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Bible Dictionaries

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary

Paganism

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The religious worship and discipline of Pagans, or the adoration of idols and false gods. The theology of the Pagans according to themselves, as Scxvola and Varrs, was of three sorts. The first of these may well be called fabulous, as treating of the theology and genealogy of their deities, in which they say such things as are unworthy of deity; ascribing to them thefts, murders, adulteries, and all manner of crimes; and therefore this kind of theology is condemned by the wiser sort of heathens as nugatory and scandalous: the writers of this sort of theology were Sancho-niatho, the Phoenician; and of the Grecians, Orpheus, Hesiod, Pherecyde, &c. The second sort, called physic, or natural, was studied and taught by the philosophers, who, rejecting the multiplicity of gods introduced by the poets, brought their theology to a more natural and rational form, and supposed that there was but one Supreme God, which they commonly make to be the sun; at least, an emblem of him, but at too great a distance to mind the affairs of the world, and therefore devised certain demons, which they considered as mediators between the Supreme God and man; and the doctrines of these demons, to which the apostle is thought to allude in 1Ti_4:1. were what the philosophers had a concern with, and who treat of their nature, office, and regard to men; as did Thales, Pythagoras, Plato, and the Stoics. The third part called politic, or civil, was instituted by legislators, statesmen, and politicians: the first among the Roman and Numa Pompilius; this chiefly respected their gods, temples, altars, sacrifices, and rites of worship, and was properly their idolatry, the care of which belonged to the priests; and this was enjoined the common people, to keep them in obedience to the civil state. Thus things continued in the Gentile world, until the light of the Gospel was sent among them: the times before were times of ignorance, as the apostle calls them: they were ignorant of the true God, and of the worship of him; and of the Messiah, and salvation by him. Their state is truly described, Eph_2:12. that they were then without Christ; aliens from the commonwealth of Israel; strangers from the covenants of promise: having no hope, and without God in the world; and, consequently, their theology was insufficient for their salvation. The reader will find some admirable reflections on the growth of heathenism among modern Christians, in the 3d volume of the Rev. W. Jones's Works.

See HEATHENS, IDOLATRY, POLYTHEISM.

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Bibliography Information
Buck, Charles. Entry for 'Paganism'. Charles Buck Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/cbd/p/paganism.html. 1802.

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