C. Leedom has edited a book entitled "The Book
Your Church Doesn't Want You To Read." Among other
historical insights, the book reminds us that there
have been at least twenty other "Messiahs"
in religions preceding Christianity.
of these earlier Messiahs have purportedly descended
from heaven, become human, worked miracles, arranged
for the salvation of the world and then ascended back
into heaven. Others were said to have been born of virgins,
some were crucified, and nearly all were worshipped
as sons of God. Information such as this reveals that
the thought patterns which most Christians have always
accepted were not original to the Christian faith, but
were largely adopted from earlier pagan religions.
chapter which caught my attention is entitled, "Paul:
First Christian Heretic." It states that, for the
first three-and-a-half centuries of the Christian era,
the new religion's greatest rival was Mithraism, the
most powerful pagan faith in the Empire. It was eventually
suppressed by the church, but the most telling reason
for its decline was the fact that Christianity adopted
many of its pagan beliefs.
Paul's original home, was one of the chief centers of
Mathra worship. Paul had been immersed in Mithraic concepts
from his earliest years. One idea in particular must
have caught his attention -- that of a sacrificial person
who is offered as an atonement for sin. This is a very
old concept, which can be seen in other primitive religions
where young virgins, for instance, were thrown into
the mouths of volcanoes to appease the gods of the region.
is interesting to note that this idea is not found in
the teachings of Jesus. He preached a new birth of the
human soul. Paul, by contrast, preached an old idea
which combined Mithraic concepts with Jewish animal
sacrifice -- priest, altar, bloodshed. Paul saw Jesus
as the spotless Passover lamb who was sacrificed to
satisfy the demands of a hostile god.
chapter concludes with this statement: "Paul
to ignore [the teachings of Jesus.] Instead he presented
to the Gentile world a mystery religion in which he
transformed Jesus into a divine spirit who existed before
the world began and who had gone away to prepare the
kingdom of God, not on this earth but in the world of
the hereafter." The writer points out that the
original disciples (who had studied with Jesus) did
not accept Paul (who had not) as a true believer, but
considered him a heretic.
in fact, the church for all these years has been teaching
Paulinism rather than the simple truth of Christ. Jesus
claimed that we were potentially his equals. Paul said
that we are all doomed to hell. Who would you rather
John W. Sloat 2005