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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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MITHRAIC PAGANISM VS. CHRISTIANITY

350px-Mithras_slaying_the_BullDuring my undergraduate years, I was assigned to write a paper on Mithraism for a course in ancient religions. The topic included the “similarities” Mithraism seemed to have, (information greatly exaggerated) with Christianity. Attempts continue to be made to build a false connection between Mithra and Jesus. Such assertions abound from various sources critical of Christianity. I hope the following information will aid you if you are ever confronted with these false claims.

Those who claim there is a connection between Mithraism and Christianity are really restructuring Mithraism according to preconceived ideas. In fact, there are no existing texts from the pagan followers of this belief system. Some artifacts found in caves, however, and references from ancient historians do prove that it existed. These artifacts have been dated to 70 years after the beginning of Christianity and many believe they are from the middle of the second century A.D.

Historians tell us there were two forms of Mithraism: Roman Mithraism and Iranian Mithraism. They are connected by little more than the name. Roman Mithraism was a new creation (influenced by the Greeks) which was very popular among the military. Its followers adopted some Christian ideas along the way. The birth of Mithras was celebrated on the Winter solstice and eventually on December 25th. The ancient church knew that Jesus was not born on December 25th (perhaps in September or October?), but chose December 25th as the day of His birth’s celebration. This was an attempt by the church to wipe out the pagan celebrations that took place at this time of year. According to legend, Mithras was born out of solid rock; not a virgin woman. He battled with the sun and killed a primeval bull, which became the ground of life for the human race.

This pagan religion was truly a bloody cult. To achieve a higher level in the Mithraic order, followers stood under a bull being slain in order to be bathed in its blood and guts. Then they would join others in eating the bull. They were literally washed in the blood of the bull. Christians, on the other hand, thought of themselves as ‘washed… in the blood of the Lamb’ (Revelation 7:14).” Christian baptism involves water, not blood!

Mithras is a mythological creature; not a historical person. No records exist from ancient historians to show that the pagan god Mithras was ever a teacher like Jesus (As many have claimed). Mithras never had twelve disciples and he had no bodily resurrection (As many have asserted). Jesus is a historical person. There are twenty-seven New Testament documents, which are continually affirmed by historical data and archaeological research; the testimony of the early church fathers; and non-Christian sources, such as Suetonius, Pliny the Younger, Flavius Josephus, and others who affirm the life of Jesus Christ. As a matter of fact, there are more historical documents which make mention of Jesus and the events of His life and death (along with references to His follower’s claim of His resurrection) than for Tiberius Caesar.

It is in the nature of fallen men to suppress the truth of Christ and have their own way (Romans 1:18-23). There are many who will grasp at any straw to disgrace the name of Christ. History has often been rewritten with the intention of such consequences. In the instance of Mithraism, we find an attempt to reinvent a pagan cult as the source of Christian beliefs, when in fact, the cult adopted some – already established – Christian ideas.

Take heed of this warning from Paul to those who “refused to love the truth and so be saved”: “Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, for all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thessalonians 2:11-12 ESV)

Please allow me to recommend to you:

“Refuting Mithras Myth Parallelism To Christianity” by Prayson Daniel and Ronald Nash’s “Seven Arguments Against Christian Dependence of The Mysteries” which may be found in Daniel’s article and “Doesn’t the religion of Mithra prove that Christianity is false?” by Matt Slick.

Samuel at Gilgal

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