Christ – the god of a pagan mystery religion
The common biographies of pagan gods
There is an ancient story.
There was a God man, born of a virgin mother, in a stable. He travelled about with his followers, preaching and performing miracles, including turning water into wine. Eventually, he incurred the wrath of the religious authorities, who were appalled that he referred to himself as a god. He allowed himself to be arrested and tried for blasphemy. He was found guilty and executed and crucified on a cross, only to rise from the dead three days later, where women weeping at his tomb did not recognise him. He was later revealed to his followers as ‘the risen Lord’.
Who is this story about? Jesus Christ? No, a pagan god-man a thousand years older. Some cultures called him Bacchus, others Dionysos, Attis or Mithras.
The followers of Mithras even had a eucharist, where they ritually ate their god’s body, and drank their god’s blood.
Christian parallels with Mithraism
Such parallels between the (alleged) words of Jesus and the recorded words of Mithras are not the only similarities between the two religions. Mithras was known to his followers as “The light of the world,” and “The good shepherd,” and exhorted his followers to share in ritual communion, eating his flesh and drinking his blood. Mithras was also reputedly born in a cave, with shepherds and wise men visiting him, on the twenty-fifth of December.
Mithraism was similar to Christianity in having:
- A Believer’s baptism
- Ritual Communion
- The use of holy water
- The adoration of shepherds at Mithras’s birth
- The adoption of Sundays over the Sabbath
- The choice of December 25th as the birthday of the god and its holy days
- A final judgment in the last days
- The resurrection from the dead
Several other pagan gods share the December birthday, and like Mithras, they are also solar deities, who were born at the Winter Solstice, often of virgin mothers, died, and were reborn. One of these, a pre-Christian deity called Attis, was called “The lamb of God,” and his crucifixion and subsequent resurrection were celebrated annually, with ritual communion meals of bread and wine. His virgin mother, Cybele, was worshipped as “The Queen of heaven.”
Parallels with other Mystery Religions
These belief systems were called ‘mystery’ religions, because one was required to be initiated or baptized into the faith to learn its doctrines or ‘mysteries’. Common to all of these mystery religions, including early Christianity, are themes of rebirth, redemption, the transmission of life-changing information, and the cleansing of sin through the death of a god-man. So many religions in those times shared similar themes that usually the deities became melded together.
Here are events in the life of the Christian Jesus which find parallels in most of the pagan Mystery Religions:
- Birth was accompanied by “wise men” and/or angels
- Birth was signalled by a star
- Born of a virgin
- Born under poor conditions
- Was a Divine Son
- Came to fulfill ‘the Law’.
- Was of royal descent
- Taught in a temple at age 12
- God’s body eaten as bread by worshippers
- God’s blood drunk as wine by worshippers
- Performed many miracles as proof of his divinity
- Walked on water
- Was transfigured on a mountain
- Died on a cross
- Died to save all mankind from their sins
- Descended into the underworld/hell
- Buried for three days.
- Resurrected from the dead
- Proclaimed after resurrection as ‘the risen lord’
- Followers are reborn by sharing in the death and resurrection of their god
- Was the second person of a trinity
We can even look at figures of divine mothers with their haloed divine sons on their laps, and wonder if these are Mithras, Helios, Apollo, Sol Invictus or Jesus Christ. The Emperor Constantine, who legitimized Christianity in Rome, was a worshipper of Sol Invictus – an amalgamation of existing solar deities – and he recognized Jesus’s place in that company of pagan gods almost immediately.
Here are some titles that the Christian Jesus shares with pagan gods:
- Light of the World
- Sin Bearer
- Good Shepherd
- Alpha and Omega
- Only Begotten Son
- Anointed One
- Lamb of God
- The Way, the Truth, and the Light
- Word made Flesh
- Divine Logos
Paul and the invention of Christianity
It is notable at this point that one of these pagan mystery deities was native to Paul of Tarsus’s home town of Tarsus – Baal Taraz. That is why to Talmidis, coming from an Israelite perspective, Christianity is seen as a form of Baalism – the worship of a pagan lord or baal – and not the continuation of the faith of Abraham.
Paul realised he had to compete with pagan gods and their claims, so he invented the incarnation of god as man, the Eucharist, the atoning death on the cross, rebirth through sharing in death and resurrection, and justified these by an invented revelation.
The preponderance of evidence is that Christianity is nothing more than continuation of what Christianity itself declares as “Paganism” but cunningly presents by another name.
Of course, later Christians were terribly perturbed by these similarities to Pagan religions. It was the main impetus behind the Christian persecution of pagans – to make sure no one was left to point out the similarities between paganism and Christianity.
‘There is no god like YHVH!’
A constant refrain among Talmidis is, ‘There is no god like YHVH!’ The living God of Israel does not act or behave like pagan gods. Some Christians may look at the similiarities between their religion and pagan mystery religions and think, ‘If other religions think like that, then the similarity proves we must have got it right.’ But if a god is identical to a pagan god, then how can that god be the God of Israel, who is so different from all false pagan gods? A false, powerless god needs blood and death to forgive sin, YHVH does not; a false, powerless god cannot understand the suffering and pain of humanity unless he comes and lives as a human being; YHVH is able to understand the entire spectrum of the human experience without the necessity to do this .
Talmidis have a story that illustrates well the difference between the Christian god and YHVH:
There were two moneylenders, a Roman moneylender, and a Jewish moneylender. Now, the Roman moneylender was the most notorious throughout all the Mediterranean. One day, one of his debtors came to him and said, ‘The debt that I owe you can never be paid off in my lifetime; I beg of you, please have pity on me.’
So the Roman moneylender said to him, ‘I will forgive your debt, even though you don’t deserve it, but only if someone dies – if the debt is paid in blood, and the price exacted in someone’s death.’
The debtor was horrified and incredulous, but the Roman moneylender said further, ‘Yes, and I am sending my henchman to make sure that you wash yourself in that person’s blood. That’s the only way I am able to forgive your debt – my rules; I am after all the son of an Empire built on blood and death.’
Now that same day, a debtor came to see the Jewish moneylender. In great distress he said, ‘The debt that I owe you can never be paid off in my lifetime. Please, I beg of you, help me – I don’t know what to do.’
Seeing the depth of his anguish, and the gravity of his need, the Jewish moneylender had great pity on him, so he took the bill of debt, and tore it up.
Surprised, the debtor said, ‘But what about my debt?’
The moneylender replied, ‘I will remember your debt no more. Now go; your debts are forgiven.’
There is no God like YHVH.
If you want to find out more about the identical parallels between Christianity and the Pagan Mystery Religions, there is an excellent site by Pastor Craig Lyons: