Pagan practices


Is it ok that the Catholic Church took some practices and symbolism from pagan religions?

E.g. Halo for saints, God as an old man is Zeus, confession booth was ancient babylonian practices, etc.


I did’nt know the Babylonians had confessionals. Good for them.
Another question is; why does all the world call Easter after a pagan european god, Estre, whilst Vatican State, Italy, Spain and France, I think, call that time Pasch, after the passover.
I don’t mind pagans having used halos. The exact meaning for the halo in the history of pagan art has shifted ground many times. The Christian use of it is just another shift in meaning to symbolise Christian truths.
Zeus - Old man as god, being similar to God the Father? In Catholic traditional art God the Father was not depicted at all, hardly, as a human form. I only know one wooden sculpture of Him, and it from medieval times. A handfull of famous artists tried to depict Him in painting and etching.


To borrow from C.S. Lewis, it’s all about intent. If we use those images with the intention of praising God, there isn’t anything wrong with it.

The practices themselves are neutral, even when practiced by pagans. A halo is just a picture, a statue of a man is just that. If the intent is to portray holiness on that which is holy, then OK; if not, then you start getting into questionable areas.

Pagans built altars and temples. Should we avoid that because it happens to be a shared practice?


I had a priest explain it like this:

God has been present for all of history and has made Himself evident in all the world, including the way all peoples have sought to worship Him. When we see similarities in worship and images and beliefs between vastly different religions, we are seeing that other religion come closer to understanding God.

It’s not that Christianity necessarily “stole” the images, beliefs and practices of other faiths, but that those other faiths glimpsed the fullness of truth.


Confessional booths in ancient Babylon? Really?

As for the English word “Easter”, the only account we have is from Venerable Bede, and he pretty much made up the idea of there being an Anglo-Saxon goddess called “Easter”, because he didn’t have the research available to him to have known that “Easter” comes from the same Indo-European root word that gives us “East”, meaning “dawn”.

The Germanic people saw Jesus’ Resurrection as a “new dawn”, so to speak - his rising from the grave was seen as the fulfillment of the Sun rising in the East every morning, thus the Resurrection was a celebration of the New Sunrise: “Easter”.


Even a Christmas tree would fall into Scriptures description of a vain custom, so yes its at the very least vanity. In other areas it can be downright blasphemous. Notably when people worship and venerate some other creature and not God.

Jeremiah 10:1 Hear ye the word which the LORD speaketh unto you, O house of Israel:
Jeremiah 10:2 Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.
Jeremiah 10:3 For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.
Jeremiah 10:4 They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.


Rom 1:20-21
20 Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse; 2

God revealed Himself most specifically through Abraham, and his line, then again through Moses. However, His nature is evident in His creation, and true worship of Him can be found in many religions. Christians beleived that they were to be salt and light to the world, so they took up the practice of Christianiizing the pagan world. The Church deliberately placed feast days on top of Pagan holidays to “take back” the planet for Jesus.

The Christmas tree is one example of this, Easter is another. Easter is the Spring festival of Oestre, the estrous, a fertility celebration that lasted for weeks in the Spring. In European cultures, it represented the new life of Spring,and rabbits, prolific breeders, and eggs, symbols of new life were used. Jesus’ new birth in the resurrection, for Christians, trumped every ceremony and symbol.

To the Christian, anything and everything God had created was “good”,and 1 Cor 6:12 “All things are lawful for me,” . The task was how to “baptize” Pagan practices and redeem them unto Christ.


I believe this true of some feast days, but others Im not so sure. Early Christians clung to their old gods, and kept their old traditions. They just mixed the old worship with Christian Worship and even venerated their old gods under new patron saint names.


While there may be some connection between European “fertility celebrations” and some of the celebrations that go along with Easter (the Easter Bunny, a wholly Protestant thing, by the way, Easter eggs, etc.), there are NO etymological connections between the words “Easter” and “estrus”. “Easter” comes to us through the Indo-European root of aus-, whereas “estrus” comes to us from the Indo-Euroepan root of eis-, both have totally different meanings.

The root aus- gives us words denoting directions, both south and east, hence “Easter” is a word meaning “sunrise”, whereas the root eis- gives us words associated with heat and passion such as “irate” and “iron”.


Symbols of fertility were used long before protestants ever existed! So were symbols of everlasting life, such as the evergreen tree. I don’t think you can pass that one off on the Protestants. Mother Church worked hard to overtrump the Pagan practices of Europe, replacing Pagan feasts with Saints days,a nd Pagan Holidays with Christian. It worked, and Christianity nearly wiped out Paganism in Europe.


Books of sacred writings. Buildings set aside for religious worship. Singing songs to deities. Praying to deities. Eating food and drink in honor of deities.

It’s all pagan. That’s why Protestants don’t do any of that stuff. :wink:


Can you demonstrate a causal link between the pagan practice and the Catholic practice? I think not. Halos are scriptural (James, ch.1…refers to crowns). Zeus was often depicted as a rather randy young man, or various animals, God is subjected to no such artistic licence. Babylonian confession? I’ll let the others deal with that one.

Again, I think not. There are several threads around here arguing for the accuracy of Christmas, as we can see from the placement of the Jewish Passover that Easter is at least generally correct. Most other solemnities and feasts are recent additions, and I believe just about all of the saints’ days are verifyably their death days.


True, the bunny is of Germanic origion. In France a bell flies the chocolates and eggs in from the Pope in Rome :slight_smile: So not quite a “wholly Protestant thing.”

“On the Thursday before Good Friday, all church bells in France are silenced in acknowledgement of Jesus’ death. In fun, children are told that the bell’s chimes have flown to Rome to see the Pope…Easter morning is a happy time for children who wake to look for colorfully decorated Easter eggs (les oeufs de Pâques) hidden in their gardens, homes and playgrounds. Parents tell their children the eggs were brought from Rome (where the chimes had gone), and that when the chimes returned they brought the eggs with them. In some parts of France children look for small chariots full of eggs pulled by white horses.”


The OP has been reading, or has been taught by someone who has been reading, two error-filled books,

  1. The Two Babylons by Alexander Hislop
  2. Babylon Mystery Religion by Ralph Woodrow
    (a book Mr. Woodrow now TOTALLY repudiates).

It is from these books, and from Chick-type literature,
that the notion of Confessional Booths in ancient Babylon
comes from. There is not a word of truth to the claim.
And even if there were, most Catholic churches today
do not use a booth, but a reconciliation room.
In the reconciliation room, you can sit face to face with the
priest, or , there is also a wall with a screen, behind which the priest sits and can’t see you. The choice is yours.
I prefer to confess face to face.

The Easter Bunny is not an integral part of the Catholic Easter celebration, but is an ancient European springtime custom which the gentry kind of “added on” to the Christian Easter feast.

According to some sources, we have Martin Luther to thank for the use of the decorated tree at Christmas.

Catholics generally use the Christmas tree, and that
doesn’t make us Lutherans !! :smiley:


Concerning the portrayal of God as an old man, this comes from the imagery in Daniel of the ancient of days.


Jeremiah 10:3 For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.
Jeremiah 10:4 They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.

When I was a Jehovah’s Witness heretic, I was taught that these verses referred to Christmas Trees !!! LOL !! ROTFLOL !!! :stuck_out_tongue:

I actually believed that nonsense !! LOL !!! :stuck_out_tongue:

Talk about Scripture-twisting !!!

Those verses refer to the pagan practice of making Idols
(( images of false gods )) out of wood and covering them with gold and worshiping them as actual gods, and nothing else.

God bless,
Jaypeeto4 ( a former JW scripture-twister ) :stuck_out_tongue:


[SIGN]Prove this.[/SIGN]


As the Babylonians had no such practice, they can hardly be the source of confessional boxes.

CBs are much more recent - post-Tridentine, I think. Babylon was not involved.


That has nothing to do with Christmas trees, & everything to do with the cult of statues as gods. It describes the making of gods pretty neatly - the rite itself was a long one, but that is a very good satire upon it.

The mention of signs in the heavens supports this interpretation, because the heavenly signs were regarded as the “writing of the gods”; they were very important for divining their wills - but they are irrelevant to Christmas trees. This other intepretation, unlike the Christmas tree one, accounts for every single detail of the text - which is a very strong argument in its favour.


I think upon the story of Abraham who was commanded by God to take his beloved son up onto the mountain and offer him up as a blood sacrafice. This was a pagan ritual.

Is it not fascinating that our God chose a pagan ritual to use as a clear type of the Cross?

At some point a (formerly) pagan rite/custom used for the intent of worshiping our Father or celebrating a holy event looses it’s paganism. If God chose to use a pagan rite, He was showing us that He is Omnipotent- no mere useless pagan thing diminishes Him.

Stop worrying. Have a bit of fun. Put up the tree, dye the eggs, dress up for halloween, wear green, give a valentine, kiss your loved one on New Years and blow the horn. Just don’t forget what a holy day is really about. Love God everyday and go to church every week instead of just Easter and Christmas.

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