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Thursday, July 03, 2008


MMajor Fan

Thanks for the links and I'll definitely read them. I'm so glad that scholars are dedicating the time (and the strong stomachs) to challenging these types of misguided publications, to be charitable.

Two quick points. It's not a secret that there are a lot of books in the pipeline that are part of a concerted effort to attack the body of the institutional churches. These books don't just "pop up," they are released according to an overall interest by those behind the media in eroding the faith in the institutional churches. I'm not a tin foil hat wearer but it's become almost boringly obvious watching the cycle of these media outputs.

Second, I don't know if they trumpet the old tired example of Christian feast and holy days being placed on pagan days (and then claiming one comes from the other) but I'm tired of seeing that one so I'd like to address it using a modern example. Scholars know that far from celebrating the pagan day, Christians superimposed their holy days on pagan days as a deliberate statement of replacement. The endurance of folk and cultural celebratory events does not mean that the Christian holy day "came from" the pagan day.

Here's a modern example. Saddam Hussein's birthday was April 28, according to Wikipedia. Suppose that this new Iraqi government had decided to hold annual elections on April 28? Would people be writing in the future, "Oh, they deliberately placed the election day on SH's birthday because he still had a secret national cult following and one came from the other?" No, hopefully they would recognize that the "winner" often imposes "their" day on the past ideologue's "day" in order to break from the past, not claim or maintain continuity or descendency.

Sandra Miesel

I want to see a pagan temple sometime, somewhere, that had pews. Just one?

Last night I was looking at a 15th C painting of people in a church and lo! pews and kneelers before the Reformation. (pews are also mentioned by Langland in the 14th C) So much for pew-hating Catholic wreckovators, too.


here's a great refutation of witherington's review., there's more coming apparently.

Carl E. Olson

I see that the "great refutation" relies, in part, on Catholic scholars such as William Bausch and Herbert Haag, who are well-known for their open dissent from Catholic teaching. And yet they are portrayed as being Catholic scholars of good repute. Haag, for example, denied that there was any need for an ordained priesthood; in other words, he was advocating a view that was Protestant, not Catholic. Bausch is known for his dissent against Humanae Vitae and his advocacy of ordaining women.

As for some of the other points, I'm sure Witherington will address them. Not that I agree with Witherington on every point; I have no need to be a Witherington apologist. He can take care of himself. But I do find Zens' refutation to be seriously lacking, and his use of very questionable Catholic sources is a practice that is often taken up by those wishing to criticize Catholicism without really dealing with legitimate, authentic Catholic teaching.

Charles E Flynn

Go to and then click the link to the pdf of Middleton's text, with the amusing title:


From page 7, the introduction by John Dowling, D. D.:

The scholar, familiar as he is with the classic descriptions of ancient mythology, when
like the learned author of the “Letter from Rome” he becomes an eye-witness to the
ceremonies of Papal worship, cannot avoid recognizing their close resemblance, if not their
absolute identity. The temples of Jupiter, Diana, Venus, or Apollo; their altars smoking with
incense; their boys in sacred habits, holding the incense box, and attending upon the priests;
their holy water at the entrance of the temples, with their aspergilla or sprinkling brushes;
their thuribula, or vessels of incense; their ever-burning lamps before the statues of their
deities; are irresistibly brought before his mind, whenever he visits a Roman Catholic place
of worship, and witnesses precisely the same things.
If a Roman scholar of the age of the Cæsars, who, previous to his death, had formed some
acquaintance with the religion of the despised Nazarene, had in the seventh or eighth century
arisen from his grave in the Campus Martins, and wandered into the spacious church of
Constantine at Rome, which then stood on the spot now occupied by Saint Peter’s; if he had
there witnessed these institutions of Paganism, which were then, and ever since have been,
incorporated with the worship of Rome, would he not have come to the conclusion that he
had found his way into some temple dedicated to Diana, Venus, or Apollo, rather than into
a Christian place of worship, where the successors of Peter the fisherman, or Paul the
tent-maker, had met for the worship of Jesus of Nazareth?


Loraine Boettner refined and rehashed?


Someone correct me if I'm wrong: Christianity was founded by Jews, but was adopted by Jews and Gentiles alike from the earliest times (1st and 2nd Century A.D.) onwards. How could there have ever been a *purist* Christianity that didn't in some way resemble the practices of Jews and Gentiles alike? Furthermore, if it never existed, why should it now, and why should we look upon the development of the Church as inherently false because it doesn't resemble this fictious pure Christianity?

This is all it comes down to for me: that the Church *adapted* the traditional practices of pagans (e.g. Celtic Ireland) to Christianity is one of the reasons I'm a Catholic, i.e. because it rarely tried to impose practices completely foreign on others, thereby destroying the continuum of the beliefs of a converted people. That we as Christians still retain some of these practices bothers me not in the least, and we are better off for having such a rich cultural heritage.


I read the book and thought it was compelling. Ben Witherington's review didn't hold water. Another scholar exposed the logical and factual fallacies in it.
The book is much better than L.B.'s handling of it.

Mark Brumley

Pagans pray, I pray, therefore I am a pagan. QED.

Melanie Stephan

Is the Catholic Church a mixture of Pagan beliefs and Christain teaching? Amoung many of the similarities of the two, one stands out. Pagans worshiped, sacrificed, and gave blood offerings. Blood offerings are animal and human sacrifice. The Church says that Jesus died for our sins. That is human sacrifice. Jesus was sacrificed just like a lamb. That screams "Pagan worship". Now my next question is, Is the Catholic Church really just a newly revised pagan religion? I don't think Jesus died for us. I think he died because the Romans were cruel. Melanie Stephan

Melanie Stephan

Despite what I wrote above, there is a God. God does exist.


The sequel to “Pagan Christianity?” is out now. It’s called “Reimagining Church”. It picks up where “Pagan Christianity” left off and continues the conversation. (“Pagan Christianity” was never meant to be a stand alone book; it’s part one of the conversation.) “Reimagining Church” is endorsed by Leonard Sweet, Shane Claiborne, Alan Hirsch, and many others. You can read a sample chapter at It’s also available on Frank is also blogging now at

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