Verbum, the name of a company that produces electronic bible software, has a free book out this month: Among the Gentiles: Greco-Roman Religion and Christianity by Luke Timothy Johnson. Don’t let the author’s name fool you. This man is about as Christian as the pagans he writes about. I’m writing about it because it amazed me how the company was able to coordinate their free book-of-the-month with the Amazonian Synod. It’s almost as if they knew pagan ceremonies would be taking place at the Vatican this month. Here’s part of the book blurb:
While Christianity’s historical failure to appreciate or actively engage Judaism is notorious, Christianity’s even more shoddy record with respect to “pagan” religions is less understood. Christians have inherited a virtually unanimous theological tradition that thinks of paganism in terms of demonic possession, and of Christian missions as a rescue operation that saves pagans from inherently evil practices.
In undertaking this fresh inquiry into early Christianity and Greco-Roman paganism, Luke Timothy Johnson begins with a broad definition of religion as a way of life organized around convictions and experiences concerning ultimate power. In the tradition of William James’s Variety of Religious Experience, he identifies four distinct ways of being religious: religion as participation in benefits, as moral transformation, as transcending the world, and as stabilizing the world. Using these criteria as the basis for his exploration of Christianity and paganism, Johnson finds multiple points of similarity in religious sensibility.
Christianity’s failure to adequately come to grips with its first pagan neighbors, Johnson asserts, inhibits any effort to engage positively with adherents of various world religions
This is so wrong. The reason we think pagans sacrifice to and worship demons is because it says so in 1 Corinthians:
No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be partners with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.1 Corinthians 10:20-21
You know 1 Corinthians. It’s in the bible aka Sacred Scripture aka one of the three sources of divine revelation aka the truth. I’m sorry, but you cannot tell me you believe in God and call God’s salvation of the world a concern for “ultimate power”. It’s the salvation of souls. It’s about love, the greatest love man has ever known. It’s about truth and goodness. It’s about wanting was in best for your neighbor. It’s about eternal joy. How dare you undermine all of that to pass of false ecumenism that leaves souls separated from God. How dare you.