How Satan Used Paganism to Attack the Church

To the ordinary public the connection between Paganism and Christianity still seems rather remote. Indeed the common notion is that Christianity was really a miraculous interposition into and dislocation of the old order of the world; and that the pagan gods fled away in dismay before the sign of the Cross, and at the sound of the name of Jesus.

Doubtless this was a view much encouraged by the early Church itself–if only to enhance its own authority and importance; yet, as is well known to every serious Bible student, it is quite misleading and contrary to fact. The main Christian traditions and festivals, besides a great mass of affiliated legend and ceremony, are really quite directly derived from, and related to, preceding Nature worships; and it has only been by a good deal of deliberate mystification, romancing, and falsification that this derivation has been kept out of sight.A1

At the time of the life of Jesus, and for some centuries before, the Mediterranean and neighboring world had been the scene of a vast number of pagan creeds and rituals. There were Temples without end dedicated to gods like Apollo or Dionysus among the Greeks, Hercules among the Romans, Mithra among the Persians and those Romans who had been stationed as soldiers throughout Persia and Arabia, Adonis and Attis in Syria and Phrygia, Osiris and Isis and Horus in Egypt, Baal and Astarte among the Babylonians and Carthaginians, and so forth. Societies, large or small, united believers and the devout in the service or ceremonials connected with their respective deities, and in the creeds which they confessed concerning these deities. And an extraordinarily interesting fact, for us, is that notwithstanding great geographical distances and racial differences between the adherents of these various cults, as well as differences in the details of their services, the general outlines of their creeds and ceremonials were–if not identical—so markedly similar it is amazing.

cannot of course go at length into these different cults, but I may say roughly that of all or nearly all the deities above-mentioned it was said and believed that:

(1) They were born on or very near our Christmas Day.

(2) They were born of a Virgin-Mother.

(3) And in a Cave or Underground Chamber.

(4) They led a life of toil for Mankind.

(5) And were called by the names of Light-bringer, Healer, Mediator, Savior, and Deliverer.

(6) They were however vanquished by the Powers of Darkness.

(7) And descended into Hell or an Underworld.

(8) They rose again from the dead, and became the pioneers of mankind to the Heavenly world.

(9) They founded Communions of Saints, and “Churches” or groups of followers into which disciples were received by various styles of Baptism.

(10) And they were commemorated by Festivals typically commemorating their birth as was pagan tradition.A2

How is it possible that so many cultures spaced so far apart held such similar beliefs? The Tower of Babel… As you may recall, all people of the world spoke one language and knew of only one God at one time that is, before they decided to build a tower. For when the Spirit of the Lord confused the languages of man, it caused men to separate to different areas of the land, thus resulting in different nations, tribes, people, and tongues. This is why the ancient people in Mexico have the same flood stories as those in Egypt and Persia. So, the same stories where utilized to create new religious systems and beliefs, all straying from what God intended.

For the sake of further understanding, allow me to give a few brief examples.

Mithras was born in a cave, on the 25th of December.x He was born of a Virgin.xx He traveled far and wide as a teacher and illuminator of men. He slew the Divine Bull (symbol of the gross Earth which the sunlight fructifies). His great festivals were the winter solstice and the Spring equinox (Christmas and Easter). He had twelve companions or disciples (the twelve months). He was buried in a tomb, from which he rose and his resurrection was celebrated yearly with great rejoicings. He was called Savior and Mediator, and sometimes figured as a Lamb; and sacramental feasts in remembrance of him were held by his followers. This legend is apparently partly astronomical and partly vegetational; and the same may be said of the following about Osiris.

X. The birthfeast of Mithra was held in Rome on the 8th day before the Kalends of January, being also the day of the Circassian games, which were sacred to the Sun. (See F. Nork, Der Mystagog, Leipzig.)

XX. This at any rate was reported by his later disciples (see Robertson’s Pagan Christs, p. 338).

Osiris was born (Plutarch tells us) on the 361st day of the year, the 27th December. He too, like Mithras and Dionysus, was a great traveler. As King of Egypt he taught men civil arts, and “tamed them by music and gentleness, not by force of arms”;x he was the discoverer of corn and wine. But he was betrayed by Typhon, the power of darkness, and slain and dismembered. “This happened,” says Plutarch, “on the 17th of the month Athyr, when the sun enters into the Scorpion” (the sign of the Zodiac which indicates the oncoming of winter). His body was placed in a box, but afterwards, on the 19th, came again to life, and, as in the cults of Mithra, Dionysus, Adonis and others, so in the cult of Osiris, an image placed in a coffin was brought out before the worshipers and saluted with glad cries of “Osiris is risen.”xx “His sufferings, his death and his resurrection were enacted year by year in a great mystery-play at Abydos.”xx (Much like the Passion plays of today)

X. See Plutarch on Isis and Osiris.

XX. Ancient Art and Ritual, by Jane E. Harrison, Chap. 1.

The two following legends have more distinctly the character of Vegetation myths.

Adonis or Tammuz, the Syrian god of vegetation, was a very beautiful youth, born of a Virgin (Nature), and so beautiful that Venus and Proserpine (the goddesses of the Upper and Underworlds) both fell in love with him. To reconcile their claims it was agreed that he should spend half the year (summer) in the upper world and the winter half with Proserpine below. He was killed by a boar (Typhon) in the autumn. And every year the maidens “wept for Adonis” (see Ezekiel 8:14).

In the spring a festival of his resurrection was held–the women set out to seek him, and having found the supposed corpse placed it (a wooden image) in a coffin or hollow tree, and performed wild rites and lamentations, followed by even wilder rejoicings over his supposed resurrection. At Aphaca in the North of Syria, and halfway between Byblus and Baalbec, there was a famous grove and temple of Astarte (See Judges 6:25 {Astarte is the Greek spelling of Ashtaroth}), near which was a wild romantic gorge full of trees, the birthplace of a certain river Adonis–the water rushing from a Cavern, under lofty cliffs. Here (it was said) every year the youth Adonis was again wounded to death and the river ran red with his blood;x while the scarlet anemone bloomed among the cedars and walnuts.

X. A discoloration caused by red earth washed by rain from the mountains, and which has been observed by modern travelers. For the whole story of Adonis and of Attis see Frazer’s Golden Bough, part iv.

The story of Attis is very similar. He was a fair young shepherd or herdsman of Phrygia, beloved by Cybele (or Demeter), the Mother of the gods. He was born of a Virgin –Nana–who conceived by putting a ripe almond or pomegranate in her bosom. He died, either killed by a boar, the symbol of winter, like Adonis, or self-castrated (like his own priests); and he bled to death at the foot of a pine tree (the pine and pine-cone being symbols of fertility).

The sacrifice of his blood renewed the fertility of the earth, and in the ritual celebration of his death and resurrection his image was fastened to the trunk of a pine tree (Compared to Crucifixion). The worship of Attis (Mithras) became very widespread and much honored, and was ultimately incorporated with the established religion at Rome somewhere about the commencement of our Era.

The following two legends (dealing with Hercules and with Krishna) have rather more of the character of the solar, and less of the vegetational myth about them. Both heroes were regarded as great benefactors of humanity; but the former more on the material plane, and the latter on the spiritual.

Hercules was, like other Sun-gods and benefactors of mankind, a great traveler. He was known in many lands, and everywhere he was invoked as savior. He was miraculously conceived from a divine Father; even in the cradle he strangled two serpents sent to destroy him. His many labors for the good of the world were ultimately epitomized into twelve, symbolized by the signs of the Zodiac.

He slew the Nemxan Lion and the Hydra (offspring of Typhon) and the Boar. He overcame the Cretan Bull, and cleaned out the Stables of Augeas; he conquered Death and, descending into Hades, brought Cerberus thence and ascended into Heaven. On all sides he was followed by the gratitude and the prayers of mortals.

As to Krishna, the Indian god, the points of agreement with the general divine career indicated above are too salient to be overlooked, and too numerous to be fully recorded. He also was born of a Virgin (Devaki) and in a Cave,x and his birth announced by a Star. It was sought to destroy him, and for that purpose a massacre of infants was ordered.

Everywhere he performed miracles, raising the dead, healing lepers, and the deaf and the blind, and championing the poor and oppressed. He had a beloved disciple, Arjuna, (cf. John) before whom he was transfigured.xx His death is differently related–as being shot by an arrow, or crucified on a tree. He descended into hell; and rose again from the dead, ascending into heaven in the sight of many people. He will return at the last day to be the judge of the quick and the dead.

X. Cox’s Myths of the Aryan Nations, p. 107.

XX. Bhagavat Gita, ch. xi.

Such are some of the legends concerning the pagan and pre-Christian deities–only briefly sketched now, in order that we may get a better perspective of the whole subject of Pagan Origins.

What we chiefly notice so far are two points; on the one hand the general similarity of these stories with that of Jesus Christ; on the other their analogy with the yearly phenomena of Nature as illustrated by the course of the Sun in heaven and the changes of Vegetation on the earth.

The similarity of these ancient pagan legends and beliefs with Christian traditions was so great that it excited the attention and the undisguised wrath of the early Christian Church fathers. They felt no doubt about the similarity, but not knowing how to explain it fell back upon the innocent theory that the Devil–in order to confound the Christians–had, CENTURIES BEFORE, caused the pagans to adopt certain beliefs and practices! Justin Martyr for instance describesx the institution of the Lord’s Supper as narrated in the Gospels, and then goes on to say: “Which the wicked devils have IMITATED in the mysteries of Mithra, commanding the same thing to be done. For, that bread and a cup of water are placed with certain incantations in the mystic rites of one who is being initiated you either know or can learn.” Tertullian also saysxx that “the devil by the mysteries of his idols imitates even the main part of the divine mysteries.” . . . “He baptizes his worshippers in water and makes them believe that this purifies them from their crimes.” . . . “Mithra sets his mark on the forehead of his soldiers; he celebrates the oblation of bread; he offers an image of the resurrection, and presents at once the crown and the sword; he limits his chief priest to a single marriage; he even has his virgins and ascetics.”xxx

Cortez, too, it will be remembered for complaining that the Devil had positively taught to the Mexicans the same things which God had taught to Christendom…

X. I Apol. c. 66.

XX. De Praescriptione Hereticorum, c. 40; De Bapt. c. 3; De Corona, c. 15.

XXX. For reference to both these examples see J. M. Robertson’s Pagan Christs, pp. 321, 322.

Justin Martyr again, in the Dialogue with Trypho says that the Birth in the Stable was the prototype (!) of the birth of Mithra in the Cave of Zoroastrianism; and boasts that Christ was born when the Sun takes its birth in the Augean Stable,x coming as a second Hercules to cleanse a foul world; and St. Augustine says “we hold this (Christmas) day holy, not like the pagans because of the birth of the Sun, but because of the birth of him who made it.” There are plenty of other instances in the Early Fathers of their indignant ascription of these similarities to the work of devils; but we need not dwell over them. There is no need for us to be indignant. On the contrary we can now see that these animadversions of the Christian writers are the evidence of how and to what extent in the spread of Christianity over the world it had become fused with the Pagan cults previously existing.

X. The Zodiacal sign of Capricornus, iii.

Now having a slightly better grasp of the pervasive pagan influence over the early church, why is it that Christianity has been so influenced by Paganism? Is it because Christianity is just another made up pagan cult? Perish the thought! It is because, as noted earlier, the early church fathers strayed from their Jewish Roots and attempted to hold a council (Nicea) without any input from Jewish (Messianic Jews, Essenes, Nazarenes) brothers. Had the early church fathers had any true understanding of Torah (Old Testament), they would have concluded that the pagan influences had nothing in common with the true Gospel of Jesus.

Today however, we have grown up in a faith that was built upon the foundation of mixed beliefs, those of Paganism- Romanized Christianity- and Pseudo-Judaism. The first established “Christian” (and I use that term loosely) religion was Roman Catholicism. Then, 1200 years later, came the Protestant Reformation, which lead to splinter groups forming over time such as the Bohemians (Hus), Lutherans, Anglicans, Presbyterians, then we have the Methodists, AnaBaptists, Baptists, etc. and we came to the twentieth century with the Pentecostals and Charismatics. While each group has been instrumental in revealing some sort of nugget of truth which is based on scripture- all, and I do mean all, are still based upon the liturgical and man made traditions of the original Roman Catholic Church, which is built upon the very foundations of paganism.

We must get back to the book of Acts where the Church began! Jesus trained the true church elders while He was here in the flesh, then He sent His Holy Spirit to continue training them and those to come until He returns in His Kingdom. If any of these denominational groups would have simply looked to the scriptures instead of what had been done before- they would be functioning much more like the original congregation in the Book of Acts- and they would be set apart from the world instead of being intimately involved with it.

So let’s begin our journey…

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