In the future, I hope to write a critique of this work, but I think I’ll save that until I’m done I think I see some weaknesses and flaws in the author’s writing, but she may very well prove my wrong by the end.
I am in a book group that my friend, Candice leads. The group is sponsored (is that the right word?) by CBE aka “Christians for Biblical Equality”. This month’s selection is Wicca’s Charm by Catherine Edwards Sanders. I was really drawn to the concept of this book. In both my bellydancing and my college classes, I have noticed that practicing Wiccans / witches are becoming more common, or at least more vocal. I am very intrigued by what I see happening around me.
As I’ve started reading, I think I’ve pinpointed that part of my intrigue is based on the fact that I think that I would be very drawn to Wicca if I were not more secure in my faith. In general, Wicca empowers women, embraces environmental causes, and aligns more with where I stand on social issues (compared to the traditional church). I think that there is a HUGE group of women who are turned off by the church because they are demoted to being second-class citizens who can’t fully participate. They can’t lead, they can’t teach (except to children), they often can’t even vote. Its no wonder that women would be drawn to a religion where they would be both welcomed and honored. It sounds kind of nice, actually
Ms. Sanders addresses this same facet in her preface and then goes on to talk about how much Christians were turned off when they heard that she was writing a book on Wicca. She goes on to say:
Despite these varied reactions, I took comfort in the story of the apostle Paul at Mars Hill in Athens in ancient Greece. He waded into the pool of pagan thought and religion. And he spent time there. He complimented the religious zeal of the pagan Athenians as he walked by their temples and idols. He knew their literature. His words and actions were so intriguing to the pagan Greeks that they invited him to speak at Mars Hill, a place of honor where new ideas were exchanged and challenged. Paul knew Greek literature so well that he quoted a line from their own pagan poets to explain the gospel. The line that Christians know–”In him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28)–is straight from the mouth of the pagan poet Epimenides who lived in Crete in the sixth century BC. This would have been very familiar to Paul’s audience.
This scriptural account of Paul in Athens enables us to freely embrace truth in any form, wherever it is found. Paul’s precedent of quoting pagan poets empowers Christians to do the same and indicates that morsels of truth and insights from general revelation can be found in non-Christian sources. If you were to follow Paul’s approach when talking with a Pagan teen today, for example, you might quote a line from the well-known neo-Pagan Wiccan writer Starhawk. But it takes time to read Starhawk’s The Spiral Dance and see how her yearnings can be met by a relationship with Christ. How astonishing that seems: An ancient equivalent of Starhawk was quoted in the Bible!
I didn’t realize that about Paul, but I looked it up, and sure enough, Wikipedia confirms:
Epimenides’ poem Cretica is quoted twice in the New Testament. In the poem, Minos addresses Zeus thus:
They fashioned a tomb for thee, O holy and high oneâ€”
The Cretans, always liars, evil beasts, idle bellies!
But thou art not dead: thou livest and abidest forever,
For in thee we live and move and have our being.
The “lie” of the Cretans is that Zeus was mortal; Epimenides considered Zeus immortal. The second line is quoted, with a veiled attribution (“a prophet of their own”), in the Epistle to Titus, chapter 1, verse 12, to warn Titus about the Cretans. “Cretans, always liars”, with the same theological intent as Epimenides, also appears in the Hymn to Zeus of Callimachus. The fourth line is quoted without attribution in the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 17, verse 28.
The “prophet” in Titus 1:12 is identified by Clement of Alexandria as Epimenides (Miscellanies, chapter 14). In this passage, Clement mentions that “some say” Epimenides should be counted among the seven wisest philosophers.
So that has given me something to think about