When was Christianity ever free of “pagan” influence?

Steven Hunter who recently defriended me on Facebook writes a marvelous post suggesting that Christmas is a pagan celebration, concluding…

…those brethren who deter its observation as the birthday of Christ on the basis of its pagan origins must also consider if – for the sake of consistency – they do not celebrate some of the emblems as well.

via The History of “Christmas” | Truth Hunter.

Well, at one point was their a “Christianity” free of pagan influences? I would define pagan as anything non-Jewish as an influence. Wait… that would mean that Judaism was free of non-Jewish influences as well, which we know from the Second Temple Period, is simply not True.

Let me add to this – every day of the week is a celebration of a pagan day. The idea of a life after this one is a pagan influence. The Trinity has a certain amount of philosophical influence — from Greek thought. As does our cosmology. Genesis 1 has a unique pagan basis.

So, while Hunter may attempt to warn us away from Christmas because of some fear we may be worshipping of pagan (please, define) god or religion, he should keep in mind the logical next-step to this “Argument.”

Also, check out Mike Bird’s post from last year.

UPDATE:

Steve “Heretic” Hunter has responded.

Here’s the thing – if I cared about the FB defriend, I wouldn’t have mentioned it. Wait… let me take that out a bit further. I am not one who is bound up with FB friends and defriends – unless it is a few select people. So I mentioned it because I found it funny/odd.

Second, I disagree somewhat with his conclusions about predating, and the what not, but that can be haggled over with later.

The funny thing about liberty, even Christian liberty, is that it is best exercised through circumspectual (neologism) prayer rather than suggesting that you have the right to be wrong.

Otherwise, Steve is a great guy, with a good and sound blog, and should be read widely.

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5 Replies to “When was Christianity ever free of “pagan” influence?”

  1. Perhaps I wasn’t as good a communicator as I previously thought. The history of Christmas is well documented as I’ve given it, but I didn’t mean to imply folks could be wrong. I have a tree, we exchange presents, and I’ve even preached sermons the past few weeks centering around Jesus’ birth. We had a praise service in which I led Christmas hymns as did others.

    I’ve never been called a heretic though. Nevertheless, I’ll work on my written communication skills, and I thank you for your flattering, closing remark. Merry Christmas, and God bless.

    1. Steve!!!!!

      Heretic Hunter (A play on your last name) is the well known blogger type (such as troll, lurker) who hunts heretics in the blogosphere….

      It was humorous!

  2. Steve spoke on his blog about, “a universal truth of God existed that pagans shared too.”

    I’d prefer to say that religious supersession-ism goes way Way WAY back,and hence we still have Canaanite ways of thinking with us. Let me explain.

    Each religion from the ancient Near East would reuse other stories replacing their favorite god in the lead role and changing the story somewhat, Nothing kept them from “reinterpreting” what came before. For Christians Jesus is the one who reinterprets everything that came before. But that is the very definition of religious supersessionism which is rife in the world of religion. Before the NT, OT writers were disagreeing and reinterpreting each other. And Inter-testamental writers were re-interpreting OT history as in The Wisdom of Solomon, and, even the Dead Sea Scroll writers were reinterpreting the OT.

    I’d say that the process of reinterpretation and religious supersession goes back as far as the earliest religious writings throughout the ancient Near East and the earliest reuse of ideas and high praises and motifs of the Sumerians by the Babylonians, and later by the Hebrews. Therefore the Canaanites never really perished, not totally in thought word and deed. Neither did a lot of ancient Near Eastern ideas, they are still with us to some degree. The ancient Hebrew language is a dialect of the Canaanite tongue. And like the Canaanites and other ANE peoples the Israelites built a temple and pointed it eastward, placed important cultic objects within them, designated areas of increasing holiness and rules for access to the Holy Place and Holy of Holies, as well as practiced circumcision and sacrificial offerings. Like other nations, they feared the anger of their high god and subsequent punishment if attention was denied him. The duty of kings and priests was to ensure such attention was maintained, for the safety and security of the nation. Though today the best equipped armed force and some form of insurance seems to do the trick.

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