Before the advent of Christianity

Traditional practices, beliefs and idol worship in the world before the advent of Christianity in…

Europe:

As Christianity emerged from Second Temple Judaism (or Hellenistic Judaism), it stood in competition with other religions advocating pagan monotheism, including the cult of Dionysus, Neoplatonism, Mithraism, Gnosticism, and Manichaeanism.

Christianity is a monotheistic religion which developed out of Second Temple Judaism in the 1st century CE. It is founded on the life, teachings, death, and resurrection of JESUS CHRIST. Those who follow it are called Christians.

On the other hand, idolatry literally means the worship of an “idol”. It is also known as a worship cult image in its form. In the traditional religions of ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, Africa, Asia, the Americas and elsewhere.

However, there was the Celtic religion within which there are known to be over 360 gods. These gods were so named because it was believed that everything in nature had a religious significance. Thus, components of nature such as the sun and the woods were allocated deities. As the Celts were closely bound to nature, they often worshiped their deities in sacred places which they believed to be close to the supernatural world.

These consisted of places like rivers, boggs, cliffs and bushes. As areaologists uncovered the remains of the celts, some gods were found widespread and other were of a more localised nature. It is from these observations historians have developed three main types of gods.

In Europe specifically, some gods were found widespread all across Europe in many small tribes. These were the main gods who branched over all areas. These localised gods were often either associated with sacred places or were deemed to take care of a certain tribe. Such as the revered god, “Shannon” who was the god of the river Shannon.

Then, most of Europe’s pervasive gods in Celtic Mythology were the gods associated to a particular skill, such as Lugh (The god of blacksmiths, carpenters and artisans.) Another important point about the Celtic gods is that they are heavily Zoomorphic. There is plenty of animal imagery within celtic mythology.

Europe also had Dagda -a god with immense power and has the club of magic healing. It can be associated as the leader or the ‘father figure’ of the Celts.

  • Lugh -a god of blacksmiths and artisans, skills and talents as well as a grain god honoured in August.
  • Brigit is the Celtic goddess of fire, healing, fertility, poetry, cattle, and patroness of smiths.
  • Morrigan is the celtic goddess of death, she is also closely associated as being the goddess of war.
  • Danu in origin, is seen as a mother figure and is often associated with ‘mother nature’ and earth

 It is important to take note that many of the Celtic gods were adopted by the Romans when they conquered the Gauls. This is one of the main reasons the mains of these gods have survived today.

Asia is the world’s largest and most populous continent. It is the birthplace of many religions including Christianity, Buddhism, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Shinto, Sikhism, Taoism, and Zoroastrianism. All major religious traditions are practiced in the region and new forms are constantly emerging. Asia is also noted for its diversity of culture.

Christianity in Asia has its roots in the very inception of Christianity, which originated from the life and teachings of JESUS in first century Roman Palestine. Christianity then spread through the missionary work of JESUS’ Apostles, first in the Levant and taking roots in the major cities such as Jerusalem and Antioch. According to tradition, further eastward expansion occurred via the preaching of Thomas the Apostle, who established Christianity in the Parthian Empire (Iran) and India. The very First Ecumenical Council was held in the city of Nicaea in Asia Minor (325). The first Caucasus nations to adopt Christianity as a state religion were Armenia in 301 and Georgia in 327. By the 4th century, Christianity became the dominant religion in all Asian provinces of the Eastern Roman Empire.

North America

Clergy and buildings belonging to both the Catholic and Puritan religions the first religions in North America. These were subsidized by a general tax. Quakers founded Pennsylvania. Their faith influenced the way they treated Indians, and they were the first to issue a public condemnation of slavery in America.

Native American religions are the spiritual practices of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. Traditional Native American ceremonial ways vary widely and are based on the differing histories and beliefs of individual tribes, clans, and bands. Early European explorers describe individual Native American tribes and even small bands as each having their own religious practices. Theology may be monotheistic, polytheistic, henotheistic, animistic, or some combination thereof. Traditional beliefs are usually passed down in the forms of oral histories, stories, allegories, and principles, and rely on face to face teaching in one’s family and community.

Then, from the 1600s, European Catholic and Protestant denominations sent missionaries to convert the tribes to Christianity. Some of these conversions occurred through government and Christian Church cooperative efforts that forcibly removed Native American children from their families into a Christian/state-government-operated system of American Indian boarding schools (aka The Residential Schools) where Native children were taught European Christian beliefs, the values of mainstream white culture, and the English language. This forcible conversion and suppression of Indigenous languages and cultures continued through the 1970s

South America

Christianity is the main religion in South America, with Roman Catholics having the most adherents. Sizeable minorities of non-religious people and adherents of other religions are also present. Catholicism, Protestantism, Spiritism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy and Other Christianity; which is: practitioners of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Jehovah’s Witnesses religions also are exercised in Latin America.

Statistics: Part of Religions in South America (2013)

Countries Christians Roman Catholics Others, no religion (atheists and agnostics) and no answer
Argentina 84 % 77 % 16 %
Bolivia 93 % 76 % 7 %
Brazil 84 % 63 % 16 %
Chile 70 % 57 % 30 %
Colombia 78 % 75 % 22 %
Ecuador
93 % 81 % 7 %
Paraguay 96 % 88 % 4 %
Perú 87 % 77 % 13 %
Suriname 48 % 21 % 52 %
Uruguay 49 % 41 % 51 %
Venezuela 91 % 79 % 9 %

Britain

The Church of England is the established state church in England, whose Supreme Governor is the Monarch. Other Christian traditions in England include Roman Catholicism, Methodism, and the Baptists. After Christianity, the religions with the most adherents are Hinduism, Sikhism, Neopaganism, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, and the Bahá’í Faith.

There are also organisations promoting irreligion, including humanism and atheism. Plus, many of England’s most notable buildings and monuments are religious in nature: Stonehenge, the Angel of the North, Westminster Abbey, and Canterbury and St Paul’s Cathedral. The festivals of Christmas and Easter are widely celebrated in the country.

Religion in England Timeline

  • Church of England                                             -47.0%
  • Roman Catholic Church                                   -9.6%
  • Other Christian denominations                      -8.7%
  • Islam                                                                    -4.8%
  • Hinduism                                                            -1.3%
  • Sikhism                                                               -0.4%
  • Judaism                                                               -0.3%
  • Other religions                                                   -1.4%

Other religions include:

Jedi

Ravidissia

Rastafarianism

Taoism

Zoroastrianism

Satanism

Shintoism

New Age

Shamanism

Scientology

Traditional African religion

Animism

Druze

Confucianism

Thelema

Vodun

Eckankar

Brahma Kumari

Occult

Reconstructionism

These religions, all of which are considered to be pagan, have all been predominant in the regions that later made up England, though were all made extinct through Christianisation.

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