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Born Again Pagan

A bumper stick that is meant to be antagonistic?

The bumper sticker is meant to be antagonistic, but it tells an unintended truth. “Born Again Pagan” is a statement of faith in non-faith, an affirmation of freedom from religious influence, and a bold confrontation with all things Christian. It’s a declaration of freedom from Christianity that strikes at the heart of Christian experience. If you are a born again pagan, then, by definition, you were at one time a person of faith. One is left to wonder what it was that didn’t work, that disappointed, that left the pagan so disillusioned that they not only left the faith but decided to make fun of faith on the way out the door.

Honestly, I don’t think bumper stickers like this are that thought out. I don’t think people actually leave the faith and then intentionally declare themselves to be born again pagans. I just don’t think it’s that intentional. I think born again pagans are people who don’t want any part of the Christian faith based on a bad personal experience, a rumor, or any list of other reasons or perspectives both real and unreal. Pagan, beyond its technical meaning (those outside a certain faith system), is more loosely recognized in modern America as the power to make independent moral choices outside of religious (especially Christian) influence. Paganism is a way of life more influenced by the pursuit of personal pleasure than religious devotion, civic duty, or the common good. If not mere pleasure then one would characterize themselves as a born again humanist or atheist or philanthropist or something like that. Paganism is more closely related to moral than ideological behavior. “Pagan” is supposed to be a sophisticated independent way of life that gives a person the ability to enjoy the pursuit of personal pleasure without accountability to anything supernatural, spiritual, or Christian. Paganism then allows for guilt free personal expression, sexual experimentation, speech, and pleasure seeking through almost any means (art, money, things, people, hobbies, sex, politics, practices, health, drugs, etc.).

A born again Christian, unlike the pagan, is one who has surrendered the core of his/her life to a greater cause than personal freedom. A born again Christian is one who has given up the pursuit of momentary pleasure for a full and abundant life. They have placed their faith in a God and a book that tells the story of that God, a risen Savior, and the people who claim to know and follow that risen Savior, a savior who promised grace, rest, and peace to all who would surrender, a Savior who asks us to be born again so we can leave our ways behind and adopt His ways into our daily lives, a Savior who is sacrificial, generous, and has our best interests in mind.

“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me; I once was lost but now I’m found; was blind, but now I see.”  These are the words of a famous hymn and the personal story of millions of people who would call themselves born again Christians. I can see how one outside the faith might be offended by the lyrics. The lyrics may lead an outsider to think, “Hey wait, I’m not a wretch. I’m not lost or blind. I am an independent, capable adult who can make my own choices and am actually a really good person.”

When Christians say that they are born again, that they were a wretch, lost, and blind, they are telling a personal story. They (at least not the vast majority) are not pointing a finger at others but at themselves. They are telling their own story and expressing thankfulness for God’s sweet, amazing grace. They once made sophisticated, independent, adult choices, free from outside accountability and religious influence, but now they have surrendered to a sweet, amazing influence beyond their own ability to navigate the demands of life. They have surrendered to the grace of God found in the One who sacrificed for them. They are born again. Their life is not their own. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound: not accusing, not beating down but freeing us to live outside ourselves so we can find the best of ourselves along the way . . . freeing us to live a life closer to the ideal life planned by the One who created life it in the first place.

It’s a free county. The constitution, and I believe the God who created us, gives us the right to be a pagan if we want to. But being born again away from paganism into the sweet life Jesus has in mind is an even better pursuit than mere personal freedom.

Nathan B. June 16, 2012 at 04:08 PM
Many people have tried to explain, some with references, the religious significance and the religious nature of pagans. People have explained these concepts in great detail multiple times, in multiple ways in these comment. Ben simply is unable to accept that what he originally said simply is not true. It has nothing to do with his opinion. Much of what he said is known to be untrue. He simply did no research, and refuses to listen to others who try to educate and explain.
Susan Morris June 17, 2012 at 07:30 PM
Therefore, by comparing and contrasting Christianity with Paganism in your article, you are in fact talking about the religions of Paganism and the article remains offensive as it stands. No disclaimer will change this fact. It doesn't matter if you say that's not what you meant, because that is what you said. It will not make a difference how dismissive you wish to be of our religions, it makes no difference that we are in a minority - the silent majority (including most Christians,) are offended by religious intolerance, even if they do not belong to the religion being treated disrespectfully.
Susan Morris June 17, 2012 at 07:30 PM
Mr. Cathey wrote: "A born again Christian, unlike the pagan, is one who has surrendered the core of his/her life to a greater cause than personal freedom. A born again Christian is one who has given up the pursuit of momentary pleasure for a full and abundant life." As soon as you compare and contrast Christianity with "paganism," or "Paganism", (it makes no difference,) the implication is that you are comparing religions. The definition of pagan as a hedonist has nothing to do with Christianity, Paganism, or any religion whatsoever. If you are using the definition for pagan of "hedonist," then it's logical that the person could be a Christian because in that context it is not a religious term. I have met Christian hedonists, and if you stop to think about it, you will admit that you have too. If you are using the religious definition of Pagan, then hedonism does not apply. Being a hedonist is not necessarily a characteristic of a Pagan.
CR013 June 21, 2012 at 03:53 PM
Why would you assume that Pagan means Agnostic to begin with? Paganism covers everything from Wicca to Buddhism to Hinduism and then back again. It means anything that is not Christian, Jewish, or Muslim. That's pretty basic info to know before you write an article. And people who are of any Pagan religion don't just up and leave Christianity because they had a bad experience. Not only were many born into their religion, as Christians are, but they actually believe in their religions, as Christians do. Or they are people that simply don't believe the Bible is some 2000 year old holy book. And they do good in the community and have morals. That's something you could have Googled as well. I mean really now, did you even think before you wrote this? You may not have meant to offend, but you did a pretty good job at doing so. Why would a Christian write an article about non-Christians anyway? Was your rant trying to discredit Pagans? And what about all those antagonistic Christian bumper stickers that are out there? Why not tell your people to stop being so hateful instead of worry about someone else's beliefs!
Johnny Joseph'sson October 04, 2012 at 09:41 PM
what is a born again christian? have they "left" some other belief, or paganism, to become born again in christianity? that has not been my understanding. they are reaffirming their connections, from the "earlier" "birth". So why is it so DIFFICULT for you to grasp the born again pagan process? Perhaps you need to be sent back for regrooving?

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