| Pagan Gods Copied From Christianity???
Used by permission, from the Agnostic Review of Christianity website
As information becomes more available to wider audiences through the internet, the subject of "pagan" Gods often enters into debates about Christianity. The issue of whether or not Jesus was patterned after the stories and attributes of some pagan gods is one that produces some amazing claims by Christians.
They will always deny that there were any pagan Gods who existed prior to Jesus that could have influenced how Jesus was developed in Christian writings such as the New Testament.
The following essay contains identified comments from a rabid Christian writing in an Skeptic vs. Christian forum and are typical of the Christian apologetics used to debunk the idea that there may have been pagan Gods which served as templates for the Jesus story.
A skeptic introduced into the debate Christmas and the name "Mithra" who was an ancient savior god of the Persians who has striking similarities to Jesus before Jesus was supposed to have been born.
[Christian writes: Mithra? I have to assume that you're joking. In order to have a serious discussion about Christianity and atheism, then you have to turn aside your intense desire to disparage Christianity at every turn and instead let's talk intelligently and objectively.]
Notice how the Christian starts out. He immediately dismisses the idea that Mithra may have been a role model for the Jesus story by assuming that any talk about Mithra is a joke. Then the Christian accuses the skeptic of not being objective and only interested in Christianity bashing. This is a rather obvious ploy which attempts to discredit the idea that Jesus may have been copied from prior savior gods by attempting to laugh off the idea from the start.
In other words, in order to "intelligently" and "objectively" discuss Christianity, silly notions that there could have been savior gods who existed prior to Jesus and who had very similar attributes to Jesus must be put aside as nonsense. When dealing with a zealous Christian, one must always remember that there is nothing in the universe which has any "real" validity other than Jesus and the Bible.
[Christian writes: Firstly, even the experts will acknowledge that there is virtually no literary evidence as to the beliefs of Mirthraism (please refer to "The Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries" by David Ulansey).]
The experts? Experts are a dime a dozen. The experts at the Christian Institute for Creation Research declare that the earth is only about 6,000 years old. For every Christian "expert" on pagan religions, I can cite one who isn't a Christian and establishes that Mithra was a savior God who was worshipped prior to Jesus and whose origins date long before Jesus was supposed to have been born.
The real problem is that if some parts of the Jesus story were patterned after "pagan" Gods, then the validity of the New Testament as the word of God is in jeopardy and Christians can't allow that.
[Christian writes: The simple reason that Mithraism could not possibly have influenced first-century Christianity (in fact, the opposite was likely true) is that the timing is all wrong. Mithraism didn't really begin to flourish until AFTER the closing of New Testament canon (see "The Mysteries of Mithra" by Franz Cumont) and in fact, no monuments to this religion can be dated any earlier than AD 90 - 100.]
Here we see the mind of a Christian zealot in all it's radiant splendor. Instead of Jesus being copied from Mithra, he asserts Mithra was copied from Jesus. The Christian turns the tables by saying that pagan copycats used the Jesus story to invent Mithra.
It's simply not possible in this persons mind that the Jesus story could have been influenced by stories of other god/men who existed in history prior to Jesus.
Since Mithra was a Persian God who was introduced to the Romans before Jesus was ever written about, Mithra was around in some form before Jesus. Notice how the Christian dances around this by saying that Mithraism "didn't really begin to flourish" until the NT canon was closed. The issue is not when Mithraism was at it's most popular in the region, but how old it's foundations are and where they originated from.
This Christian can sing and dance and quote any number of books he wants.
Here's what the Encarta online research source says about Mithra:
"Mithraism, one of the major religions of the Roman Empire, the cult of Mithra, the ancient Persian god of light and wisdom. In the Avesta, the sacred Zoroastrian writings (see Zoroastrianism) of the ancient Persians, Mithra appears as the chief yazata (Avestan, 'beneficent one'), or good spirit, and ruler of the world. He was supposed to have slain the divine bull, from whose dying body sprang all plants and animals beneficial to humanity. After the conquest of Assyria in the 7th century BC and of Babylonia in the 6th century BC, Mithra became the god of the sun, which was worshipped in his name (see Sun Worship). The Greeks of Asia Minor, by identifying Mithra with Helios, the Greek god of the sun, helped to spread the cult. It was brought to Rome about 68 BC by Cilician pirates whom the Roman general Pompey the Great had captured, and during the early empire it spread rapidly throughout Italy and the Roman provinces. It was a rival to Christianity in the Roman world."
"Mithraism was similar to Christianity in many respects, for example, in the ideals of humility and brotherly love, baptism, the rite of communion, the use of holy water, the adoration of the shepherds at Mithra's birth, the adoption of Sundays and of December 25 (Mithra's birthday) as holy days, and the belief in the immortality of the soul, the last judgment, and the resurrection. Mithraism differed from Christianity in the exclusion of women from its ceremonies and in its willingness to compromise with polytheism. The similarities, however, made possible the easy conversion of its followers to Christian
doctrine." (End quote)
Also, from a web site which examines Mithraism:
"Plainly, the worship of Mithras was well ahead of the worship of Jesus. In any case there is a dated pre-Christian Mithraic inscription of Antiochus I of Commagene (69-34 BC) in eastern Asia Minor. Mithras shakes hands with the King, he wears the Phrygian cap, the Persian trousers, and a cape. His hat is star speckled and rays of light emerge from his head like a halo. His torq is a serpent. This is the image of the Roman Mithras in a scene taking place 100 years before the crucifixion."
"There were worshippers of Mithras in Rome in Pompey's time (67 BC)."
"Christians are more defensive about Mithras than perhaps any other pre-Christian Roman god. The two religions had so much in common, it can hardly be denied although Christians will try to deny it as a first shot. Their second shot is that the followers of Mithras copied the Christians! Christians feel obliged to take silly positions on these issues because they seek to defend Christianity as a revealed religion, not one which evolved in a certain milieu and therefore has common features with contemporary religions. So, no religious practices that seem in any way to be like any Christian ones could have been original--they must have been taken from Christianity!"
(end quotes, ref Dr M. D. Magee AskWhy! Publications Website, www.askwhy.co.uk/christianity/0690Mithras.html)
It seems rather clear that Mithra was introduced to Rome around 68 B.C. and existed in some form as a worshipped deity long before Jesus or the New Testament.
Even in the Old Testament, the Israelites were carried off into exile to Assyria and Babylon which were captured by the Persians. This was all hundreds of years prior to Jesus. The Babylonian exile is recorded in the Old Testament.
All the dancing and excuses by this Christian that Mithra was a savior God copied from Jesus is just a desperate attempt to discredit any gods which existed prior to Jesus. If certain aspects of Jesus were indeed copied from pagan gods like Mithra, the whole Jesus story and New Testament are called into question.
Some dishonest Christians will always attempt to turn history on it's ear and claim that pagan Gods were copied from Jesus.
Note: At this point another Christian jumps in and writes the same thing with an additional twist:
[Christian #2 writes: If there was any borrowing it was the pagans from the Christians. Christianity is based on a historical person. A big difference from mythology.]
Historical people are not the product of virgin births as Christians claim Jesus was. Pagan god/men in mythology are however often the products of a God mating with a human female. Christians always ignore this fact.
According to this historical twist employed by Christians, it means the Persians must have borrowed the Jesus story to create their version of Mithra, the savior god who was introduced and worshipped in Rome at least 68 years before Jesus ever appeared. This is the type of spin Christians have to use to keep Jesus unique and the only true savior of the universe.
The New Testament itself points out that Christianity introduced a new ritual as part of it's formula to obtain eternal life.
Jesus himself tells his followers that they can have eternal life if they eat his flesh and drink his blood.
Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.
Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
Where did this ritual come from? Is it something that God told his people to do, or is it something pagan which became incorporated into the Jesus savior story? What's wrong with this picture?
This new ritual directly contradicts the Word of God in the Old Testament. The consumption of blood, in any form, is abomination in the eyes of God.
And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth(consumes) any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people.
Therefore I said unto the children of Israel, No soul of you shall eat(consume) blood, neither shall any stranger that sojourneth among you eat blood.
Are people to believe that God, whose eternal law (Psa 119:152,160) is very clear about not consuming any type of blood, completely changed his mind, and then decided to advocate the drinking of blood as part of a salvation ritual?
An often employed Christian rationalization is that since the blood Jesus told his followers to drink was only wine, there was no real violation of the law. This doesn't hold up to scriptural examination. Symbolic sin is still sin. Even Jesus proclaimed that symbolic sin was still sin (Matt 5:28).
Drinking wine and pretending that it's really the blood of a human sacrifice makes a mockery of God's law.
This new blood drinking ritual for salvation certainly didn't come from the God of the Old Testament.
[Christian writes: Now that we have settled this... ]
Notice the arrogance of fundamentalist Christianity on display here. This has been settled? This short burst of hubris has completely discredited Mithraism as a possible source for some of the characteristics of Jesus as described in the New Testament???
Did the basic foundation of Mithraism exist before or after Jesus was supposed to have appeared? How tightly do you want to close your eyes?
This illustrates why Christians cannot allow anything to taint their spin of how history actually was. If Jesus the savior god was in any way patterned after savior gods who existed prior to him, the whole doctrine of salvation through Jesus is called into dispute. The claims of a virgin birth, blood sacrifice of a human being to redeem people, the resurrection, being the bringer of light and life, and other attributes of Jesus are not unique but may be part of belief systems that existed long before Jesus appeared.
[Christian writes again: Let me chastise you on one thing: the celebration of Christmas in December has NOTHING to do with Scripture. So, telling us that it should really be celebrated in mid-year tells us nothing. It is accepted that the early Church established December 25th as the day in order to celebrate Christ's birth in order to coordinate Christianity with the local customs. Hardly blasphemous and certainly not in any way a discredit to Scripture.]
The fact that this Christian acknowledges that the celebration of Christmas has nothing to do with scripture, but was simply an adopted pagan custom used by the early church to establish Dec 25th as the birthday of Jesus, points to evidence which this Christian doesn't want to have highlighted. That evidence is that Mithra's birthday was supposed to be Dec 25th (also the winter solstice).
The Christian attempts to brush off this adopted custom as "hardly blasphemous." What a hypocrite!!!
This Christian needs to read his Bible more carefully.
And ye shall not walk in the manners of the nations, which I cast out before you: for they committed all these things, and therefore I abhorred them.
And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the LORD am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine.
The Bible God gives clear instructions not to adopt customs of other nations. Adopting the birthday/holiday of a pagan God like Mithra as the birthday of Jesus in order to, as this Christian asserts, "coordinate Christianity with the local customs" most certainly does qualify as blasphemy!!!
Bringing customs of pagan gods into God's congregation is a violation of huge proportions.
Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name.
Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you;
(For the LORD thy God is a jealous God among you) lest the anger of the LORD thy God be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth.
How are Christians serving God by following and adopting the custom of recognizing a pagan god's birthday as the birthday of Jesus??? Who does this Christian think he's kidding when he says that the adoption of this holiday is hardly blasphemous??? These actions laugh in the face of the instructions God gave in the Old Testament.
To make matters worse, Christians pretend to observe the Sabbath on Sunday. It's probably no coincidence that Mithra who was a SUN God and whose day was SUN DAY, had his day adopted by Christians as their "Sabbath" or Lord's day.
Did Christians once again "coordinate Christianity with the local customs" by adopting Sunday as their day of the Lord?
The Sabbath is the 7th day of the week which is Saturday.
Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.
Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant.
Since Christians also deem themselves to be God's chosen people and claim that they want to worship and praise the Lord, they violate the Sabbath by not observing it on the 7th day of the week as instructed.
These pious hypocrites then advertise to the world that the Bible God's laws are the moral foundation of the universe and that his laws should be followed by all "moral" societies.
The very fact that the early Christian church made these "changes" and disregarded God's instructions doesn't help the case that Christianity represents a unique religion based on the "truth" of the Bible God. Since Dec 25th as the birthday of Christ is not scriptural, there is no valid reason why Christians should celebrate it. Yet, almost all Christians do.
The scriptures aren't discredited by the celebration of Christmas, but Christians who celebrate it ARE. They are celebrating the birthday of their LORD and SAVIOR on a pagan holiday. Jesus never instructed that his birthday be celebrated, nor is there any birth date given in the New Testament.
Apparently Christians want an excuse to celebrate without authority to do so. They set up trees, decorate them with silver tinsel, gold balls and religious ornaments, gather around it, put up lights, put on pageants, and engage in exactly the things God told them NOT to do.
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.
For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.
They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.
They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.
God instructs his people NOT to learn or practice the ways of the nations around them. It's astounding how Christians will ignore what the Bible tells them when it conflicts with what they want to do.
Situational ethics is the order of the day. These same religious chameleons then proclaim and advertise to the world that they want to "serve God." All of the excuses Christians employ to prop up their belief system as the only valid and true way to know God are concoctions straight out of the seemingly limitless capacity of the human mind to rationalize anything and then claim God backs them up. Let any buyer of Christian advertising beware.