At the time Christianity appeared on the scene, humanity had long, perhaps always, been in a dark age. An age of nature religions, superstitions, interaction with spirits and demons. Even the so called “secular” aspects of the time, philosophy, and legal ethics were engaging in nature and animism, human sacrifice, and sex worship. The umbrella under which all of these stand, including what we moderns refer to as “occultism,” is ages old paganism. The term “pagan,” which in classic Latin meant, villager, rustic, has now evolved into a general term for any person not of Christian faith.
Humanitarian change goes through a form of evolution. Thus, having come from a pagan world, the spiritual development of humanity didn’t happen in an instant but rather went through an evolution in which elements of paganism still remain, even to this day. Valentine’s Day, Carnival, Halloween, even Christmas. are steeped in pagan tradition. But it was Christianity that delivered a clear dividing line between naturalism and spirituality. Biblically we read “The Son of God, [not gods, not nature] fully man, fully God; the supernatural source of life, being, personality, mind, and salvation.” (John 14:6) This effectively eliminated the need for pagan ideologies, and delivered direct scriptural refutation of those ideas, including scriptural comparisons, “You shall not behave thus toward the Lord your God, for every abominable act which the Lord hates they have done for their gods; for they even burn their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods.” Deuteronomy 12:31.
This was no easy transformation. An excellent study can be found at: https://erenow.net/ancient/early-christianity-and-paganism-1902/ But the long and short of it is that Christianity came out on top and paganism moved into the closet from which it is now reemerging. After the dissolution of the Roman empire the fully Christaian concept emerged of Europe being a large church state which referred to itself as, “Christendom.”
What we call the “Renaissance” began in the 14th century, bringing new investigation of the the concept of Roman humanitas and the rediscovery of classical Greek philosophy, along with a deep reconsideration of the Biblical translations available. This all led to the discovery of mistakes which had been made. In the 16th century, Martin Luther discovered that where the Greek has, “repent” the Latin Vulgate had, “do penance,” a rather significant difference. All of this following a long period during which Christians had been denied access to the Bible.“We prohibit also that the laity should be permitted to have the books of the Old or New Testament; but we most strictly forbid their having any translation of these books.” Decree of the Council of Toulouse (1229 C.E.) William Tyndale was burned at the stake in 1536 C.E. for translating the Bible into English. Martin Luther led the Reformation which was a severe challenge to papal authority, leading to the 30 years war and the Counter Reformation, a Catholic revival during which the Catholic Church censored writers and others linked to the Protestant Reformation. A firm fertilization for a new way of thinking.
During the Renaissance, while the Bible was becoming available to the common person, so also was the rejuvination and availability of documentation on pagan principles which were being forgotten and replaced in the Christian world at the time.
As we move toward the 17th century we begin what was referred to by its participants as “the age of reason,” and we refer to as the “Enlightenment.” This brought the amplification of human reason into the equation. “Dare to know! Have courage to use your own reason!” (Immanuel Kant). It was a time of religious innovation “Christians sought to reposition their faith along rational lines and deists and materialists argued that the universe seemed to determine its own course without God’s intervention.” Separation of church and state became a consideration. Secret societies began to make an appearance, e.g. Freemasons, Nights Templar, the Illuminati, Rosicrucians. New complication of the simple message of Christ, as well as an amplification of the study of paganism. It was a marvelous time in the history of man and brought into light the brilliance of such as Francis Bacon, Thomas Hobbes, Montesquieu, Immanuel Kant, Thomas Paine, John Locke, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson…
And now we are sinking into a new age of “enlightenment,” which is actually, much like the “progressive” political ideology, completely regressive. Back to the dark ages of paganism. The Biblical warnings are being forgotten and/or explained away. “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;” 1st Timothy 4:1,2. Yes and indeed!
Sadly, this new enlightenment is infecting the Christian world in a frightening way. We read of “man-bun pastors,” the Charismatic Sandals Church, the bizarre equation of “modernism” with “liberalism.” We read headlines like, “Europe Leaves Christianity for Paganism,” “Chrislam: Insider Movements Moving in the Wrong Direction,” Beyond this, the modern pagan “enlightenment” is making up an entirely new history. “Nature was the authority for the Enlightenment thinkers, classical philosophical Paganism was its inspiration.” Sorry, but that’s not the case. They are delivering a new sales pitch, “To call the Enlightenment Pagan is to conjure up the most delightfully irresponsible sexual license: a lazy sun-drenched summer afternoon, fauns and nymphs cavorting to sensual music and lascivious paintings, preferably by Boucher” (Gay).
And saddest of all, these “naturalistic” pagan ideals are filtering into our politics. We have a President rumored to be a pedophile and a rapist, who a mountain of evidence indicates stole the election, and who is planning to force American taxpayers to finance abortion worldwide! One Hell of an enlightenment. Literally! Oh well… At least he’s gotten rid of our newly won energy independence… Destroyed the Keystone pipeline (1000s of jobs) and waiving sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia to Germany. Praise Thoth!
Gay, Peter. “The Enlightenment: The Rise of Modern Paganism,” New York: Alfred Knopf, Inc. 1966. p555.