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Thread: Christo-Heathenry?

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    Question Christo-Heathenry?

    This gentleman may be taking syncretism a bit too far in my opinion, but the quotes on his page interesting nonetheless.

    A place for Christo-Heathenry...

    Most Asatru publications will not hesitate to mention the various conflicts that often occur between Heathenry and Christianity. In fact, Asatruar usually derive a great deal of satisfaction in pointing them out. As this tension is undeniably a part of historical and current relations between the two religions, it is certainly important to note it.

    However this web page will be taking a different approach. Like most traditional peoples, the folk of northern Europe have always been skilled at syncretistic spirituality. Over the centuries they have displayed a remarkable knack for making potentially hostile systems work well together. This is a trait that I hope I've inherited.

    One of my tasks is to find some sort of common ground between the native faith of my distant ancestors and the religion of my recent grandfathers. Perhaps the key to doing this is in recognizing the many Heathen gods and traditions disguised in Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox garb.

    Asatru has helped fill a void in my life that I never fully knew was there. It made me aware of my proud Germanic heritage. It gave me culture. This link with the Heathen past is something that modern European Americans sorely need.

    Yet what has become apparent to me is that our folk will never return to their traditional ways unless some kind of meaningful continuity can be made with generations of Christian Ancestors. We can't just put aside 800 years of spiritual life in an attempt to reassemble something which is missing important pieces without first examining the cult of Saints for hidden Heathen lore. How can we truly follow an Ancestral path while we insult or ignore the religious devotion of our grandparents? As Heathens, it is our responsibility to honor all our forebears, not just the ones that lived during the Viking Age.

    The vast tapestry of Ancestral faith has many different strands woven into it. Carelessly pulling out all threads of Christian influence would endanger the exquisite pattern that Wyrd has worked for us.

    Most of us who are now Asatruar were not always so. Some of us even had fulfilling, if incomplete, spiritual lives prior to our involvement with Germanic Paganism. Are we then to conclude that any insights of a Christian nature that were gained during this period were irrelevant to our growth? Need we reject Christian Wisdom to sincerely espouse Heathenry? I say nay. Just as Odin's nine nights on the Tree pointed to the Cross of Christ, so can the crucifix point back to Yggdrasil.

    Dare I actually suggest that one could be both Heathen and Christian?

    Aye, our forefathers did as much. (Although Heathens certainly do not need to practice a Christian religiosity in order to mine it for hidden Heathen custom.)

    Right now this experimental page is simply a collection of quotes that might be of interest to a person practicing a Gnostic Christian Germanic Heathen faith. The quotes are offered to support several ideas which could be relevant to a path which blends Teutonic Paganism with the Gnosis of esoteric Christianity. Although some might find this combination unusual, the goal of this site is to eventually explore both the Nordic "santeria" practiced by our Ancestors and the compatibility of the Northern Tradition with certain forms of Gnosticism. The aforementioned ideas are as follows....
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    Quote Originally Posted by Torcuil
    This gentleman may be taking syncretism a bit too far in my opinion, but the quotes on his page interesting nonetheless.
    As you say, it may be taking things a bit too far. At any rate, the early Germanic view of Christianity was a little different than what we see today. According to documents like the Old English The Dream of the Rood or the Old Saxon Heliand, Christ and his apostles are portrayed in saga-style as a Germanic chieftain and his heroic band of warriors. Obviously, that is a somewhat different from more modern, almost effeminate representations. Also, many Germanic tribes converted originally to forms of Christianity other than Roman Catholicism, such as Celtic Christianity and Arianism. I am not advocating this approach, but the prospective Christo-Heathen might keep in mind that Christianity was something different to many of our ancestors than it is to us modern folks.

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    Aye. In the centuries immediately following the conversion, most of the Germanic nobility found more inspiration from the warlike Old Testament than the pacifistic gospels just because it was more like what they were used to.

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    English Zoroastrianism

    Here's another example of syncretic heathenry: someone has combined Anglo-Saxon heathenry with Zoroastrianism (along with Xtianity and Buddhism apparently)...

    Worshipping first the Lord Woden Mazda, the wisest guide, and then all the Good Lords of Life, especially his favourite son the beautiful Balder-Sarosh who teaches us the path of Asha (Truth and Right) using the words of Zoroaster the Righteous, together with those of Gautama the Buddha and Jesus of Galilee.
    English Zoroastrianism / Anglo-Mazdean

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    His website seems a little out there (melding Christ with the Germanic gods seems more reasonable to me, given the fact that Germanics have a long history of worshipping both, than melding the Egyptian Set with the Germanic gods, for example), but this excerpt here is really pretty good, I think.

    I don't think Christianity and Heathenry need to be mutually exclusive. I've often been troubled by the claims made among those on either side that they must be.

    I am a Christian, but I also believe in the reality of the gods my ancestors. That is, I believe they really exist with real bodies and that they are truly gods, and I hope to meet them some day face to face. And I see no inherent conflict whatsoever between these two belief systems. I see no problem with having paintings of Tiw on my wall right next to my crucifix.

    To me it seems like the conflict between Christianity and Heathenry is largely artificial. I think it's a product of a mortal desire to gain notoriety through distinguishing oneself starkly from his fellows. I think the Christians did it when they came in to take over Heathen lands years ago, and I think that many Heathens are doing it now as they retake lands that have come to be Christian.

    I think that all the while, the gods (whether we mean Tiw, Woden, Thunor, Frey, Freya, And the rest, or Jesus) can't decide whether to laugh at our folly our weep at our insanity. I can't picture Tiw, for example, defender of justice and order and god of the Thing, enjoying the thought of our Germanic communities being fractured over religious beliefs; and I can't imagine Jesus, who always taught his followers to love and include their neighbors, thinking that divisions over religion are good and proper.

    There's no need for a conflict between Christianity and Heathenry, I think, and it's perfectly acceptable (and perhaps even healthier) to embrace both traditions of our ancestors as this fellow advocates.

    That's just my opinion. If you don't like it, please forget I said it — I have no problem being thought an idiot, but I absolutely won't get into any religious quarrels that pit Christianity against the folkish faith of my ancestors.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Leofric
    I am a Christian, but I also believe in the reality of the gods my ancestors. That is, I believe they really exist with real bodies and that they are truly gods, and I hope to meet them some day face to face. And I see no inherent conflict whatsoever between these two belief systems. I see no problem with having paintings of Tiw on my wall right next to my crucifix.
    Would you advocate Jesus being included or adopted into the Germanic pantheon? Or do consider yourself a believer in two separate religions. I'm not criticizing you or anything, I'm just curious how you put it all together.

    It does seem that modern heathens are more exclusive theologically than our ancestors would have been. I don't know whether that's a good or bad thing, personally I just do what I think is right.

    If Christianity was introduced freely into Europe rather than being forced, I could see Jesus being adopted into the family of the Æsir or Vanir. Either that or his traits being taken on by an already existing god. If they had heard of the Buddha, he would probably have been worshipped alongside Freyr or Thor as well. Maybe.

    For myself, I worship the Ases and Vans exclusively. I don't include foreign gods, but don't look down on others who do.

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    My best friend is Irish Catholic and he has stated to me many times that he does believe in the existence of his ancestor's gods. "You shall have no gods before me" does not state that a Christian can't believe in or pay homage to other gods. Just, the Christian god is their patron so to speak..

    I don't understand it, but these types of Christians do have my respect.

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    it seems as though having Christ as a death-defeating warrior deity and incorporating His worship in with that of the Teutonic Gods is fairly feasible. Precedent has already been set, no?
    Tequila Sunrise

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    I can accept the existence of a supreme "God" but would think of this being more like the Hindu's Brahman. I would agree with the Gnostics who refused to acknowledge Yahweh (the Hebrew tribal god) as synonymous with the supreme being. The Jewish theologians, presumably after the Babylonian Captivity, elevated their tribal god to the status of The God with a capital "G". I believe Yahweh is merely one of many gods, and that his followers made a mistake in conceiving of him as the one and only. The Arabs made this mistake too, anthropomorphizing "Brahman" and giving it human attributes like jealousy, anger, or compassion. I don't believe the supreme God would care to give humanity a book of rules and regulations.

    The supreme being IMO is the source of the gods as well as humanity. From a quote in The Northern Gnostic:

    Each of the well-established nations of the world is presided over by an Angel Ruler who assists the race in the fulfillment of its destiny. Pallas Athene was the Goddess Queen of the Grecian race and still serves as Angelic Ruler of one of the nations of the world. These great Archangels— probably Thrones in Christian angelology- inspire the nation and its leaders through the national ego or over-soul.
    Perhaps what some people call angels could be considered gods to others. Odin could be thought of as the Northern European's "Angel Ruler", as Pallas Athene is to the Greeks.

    Could Jesus be adopted into the Northern pantheon? An argument in favor of it would be that he was rejected by most of the Semites of his homeland and his worshippers were almost exclusively Europeans for most of Christian history. Maybe a distinction should be made between The Church and Jesus? If he was brought into the pantheon, I still wouldn't think of him as a major deity.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Torcuil
    It does seem that modern heathens are more exclusive theologically than our ancestors would have been. I don't know whether that's a good or bad thing, personally I just do what I think is right.
    I quite agree. It occurs to me, as I think about it afresh in response to your post, that it's probably a result primarily of the Protestant Reformation (oddly enough). Earlier I attributed it merely to human nature, but I think the Protestant Reformation created a tradition in our civilization of religious denominationalism.

    Our whole civilization became much, much more divisive on the topic of religion during the Protestant Reformation — so much so as to all but eliminate spirituality from religion entirely. I think that's when people started to think of religions as being discrete groups of people (something that, I think, would have been foreign to a pre-Lutherian man), almost like clubs or fraternal orders rather than deep, all-encompassing views on the world and the cosmos. This kind of denominationalism has infested our society ever since, and I think its influence is what causes contemporary heathens (who, no matter their religion, are inevitably part of modern society) to divide themselves so starkly from Christians (and indeed, from other pagan groups and even to fracture into so many sects among themselves).



    Quote Originally Posted by Torcuil
    The Jewish theologians, presumably after the Babylonian Captivity, elevated their tribal god to the status of The God with a capital "G". I believe Yahweh is merely one of many gods, and that his followers made a mistake in conceiving of him as the one and only.
    You'll notice if you read the Old Testament in Hebrew that its word for "God" is elohim, which would be more accurately translated as "gods" than as "God".

    Meanwhile "Yahweh" means essentially what he told Moses it means: "I am what I am." That is to say, Jehovah (I prefer the transliteration of the Tetragrammaton that's given in the KJV) isn't a name but a description. In fact, it's specifically not a name. Moses asked god for his name and was told, "I am what I am," as though names and labels can't really adequately describe a person.

    This sounds like a good reading of the Bible would show that there is a god who is what he is, and who directed the Israelites under Moses, who is probably one of the various gods who are the proper object of human worship as described by the Old Testament. That's the way the Bible portrays it if you take the Bible at its word, anyway.



    Quote Originally Posted by Torcuil
    Perhaps what some people call angels could be considered gods to others. Odin could be thought of as the Northern European's "Angel Ruler", as Pallas Athene is to the Greeks.
    Personally, I'm rather uncomfortable with such an interpretation. The gods are gods, and angels are (for a Christian) beneath them. I feel uncomfortable with the idea of Woden or any of the other gods of my people being beneath Jesus. I think he would be, too. If they truly are gods, then they cannot be his subordinates, but his superordinates or, at best, his coordinates.



    Quote Originally Posted by Torcuil
    Would you advocate Jesus being included or adopted into the Germanic pantheon? Or do consider yourself a believer in two separate religions. I'm not criticizing you or anything, I'm just curious how you put it all together.
    Well, here's how I see it:

    I think Christianity is (meant to be) completely culture-neutral. I think it's designed to mesh with any and all cultures on earth. That's the way the apostles preached it. For example, when Paul went to Athens, he did not speak against any of the Greek gods; but he noticed a shrine to an unknown god and said that he was there to inform them of just such a god whom they already worshipped. And indeed, in his missionary efforts among the Greeks, he would frequently cite pagan Greek religious poetry as evidence for what he taught. All that is in the Bible. He taught them Christianity not as a new religion, and not quite even as an add-on, but almost as a clarification of their existing religion (in light of his expositions of pagan Greek poetry and Greek religious practices and so forth).

    (Furthermore, all attempts to force new Christians to adopt Judaic culture were strongly decried by the apostles: read Paul's epistle to the Romans with the understanding the "circumcision" is shorthand for the whole Judaic culture.)

    Jesus saw himself as subordinate to the gods ("Why call ye me good? There is none good but God." and here, as elsewhere in the New Testament, the reference to God in Greek is probably meant to reflect what would have been elohim, or "the gods", in Hebrew). But he also felt that he was the means by which people gained access to God (i.e., "the gods" — "I am the way, and the truth, and the life, and none cometh unto the Father but through me."). And his followers later taught that he had become equal to God ("the gods" — "he thought it not robbery to be equal with God."); and even that they themselves would follow him to that state of equality with God (i.e., yep, "the gods" — "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with Qod"; "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together").

    At the same time, Jesus equated himself with Jehovah ("Before Abraham was, I AM."), so he felt that, whether he was the same being as Jehovah or not, he was certainly jehovah in the sense that "he was what he was" — and no matter what else is said about Jesus, it's pretty clear from reading the Gospels that he was what he was, regardless of what other people wanted him to be. He was his own man and did what he felt was right, no matter what.

    No if having a jehovah mentality was the path to elohim ("the gods"), then Christianity, or following Jesus, is the decision to truly be yourself and to honor and follow the gods (and, perhaps, to follow the gods all the way to where they are, in every sense of the word).

    That seems to me not to be counter to any folk religion, nor even to be an add-on to any folk religion, but rather to be a clarification of all folk religion — for what is the desire to follow the religion of your ancestors if not a desire to be true to yourself and to honor and follow the gods?

    I think the injunction to have no other gods before Jehovah (or Jesus — for the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost are all one God) isn't a claim for exclusivity, but a claim for chronological priority. We can't have other gods before Jesus, because it is only through Jesus that we truly understand the gods. If we try to understand Tiw or Woden or Thunor without understanding Jesus first, then it won't work — their nature is too far beyond ours for us to understand.

    Furthermore, I believe that we can't really understand ourselves without understanding Jesus. We was the only mortal man who really, truly understood himself. By learning and following him, we can eventually achieve the same self-understanding — otherwise, we have as much chance of success as every one else.

    Once we understand ourselves and understand the gods, by way of Jesus and following him, we will be able to face Tiw, Woden, Thunor, and all the other gods and goddesses directly ("Now we see through a glass, darkly; but then, face to face."). We will be able to converse with them on their terms. We will become their equals.

    Jesus is the way to the Father. The Father is a reference in Greek to what would have been elohim in Hebrew. Jesus is the way to the gods. And we are the offspring of the gods, as Paul said when he was quoting the Greek pagan poets. It makes sense to me to think that each of us is the offspring of the gods of our own people — that the Father is "the gods (elohim) of our fathers". But I think that fracturing the gods up into their constituent ethnic groups is counterproductive. Godhood involves unity (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one), and I think it hurts us to focus on division when we think of the gods. Rather, we should focus on commonality and unity (even when the [good] gods disagree with one another, at the end of the day, they're all clearly on the same team). As a result (and for the sake of avoiding confusion and argument), I continue to refer to God in the singular and as the Father — that emphasizes the inherent unity that characterizes divinity and keeps me from quarreling with my fellowmen because I personally prefer Tiw to other gods.

    That's how I see it. I am aware that my Christianity is different from that of the average Christian, but I developed my Christian beliefs from the Bible — it was the only way I could make sense of the Bible after I learned Hebrew and Greek in order to be able to study the Bible more fully. Without this understanding, there seemed to me to be too much contradiction and lack of reason in the Bible to be the coherent word of God. Once I thought it through and these ideas all sort of coalesced for me, the Bible became a clear, consistent whole, obviously written by a loving God (i.e., elohim) for the focused purpose of enlightening and uplifting mankind.

    So I wouldn't say that I include Jesus in the Germanic pantheon, but nor, by any means, am I a believer in two separate religions. I am very clearly Christian and Jesus is the clear focus of my religious life. He's not just one of a group of gods. But through Jesus (and what he stands for), I gain access to the gods of my people (whom he considered his superiors while he was mortal, and now, his equals). My understanding of the gods of my people is due largely to my understanding of Jesus.

    Does that help you see how I put it all together?

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