Christianity and Wicca are both separate, distinct religious beliefs. Within each, there are several different systems of thought and practice, variations on some particulars that give rise to different Traditions [Wicca] or Denominations [Christianity] but at the core of these faiths there are specific certainties which define those practices and beliefs as Christian or Wiccan. Without these core concepts, the religion lacks definition. When it lacks definition, it can no longer be described as Wicca or Christianity.
Christianity and Wicca are not compatible as joint religions because in order to combine them into one blended faith, the core, what it is that defines the practice as either Christian or Wiccan, would have to be compromised. When that is done, what remains is no longer defined as either Christian or Wiccan, but something else entirely.
Until the core defining beliefs (credo) of the religion are changed, what is followed outside of those beliefs cannot be labeled or defined under that religion.
I am not saying that it is impossible to blend practices of these two religions. This has been done in various ways already and is nothing new. But these religions are defined as Christian OR Pagan, not both.
There are branches of Christianity that actively practice folk magic and have for many years, but they do not define themselves as Christian Wiccans or Christo-Pagans or any other impossible combination. Most of the time, I would venture to say they don’t even realize that they’re practicing magic. I’ve flipped through television channels and have seen preachers calling for handkerchiefs and scraps of cloth to be sent to them so that they can be ‘blessed’. This is the same as crafting a charm or blessing an item for a single purpose that Witches do. It is a magical act, it’s just that they use a Christian/biblical basis for it. The people that practice these things call themselves Christian and acknowledge and include the magical practices as part of their faith, believing that their powers come directly from God. They practice magic or faith healing, but they don’t call this Witchcraft and therefore, aren’t Christian Wiccans or Christian Witches. These Christians wouldn’t dream of calling themselves Witches, though Wiccans can look at the various practices and recognize striking similarities to our own.
Just as there are Pagan traditions that use some aspects of Christianity in their system but do not necessarily claim to be Wiccan or Christian as part of their practices, utilizing Christian saints or particular angels relevant to the Christian tradition. Vodou, Santeria, and practices of High Magick/Ceremonialism are some of these.
There are Wiccans, myself included, who respect Jesus a great deal and see value in his teachings. My thoughts on Jesus take a more gnostic view. Gnosticism is considered a heretical teaching and is not accepted as Christian canon because it doesn’t fit the credo of Christianity. It is about Christ, as a man, a teacher, and doesn’t focus on the god-man teachings of Christian belief.
Christianity is defined in large part by the Nicene Creed of the early 4th century. This creed establishes what it is to be under the label “Christian”. The opening line of this Creed runs diametrically opposed to the core beliefs of Wicca as do many of the other statements of belief within it.
Words in brackets are from the First Council of Constantinople in 381, a later addition to the Nicene Creed that is still widely accepted by a majority of Christian denominations.
We believe in One God, the Father Almighty, Maker of [Heaven and Earth and] all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father [the only-begotten; that is, of the essence of the Father, God of God], Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made.
Who for us men, and our salvation, came down and was incarnate and was made man; he [was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate], suffered
[and was buried] and the third day he rose again [according to the scriptures] and ascended into heaven [and sitteth on the right hand of the father.]
From thence he shall come [again, with glory] to judge the quick and the dead. And in the Holy Ghost [the Lord and Giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father, who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified, who spake by the prophets.]
These statements run opposite of what Wicca is. Wicca doesn’t teach of a singular male force that created everything in existence. Wicca has no dogmatic creation story as part of its religion, but instead views creation/creator as one-in-the-same without separation, rather like the way a mother gives birth to a child. Most concepts of the creation mythos in Wicca have a much more feminine slant because of this understanding. Most often Wiccans look to science, which provides a detailed understanding of the natural world that Wicca considers sacred, for where life originated and how it evolves.
Wiccan philosophy is centered on views of time and life as cyclical. Christianity’s philosophy is based on linear teachings.
Wicca accepts the concept of reincarnation, though not all traditions use this as part of their practice. Christianity teaches one life, one death, then judgement. Judgement may take various forms, but it’s still an end result.
Jesus isn’t given ‘special attention’ in Wicca as the sole son or incarnation of deity. We are all equally imbued with as much divinity as Jesus was. The thing that separated him from us was that he understood this nature within himself and tried to teach it to others.
The concept of salvation is hinged on a belief in sin, which Wicca does not possess. Jesus dying for the forgiveness of sins is a belief which is central to the Christian faith, and has no place within the teachings of Wicca. Wiccans believe in self-responsibility, not in the principle of someone else being punished or dying for our wrongs and not in the concept of divine forgiveness being needed or granted in order to be at one with deity.
There is no actual equivalent to the Nicene Creed in Wicca, but there are the Principles of Wiccan Belief which are used in much the same way to define what it means to be a Wiccan.
Seventy three Witches founded the Council of American Witches in 1974. In April of that year, at the Spring Witchmeet in Minneapolis, MN, (1974-APR-11 to 14), they adopted the following document. At the time, Wicca and other Neopagan religions were greatly misunderstood in North America. This document helped to set the record straight.
The thirteen statements are necessarily vague. They do not precisely and completely match any one Witchcraft tradition. But they do provide an introduction to the full range of belief systems called “Wicca.”
The Council disbanded later in 1974.
In seeking to be inclusive, we do not wish to open ourselves to the destruction of our group by those on self-serving power trips, or to philosophies and practices contradictory to those principles. In seeking to exclude those whose ways are contradictory to ours, we do not want to deny participation with us to any who are sincerely interested in our knowledge and beliefs, regardless of race, color, sex, age, national or cultural origins, or sexual preference. 1
1. We practice rites to attune ourselves with the natural rhythm of life forces marked by the phases of the Moon and the seasonal Quarters and Cross Quarters.
2. We recognize that our intelligence gives us a unique responsibility towards our environment. We seek to live in harmony with Nature, in ecological balance offering fulfillment to life and consciousness within an evolutionary concept.
3. We acknowledge a depth of power far greater than that apparent to the average person. Because it is far greater than ordinary it is sometimes called “supernatural”, but we see it as lying within that which is naturally potential to all.
4. We conceive of the Creative Power in the universe as manifesting through polarity-as masculine and feminine-and that this same Creative Power lies in all people, and functions through the interaction of the masculine and feminine. We value neither above the other, knowing each to be supportive of the other. We value sex as pleasure, as the symbol and embodiment of life, and as one of the sources of energies used in magickal practice and religious worship. 2
5. We recognize both outer and inner, or psychological, worlds — sometimes known as the Spiritual World, the Collective Unconscious, Inner Planes, etc. — and we see in the interaction of these two dimensions the basis for paranormal phenomena and magickal exercises. We neglect neither dimension for the other, seeing both as necessary for our fulfillment.
6. We do not recognize any authoritarian hierarchy, but do honor those who teach, respect those who share their greater knowledge and wisdom, and acknowledge those who have courageously given of themselves in leadership.
7. We see religion, magick and wisdom-in-living as being united in the way one views the world and lives within it — a world view and philosophy of life which we identify as Witchcraft, the Wiccan Way.
8. Calling oneself “Witch” does not make a Witch — but neither does heredity itself, nor the collecting of titles, degrees and initiations. A Witch seeks to control the forces within her/himself that make life possible in order to live wisely and well without harm to others and in harmony with Nature. 3
9. We believe in the affirmation and fulfillment of life in a continuation of evolution and development of consciousness, that gives meaning to the Universe we know, and our personal role within it.
10. Our only animosity towards Christianity, or toward any other religion or philosophy of life, is to the extent that its institutions have claimed to be “the only way,” and have sought to deny freedom to others and to suppress other ways of religious practice and belief.
11. As American Witches, we are not threatened by debates on the history of the Craft, the origins of various terms, the origins of various aspects of different traditions. We are concerned with our present and our future.
12. We do not accept the concept of absolute evil, nor do we worship any entity known as “Satan” or “the Devil”, as defined by Christian tradition. 4 We do not seek power through the suffering of others, nor do we accept that personal benefit can be derived only by denial to another.
13. We believe that we should seek within Nature that which is contributory to our health and well-being.
Notes & comments:
- The word “preference” in the term “sexual preference” is misleading. Homosexuals are sexually attracted only to the members of the same gender.Gay men are attracted only to men, they don’t simply prefer men over women. Lesbians are only attracted to women, they don’t simply prefer women over men. On the other hand, bisexuals are attracted to both men and women; they may have a preferred gender. Except among conservative Christians, the term “sexual preference” is rarely used. The term “sexual orientation” is a more precise term.
- It appears that in some recent copies of this document, the sentence about ritual sex has been omitted, perhaps because of its potential to be misunderstood by the public. Although the practice of ritual sex has a very long history, the concept is very strange and scary to most people.
- Left out of the description of this principle is the use of magical powers to actively attempt to help and heal others.
- The concept of Satan is found not only within Christianity, but in Islam and some other religious traditions.
A number of Christians have come across the Wiccan Principles of Belief and gone into detail explaining why these concepts aren’t compatible with biblical or Christian teachings, so I don’t need to do that here.
Wicca is NOT a religion of ‘whatever you want it to be’. You are free to personalize your own particular form of spirituality. However, you are not free to label this new creation as ‘Wicca’. This is a false belief touted by people who don’t understand or are ignorant of the Wiccan religion. Lines have to be drawn at some point to say what is not permitted under the title of a religion or else the entire definition of that religion is lost.
Wicca is NOT an umbrella term to be placed willy-nilly on any eclectic brand of religious or philosophical belief. It has its own structure and beliefs, which may vary among different traditions, but there is still the core which is present and unviolable. If these practices and beliefs are not there, then it is not Wicca.
Likewise, there must be a line drawn to exclude what is outside of the definition of Wicca or else the religion itself loses all meaning. For example – rape is not part of Wicca’s definining principles. A rapist cannot say that they are a Wiccan and excuse their actions as a religious practice because there are strictures that say, “No, rape is not part of the Wiccan philosophy.” If unchecked eclecticism is permitted, then anything could be tied into a belief system and that’s not right. The religion would lose meaning, it loses what it is and I believe that is what happens in Christian Wicca.
If the core beliefs of Christianity aren’t present, then the religion or belief being followed is not Christianity.
If the core beliefs of Wicca aren’t present, then the religion or belief being followed isn’t Wicca.
It is impossible to practice two belief systems that are diametrically opposed to one another.
In Christian Wicca, these core beliefs are not present. They cannot be. One can’t believe that there is only one true and right way to believe, that all others are false [Christianity] and believe that all paths are valid, true, and deserve equal respect [Wicca].
One cannot believe that there is holy doctrine presented in scripture form which is the unquestionable, unchangeable, true, and perfect inspired word of the one and only God [Christianity], and believe at the same time that the bible is just another book of mythology and that there is no single holy scripture to be held to and followed and that personal experience and revelation is the true indicator of connection with deity [Wicca].
If a Christian has an experience contrary to what is presented in the bible, then the experience is deemed false and the scripture is held to be true. In Wicca, if a Witch has a spiritual experience that seems to contradict what has been taught through liturgy, mythos, or tradition, then the experience is weighed against the the liturgy, myth, or tradition but is not dismissed out of turn, both are reexamined and reevaluated to come to what is true.
It is my opinion that people who seek to combine elements of Christianity and Wicca are ‘fence-sitting’ and still searching for their heart’s truth. There is nothing wrong with being a seeker, but it is hoped that at some point in one’s life, they at least settle on a path with which to seek or achieve some depth.
I will admit that I lack understanding on where this particular combination of beliefs comes from. I don’t have this belief and I am happy with where I am in that regard. I think that in large part, there is fear of being wrong or of being relegated to the Christian Hell if they completely embrace Wicca that keeps these fence-sitters from making a full commitment.
If you’re afraid of Hell or that there might be something to this ‘one right way’ stuff, then you don’t belong in the Wiccan religion. You would do better to remain a Christian and come to terms with those beliefs than to torment yourself with such uncertainty.
The words of (one form of) a Wiccan initiation make this point abundantly clear:
The initiator says: It would be better for you to run upon this blade (said while a dagger or sword is held to the initiate’s chest) than to enter this circle with fear in your heart. How do you enter?
The initiate responds: In perfect love and perfect trust.
Essentially, it comes to this: people can believe whatever they want. If you choose to believe in a god, goddess, multiple deities, or no deities, that is your choice. If you believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster, more power to you.
A person can hold to different philosophies and beliefs that are part of separate religions, if those philosophies don’t have specific things that conflict or exclude one from the other. Lots of people in Japan are Buddhist AND Shinto and there’s no conflict with that. However, a person can’t be of two incompatible religions or philosophies at the same time. Something has to give, and that something changes the definition just as there can’t be Rastafarian Muslims, Hindu Scientologists, Atheist Catholics, or Christian Wiccans.
You are either a Christian who practices magic, or a Pagan who works with Christian gods, but you aren’t combining the religions — the philosophy and practices followed — themselves because they just don’t blend. The god of Christian tradition, Jehovah/Yahweh, has made it abundantly clear in his scripture that he does not want to be partnered up with any other gods. He wants to be the primary deity, most often interpreted to mean he wants to be the only deity acknowledged. To me, it seems like a slap-in-the-face to stick him into a system he doesn’t want to be involved with and has said he will PUNISH his followers for practicing. Paganism doesn’t place any strictures on including him as we don’t have that sort of philosophy, but Jehovah does. If you choose to practice Witchcraft by using him and pairing him up with some non-Christian form of a goddess, or invoking him during a Pagan ceremony, that’s between you and he. I just don’t think he’d care for it very much, personally.
What you believe is between you and your understanding or concept of God, but definitions and religions are a man-made concept and what you’re choosing to define yourself with just doesn’t cut it. The definition of Christianity may change in the future, but for right now, what defines Christianity as a religion [The Nicene Creed] and what defines Wicca [dual divinity, non-acceptance of the concept of sin/salvation] are incompatible.
Christianity as a whole has begun making concessions and opening their religion up to beliefs that it once declared were wrong. For example, there is now a wider acceptance of women in roles of teacher or clergy than there has been. There is growth happening and this is being fought tooth and nail by fundamentalist Christians who see this as a bad thing, the end of times, the harbinger of doom, etc.
I have trouble seeing how anyone becoming a more compassionate, understanding, caring, and considerate person is a bad thing, but this is how it’s presented among fundamentalist Christians who fear these changes and are trying to keep their membership from embracing these ideals of community and acceptance.
It is the people who are trying to remain Christian while embracing and combining non-Christian practices and beliefs with their Christian ones who are trying to lead the way in showing that this sort of change is happening and that it doesn’t have to be viewed in a negative light.
If you are combining elements of Christianity with elements of Wicca, you aren’t practicing either faith according to its core canon. You can hold these beliefs in your heart, and if that is honestly what you feel drawn to as an expression of your personal experience, that’s your experience. But it’s not Christian Wicca, or Wiccan Christianity, or Christo-Paganism, or whatever wacky title is used. It is something personal and unique that YOU have crafted to express your own individual spirituality. Since it’s so unique, since you’re creating your own religion or philosophy, you should give it its own name. Give it a name worthy of your inspiration that doesn’t combine the names of two religions that already have a structure of beliefs. Don’t call it what it isn’t.
If you don’t want to give your individual spirituality a new name and want tout that your beliefs make it possible for the two religions to exist togeither and be joined, then make these statements as a Christian! not as Christo-Pagan, Christian Wiccan, or some other made-up nonsensical term. Make it known to other members of your faith that you are Christian and you have found a way to accept other principles or beliefs or traditions that aren’t part of Christian canon. Say, “I’m Christian but I believe that God is immanent within creation, not separate from it. I believe that God is both male and female energy. That I am just as much a child of God as Jesus was and I have the power to do miraculous things through what might be considered magic.” Make others of your faith take you seriously and really listen to what you’re saying, because when you say you’re a Christian-Wiccan or Christo-Pagan, you lose credibility (to both sides) and look like a flake who just hasn’t made a commitment to one or the other and that doesn’t benefit anyone.
Or name yourself as a Pagan who works with the Christian “pantheon”. If you enjoy the way that Wicca or some other forms of Paganism are set-up, but want to plug in Mary, Jesus, The Holy Spirit, Angels/Demons, Saints and Disciples, and maybe even Jehovah into the system, fine. That is between you and them. But it isn’t “Christian”, it is something else. It is Eclectic Paganism with Christian gods.
Best of luck to you if this is your path, it’s not going to be an easy one.