Did my title make sense? How do I refute a group of anti-Catholics who have bought into the idea that Catholicism has pagan roots? I’ve read things from This Rock magazine but I need more. These people are so brainwashed that they even refuse to read anything from the Early Church Fathers because “even they were mixed with pagan teachings so it is best to avoid them”. It is so frustrating! Do I give up? They recently told me to read the book “Pagan Christianity” by Frank Viola. I refuse to waste my time reading this joke of a book! Any advice or books you can refer me to?
The simple answer is to find the common ground and build on it.
Of course, that answer is only simple in the saying, because they have removed most of the opportunity you have for finding common ground.
I would engage them like this: Paganism is a general term. Norse paganism is different from Mayan is different from Hindi is different from Confucian. (Some would even quibble over whether Confucianism should be called pagan.)
Get them to specify clearly the pagan elements that they claim to see in Catholicism. Then, one by one, show that these elements are not uniquely pagan. That is, some pagan religions may have the same elements, but they may be “true” nonetheless. For example… pagans worship. Christians worship. The imperative to worship is going to be an element of every human religion. Worshiping is true; worshiping a creature is false.
Now, you are going to have to show that these elements are either (1) not actually a part of the Catholic Faith, or (2) that if they are a part of the Faith, they are not false. And when you show the truth of these elements, you will have to do so from “common ground” materials, i.e., Scripture and common sense.
Good luck. If you need assistance with particular points, you can get a lot of help here.
[FONT=Palatino Linotype][size=4]Is Catholicism Pagan?
You may be wasting your time. I’ve talked to such people and they are generally so closed channel that your could hand them proof beyond all doubt and they will still raise the bar and answer. “it is not enough.”[/FONT][/size]
[quote=AttachedToSix]How do I refute a group of anti-Catholics who have bought into the idea that Catholicism has pagan roots?
You do it one topic at a time. Let them choose which they would like to discuss.
These people are so brainwashed that they even refuse to read anything from the Early Church Fathers because “even they were mixed with pagan teachings so it is best to avoid them”.
Most of the ECFs precede the canon of Scripture! Is the canon mixed with pagan teachings?! Press them on this: How do they know what is Christian and what is Pagan? Who, exactly, have they trusted to provide them with authentic Christianity?
It is so frustrating! Do I give up?
If you believe that they are seeking the Truth but have simply been misguided, you absolutely do not give up - you plant seeds of knowledge, pray for them and allow the Holy Spirit to change their hearts.
They recently told me to read the book “Pagan Christianity” by Frank Viola. I refuse to waste my time reading this joke of a book! Any advice or books you can refer me to?
I’d probably read it and know it inside out. Have them tell you what they find convincing about it and then study those particular areas to find out what the truth is and where the book is in error.
They are just parroting general anti-Catholic teaching that somone taught them. They are not going to be very well versed in the propaganda that somone fed them. So I agree with the others here who say you need to call their bluff and have them enumerate their specific objections. If they resist to be specific then put them on the ropes defensively and ask them "if what you say is true then your particular Protestant faith must have somehow avoided these pagan things. How is that possible given that you are only 500 years old and came out of the 2000 year old Catholic Church.
This will force them to demonstrate how little they really know about Catholicism. They will toss out a few standard Protestant polemics out of their bag of old and worn tricks like: 1) Worshiping Mary, 2) Praying to the dead, 3) Purgatory, 4) Indulgences 5) Having priests etc. Then you can talk to each of these points and let them start learning the truth about what Catholics really believe since what they will say is so far removed from reality that they don’t know better. If you can keep them engaged in 3-4 different areas they will eventually get a better understanding of what Catholics really believe and they will see that its not arbitrary and is all based on scripture (in addition to tradition).
Well, we have gone that route before (Mary, statues, etc) but after three years, I’m finally getting to the root of it. This book, “Pagan Christianity” speaks of how pagan practices have infiltrated all Christianity - not just Catholicism. It supposedly traces back to the “early church” and how they worshipped in homes so everyone needs to have their own home church. Some of the things I’ve gotten from the book are: pagans built large places of worship so church buildings are pagan practices, pews and kneelers are pagan, dressing up and going to church is pagan. It’s a joke! These are intelligent people who have fallen hook, line and sinker. Maybe I do need to get the book so I understand what to refute. One person sent me the first chapter via .pdf and I just laughed at what I saw. One woman in particular has been on a search for early Church practices for a long time and happened upon this book. When I told her to read the Early Church Fathers to get an idea of how the Early Church worshipped, that’s when I got the answer of how even the Early Church Fathers had pagan practices and not to read them. I did say that they must believe that the Bible is pagan too since those Early Church Fathers decided on the NT Cannon. Haven’t gotten an answer back yet.
ask the anti-catholic (ususally fudamentalist) why Catholicism is pagan? and if so, ask him if Jesus lied when He said that the gates of hell wouldn’t prevail against His Church. Also Catholics believe the “five fundamentals” listed below (save for the pre-millenial rapture which shouldn’t be a problem for fundamentalists because many protestant churches list this as a theory of the second coming).
Inerrancy of the Scriptures
The virgin birth and the deity of Jesus
The doctrine of substitutionary atonement by God’s grace and through human faith
The bodily resurrection of Jesus
The authenticity of Christ’s miracles (or, alternatively, his pre-millennial second coming)
This should shock some fundamentalists. WOW!!!
The Catholic Church believes the five fundamentals (excluding pre-millenialism). Does this make catholicism pagan? Um…No!!!
pagan religions deny all of these “fundamentals”.
Place the burden of proof on them. Accept only primary sources (no books that rehash and reinterpret someone else’s words/findings/research, etc.). Make them prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the pagan elements are what they claim they are. For example (and I hate trotting out Jack Chick, he’s such a cliche), a certain Chick Tract claims that the letters “IHS” found on Hosts (though I personally have never received such a Host) stand for “Isis, Horus, Seth”. Proof of Catholic Paganism? Hardly.
Make them prove their claims.
I recommend Fundementalism and Catholicism (or is it the other way around?) by Karl Keating.
You need to know the Bible better than they do (which is not hard to do. Once you get them away from 20 verses they memorized, they are very ignorant on the Bible). Show them that what the Catholics believe and do is based on the Bible. Since these are based on the Bible, they cannot be based on Paganism.
There was no other Church but Catholic for a millenium!
Once Christianity was de-crimilized in the Edict of Milan, the Church went on the move, and started taking over parts of society. One of the things taken over were pagan temples that were left sitting when whole areas were converted. The Temples were converted too, and used for Christian worship. Prior to the fourth century, it was illegal to have public worship.
The Catholic Church teaches that the Christian home is the domestic church, where everyone should gain a firm foundation in the fundamentals of the faith.
I have never heard this about pews and kneelers. Then again, this practice is uniquely Western. In the Eastern Rites, they are not used, but there is a lot of bowing.
This is a good point of contention, however. You can compare what Eastern Catholics and Orthodox do, especially in those areas that were not influenced by the Paganism of the Greek and Roman empires. Since they have the same beliefs and practices, how to they account for that?
The celebration of the Lord’s day has been celebrated since the Resurrection. All the first Catholics were Jews, and attended synagogue or temple on Sabbath, and then met for Eucharist (the breaking of the bread) on Sunday. The Jews always wore their best on Sabbath, according to the Torah. This continued until the Hebrew Christians were expelled from the synagogue, at which time they continued to meet on Sunday. During the time of Constantine (that might be a risky subject to bring up) the Emperor asked Christendom to come to an agreement about the Sabbath observance, since some still observed Sat. and some Sun. He noted that there were two days of commerce lost, and wanted them to agree on just one. The Council decreed that the Sabbath observance would take place on the Lord’s Day (Sunday), and that is how the change was made. You might ask them why they do not follow the commandment to keep holy the Sabbath (seventh day), since God never changed this.
I suppose that intelligent people can be ignorant, but if they really are intelligent, then they will be willing to look at history and the Early Fathers.
If you are serious about apologetics, then it is wise to know the enemy (false doctrine).
I think the ECF’s are a great place to start. Begin with Irenaeus “Against Heresies” and pick it apart so they can explain exactly what is Pagan.
You’re AWESOME! Thank you!
Well, my response is to ask why I should care. But you may not want to do this.
At this point in my life I don’t care that much if fundamentalists think I’m “not a real Christian.” You may care because you hope to convert them. Good luck with that. Not being a Catholic, it’s not something I worry about that much. I would like them to cease to be fundamentalists–but that means that I would like them to cease to be the sort of Christians who think that “pagan roots” are bad.
do not worry. the CC is coming back stronger. she is waken up from her sleep. she is coming out of 40 years in the desert.
Satan is going to work even harder now against Christ’s Church.
let the persecutions begin. stand firm with Christ Church and give no ears to the attacks that is going to show every where.
remember the book of REV… it says that the dragon wages war against the offspring of the woman.
Just tell them. God may have mercy on you. walk away. or you can say to them what Jesus said to St Paul. and walk away.
At this point, I do not think that anything I say will convert them - that is up to the Holy Spirit. I really think that God placed me in this certain situation for a reason. All I’m doing is trying to tell them the truth. Sometimes when it’s repeated over and over it can stick The most beautiful part of this whole three year process is that I have re-discovered my Catholic faith. I had no idea how beautiful Christ’s Church really is. It is just mind boggling! These people have caused me to fall completely in love with my Saviour! I am eternally grateful to their prodding me because it’s caused me to look deeper. I pray daily that God will give them the grace to see the same beauty that He’s shared with me and that they can have the same personal relationship with Christ in the Eucharist that all Catholics have. There’s nothing like it in this world :love:
Are they Christian?
Tell them the idea of virgin births and god-men dying sacrificial deaths and rising again is also overtly pagan, so as good Christians they should abandon this sort of thinking.
Then proceed to ask whether or not they believe in the Trinity. If not, fair enough. If so, tell them it’s a bunch of philosophical mumbo-jumbo borrowed from heathens anyway.
You may go farther, and when you are done, simply smile and say, “Have a nice day.”
These types of people are full of such unbearable ignorance. Christianity’s basic structure converges on so many points with paganism and rests on certain philosophical propositions anyway. Who cares? As Jung would point out, that is because as finite manifestations of the infinite, as reflections of the cosmic wholeness, we contain in our inmost beings–in the depths of our psyches–God. Our journey and that of the universe is one and the same, is it not? Yet how can we humans begin to understand our participation in this evolution? Our collective unconscious discloses the answer through archetypal symbols and images which relay to us truths about life and about ourselves. It’s no wonder the Great Mother motif has appeared in so many cultures under so many different names: Isis, Kali, Venus, Mary. Neither is it that the god-man is also so prominent: Osiris, Heracles, Christ.
That is because we contain in ourselves the capacity for this same affectionate and maternal love, this same receptivity and nurturance, just as we contain in ourselves, by our very nature, remnants of the divine. “Christ himself is the perfect symbol of the immortal hidden within mortal man,” as Jung said.
Why get bent out of shape just because Christianity agrees with other ancient religious bodies on so many various issues? Are we supposed to favor some rigid fundamentalism that denies the value of mankind’s perennial wisdom in favor of our own conceit?
I think not.
Make them define their terms.
What is meant by “pagan roots”?
If they consider the Classical tradition to be “pagan”, then they will have to part with any number of things in our culture which likewise have “pagan roots”, such as:
- Our alphabet (Phoenician)
- The English language (an amalgamation of pagan tongues, including those of German barbarian tribes and Viking (Norman) French)
- Any architecture containing arch or column
- Our system of government
- Logic (well, they won’t mind seeing that one go)
They are more than welcome to go live in mud huts out in the wasteland and begin the task of rebuilding civilization absent those pernicious pagan influences.
Beyond that, they only need to read the Bible to know that the Catholic Church’s roots are Jewish. Perhaps that is what they really object to.
The early Fathers of the Church had a ready answer for this charge. They asserted that Satan, knowing the true religion, inspired the many similarities between paganism (predating Christianity) and Christianity in order to attempt to foil Christianity when it came to fruition in our Lord Jesus Christ.
The early Fathers are unanimous in this understanding. Brother Guanophor mentioned reading St. Irenaeus. I would also like to mention reading St. Justin Martyr, St. Clement of Alexandria, and St. Basil.
To prove to your friend the truth of what the Fathers taught on the topic, you should point out to your friend the similarities between paganism and basic Christianity in general. The idea of Resurrection from the dead, salvation through the death of a savior, Virgin birth, and other basic Christian beliefs are all mirrored in some form or other in the pagan religions. Of course, this will only work if your friend is a Christian himself. As a Christian, demonstrating the inconsistency/hypocrisy of his anti-Catholic charge of paganism may be enough to move his conscience.
If you really want to be effective debating this BS then it will help to read their material.
However, when dealing with persons of this mindset, it is not likely that you will get very far. They have to cling to this errant notion in order to justify their theology. If they admitted the ECF’s or any accurate historical evidence, it would cause them to have to re-examine the error they have been taught, so they will not do it.
There is some truth in this.Up until the Edict of Milan, it was very dangerous to gather anywhere, including a private home, because of persection. After the Edict of Milan, when Christianity was decrimminalized, the faith began to take over the Roman empire by storm. Many communities were converted, and Pagan temples throughout the known world began to stand empty. Christianity took over these buildings, and adapted them for Christian worship.
It may help to take out the Church teaching from the catechism about the role of family and the domestic church. The Catholic Church formally teaches that the home is the center and foundation of faith development. To that extent, there is agreement on the “home church” point.
A good method to look at how the Church approached Pagan practices and belief is throughout the book of Acts. The Church has always followed the model of Paul, where he looked for similatiries (like he did in Athens). He “became all things to all men so that some may be saved”. When going to the Pagans, he looked for things that were familiar to Pagans (like the statue of the unknown god) as a starting point to preach.
The bottom line is that such persons do not believe that Christ was able to keep His Word. He promised that the gates of hell would not prevail. Once error is taught (paganism is embraced) then the Church has passed thru the gates of hell.
I think there are a couple of problems with this approach, though I agree that it is important to know Scripture well. Catholicism is not ‘bible based’. All of Catholicism comes from Jesus, through the Apostles. The deposit of faith was whole and entire prior to a word of the NT being written. On the contrary, the NT, written by, for, and about the Catholic Church, reflects the beliefs of the Church.