The most recent comprehensive survey on the makeup of American spirituality should be deeply concerning to our predominately-Christian nation. According to the Daily Mail and other news outlets, the number of U.S. citizens who now identify as witches or other pagans has exploded to 1.5 million souls—which is more than the membership found in some evangelical denominations:
“A survey by the Pew Research Center found that 0.4 per cent of Americans, between 1 and 1.5 million – identify as Wicca or Pagan. That means there are now more witches in the U.S. than there are Presbyterians (PCUSA) who have around 1.4 million adherents.” – Daily Mail, Nov. 19, 2018
And while this shocking news will be sobering to most devout Christians, one could reasonably speculate for the sake of rhetorical effect that C.S. Lewis, the popular Christian philosopher who had the “deepest respect for Pagan myth” (The Problem of Pain, p.71), might be delighted with these statistics if he were alive today.
Lewis once said that if you’re not going to be a Christian, the next best thing is to be a good Norseman, because “the Norse pagans sided with the good gods…” (The Sign of The Grail by C.J.S. Hayward). He also once dared to slyly suggest, “First let us make the younger generation good pagans and afterwards let us make them Christians” (C.S. Lewis letter from Yours, Jack; p. 219).
Well, guess what, Mr. Lewis: good news! According to the latest Pew study and further research by Trinity College, your hope for the paganization of our children is coming to fruition by leaps and bounds.
“…Trinity College in Connecticut conducted three large-scale studies on religion which found that the Wicca population grew significantly between 1990 and 2008. In 1990, the Wicca in the U.S. numbered an estimated 8,000. By 2008, the number grew to 340,000.” – Daily Mail, Nov. 19, 2018
So why the dramatic jump in paganism (and occultism) over the last three decades? It can hardly be denied that today’s millennial generation has been thoroughly indoctrinated by the never-ending parade of pagan-themed amusements during that time. Children and young adults have been (and currently are) inundated by books, TV shows and movies which promote this pre-Christian spirituality: Star Wars, Charmed, Sabrina The Teenage Witch, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Thor, The Mists of Avalon, American Horror Story: Coven, Frozen, Fantastic Beasts, Game of Thrones, etc. The list goes on and on and on.
Even worse is the wide range of merchandise that accompanies this pagan propaganda: Harry Potter training wands, spell-casting manuals, and Wicca sample kits which contain spell candles, tarot cards, sage, and various altar supplies and witch paraphernalia for beginners.
One would think with this blatant campaign to promote pagan spirituality to our impressionable youth that evangelicals of all denominations would be collectively rededicating themselves to counter this satanic deception with pure biblical doctrine and an unapologetic proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Sadly, such is not the case. Instead, there is ample proof to confirm that many professing Christians in America today have not only capitulated to this new pagan movement with nary a disapproving glance, but have actually normalized such false beliefs by their own active collusion with this neo-pagan uprising.
Alas, much of the visible Church flocks by the droves to these pagan-themed movies, rabidly consumes fictional books with pro-occult activity, and champions these unbiblical enterprises by celebrating the narratives and characters of these man-made myths with public displays of admiration. These days, many Christian authors use passages from The Lord Of The Rings to expound on theology; doctrinal hymn-writing has been replaced with songs about Aslan or Frodo; and Halloween is now the perfect time to don the costume of your favorite Jedi knight, comic book superhero or Harry Potter character. Even worse, millions of “Christian” dollars undoubtedly go to financially support this pagan entertainment conglomerate, which in turn encourages Hollywood and book publishers to produce more and more of this spiritual rot.
This blatant pagan interaction and promotion among Christians was never supposed to be considered acceptable within the visible Church. Long ago, God spoke out against such activity. In the Old Testament, He forbid His people, the Israelites, from having any spiritual association with the pagans and their beliefs and practices. To do so was considered “syncretism,” and God hated it because it mixed sin and error with His Truth (Leviticus 19:31; I Kings 11:33; Deuteronomy 18:9-14, etc).
In the New Testament, the apostles of Christ reiterated this call to separate from the pagan world as a frequent point of emphasis (Acts 19:18-20; I Cor 10:19-21; I Cor 12:1-2; II Cor 6:17; Col 2:8; James 4:4, etc).
So what made today’s Christians think this stuff was suddenly okay? I think it is fair to say that many of them have been led astray by the philosophy of C.S. Lewis, the current poster boy and “pop apostle” of the progressive postmodern church. His love of pagan myth and a dabbling interest in the occult has permeated his writings which such force as to create a profound impression on his Christian fans. Case in point is this disturbing statement by Mr. Lewis that perfectly sum us his thinking on the matter:
“It is only since I have become a Christian that I have learned really to value the elements of truth in Paganism and Idealism. I wished to value them in the old days; now I really do. Don’t suppose that I ever thought myself that certain elements of pantheism were incompatible with Christianity or with Catholicism.” – C.S. Lewis in a letter to Bede Griffiths, April 4, 1934.
Perhaps you dismiss this untroubled endorsement of pagan appreciation as nothing more than the wild romantic sentiments of an imaginative Christian writer, but let’s fast forward several decades to see that C.S. Lewis has helped create a Lewisian dystopia filled with an increasing army of fresh-faced and empowered pagans. Scholars of religion studies are finding more and more new “fiction-based” or “invented” religions being formed around the texts and tenets of mythic film and literature, both pagan and neo-pagan. There is now Jediism (Star Wars), Snapeism (Harry Potter), the Elven and Otherkin Community (Lord Of The Rings), Church Of All Worlds (Stranger In A Strange Land), Chaos Magicians (Lovecraft), and a significant smattering of vampire and other pagan and/or satanic cults besides the mammoth Wicca presence.
The data appears indisputable: pagans in this country are 1.5 million strong and growing. And more than likely, that is now a low estimate considering the last Pew Research religious landscape survey was published in 2015. Just look around for further proof. We are in the midst of a huge resurgence of witches, wizards and self-identifying elves in this country. Though statistically hard to measure since most pagans avoid being pigeonholed like the plague, there is little doubt that paganism has grown to a surprising level that is noticeable to even the most casual observer of American culture. Wiccans, for example, have been the subject of many articles detailing their rise as an emerging identity, not just in typical religious circles, but also in many other segments of our society including politics, the arts, and the business world.
Many media outlets like Rebel Circus have taken note of “the rise of witchcraft” since 2016 and are not surprised that “practicing witches are gaining popularity and attention” when so many current television shows and movies are based on witchcraft. Socially speaking, the witchcraft community became a prominent force in 2017 when it was ranked the 11th largest social community on Tumblr, according to The Verge. And on the business side, MarketWatch reported on the recent success of several pagan-based businesses that are geared to the large millennial demographic that is “ditching religion for witchcraft and astrology.” As cited by MarketWatch:
“[M]ore than half of young adults in the U.S. believe astrology is a science, compared to less than 8% of the Chinese public. The psychic services industry — which includes astrology, aura reading, mediumship, tarot-card reading and palmistry, among other metaphysical services — grew 2% between 2011 and 2016. It is now worth $2 billion annually, according to industry analysis firm IBIS World.”
As bible-believing Christians, should we not be horrified by this trend? Throughout the long history of the Bible, paganism has been one of the most treacherous and insidious enemies of God’s people; an enemy specifically called out by God Himself as a false religion to be shunned and condemned. This point cannot be refuted without dismissing the Scriptures out of hand, and yet many Christians today seem hard-pressed to even care. Why?
The answer to this question is easy enough. Paganism, pantheism, and the occult philosophy behind it has been normalized for worldly Christian consumption. It is a roaring lion that has been domesticated into a lap dog for our enjoyment. We pet it and play with it, not realizing the danger of our exposure to its spiritual distemper.
Surely part of the reason for this pagan domestication can be found at the feet of C.S. Lewis, the designated hero and saint of postmodern American evangelicalism. The philosophy that he espoused in his books and in the quotes above have become more and more entrenched into the thinking of today’s visible Church, and many tenets of paganism are now widely seen as a compatible and necessary part of a vibrant Christian faith. While duly celebrated for his British eloquence and literary prowess, Lewis has unfortunately used his talent to mesmerize the visible church today with a “mere Christianity” that often points to the so-called “wisdom” of man but has little to no biblical support.
To his rabid fans, of course, the man could do no wrong, and to suggest otherwise almost always brings their immediate angry rebuke against such naysayers. Such fanaticism, however, does not change the facts. It has already been proven by Kevin DeYoung that Lewis’ doctrinal positions were hardly evangelical (See Cautions For Mere Christianity), and further investigation seems to suggest that Lewis’ fixation on pagan myth blinded him from seeing the whole truth of God’s word or even accurately articulating it to others. And yet, he is currently one of the most beloved and most quoted men in the Christian community – more so (it seems) than even the apostles themselves!
In the end, it matters little what C.S. Lewis meant by suggesting we first make our youth into “good pagans” who can then worship “good gods.” Christ and His apostles never spoke of such a noble creature or acceptable idol. According to God’s word, there is no such thing: “No one is good except God alone” (Mark 10:18; Psalm 14:3). Yet here we are at the close of 2018 with many misguided Christians following Lewis’ lead by clamoring for and promoting numerous books and movies that feature wise wizards, heroic witches, and other “good pagans.” Should it be any surprise then that our children are now more interested in imaginative fairy-tale spirituality instead of the truth and stark reality of the Bible?
Lewis’s position is, at the very least, misguided and irresponsible, but more likely contains an hidden sliver of toxic heresy that has begun to normalize and condone pantheism and a lower view of Holy Scripture. The end result is a blight on the American Church who is silently standing by while paganism becomes a rising presence in our society, or worse, is actively joining in the cause. The lines have been blurred between paganism and Christianity and the younger generation sees no reason to be spiritually hamstrung by the tenets of the Bible and the strict boundaries of the faith. They can now feel free to worship a god of their own making and create their own spiritual mythology.
Lisa Chamberlain, a well-known witch and Wicca practitioner, has rightly surmised the current situation: “You could almost say there’s a normalization of witchcraft happening, which leads even more people to want to explore it and to feel safe doing so” (Quote from sheknows.com).
What Lisa Chamberlain didn’t realize, of course, was that the Bible had already foreseen what she was witnessing firsthand. In fact, the apostle Paul prophetically warned us about our present predicament:
“For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
Sadly, many of today’s evangelicals have fulfilled the prophecy. They seem to have become bored with God’s pure word and have chased after pagan mythology to scratch their itch for romance and mystery. In turn, they have found solace in the poetic, but misguided philosophy of Lewis, Tolkien and the Inklings to justify their break from the plain truth of the Gospel in order to enjoy the products of wayward imagination.
Diehard fans of Lewis will undoubtedly scoff at this assessment because they can’t seem to get past their hero-worship. But let me attempt to bring these mixed-up Lewisites to a sober mindset on the matter. Scoff all you want, but the evidence speaks for itself: Paganism is dramatically on the rise in America, and Christians like C.S. Lewis who have sought to embrace pagan myth as a noble vehicle for the Gospel story must now admit that it has been a devastating strategy that has brought ruin to part of our younger generation and sent them down the broad road to destruction.
What will change these depressing statistics? Bottom line, it doesn’t really matter how eloquently or passionately C.S. Lewis defended his love of pagan myths. The Bible presents the only true and Spirit-led solution: the American Church must turn back to their original calling. We, as mature and sober Christians, are to be heralding and glorying in one story alone. Not pagan myths, fanciful tales of the occult, or gnostic philosophies which are seductively veiled in order to create a romantic “mystery” that ultimately confuses, hinders and deceives mankind. We are called to be true witnesses of the living Savior, not clever storytellers spinning yarns about the “good gods” of pagan mythology that are pale imitations of His glory.
We must cling tightly to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is “God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek (pagans!)” (Romans 1:16). Only by holding firm to this pure, unflinching truth of God can our precious children find salvation in Jesus Christ and Him alone, for “there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).