Pagans: Coming Soon to a Heath Near You (or, Are They Relevant?)
I think Dr. Jones will forgive me for saying this, since he knows I’m being honest: It can be very hard, at first, to see the relevance of Paganism to me, a Christian in modern-day Southern California.
When I think of Pagans I don’t tend to think of the lady standing in line in front of me at the coffee shop. I have some strange image in my head, rather, of wildly dressed men and women with ivy wound through their hair dancing around a fire somewhere on the heath by moonlight. If I think HARD, I might come up with ancient rites I’ve read about in National Geographic – some of them still carried out in distant parts of the world. But no matter how hard I tried for the longest time, I didn’t come up with modern, Western culture.
Don’t even get me started on trying to understand the relevance of Gnosticism. I didn’t even get to begin with a funny mental image to help me out on that one. At first, as Gnosticism got discussed around truthXchange, I had to bite my tongue to not let out and audible, “Um…GnostiWHO?”
I know to some of you reading this, it might sound like I’m simply being silly. I know that to some of my colleagues, it is just so obvious to see how paganism affects us in our culture that it’s hard NOT to see. But to me, the self-named Idiot Saint, that vision didn’t come so clearly until recently. And I think that it’s important for people, especially in Christian ministry and education, to know that the relevance isn’t so obvious to some of us – in fact, probably a lot of us – at first.
I think that amongst Christians – probably more those who dwell outside of seminary circles and the theology blogosphere – there is a looming sense of unease about what is happening around us, in our schools, on our televisions, and even in some of our churches. What is it about all this spiritual talk around us that sounds “Christiany” but just…ISN’T? Where is it coming from? What does it all mean? What’s behind it? Further – how do I even begin to speak to it? How do I lovingly and clearly share the Gospel message with my friends and loved ones when they have already heard something that proclaims to be the “real” truth but isn’t? Where do I find a Christian perspective on all that is being broadcast around me?
Christians like me don’t tend to think in terms of Gnostics and Pagans, and therefore, a lot of it flies right by us, adding to our discomfort but hard to identify in order to learn and equip ourselves against it.
It is because of this ignorance of mine that I believe that the work Dr. Jones and other godly men and women are doing is so important. This is part of why I am so excited about truthXchange and two of its newer ministries, University truthXchange (UTX) and Church truthXchange (CTX). These ministries are an opportunity for universities and churches to invite Dr. Jones, Jay Wegter and others in our panel of speakers to share with student bodies and congregations about the very real war that is going on over the truth of the Gospel in our culture today.
Recently, we had a UTX conference at a Midwestern university. Clearly, based on the comments we got back from participants in that event, others are having reactions and experiences similar to mine. Here are two that grabbed me when I read them:
UTX was an eye-opener for me. I grew up in church as a pastor’s kid. I was not familiar with the way people think. Through Dr. Jones’ lecture I was hit with the full extent of just how much the lie has spread. I went to my room depressed Friday night wondering if our nation is capable of change.
I was raised to think as a relativist. What hit me at truthXchange was first of all the definition of the pagan worldview. (…) My experience in church and Sunday school in the past had involved no worldview equipping. I now long to see students come to UTX and be involved in the Q & A that they might understand what they believe and what others believe.
We need equipping and, through God’s grace, I truly believe truthXchange is helping to do it. Personally, it has begun to make worlds of difference to me.