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Only Two Religions 4 - Paganism in the Shadows

Heritage Presbyterian Church
Adult Sunday School

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Only Two Religions 4 - Paganism in the Shadows

  1. 1. P e t e r J o n e s Director of truthXchange A Worldview & Culture Teaching Series by Ligonier Ministries Adult Sunday School Summer 2019
  2. 2. Lesson Slide 4 2 Paganism in the Shadows The Big Question How can we make sense of the breakneck spiritual and social changes happening right now in our culture? and How should Christians respond?
  3. 3. Lesson Slide 4 3 Paganism in the Shadows Lessons in the Series 1. Explaining Modern Culture 2. The Rise & Fall of Secular Humanism 3. Carl Jung’s Alternative Spirituality 4. Paganism in the Shadows 5. Paganism in the Spotlight 6. Pagan Sexuality 7. From Personal Spirituality to Worldview 8. Where Is Society Headed? 9. Unbiblical Responses 10.Articulating a Biblical Worldview 11.Living in Holiness 12.Thinking with a Discerning Mind
  4. 4. Lesson Slide 4 4 Paganism in the Shadows Lesson Introduction • The multitude of religions that we encounter in modern culture may seem novel, but they are simply the latest manifestations of the ancient pagan traditions that have been known throughout human history • In this lecture, Dr. Peter Jones surveys numerous religions, ancient and modern, and demonstrates that they share the same essential commitments
  5. 5. Lesson Slide 4 5 Paganism in the Shadows Scripture Reading • Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations—"Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch" (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh. Colossians 2:16-23
  6. 6. Lesson Slide 4 6 Paganism in the Shadows Teaching Objectives 1. To survey various expressions of paganism, ancient and modern 2. To show that what Carl Jung offered was not something new, but rather a repackaging of ancient paganism 3. To demonstrate that despite the many variations of pagan religion, they share the same essential commitments
  7. 7. Lesson Slide 4 7 Paganism in the Shadows Watch Lecture 4
  8. 8. Lesson Slide 4 8 Paganism in the Shadows Study Question Answers 1. Since there is such a great variety of non-Christian religions, it cannot accurately be said that they share fundamental commitments. False 2. The phrase that encapsulates Wiccan ideology is as above, so below. 3. The Perennial Philosophy is the fundamental notion that nature is divine. True 4. The great work of medieval alchemy was to join the divine and the human. 5. Gnosis means Knowledge.
  9. 9. Lesson Slide 4 9 Paganism in the Shadows Origin of Contemporary Spirituality • Western culture is not entering unchartered religious territory. Spirituality always grows from deep roots. • Jung’s use of ancient pagan archetypes in psychology was only new because of its application to modern therapeutic techniques • A new American wisdom tradition has emerged, originating in the New Age phenomenon of the 1960s but having more “balance” and correspondence to The Perennial Philosophy • In light of the highly visible position of Christian orthodoxy in Western culture, we have not noticed the growing presence of another spiritual alternative that differs from both secular humanism and Christianity
  10. 10. Lesson Slide 4 10 Paganism in the Shadows The Sleeping Giant: Western Paganism • The “rebirth” of the gods is now appearing on the surface of our culture • This rebirth is really the return to the West of an elaborate, extensive, impressive paganism that in one form or another has flourished throughout the entire course of human history • Not this meaning: “Pagan” as ancient tribal religions or immoral “godless” people • This meaning: “Pagan” as (usually rural) people who held onto their traditional folk religions after the arrival of Christianity in cities and towns • Those who call themselves pagan or neopagans nowadays deliberately worship the earth or themselves as aspects of the divine. They do not accept Christian orthodoxy’s claims regarding the uniquely self-existent God of creation and salvation
  11. 11. Lesson Slide 4 11 Paganism in the Shadows The Perennial Philosophy • Sometimes called philosophia occulta or magia • The idea goes back into the mists of time • The term coined in the late 17th or early 18th century by mathematician and philosopher Gottfried Leibniz • The term was popularized by Aldous Huxley, author of Brave New World: [The perennial philosophy recognizes] “a divine Reality substantial to the world of things…and finds in the soul something similar to, or even identical with, divine Reality…Rudiments of the perennial philosophy may be found among the traditionary lore of primitive peoples in every region of the world, and in its fully developed forms it has a place in every one of the higher religions.” ~ Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy • Peter Jones says this is a perfect, sophisticated definition of paganism
  12. 12. Lesson Slide 4 12 Paganism in the Shadows A Philosophy of Many Names • Wiccan: “the Old Wisdom” encapsulated in “as above, so below” • Freemasonry: “Let that which is below be as that which is above” • Ancient Gnosticism: “I came to make [the things below] like the things [above…] • In various circles it is known as: • The Great Secret • The Eternal Script • The Enlightenment • The Forgotten Truth • The Primordial Tradition • The Old Religion • The Great Work
  13. 13. Lesson Slide 4 13 Paganism in the Shadows Prophesying the Pagan Moment • The reappearance of a variety of Oneist spiritualities that have caught the imagination of multitudes of Westerners was strangely prophesied as the coming world religion by certain perceptive observers • At the time such predictions were made, secular humanism and Christianity dominated the scene; such a mystical spirituality did not seem to stand a chance • Friedrich Nietzsche and the coming of the Übermensch (Super-human), the truly free new man for whom nothing is forbidden except what obstructs his desire and ability for self-realization • Carl Jung and the esoteric, gnostic spirituality of “going within” (searching for the god within)
  14. 14. Lesson Slide 4 14 Paganism in the Shadows The Prophesies Come to Pass • Beginning in the 1960s, such prophecies of the coming age of the spirit began to be “fulfilled” • The underground perennial philosophy, known and cherished by initiates, rose to the surface of Western culture in Jung’s vision of a new humanity • The current revival of spiritualism, ushered in through therapeutic psychology and popular mysticism, has roots deep in the long and troubled history of Creator- denying paganism • Its origin and nature help reveal the true identity of these influences, being adopted since the middle of the 20th century by people who assume such ideas and practices are perfectly normal and good for the soul, a breath of fresh spiritual air.
  15. 15. Lesson Slide 4 15 Paganism in the Shadows Discussion Questions 1. How can the claim that non-Christian religions share fundamental beliefs comfort Christians who are confused at the bewildering diversity of religions in modern culture? 2. Thomas Berry believes that our contemporary calling is to carry on the great work of the American Indians, following their traditions and spirituality. Have you seen this pushed in the portrayal of American Indians in modern culture, whether through film or publications? 3. Have you ever interacted with a practitioner of Wicca or another modern spirituality? 4. Prince Charles said that the sacralization of nature is what will solve the environmental crisis of the twenty-first century. Critique this statement from a Twoist perspective.
  16. 16. Lesson Slide 4 16 Paganism in the Shadows Next Lesson The Sixties brought both a spiritual and a sexual revolution— changes proposed and cultivated by Jung. Though seldom violent, the cultural changes of the Sixties were just as world- changing as those of the French Revolution—they entailed a break with Western culture’s Christian roots, seeking a new spiritual base in the religious heritage of the East
  17. 17. Lesson Slide 4 17 Paganism in the Shadows Resources by Peter Jones • Only Two Religions (study guide) • Only Two Religions (evangelism tool) • (website) • (website) • The Other Worldview (book) • The Pagan Heart of Today’s Culture (booklet)