, Feminism, and the New
Christian Research Journal, Fall 1991.
[ http://www.equip.org/free/DO025.htm ]
Dr. Geisler's expert analysis of Neopaganism includes discussion of Margot Adler's Drawing Down the Moon. This article is slightly dated, written in 1991, however the topics discussed are still relevant.
Other copies online:
[ http://www.johnankerberg.com/Articles/_PDFArchives/theological-dictionary/TD3W0902.pdf ] PDF: Part 1
[ http://www.johnankerberg.com/Articles/_PDFArchives/theological-dictionary/TD1W1002.pdf ] PDF: Part 2
- Craig S. Hawkins, "Trustworthiness of the Bible: Was It
Tampered With By the Early Church?"
June 1, 2000.
[ http://www.apologeticsinfo.org/papers/trustworthinessofthebible.html ]
This article was written specifically to work through the objection many occultists (including Wiccans) have about the reliability of the Bible.
"Space limitations do not permit me to present a definitive study on our topic; I cannot do this topic justice in the space I have in this paper. Thus, it is beyond my scope to go into great detail here. Due to the overwhelming amount of pertinent data, the following is simply a highlight, a mere outline of the available information. However, I want to demonstrate why one should trust the Bible and therefore the biblical teaching on a given concern (e.g., on the occult), and know that it was not tampered with by the early Church."...
In conclusion, Hawkins writes:
"There is no objective evidence that the biblical text has been tampered with by the Jews or the early Church. There is no manuscript evidence, no archaeological evidence, no eyewitness--or otherwise--testimony, no support from the writings of the early Church, nor any evidence from the study of textual criticism to substantiate witches' or other occultist's or critics subjectively based claims of a tampered Bible."
- Andy Steiner, "The Wicca That Never Was: The real story of
the world's newest 'ancient' religion"
[ http://www.apologeticsindex.org/w03.html ]
- Hayes, Stephen. "Christian responses to witchcraft and sorcery."
Missionalia, Vol. 23(3) November. Pages 339-354.
[ http://www.geocities.com/Athens/7734/witch1.htm ]
This article deals specifically with the Christian response to Witchcraft in South Africa and other African republics.
"Between 1994 and 1996 several hundred people were killed in the Northern Province of South Africa after being accused of witchcraft. The Christian response to witchcraft and witchcraft accusations has varied at different periods and in different places. Sometimes the church has discouraged witch hunts, while at other times it has enthusiastically participated in them. In South Africa some of the Zionist Churches seem to have an approach to the matter that others could learn from."
This article also includes a discussion of the differences between First-World Neopaganism and the paganism of non-industrialized regions of the world.
- Phil Wyman, "Witches Are Real People Too"
December 9, 1997.
[ http://www.gathering4square.com/Gathering_Web/NewPages/pagan_study_intro.html ]
In completion of the course "Folk Religion: Belief and Practice" Fuller Seminary.
- "Some Christian Observations on Paganism and Wicca"
[ http://www.spotlightministries.org.uk/christianobpaganwicca.htm ]
- Bill Honsberger, "Why Not Burn Witches?"
[ http://www.emnr.org/papers/why_not_burn_witches.htm ]
This paper deals with the complex historical and logical problems that come from the claim that 9 million witches were killed. It concludes with probing questions about the source of our moral outrage:
"So I repeat the question; Why not burn witches? From the Christian perspective there is an answer. It is wrong to burn witches because God has said so. It is wrong today; it will be wrong tomorrow. It is wrong here and it is wrong in France and in New Guinea and everywhere else. In order to say this we must have a transcendent ethic, which is not the cumulative collection of individual opinions, but rather a standard by which all opinions must be judged. The god of nature cannot qualify. Let me illustrate.
"I talked to a Theraveda Buddhist at the Parliament. I asked him how he knew that mankind should practice non-violence, since he was an atheist. He responded that "Nature teaches us non-violence." I replied, That is an interesting idea, but all one has to do is watch a David Attenborough video for about five minutes before figuring out that the sum total of nature is animals eating other animals and making little animals which will eat other animals and so on". I went on to say, "Nature has a lot of beautiful things in it, but the one thing one cannot say is that nature teaches us non-violence." He responded by yelling at me, "You just think we need a personal God or something to tell us what is right and wrong?" I said, "Yes, that is exactly what we need". You see, he did not want non-violence to be an option for some and not for others. He wanted it to be a binding absolute that all would honor. But in rejecting God, he had left himself with no way to justify a claim that would bind all of us.
"The witches have the same problem. Phyllis Curolt is right about the immorality of those who killed witches, whether one or nine million. But she is wrong about the relativity of ethics. If she is right about ethics, then her claim is blown apart, and by her own standards she might be accused of judging others, which of course is not supposed to be done. If she is right about the immorality of murder, then her whole belief system built upon this foundation of relativism collapses into incoherent nonsense. In a way, you could say that her attack upon the church is really an argument for Christianity, an appeal for justice based upon Christian moral standards. The only way her claim can be justified is if she is wrong and Christians are right. Why not burn witches? Because there is a God who has the right to set standards, and He has said it is wrong."
- Bill Honsberger, "How to Reach a Pagan World"
[ http://www.emnr.org/papers/how_to_reach_a_pagan_world.htm ]
"I think perhaps the clearest explanation is also the simplest; the reason this kind of love worked, is that it spoke to the real needs of people. As Dr. Gordon Lewis stresses elsewhere in this journal, apologetics and evangelism must seek for "common ground" with those involved with paganism. The most common ground of all for human beings is our common alienation from God and from each other. When the early church loved people in the simple, yet profound way that they did, they "spoke" a language that the pagans had no counterpoint for. The essence of New Age paganism is narcissist, in all its forms. The self is ultimate and autonomous, with all else being part of Maya "the illusion" This focus on self and self only, under the guise of "spiritual development," by definition excludes the care for others, and undermines the ultimate idealism often parroted by contemporary leaders within New Age ranks. Why care for the environment is the world is an illusion? Why love your neighbor if all is an illusion? New Age author Joseph Campbell, in the PBS series entitled "The Power of Myth," explains his version of the commandment to love your neighbor, not as a command to think of others, as seen by Christ's disciples throughout church history. Rather, he says that the command to love others as yourself is based upon the notion that to love others as yourself is to know that when you do so, you are really loving yourself. Why? Because you are your neighbor. This is the logical extension of monistic pantheism. If all is one and all is God, then all distinctions break down into "Maya." In response, one could note that for paganism, loving a rock in the same way as one ought to reach out to help the poor, is also the same thing. Rocks and poor people are both part of the illusion, so they are the same.
"Within this foundation is the heart of the complaint made by Julian. We must imitate the Christians caring for others. But historically this didn't work, and this is because the pagan beliefs systematically undermine the concern for the other. By contrast, Christians are commanded to think of serving other people, as a way of serving Jesus. The "benchmark" for the success of the Church in following Jesus, is not our buildings, but rather our reaching out to the very people he reached out to, the poor, the sick, the weak, the orphans, the widows, and so on.
"While nothing I have said here is original, it is intended as slap in the face to the Church in America today. I meet too many people who formerly sat in Christian churches of one sort or another, who are now thoroughly pagan. I also meet too many Christians in churches, who know nothing of their own faith, and yet seem fascinated by Wicca, channeling (communication with supernatural entities), and other varieties of paganism. We must speak the truth in love within our own ranks, and also to the larger community of people involved with the "new" religious movements. The good news is that we do not have to reinvent the wheel, or seek out the latest thing from some marketer, but instead can remember God's word to our predecessors in the faith, and remember how well God's methods work when applied."
- Craig S. Hawkins, Witchcraft: Exploring the World of Wicca
- Craig S. Hawkins, Goddess Worship: Witchcraft and
- Spencer, Hailson, Kroeger, Spencer, The Goddess Revival
- Brooks Alexander,
Witchcraft Goes Mainstream: Uncovering Its Alarming Impact on
You and Your Family
Harvest House, 2004. ISBN 0-7369-1221-5
A favorable review of this book by a Wiccan is online here:
[ http://davensjournal.com/RWGM.xhtml ]
- Mortimer J. Adler, Truth In Religion: The Plurality of Religions
and the Unity of Truth
- Vincent Carroll, David Shiflett.
Christianity on Trial: Arguments Against Anti-Religious Bigotry
This book discusses in scholarly detail the myths surrounding Christianity in contemporary culture that often go unchallenged in the public sphere. Because they are so commonplace, they are often cited as proof that Neopagan religions are superior to Christianity. Some of the myths that are refuted chapter by chapter include:
- Discussion of Christianity's role in the foundation of the West - was it opposed at all points to progress and favoring of tyrants and despots? Or did Christianity revitalize ethics of the old Roman world, preserve civilization after the Roman collapse, and set the stage for Rule of Law?
- Christianity's alleged support of slavery from ancient times up to the American Civil War, discussing particularly Christianity's role in changing the accepted ethical norms of slavery leading to it's eventual demise, in the United States particularly as a result of the Christian Abolitionist movement.
- Christianity's supposed impediment to the development of science; discussing Christianity's rejection of fate and cycles, the creative record of the Middle Ages, the development of Christian Universities and methods of classifying knowledge, new epistemological paradigms, the myths surrounding the Church and Galileo, and finally a discussion of the scientific disrespect of Christianity followed by restoration.
- The argument for Christianity as a violent, bloodthirsty religion, particularly discussing The Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, and the downfall of Native Americans, reflecting on Christian struggles against the brutality (particularly the efforts of William Penn in the founding of Pennsylvania)
- The supposed connection between Christianity, the rise of the Third Reich, and the Holocaust, discussion Hitler's desire to rid Germany of all Jewish and Christian influence, heroic Christian opposition to National Socialism, and the actual historical record of Catholic Church and Pope Pius XII and their efforts to protect Jewish descendants
- The charge that Christians do not practice charity as their own scripture urge them to, discussing the Plague and the development of Hospitals, American colonial philanthropy, and other examples.
- Christianity's supposed anti-environmental bent, discussing environmental catastrophes caused by many pre-Christian civilizations, how Christians historically regarded the natural world, the myth that Christian belief fundamentally undermines esteem of the natural world, development of the concept of environmental stewardship, and a brief discussion of the Sierra Club's apology to Christians in 1997 for the abuse environmentalists had given Christians over their misunderstanding of Christian beliefs on environmental stewardship.
- The alleged role of Christianity in American politics and civic culture as backward thinking, intolerant, moral imposing force, including a discussion of the infamous Salem Witch Trials, the Temperance Movement, and the Civil Rights Movement.
I encourage Wiccans and Neopagans to read this book and consider whether their arguments against Christianity are valid, or simply a restatement of popular myths in the current culture. I stated earlier on this page that my goal is to treat this subject as fairly as possible by not presenting caricatures of Wicca or Neopaganism. Likewise, caricatures of Christianity and similar straw men should be avoided if true dialogue is to take place.
- Robin Lane Fox, Pagans and Christians
This book gives a scholarly historical perspective on Christianity and paganism prior to Constantine, with a number of sharp insights. The only particular downfall to the book is that it does a poor job of distinguishing between Christian and pagan when it does discuss syncretism near the end of the fourth century.
- Peter Jones, Pagans in the Pews
Although this book is specifically targeted at a slightly different problem than other books listed here, it is recommended for Christians, albeit hesitantly and with caveats.
- First, Peter Jones is writing this particular book to warn of the mixture of pagan theological positions with Christianity in churches and seminaries today. This means that its value is limited from a reference standpoint, however it does an excellent job of illustrating how antithetical Neopaganism is to Christianity.
- Second, one of the strengths of the book is also one of its weaknesses. The book assembles the various positions taken by Neopagans from their own sources, showing how strongly opposed they are to Christian ideas. The two theological systems then are shown in strong contrast to each other, demonstrating how sharp the divide is. In doing this, however, one needs to be careful not to allow sensational writing to force a black and white, all or nothing view on the so-called "pagan next door". Most Neopagans have not developed their own theological system to the degree that Peter Jones illustrates, thus they often mix elements of both esoteric and exoteric systems haphazardly.
- Third, it is vitally important to be aware of how hostile the two theological systems are to each other, however this does not warrant hostility toward our neighbors (Neopagans). We need to remember the need to retain an open dialogue and remain sensitive to the needs and concerns of Neopagans.
- Fourth, the language strongly sensationalizes the message. It is, unfortunately, almost a form of entertainment the way the author uses language typical of conspiracy theorists to paint the world he wants us to envision. Fortunately, his sources are accurately quoted and his statements can be backed up with solid research, however this stylization is troublesome because the message is wrapped within a coating that entices the reader for more. Perhaps there will shortly be a better discussion of these issues that does not overdress the situation with such linguistic trappings.
Despite its faults, it is recommended reading for Christians. Wiccans and Neopagans will undoubtedly take offense to it. The topics addressed are relevant:
- The first part of the book (chs. 1-5) discuss the "Origin and Purpose of the New Spirituality" by tracing the history of the Religious Left from its birth, discussing their creedal beliefs, the radical shift from Modern to Postmodern thought within the movement, the development of syncretistic spirituality, summing up with a detailed comparison of the new religious system with ancient Gnosticism. The remainder of the book deals with showing how specific elements of the new syncretism are identical with ancient Gnosticism. As Qoheleth notes in Ecclesiastes, there is nothing new under the sun.
- The remainder of the book (chs. 6-16), titled "Anatomy of an Apostasy," discusses in detail several specific issues within Christianity, and chapter by chapter compares those themes to the ancient Gnostic philosophy.
- Chs. 10 and 11 discuss how the difference in the new concept of God from the Christian God, and then compares that to the ancient Gnostic God.
- Chs. 12 and 13 illustrate in detail the new sexuality, and then
compares it with Gnostic sexuality. At first glance, the two seem
radically different. The new stresses sexual liberation, while Gnosticism
seems to reject sexuality. However, the author makes a case that they are
in fact identical by tracing them to similar sources of thought - that man
and woman are not merely created for each other, but are equal and
identical, and therefore interchangeable sexually. The new sexuality
pushes for sexual freedom, emphasizing Goddess spirituality and the
freedom to explore sexually (homosexuality). The Gnostic philosophy did
the same thing, only from a different angle, emphasizing that women should
become like men (as in the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas), that men should
refrain from intercourse with women, however without restricting sexuality
It is not by accident that Paul discusses "the lie" in Romans 1:25 and follows with a description of homosexuality.
- Chs. 14 and 15 discuss the new spirituality based on esoteric rather than exoteric sources, and then compares that with ancient Gnosticism.
The primary strength of this book is in understanding how syncretism creeps into the church, and thus is a useful light with which to read Fox's "Pagans and Christians."
Peter Jones' website discusses these and many related issues in detail, with articles and resources, can be found here:
Spirit-Wars.com: Spirituality in the Third Millennium
[ http://www.spirit-wars.com/ ]
The same caveats given to the book also apply to this website.
- Ronald H. Nash, The Gospel and the Greeks: Did the New Testament
Borrow from Pagan Thought?
- James W. Sire, The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview
- Cynthia Eller, The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory: Why an Invented Past Will Not Give Women a Future
- Robin Briggs, Witches & Neighbors: The Social and Cultural
Context of European Witchcraft
- Ronald Hutton, The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern
- Philip G. Davis, Goddess Unmasked: The Rise of Neopagan
A review by Charlotte Allen:
[ http://www.firstthings.com/ftissues/ft9902/reviews/allen.html ]
- Margot Adler, Drawing Down The Moon,
Beacon Press, Boston, 1986.
- Gus DiZerga, Pagans and Christians
Apologia Report (Volume 5: Number 2) - August 27, 2001
[ http://www.gospelcom.net/apologia/mainpages/WhatsNews/WN010827.html ]
Gus DiZerega - Interview
[ http://www.twpt.com/dizerega.htm ]
Gus DiZerega - Webpage
[ http://www.dizerega.com/ ]
- Starhawk, The Spiral Dance,
Harper, San Francisco, 1989.
- Apologetics Index
[ http://www.apologeticsindex.org/ ]
See "Witchcraft, Wicca," Extended Entry:
[ http://www.apologeticsindex.org/w02.html ]
- Spotlight on the Occult
[ http://www.spotlightministries.org.uk/occult.htm ]
This UK website features a number of articles on Wicca, Neopaganism, and related topics.
- Ex-Witch Ministries
[ http://www.exwitch.org/cms/ ]
- Probe Ministries
[ http://www.probe.org/ ]
- Spiritual Counterfeits Project
[ http://www.scp-inc.org/ ]
- The Spirit Watch: The Pagan Revival
[ http://www.spiritwatch.org/pagan.htm ]
- "Potter-mania and Wicca: Harmless Hobbies or Avenue to the
[ http://www.leaderu.com/focus/wicca.html ]
Leadership U.'s Special Focus on the draw of Neopaganism and Wicca.
Wiccan or Neopagan Websites
- The Witches' Voice
[ http://www.witchvox.com/ ]
- Wicca For The Rest of Us: Seeds of a Wiccan Countermovement
[ http://wicca.timerift.net/index.html ]
[ http://www.reclaiming.org/ ]
An increasing number of Neopagans and Wiccans see their new religious traditions as completely compatible with their Christian upbringing. In particular, Roman Catholicism is seen as very compatible with Wiccan belief. Venerating Mary Mother of God on Sunday and worshipping the Goddess during the week is seen as a contiguous activity. As such, I highly recommend that reads take the time to familiarize themselves with the problems of Roman Catholicism and specifically Roman Catholic doctrines of Mary.
- The Cauldron and The Cross Award For Excellence
[ http://www.thewhitemoon.com/c_n_c/award.html ]
- The Christian Witchery Page
[ http://members.aol.com/RawnaMoon/index.html ]
- Christian Wicca: The Oxymoron Syndrome
[ http://www.christianwicca.com/oxymoron.html ]
- "Christian Wicca??"
[ http://www.spotlightministries.org.uk/christianwicca.htm ]
A response to "Christian" Wicca.
- Circle Magazine Quarterly
[ http://www.circlesanctuary.org/circle/ ]
- Reclaiming Quarterly Magazine
[ http://www.reclaiming.org/newsletter/index.html ]
[ http://www.pangaia.com/ ]
Title: PanGaia. Publication: Point Arena, CA : Alan and Anne Niven, Year: 1997- Frequency: Four no. a year Description: Autumn 1997-; v. :; ill. ;; 28 cm.
"PanGaia is an 80-page quarterly magazine that explores Pagan and Gaian Earth-based spirituality at home and around the world.
"At PanGaia we envision a world in which living in spirit and living on earth support and enrich each other."
- The Pomegranate: The International Journal of Pagan Studies
[ www.equinoxpub.com/jindex.asp ] ISSN: 1528-0268 (print version); 1743-1735 (electronic version).
"The Pomegranate is the First International, peer-reviewed journal of Pagan studies. It provides a forum for papers, essays and symposia on both ancient and contemporary Pagan religious practices. The Pomegranate also publishes timely reviews of scholarly books in this growing field. The editors seek both new interpretations and re-examinations of those traditions marked both by an emphasis on nature as a source of sacred value (e.g., Wicca, modern Goddess religions) as well as those emphasizing continuity with a polytheistic past (e.g., Ásátru or other forms of 'reconstructionist' Paganism). The editors also seek papers on the interplay between Pagan religious traditions, popular culture, literature, psychology and the arts."
These observations will be added as time permits.
- Worldview - whose is bigger?
- Ecology - Neopagan, Modern, and Christian
- Ecofeminists and the Wiccan connection
- UTD Situation
- Organized Religion vs. the Restoration of Humanity in Christ
- Christianity and Dualism
- Problems of Consumerism/Materialism
- Attraction of female deity
One of the difficulties that is commonly discussed is the difficulty that women have relating to a deity that is described consistently as male, outside of a few metaphorical passages. It is said that relating to the Goddess is spiritually easier for women.
The problem is that God have revealed Himself in male deity, specifically in the person of Jesus Christ. To reject Jesus Christ on the basis of his masculinity, that he cannot relate to women, is anachronistic. Woman have a direct relationship to the Father through Jesus Christ, no different than men do. Indeed, as Paul notes in Galatians, all are the same at the foot of the cross. A similar argument could be made that Jesus Christ is Jewish, and therefore cannot relate to the specific problems of gentiles; however this argument is rightly seen as invalid.
God created woman in His image, and created her in a unique way, differently than He created any other creature. He formed her in loving and tender ways. Both women and men can relate to God not merely as a male deity, but as a True and Loving Father. While it is unfortunate that our understanding of fatherhood is colored by dads who are abusive, God the Father is a Father who truly loves us. Earthly fathers are sinful, and abuse of both boys and girls, albeit in different ways, affects both men and women in their understanding of how to relate to God. But in the Father we can have the Father we never had - the Father who loves us and protects us.
Likewise, though abusive men tend toward physical violence, women are also capable of abuse, though typically on a different level. This is through verbal and psychological abuse. A person who has suffered through these problems, it could be argued, would have the same trouble relating to a female deity as others have to a male one.
- The Wiccan Rede compared with John Stuart
It is interesting to note that a religion that does not accept the concept of sin still needs a basic ethic. This ethic, known as the Wiccan Rede, is stated simply as "An’ it harm none, do what ye will." Very few Wiccans, or for that matter members of society who hold to similar notions, are aware that this minimalistic ethic is an extension of John Stuart Mill's writings in "On Liberty."
This ethic, increasingly pervasive in culture and popular with Libertarians in particular (the intellectual children of Mill) has well documented flaws. Essentially utilitarian as opposed to deontological, it thus has strong appeal from those who do not wish to be "burdened" with "restrictions." An unfortunate result is that it is an ethic does not call us to higher personal or communal goods or goals, and leaves each individual to assess for himself whether his action will harm others, leading to serious problems defining what "harm" truly is. It also levels all human relationships to that of human contracts mutually entered into by participating parties, leaving little in the way of thought of community good and charity for the poor and disabled.
This is a serious deficiency that is easily overlooked in regions of the world where the sense of community has already been permanently mangled by the sense of detachment from ones' birthplace, the rise of automobility, and the mixed economic blessing of long stretches of affluent times. If a time came when people holding to this ethic needed the help of others, such as a large-scale depression or natural disaster, this ethic of selfishness must be set aside for an ethic of selflessness. The radical change of ethics will, however, be of little comfort to one in need when those around them claim to have no ethical responsibility for their condition.
Although it is unlikely to be a convincing argument to a Wiccan, it should demonstrate the superiority of deontological ethics and could be an opening for further discussion. It is unlikely that Wicca will natively lead a great movement for societal change in the way Christianity has repeatedly done in world history for the reasons discussed above. In fairness, such a movement could arise, as it did in Hinduism by the efforts of Gandhi, however this would be an ethical import from Christianity, not originating directly from Wiccan ideals. Although Wiccans tend to emphasize the evils of Christianity, a Christian can in love present the true goods that the church has brought about.
An excellent resource for understanding the flaws of the Minimalist Ethic:
Daniel Callahan, "Minimalist Ethics"
Hastings Center Report, October 1981, pp.19-25.
- "The Blind Men and the
by John Godfrey Saxe
[ http://www.wordfocus.com/word-act-blindmen.html ]
This is a poem commonly referenced by pluralists (those who believe all religions are equally valid) as argument that none can have the "truth". Those who quote it approvingly rarely are aware of the nature of belief or have an understanding of the correspondence of truth (though, in fairness, there are those who do). As such it is sufficient to follow the parable by describing a young child, who speaks with the blind men, and innocently asserts throughout their debating, "but it's still an elephant!". The truth (that the animal was an elephant) did not change simply because the men had their own (wrong) beliefs. We come to Christ having the heart of a child, that is willing to see the truth for what it is, and not what men have said it is.
[As a side note, the essential context of the story in the gospel alluded to a moment ago was referring to the false teachings of the Jewish leadership and the Pharisees, verses the literal revelation of Jesus Christ Himself. When God reveals Himself to us, we should believe Him and not our deceitful hearts.]
An important observation here is that there is a limit to the ability of humans to understand and perceive God. However, mankind knows about God through Special Revelation of Himself, i.e. through Jesus Christ Himself. If God did not reveal Himself to us, our knowledge of Him would be significantly more limited. But, He has, and the charge that we cannot know God (acognosticism) fails.
"You are therefore urged to read with good will and attention, and to be indulgent in cases where, in spite of our diligent labor in translating, we may appear to have rendered some phrases imperfectly."
Quoted from Ecclesiasticus, a book of the Old Testament Apocrypha