Goddess Worship, Witchcraft, and Neo-Paganism

Goddess Worship, Witchcraft, and Neo-Paganism

by Alan W. Gomes, Craig Hawkins, E. Calvin Beisner
     
 

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The twentieth century has seen a remarkable revival of "the Old Religion," as adherents of New-paganism call the native religious traditions of Europe and tribal traditions from North America that predated Christianity. Many neo-pagan groups identify with Celtic (Druidic), Egyptian, Native American, Norse, or Roman traditions; others with modern science-fiction

Overview

The twentieth century has seen a remarkable revival of "the Old Religion," as adherents of New-paganism call the native religious traditions of Europe and tribal traditions from North America that predated Christianity. Many neo-pagan groups identify with Celtic (Druidic), Egyptian, Native American, Norse, or Roman traditions; others with modern science-fiction motifs; and still others with witchcraft. Neo-paganism is occultic in nature. A central figure in much of Neo-paganism is the Mother Goddess, who has been introduced and worshiped among certain feminists even in some mainline Protestant churches. Why this series? This is an age when countless groups and movements, old and new, mark the religious landscape in our culture, leaving many people confused or uncertain in their search for spiritual truth and meaning. Because few people have the time or opportunity to research these movements fully, these books provide essential information and insights for their spiritual journeys. Each book has five sections: - A concise introduction to the group - An overview of the group's theology -- in its own words - Tips for witnessing effectively to members of the group - A bibliography with sources for further study - A comparison chart that shows the essential differences between biblical Christianity and the group -- The writers of these volumes are well qualified to present clear and reliable information and help us discern religious truth from falsehood. This is an age when countless groups and movements, new and old, mark the religious landscape in our culture. As a result, many people are confused or uncertain in their search for spiritual truth and meaning. Because few people have the time or opportunity to research these movements fully, the Zondervan Guide to Cults and Religious Movements series provides essential information and insights for their spiritual journeys. The second wave of books in this series addresses a broad range of spiritual beliefs, from non-Trinitarian Christian sects to witchcraft and neo-paganism to classic non-Christian religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism. All books but the summary volume, Truth and Error, contain five sections: -A concise introduction to the group being surveyed -An overview of the group’s theology — in its own words -Tips for witnessing effectively to members of the group -A bibliography with sources for further study -A comparison chart that shows the essential differences between biblical Christianity and the group -- Truth and Error, the last book in the series, consists of parallel doctrinal charts compiled from all the other volumes. Three distinctives make this series especially useful to readers: -Information is carefully distilled to bring out truly essential points, rather than requiring readers to sift their way through a sea of secondary details. -Information is presented in a clear, easy-to-follow outline form with “menu bar” running heads. This format greatly assists the reader in quickly locating topics and details of interest. -Each book meets the needs and skill levels of both nontechnical and technical readers, providing an elementary level of refutation and progressing to a more advanced level using arguments based on the biblical text. The writers of these volumes are well qualified to present clear and reliable information and help readers to discern truth from falsehood.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780310488811
Publisher:
Zondervan
Publication date:
03/10/1998
Series:
Zondervan Guide to Cults and Religious MovementsSeries Series
Pages:
96
Product dimensions:
5.63(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.25(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

How to Use This Book
The Zondervan Guide to Cults and Religious Movements comprises fifteen volumes, treating many of the most important groups and belief systems confronting the Christian church today. This series distills the most important facts about each and presents a well-reasoned, cogent Christian response. The authors in this series are highly qualified, well-respected professional Christian apologists with considerable expertise on their topics.
We have designed the structure and layout to help you find the information you need as quickly as possible. All the volumes are written in outline form, which allows us to pack substantial content into a short book. With some exceptions, each book contains, first, an introduction to the cult, movement, or belief system. The introduction gives a brief history of the group, its organizational structure, and vital statistics such as membership. Second, the theology section is arranged by doctrinal topic, such as God, Christ, sin, and salvation. The movement's position is set forth objectively, primarily from its own official writings. The group's teachings are then refuted point by point, followed by an affirmative presentation of what the Bible says about the doctrine. The third section is a discussion of witnessing tips. While each witnessing encounter must be handled individually and sensitively, this section provides some helpful general guidelines, including both dos and don'ts. The fourth section contains annotated bibliographies, listing works by the groups themselves and books written by Christians in response. Fifth, each book has a parallel comparison chart, with direct quotations from the group's literature in the left column and the biblical refutation on the right. Some of the books conclude with a glossary.
One potential problem with a detailed outline is that it is easy to lose one's place in the overall structure. Therefore, we have provided graphical 'signposts' at the top of the odd-numbered pages. Functioning like a 'you are here' map in a shopping mall, these graphics show your place in the outline, including the sections that come before and after your current position. (Those familiar with modern computer software will note immediately the resemblance to a 'drop-down' menu bar, where the second-level choices vary depending on the currently selected main menu item.) In the theology section we have also used 'icons' in the margins to make clear at a glance whether the material is being presented from the group's viewpoint or the Christian viewpoint. For example, in the Mormonism volume the sections presenting the Mormon position are indicated with a picture resembling the angel Moroni in the margin; the biblical view is shown by a drawing of the Bible.
We hope you will find these books useful as you seek 'to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have' (1 Peter 3:15).
--- Alan W. Gomes, Ph.D. Series Editor
Part I: Introduction
I. What Is Contemporary Whitchcraft?
A. Witchcraft: One Type of Occultism
1. Witchcraft is one specific form of occultism.
2. Witchcraft is a particular religion---a religiomagical viewpoint--- within the broader context of occultism, the kingdom of the occult.
3. Witchcraft is a form of neo-paganism.
a. Most witchcraft today is part of the contemporary neo-pagan movement, which is part of the occult.
b. Neo-paganism is the revival of the old gods and goddesses of pre- Christian polytheistic mythologies, mystery cults, and nature religions, such as Celtic, Greek, Egyptian, Roman, and Sumerian.
c. Prudence Jones and Caitlin Matthews write: ''Pagans' are people who follow the Old Religion, the native religious tradition of Europe which predated more abstract world religions such as Christianity. . . . in a sense the new Pagans are neo-Pagans, since they derive their impetus from a spiritual re-emergence and restatement of ancient Pagan principles.'
d. Neo-paganism also includes existing tribal religions, Native American religions, and shamanism.
e. It also includes new religions inspired by avant-garde science fiction and fantasy works (e.g., the Church of All Worlds) as well as diverse occultic sources and traditions.
4. Related to witchcraft covens are other neo-pagan groups.
a. While Gardnerian witchcraft gave rise to most of the neo-pagan movement, witchcraft is now only one type of neo-paganism.
b. Other neo-pagans primarily differ from witches in their rejection of the designation witch.
c. Some vary in the emphasis they place on the Goddess.
d. Some use terms such as nest or grove rather than coven.

Meet the Author

Craig S. Hawkins is the founder and president of Apologetics Information Ministry. He has hosted radio call-in and interview programs and cohosted The Bible Answer Man. He teaches apologetics at Simon Greenleaf School of Law in Anaheim, California.

Alan W. Gomes (PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) is associate professor of historical theology and chairman of the department of theology at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University.

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