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the Sacred Bull
Is it Christianity or Mithraism?
Introduction by Lewis Loflin
I have no use at all for fundamentalist Christians and have never been a Christian. Yet when I find nonsense such as that below on the web, I have to take issue with false information. The article cites no sources nor can I even locate who wrote this article. Very simply Jesus was not Mithra, Zoroaster, or Buddha. He also wasn't the Jewish Messiah, while Mithraism certainly had no trinity.
In Religions of Antiquity (Selltzer 1989) noted Mithraism was a product more of the Roman Empire than Persia. Mithra was born in a cave or emerged from a rock (not a virgin birth) the cult excluded women (Christianity didn't) and had seven levels of ascension (Christianity didn't) and was tied heavily into astrology, which Christianity wasn't. Further, Mithra was a warrior, Jesus was no such thing. While it is true the later Christian Church grafted common aspects of paganism onto the faith (Mithra's birthday was December 25, Jesus birth date in not stated in the Bible and is unknown), doesn't distract from the fact the two faiths had nothing in common.
So I wrote a response to this nonsense in Debunking the Jesus-Mithra Connection. In my view and from my research Christianity grafted pagan elements onto the faith after the 1st. Century in its efforts to sever the faith from Judaism just as the Gospel writers writers such as Mark and Luke (followers of Paul) tried to graft the religion Paul founded back into Judaism in order to support their claims. I let the original trash stand as a record of bad scholarship. L. Loflin
Also see Saul of Tarsus, Mithraic Cults, and Christ's Blood
It is surprising that Christianity was to become the international
religion, when one considers that the already well-established
religion of Mithraism was a natural challenger for that title. Up
until the time of the Emperor Constantine, it was the latter
religion which was more popular within the framework of the Roman
Empire, and Christianity was regarded as being only one sect amongst
numerous other sects. It was only when Constantine decreed that
Christianity was to be the state religion, that Mithraism, together
with a host of other religions and sects, was put into the melting
pot, and ideas of that religion, most suited for the Christian
purpose, were absorbed into the new state-approved religion.
Mithraism, the religion followed by those who worshipped the sun god
Mithra, originated in Persia about 400 BC, and was to spread its
Pagan ideas as far west as the British Isles. In the early centuries
of the Christian era, Mithraism was the most wide-spread religion in
the Western World, and its remains are to be found in monuments
scattered around the countries of Europe, which then comprised the
known civilized world.
Mithra was regarded as created by, yet co-equal with, the Supreme
Deity. Mithraists were Trinitarian, kept Sunday as their day of
worship, and their chief festivals were what we know of as Christmas
and Easter. Long before the advent of Jesus, Mithra was said to have
been born of a virgin mother, in a cave, at the time of Christmas,
and died on a cross at Easter. Baptism was practised, and the sign
of the cross was made on the foreheads of all newly-baptised
converts. Mithra was considered to be the saviour of the world,
conferring on his followers an eternal life in Heaven, and, similar
to the story of Jesus, he died to save all others, provided that
they were his followers.
For three centuries both religions ran parallel, Mithraism first
becoming known to the Romans in 70 BC, Christianity following a
century later, and it wasn't until AD 377 that Christianity became
sufficiently strong to suppress its former rival, although Mithraism
was to remain a formidable opponent for some time after that, only
slowly being forsaken by the people. It was only the absorption of
many Mithraist ideas into Christianity which finally saw its
The big turning point was brought about by the Congress of Nicaea in
AD 325. Constantine, a great supporter of the Christian religion,
although not converting to it until the time of his decease,
gathered together 2,000 leading figures in the world of theology,
the idea being to bring about the advent of Christianity as the
official state religion of Rome. It was out of this assembly that
Jesus was formally declared to be the Son of God, and Saviour of
Mankind, another slain saviour god, bringing up the tally of slain
god-men to seventeen, of which Mithra, together with such men as Bel
and Osiris, was included.
Just as Nicaea can be regarded as the birthplace of Christianity, so
too it can be regarded as the graveyard of what we imagine Jesus
taught. From that time onwards, Christianity was to absorb the
superstitions of Mithraism, and many other older religions, and what
was believed to have happened to earlier saviour gods, was made to
centre around the Nazarene. The coming of Christianity under state
control was to preserve it as a religion, and was the death knell of
all other sects and cults within the Roman Empire.
Had Constantine decided to retain Mithraism as the official state
religion, instead of putting Christianity in its place, it would
have been the latter that would have been obliterated. To
Constantine however, Christianity had one great advantage, it
preached that repentant sinners would be forgiven their sins,
provided that they were converted Christians at the time of their
Passing, and Constantine had much to be forgiven for, He personally
did not convert to the new religion until he was on his death bed,
the reason being that only sins committed following conversion were
accountable, so all sins committed by a convert, prior to
conversion, didn't matter, and he could hardly have sinned too much
whilst he was lying on his death bed. Mithraism could not offer the
same comfort to a man like Constantine, who was regarded as being
one of the worst mass-murderers of his time.
The Emperor Julian, who followed Constantine, went back to
Mithraism, but his short reign of only two years could not change
what Constantine had decreed. His defeat, and death, at the hands of
the Persians, was used by the Christians as an argument in favour of
the new, against the old, being looked upon as an omen that
Christianity had divine approval. If Julian had been spared to reign
some years longer, the entire history of international religion
would almost certainly have been different.
Under Emperor Jovian, who followed Julian, the substitution of
Christianity for Mithraism made further progress, and old Pagan
beliefs, like the Virgin Birth, Baptism and Holy Trinity, became
generally accepted as the basis of the state religion. The early
Christian idea of Unitarianism was quickly squashed in favour of
Trinitarianism, and those who refused to accept the Holy Trinity
were put to the sword, the beginning of mass slaughter in the name
of religion, which was to go on for centuries.
Ref. Mercian Order of St.George
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