How to Respond to Evangelical Christians

Jesus is considered by scholars such as Weber ...

Jesus was a charismatic religious leader Image via Wikipedia

The excerpt below was posted to one of the groups I read as a possible response to evangelical Christians who aggressively put down others’ beliefs.  I think it’s worthy of discussion, particularly as we (followers of Hellenismos) begin to gain more visibility in the public eye:

You’re fascinating. Actually, you do *not* believe that the Gods worshiped by Socrates, by Plato, by Pythagoras, are _________. The people who honored those Gods built ancient Greece and ancient Rome. Your Jesus took over and it all fell apart. The Dark Ages followed.

You’re saying what you cannot have experienced, what you cannot believe, because you’re afraid to say otherwise, and you’re afraid to say otherwise because you’re a pathetic slave. You’re too small to trust your own experiences, so you obey a book. You think you’re worshiping a God, but really you worship a book. That way you don’t have to think. Zeus, Apollon and Athena, Hermes and Hekate, these Gods inspired philosophy. Thinking for yourself. Have you ever tried that, slave?

The first Christians thought Jesus was going to come back within their lifetimes. It’s been two thousand years. Exactly how long do you propose to wait, kneeling and trembling? Three thousand? Five? How long before you realize you’ve been worshiping a dead man who’s never coming back?

You people pray kneeling, with your head bowed, as though you were a little child. Your Bible calls you little children; it admires the state of being a child. I’d rather be a man/woman. We pray standing, eyes open.

Interesting to think about, and the contrast drawn. Not that I advocate such an aggressive reaction…

I don’t think it’s right to blame Christians for the Dark Ages. Yes, Rome decentralized after Emperor Constantine converted and the capital was moved, but it was the invaders who sacked Rome that initiated the Dark Ages. However, the destruction of the herms, the temples, St. Paul’s intolerance for pagans, Charlamagne’s actions – which included cutting down Irmensul, a tree sacred to the Norse because it was sacred to the heathens, were all unforgivable.

I agree with the sentiment that personal gnosis is valuable, just as ancient sources are valuable. But the source is not what ought to be worshiped, it’s the greater deity Him/Herself. It’s important to think for oneself, and to think critically, and not rely solely on the interpretation of texts by others. Yes, clergy play an important role in society, but as counselors, not ultimate authority in all things spiritual.

I do agree that it’s odd how the first followers of Christ Jesus expected his return in their lifetime, and Christians continue to believe that Apocalypse is just around the corner. However, to each his or her own.

Lastly, I am proud of how Hellenic Polytheists prey like adults, standing, with eyes open, rather than as supplicants or children. We are responsible for our own choices and actions, and pay the consequences justly. Yet I don’t believe it’s right to condemn Christians for their approach to their god. As they say, Yahweh is a jealous god. Their approach is appropriate to His nature, as it is described.

There is a lot of anger in the pagan community directed towards Christians due to previous experiences with particularly aggressive or loud evangelicals.  It’s tempting to release that pent-up resentment at the first “representative” of Christianity we find.

Yet I strongly advise not over-generalizing the group, lest we be lumped together under our own negative stereotypes.  They certainly don’t consider themselves united under one theology, and neither do we consider ourselves of one opinion.  Christians are people, as widely varied in their opinions and expressions thereof as we are.

We pray standing up, with palms open, calling the theoi to attend and notice us.  Let’s act like adults towards other religious communities as well, treat others like the individuals they are, in a calm and rational manner.

How do you respond to Evangelicals?

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2 comments on “How to Respond to Evangelical Christians

  1. deukal says:

    Great Post! This Brings up a good point- And id like to expand on some things. How many civilizations have had peace and progress in science and the arts from Christianity? And now compare that to those of the ancient Polytheist beliefs. Look at Ancient Greece, Which accepted other religion’s gods and even some cultural ideas to their base. I think that Polytheism is like that because it has many places to explore- not just one.

    • That’s a good point. But it’s also important not to over-generalize with any group of people. There are very progressive and open-minded Christians as well.

      That said, there is a different mindset and emphasis between the two – in monotheism dogma and orthodoxy (correct thought) is emphasized whereas in many polytheistic religions the exact belief doesn’t matter so much, but orthopraxy (correct behavior) matters much more. This means that it’s ok to show respect for various gods, within ones own pantheon or not, as long as you show respect properly and abide by Hellenic ethics (such as xenia). It would be as improper (and dare I say antithetical) for a Hellenic Polytheist to pray for help from a god without offering anything in return as it would be for a devout Christian to fly in the face of his orthodoxy and say (for example) that Jesus didn’t exist or that he wasn’t the son of their god.

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