"Is America Becoming a Pagan Kingdom?"
In a recent WND column, I discussed how "secular legalism and post-Christian 'morality' are the driving forces behind America's regressive march back to the primitive, godless and pagan roots of humanity." O'Connell says we are drifting back to the "default thoughts and ideals of unregenerate mankind" and are replacing the biblical revelation of One God with "a regime of superstition, earth worship, polytheism, and radical humanism."
Throughout human pre-history and history, we have been pagans more than anything else, and only Christianity had the transformative power to provide a 2,000-year window of escape from the primitive instincts. Still, put even the slightest pressure on the brain's inhibitory powers and the ancient beasts can return in force.
In the deeper reaches of personality, even the most saintly person carries a legacy of a survive-at-any-cost mentality, fertility worship and sex obsession, love of one's own kindred and hatred and fear of the other, and penchant for worshiping anything and everything other than the one true God. The pagan welcomes and embraces these inner beasts, but Christianity commands that we first control and then rise above them morally and spiritually.
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Christians make a terrible mistake when they fail to consider these matters. Ignorance, apathy and a peace-at-any-cost mentality will assure our complete defeat in the culture wars. In our current world of technology and change, knowledge is power, and the intellectual classes rule. As Christianity comes under attack worldwide, it is imperative that we know and understand the motives, tricks and ploys of the enemies of the church.
Let's take a critical look at what is happening morally and spiritually in America. Are we really declining morally in the country, or is this just a hysterical mantra of right-wing religious fanatics who simply cannot accept harmless and even positive cultural change?
Let me suggest a method of analysis for answering this and similar questions. Consider my hierarchical 1 to 8 rating scale for assessing levels of moral development from a Christian perspective: 1=savage; 2=barbarian; 3=pagan; 4=post-pagan Christian; 5=cultural Christian; 6=believing Christian; 7=spirit-filled Christian; 8=saint.
Level 1 – the savage
The savage represents the earliest, simplest, most primitive and "barely human" level of behavioral and moral expression. In everyday terms, the savage is the proverbial caveman who is feral, instinct-controlled, stereotypically fierce, crude, pitiless, often cannibalistic and essentially cultureless. There is not much in the way of culture or morality here.
Serial murderer and cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer reveals that even modern humans can phylogenetically regress to the utmost savagery at times. And, of course, the savagery of ISIS torturing, beheading, drowning, raping and otherwise ravaging their innocent victims is the moral shame of our age. In fact, their "subhuman" depredations seem to come more from the animal world than even the worst "caveman."
Level 2 – the barbarian
The barbarian is described as a member of an uncouth, "inferior" and culturally backward community or tribe not belonging to one of the great civilizations such as Greece, Rome, or the advanced cultures of the East. They had a primitive culture lacking in refinement and niceties that survived and thrived through raiding, pillaging and waging war. This was their way of life and manner of survival managed at the expense of weaker others. The barbarian hordes of history included the Huns, Goths, Vandals, Franks, Celts and perhaps the earliest Saxons.
Barbarians are essentially relentless and violent "gangs" based on intense male togetherness directed toward violent exploitation of real and imagined "enemies." The Mafia of the 1930s and modern-day street gangs seem to echo this "barbaric" way of life.
Level 3 – the pagan
We learned earlier that the pagan is sexually and fertility obsessed and highly polytheistic within a context of earth and nature worship. Moreover, the pagan is narcissistic and solipsistic regarding self, kin and tribe, but is hatefully xenophobic, hostile and war-like toward "outsiders" of any kind.
The pagan is a significant step ahead of the savage and barbarian regarding cultural complexity and level of civilization. In fact, the pre-Christianized Greeks and Romans were pagan to the core religiously and morally, but were among the greatest civilizations of human history. We see that a given culture can be highly complex and superior technologically and intellectually, yet wallow in the godless moral wasteland of paganism.
In modern America, witchcraft, Satan worship and radical humanism have strong pagan roots, and some of the recent Super Bowl halftime shows give paganism more than a nod. We sometimes fail to recognize that paganism has been the official religion of all humankind prior to the early Hebrew discovery of the one true God and His manifestation in Jesus Christ of the New Testament.
And we moderns – even Christians – easily regress back to our pagan roots if we relax our Christian moral standards and fall to natural temptations.
The first three levels represent pre-Christian morality. The Christian levels 4-8 will now be briefly described:
Level 4 – post-pagan Christian
This level refers to persons who were once pagan but were converted to Christianity (e.g., see Acts 15). This pattern was typical among first-generation gentile Christians, but is also seen today when people at "pagan" level 3 find the Lord. Christian TV programming is replete with dramatic conversions of Mafia hit men, Hell's Angels members and the like.
Level 5 – the cultural Christian
Many people become Christians and adhere to particular denominations due to family tradition often going back many generations. They are simply born into a Christianity that is sometimes deep, but may be little more than conformity, habit and a means of group and self-definition. A warm and close personal walk with Jesus is not the focus here.
Level 6 – the believing Christian
This is where Christ-centeredness, faith and "the walk" begin to assert themselves. Here one's Christian faith becomes the central focus of life and overrides any and all worldly concerns, including success in the eyes of men.
Christianity is erected on a set of core beliefs including the deity of Jesus Christ, the giving of His life to bring salvation to the world, His resurrection and ascension, and the subsequent indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
I believe that most church folk and secularists would place the majority of America's Christians at level 6.
Level 7 – the spirit-filled Christian
The believing Christian is a step up from the cultural level, and the spiritual dimension adds a sense of fullness and completeness to the Christian experience. The spiritual level is not just arm-waving, shouting, speaking in tongues, or even healing; it is a deep personal relationship with God manifested through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. This relationship is immediate, personal and fulfilling.
J. D. Greear puts it this way: "The spirit inside you is better than the Jesus beside you." Living in the Spirit enlivens, emboldens and empowers our Christian way of life as nothing else can.
Level 8 – the saint
The word "saint" comes from the Greek hagios, which means set apart and "consecrated to God, holy, sacred, and pious." The saint is the human epitome of moral virtue, caring, benevolence, holiness and godliness. His or her commitment to God and His work is complete.
In the New Testament, saints such as Peter, Paul, John and Mary Magdalene serve as lofty models for Christian thought, action and moral sensibility. Given the rarity of saints in human history, most of us fallen humans can only aspire to sainthood ourselves, but aspire we must.
The Catholic Church provides for formal canonization of saints, and Mother Teresa just recently became Saint Teresa. Saints still walk among us, and I have known personally maybe two or three in my lifetime. None of these were famous, rich, or powerful in the human sense, but their lifetime devotion to God's work was a thing of beauty and inspiration.
1. Christian morality took 2,000 years to grow and shape, and its constant and continuing application is essential to a constitution-based America that thrives on truth, harmony, equality and fairness amongst its many and diverse peoples.
2. When Christian morality is shunted aside or nullified by secular humanism and so-called "progress," we do not move to higher moral levels but immediately and forcefully "regress" back to the human default level – paganism.
3. The 8-point scale allows one to rate just about anything from the basest evil to the most saintly actions in American society and culture – various crimes and misbehaviors, good deeds between strangers, the quality and content of church and TV sermons, the moral content of magazines, television programming and movies, Internet pornography and sexting, campus hooking-up, riots and mayhem in the cities, the moral principles of politicians and political parties, and so on.
4. The 8-point scale can help answer the question of just how "moral" the America of today is relative to earlier times. Are we losing the moral and culture wars? A while back I introduced the scale to a group of very conservative Christian seniors and asked them to rate the "morality" of America in the 1950s versus that of today. I was shocked to find that their ratings were basically the same as mine: around 6.5 for 1950 and 4.5 for today. In other words, we were "believing Christians" in 1950 and equivalent to "post-pagan Christians" today!
5. I urge Christian readers to use my scale or a similar one to rate anything and everything pertaining to morality that you encounter in modern America; then analyze your findings in detail. You will be faced with this sobering conclusion: We are losing the moral and culture wars badly and drifting closer to paganism every day.