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Gods and Demons

In Karen Armstrong’s A History of God, Armstrong talks about the fact that monotheism was an unusual creation, but – further – that the refutation of other gods was a practice unique to Christianity. This is a point reiterated by Jeffrey B. Russell in A History of Witchcraft, in which he discusses paganism and the vilification of non-Christian deities.

Armstrong’s point was that early Christians denied the very existence of other entities besides their god. Russell observes that what began as a denial – a policy that obviously needed revision – became a tendency to coopt:

And now Christian theologians made another important identification: the demons that the sorcerers were calling up were the pagan gods. Jupiter, Diana, and the other deities of the Roman pantheon were really demons, servants of Satan. As Christianity pressed northward, it made the same assertion about Wotan, Freya, and the other gods of the Celts and Teutons. Those who worshipped the gods worshipped demons whether they knew it or not. With this stroke, all pagans, as well as sorcerers, could be viewed as part of the monstrous plan of Satan to frustrate the salvation of the world. This was the posture of most theologians and church councils. Yet at the same time popular religion often treated the pagan deities quite differently, transferring the characteristics of the gods to the personalities of the saints. (39-40)

Read the original article at: Thoughts Here Below

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