In both the Old and New Testaments, the Lord warns his people several times against embracing pagan practices regardless of re-purposing them or re-labeling them to incorporate them into worshiping him. However, now that we are in a period of great apostasy, or falling away, in Christendom, things have become so bad that if one wanted to start a godly congregation, a person would have to examine and test every practice or doctrine they may have learned over the years in their religious circles to make sure it is truly of God.
Many churches today seem to have a penchant for defending pagan practices as no longer being pagan since they just “Christianized” it by slapping Christian symbolism or Christian phrases on it, be it contemplative prayer, yoga, certain lifestyles, or observing certain holidays that Christians were never commanded to observe in the Bible. “If God can re-purpose sinful, pagan humans into beings that worship him, why not do the same for pagan concepts and inanimate objects?” That’s the common argument.
Let’s consider the principles God lays out in his word to see if that argument holds up.
25 The graven images of their gods shall ye burn with fire: thou shalt not desire the silver or gold that is on them, nor take it unto thee, lest thou be snared therein: for it is an abomination to the Lord thy God. 26 Neither shalt thou bring an abomination into thine house, lest thou be a cursed thing like it: but thou shalt utterly detest it, and thou shalt utterly abhor it; for it is a cursed thing. Deut. 7
Why would God order such a thing? The woods and metals that the idols were made from could have been recycled and re-purposed for other useful things for God’s glory, couldn’t they? Obviously not. To have kept the wood, to have melted down the metals would have given value to the cursed idols. And applying value to them would have validated the practices associated with them in the minds of the Israelites.
Why were they cursed? The answers are in Leviticus 17:7 and Deuteronomy 32:17. Those idols represented real devils, all of whom are cursed. Furthermore, innocent human lives were slaughtered and other abominable acts were committed in honor of those idols. God had to order his people to detest them for their psychological and spiritual health. To welcome those things into their homes created the potential of welcoming devils into their lives by potentially rejecting Jehovah. Then rejecting Jehovah and embracing paganism with the devil(s) it represents would open them and family members to potentially being possessed at worst or to being oppressed by them, such as King Saul was.
The Lord always gives us two or three witnesses to verify what he desires, so here are two more to show us he doesn’t want us to re-purpose or re-label any pagan practice to “Christianize” it:
2 Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. 3 For the customs of the people are vain… Jeremiah 10
8 Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. 9 But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? 10 Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. 11 I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain. Galatians 4
Notice how Paul calls idols and pagan practices (including their holidays) in Galatians 4 “weak and beggarly elements.” Apparently, the idea of re-purposing a cursed pagan thing is not acceptable to or accepted by God.