Catholicism
Paganism

Are Catholics Pagans?

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August 22, 2012 9:13PM

No. Although, some say so, evangelical churches will make these claims, Alexander Hissop made this assertion in his book The Two Babylons and to know some of the Catholic churches rituals and holidays and the way they are celebrated, it is hard to deny there are many similarities between certain beliefs of the Catholic Church and Pagans. For Catholics the Church is the one true church of Jesus Christ son of God and much is taken on faith. Yet the similarities persist. Compare the myth of Jesus to that of Heracles or Hercules. There are indeed similarities. Both born of Gods who impregnated human women, both suffer twelve trials, for Hercules the twelve labors and for Jesus the twelve stations of the cross. Both ascend to heaven or Mt Olympus to sit at the right hand side of their fathers. Of course, pan theism isn't necessarily paganism, but it shows how Christianity in general embraces mythology common among different cultures since time immemorial. The dates of many Catholic holidays find eerie coincidence with other pagan holidays, the Eucharist used in communion is said to represent the Sun God or sun worshipers of the god Baal. For any devout catholic, any question of similarities between Paganism and the Church is rendered moot by their conviction of faith. Any spiritual being, whether it be Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist or Zen Master knows that the lessons are in the message and those we tend to deify merely the messengers.

This question can be approached from several angles and considerations. Alleged Pagan aspects of Catholicism can be construed from its Theology, Discipline, practices and history.

Regarding Theology, Catholicism is most certainly monotheistic. The concept of the Trinity, that of declaring there are three Persons in one God has sometimes been misunderstood as a triple deity. The relations, however, between the Persons are - for lack of any better human understanding - metaphysical attributions, independent but whole, and the like is not reproduced in any Pagan teachings or mythologies. In fact, if anything, Catholicism could be justly referred to as a Jewish heresy as it is inundated with their beliefs though interpreted through the teachings of Jesus Christ, who, if not God, was a Jewish heretic. Any Pagan connotations are at best superficial or coincidental.

Regarding discipline; the Catholic hierarchy and structure has elements of the Jewish priest hierarchy and the Roman state. Certain dress, customs, designations and formal behaviors have been taken by Catholicism for use in its own hierarchy and management. These disciplines, however, are merely structural, based on natural law or superceding the Jewish Law, and do not touch upon the supernatural teachings of Catholics insofar as to substantially influence them. Thus, though priests wear vestments from Roman times, speak and draw up documents in Latin, preform the daily sacrifice (of the Mass), study the Old Testament, these are molds extrinsic to what Catholicism actually is.

Catholic practices are where most of the Pagan references are directed. The Catholic sacrifice of the Mass is taken from the Jewish rituals and has slight influences brought in from Roman and other Middle Eastern civilizations. However, the Mass is modeled on the Jewish synagogue meetings and the temple sacrifices, hence its division from a strictly didactic format (the first half of Mass) to a form of ritual worship and sacrifice (the latter half). In latter ages of the Church, as it began to expand into new civilizations and cultures, Catholicism would assimilate certain religious customs it deemed worthy of retaining and revamping them by emptying them of their Pagan connotations while injecting them with Catholic teachings. Such feasts as Christmas, Halloween, etc., are often pointed to as Pagan festivals. These are questions in themselves, but even if it is granted that these Pagan festivals were absorbed by Catholicism, as did actually happen in some cases, this only illustrates the Church's desire to make the transition as smooth as possible. Removing Pagan feasts, central to cultures and peoples without substituting for them causes massive social unrest and trouble - by retaining the days and substituting their meaning, the Church eased converts into the Faith without wiping out a group's social and historical identity. As it is, some Pagan feasts coincided with Catholic feasts, Easter being a prime example.

Regarding the history of Catholicism, it began in the Roman province of Judea and was founded by Jews. If Jesus Christ was not God, then Catholicism is a Jewish heresy and as such would not be Pagan anyway. During the early centuries of the Church it is alleged that Catholicism assimilated Pagan mythologies and beliefs and reproduced them in itself. As illustrated above, much of this assimilation was insubstantial insofar as dictating belief - the core elements of Catholic theology were known by the end of the first century and recorded in Biblical and oral Tradition. Certain geometric symbols, patterns, practices, etc., have been pointed to as having Pagan connotations, however, their presence may be coincidental, or it may be because that symbol was absorbed and given a new meaning - its presence is not latent evidence of Pagan belief held by some sort of elite nucleus of Catholic hierarchy. Much the same is found today; the pentagram is a Catholic symbol pertaining to the five wounds of Christ ("Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" is the most famous illustration from history of its Christian origin) but today is associated with occult practices - no one would accuse someone of being a secret Christian today because they wear the pentagram around their neck. Symbols, practices, designations, etc., naturally evolve through common use.

Undoubtedly, Catholicism assimilated Pagan elements. This was unavoidable as each convert brought with him/her a history, a culture, a system of living that could not be eradicated, hence the Church grafted its Faith and teachings onto things It saw as worthy of being retained to some degree. Conversion is an organic process, not an annihilation of the personality. As nations and peoples converted, the Church strove to balance that people's identity with what the Church saw as the true religion. Those elements that the Church regarded as unredeemable were fought, sometimes violently, behavior critics of the Church often protest as un-Christian. Those elements that the Church saw as natural or redeemable, It adapted and fostered, as other critics of the Church protest make it Pagan. The Church sought to establish balance and develop the most efficient way of communicating the Faith to the peoples of the Earth. Things found in religion such as the concept of demigods, sacred meals, sacrifice, special prayers and symbols, communication with the Divine, miracles, etc., are natural to mankind; all religions have them to some degree and similarities are largely adaptations, evolutions or coincidence (Catholics would say coincidence in religious ideas is merely the manifestation of the natural law that is written in men's hearts - dictated by natural reason, the conscience, etc., - and the remnant of revelation of God to man at the beginning of time). Catholicism is either the fulfillment of the Old Law of the Jewish people promised to redeem all mankind, or a Jewish heresy with adapted elements of various ancient religions that have helped sustain its longevity and popularity in human history.

ANOTHER ANSWER:

YES!!! Roman Catholic is a mixture of Christianity and Paganism. When emperor Constantine, a die hard worshiper of the Sun, accepted Christianity, he changed the day to be worshipped.. instead of saturday, he changed it to sunday. Since he's a pagan, he mixed chrstianity with paganism thus, leading to the formation of the catholic chuch. but there were Chrsitians who pretested and did not agree to this, so they are called Protestants--the pure Chrstians.
Catholics are not pagans despite all of the fantastic stories one hears about the origins of the Church.

The Church grew up surrounded by pagans and was very careful to distinguish itself from them and to prevent the faithful from falling into idolatry. The "Theory" that the Church has all its beliefs and practices steeped in paganism is a popular myth used to discredit the Church. The only problem using this simili hoc propter ergo hoc* argument is that it does not work.

I think an example shall be most useful: We shall pretend we are discussing something (the pagan background of their beliefs) with [insert name] protestant group: "Your faith is pagan! Yes, it is because at your weddings you exchange rings - a pagan tradition…yada, yada, yada, ya…It began in ancient Egypt. The ring was used to symbolize a never ending circle and the space in it is a gate way! And the rings were placed on the fourth finger on the left hand because the ancient Egyptians believed that it contained a vein that lead to the heart (vena amoris). See just look here in our comic book and see the Proof! Etc., etc. etc.

"What?" you say…just because you are using the mistaken notion that we use wedding rings - just like the ancient Egyptians - that we are pagan…get lost! Etc. However, if that same argument were leveled against the Catholic Church - it would seem credible…But, not against (insert name) protestant group. Why not?

So, just like any other urban myth that is circulated, it must be true…Right? Put on your thinking cap for a moment. Would you buy the argument just made on such and such group with such flimsy evidence? I think not. As you know, that just because one levels an argument like this at an intuition, that, in and of itself, does not make it true.

So, to answer your question: NO, Catholics are no more pagans the (insert name) wedding ring using protestant group.

Please see the link below for more information.

*post hoc fallacy

The post hoc ergo propter hoc (after this therefore because of this) fallacy is based upon the mistaken notion that simply because one thing happens after another, the first event was a cause of the second event. Post hoc reasoning is the basis for many superstitions and erroneous beliefs.