By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)
In this last article on the “Copycat” series, I want to suggest that we can quickly disprove the theory that Christianity borrowed its’ teachings from the pagan religions by showing that many of the alleged “parallels” are exaggerated to the point of ridiculousness to quickly show that these alleged “parallels” are twisted flights of imagination, designed to try and discredit Christianity by makings such’ claims.
For example, some of the copycat conspiracy theorists claim that the Virgin birth of the Gospel of Matthew is borrowing from the stories of Mithras and other alleged pagan gods.
Supposedly, Mithras was born of a virgin long before Christ Jesus!
What’s more, there are many more “similarities” between these pagan religions and Christianity which the Christians simply MUST have borrowed from!
Well, let’s take a look.
Timothy Paul Jones, in examining the claim that Christians borrowed several key elements of Christianity from the pagan story of Mithras, tells us:
“Can we really be so certain? Do these pagan parallels mean that Christian concepts were borrowed from previous religions? Do such parallels disprove the presentation of Jesus’s life that’s found in the New Testament? Not really. In the first place, the supposed parallels are not nearly as parallel as the skeptics suppose. When the original sources of the pagan legends are closely examined, they typically have little in common with the New Testament narratives. For example, there are dying and rising gods in some earlier religions, but these deities died and arose each year, certainly not the same pattern as Jesus’s once-for-all sacrifice for the sake of others!16 The pagan tales of miraculous birth are closer to divine impregnation—a mortal woman conceives a child as a result of sexual relations with a god—than to the virginal conception described in the Gospel according to Matthew and Luke. What about the Mithras legend? The birth in a cave with shepherds in attendance? The birth of Mithras was, to say the least, very different from anything that’s found in the New Testament. In the first place, Mithras was birthed from solid stone, and … well … he got stuck on the way through. (I guess you could say he got off to a rocky start.) So, some nearby folk who may have been shepherds intervened and pulled him from the stone.17 Yet some writers continue to connect his birth in a cave, assisted by some people who might have been shepherds, to the birth of Jesus in a stable with shepherds arriving soon afterward. A few critics even continue to call this birth of Mithras a “virgin birth”!18 I must admit that this vexes me even more at a biological level than at a historical level. I guess that birth from a rock is sort of a virgin birth, but how can you tell if a rock is a virgin, anyway? And how, precisely, do rocks lose their virginity? Parallels of this sort are simply too vague to support the claim that Christians borrowed their beliefs from pagans of previous generations.” (Timothy Paul Jones, Conspiracies And The Cross, 2080-2100 (Kindle Edition); Lake Mary, Florida; FrontLine)
We are told that the Christians borrowed these ideas from the pagans, but look at what the critics have to do: they have to twist the pagan stories to try and make their claims fit!
Several other examples could be cited.
For example, some claim that there are “parallels” between Krishna and Christ, and that the Christians stole these ideas from Hinduism.
Notice the real facts:
“One of the first candidates mentioned by Bill Maher in his documentary was the deity Krishna, who is one of the most popular Hindu gods. In Hinduism, Krisha is believed to be the incarnation of the god Vishnu. He is commonly depicted in Eastern art as a blue child. As mentioned, Maher listed several specific parallels between Krisha’s story and Jesus, including the virgin birth, working as a carpenter (the actual claim is that Krishna’s father worked as a carpenter), and being baptized in a river. These same assertions have been made by the usual suspects of myth proponents. They also claim that Krishna was crucified, rose from the dead, and shared with Jesus numerous other commonalities. This small circle of writers and fringe scholars promote books without references to any primary sources, which is understandable since none of their claims have any basis in reality. For instance, the birth narrative in the Hindu text states that Krishna’s mother already had seven children before delivering him, so she certainly was not a virgin. The birth stories also do not explicitly mention that the mother was divinely impregnated. 17 Likewise, the claim about Krishna’s being born of a carpenter was simply made up. His father was a nobleman. 18 Nor do any records exist of his being baptized in a river. Likewise, no texts claim that Krishna was crucified or resurrected. He was, instead, killed mistakenly by a hunter named Jara, and then his soul left his body. 19 The only identified parallels of any substance come from texts that were written hundreds of years after the Gospels, when Hindus began copying Christianity. 20 To summarize, the claims about the parallels between Jesus and Krishna match those with Horus, in that they fall into the categories mentioned previously: • Similarities so superficial that they represent characteristics common to many religions, such as the presence of miracles. Therefore, they provide no evidence of copying. • Parallels that are more substantial are based on gross misrepresentations of the original texts or simply made up. • Parallels that are substantial and based on legitimate historical sources were written long after the first century. The only copying would have been pagans borrowing from the Christians.” (Rice Broocks, Man, Myth, Messiah: Answering History’s Greatest Question, 135-136. (Kindle Edition); Nashville, Tn; W. Publishing Group)
The more I have studied the “Copycat” theory, the more I realize just how much these alleged “parallels” are twisted to try and establish the charges against the Bible.
However, when one carefully studies, he will see the truth about these matters. What is the biggest difference between Christianity and the pagan religions?
In a nutshell, it is the word “proof.”
The teachings and claims of the Bible have been continually confirmed and proven by the findings of archaeology.
As one former skeptic of the Bible, William Ramsay, learned when he seriously studied these subjects:
“First, let me share with you the story of Sir William M. Ramsay (1851-1939), famed as the once-skeptical New Testament scholar and archaeologist who became a staunch believer in the historical accuracy of the New Testament. He was educated in Scotland (University of Aberdeen) erdeen) and England (Oxford University), during which time he became enamored with the extremely critical scholarship of the F. C. Baur school of Tubingen, Germany. As a result of this, in 1890, he embarked on a journey through the biblical lands in order to confirm the historical errors rors of the New Testament writers. To his great surprise, he found that, at point after point, archeological data and sound historical scholarship confirmed the accuracy of the New Testament authors, and he wrote several important volumes that are still used to this day.95 Subsequent scholarship over the last century has brought further confirmation to Ramsay’s writings.” (Michael Brown, Answering Jewish Objections To Jesus-Volume Four-New Testament Objections, Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Books)
Don’t be deceived by the copycat theories my friends.
Jesus Christ, the unique Son of God, came to this world to die on the Cross of Calvary for mankind’s sins (Matthew 20:28). He died for each of us (1 Timothy 2:6), was buried, and arose from the dead on the third day as verified by over five hundred witnesses (1 Corinthians 15:1-8).
He calls upon all sinners to turn to Him to be saved (Matthew 11:28-30). Believers are told:
Acts 2:38-Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Will you not today turn to the Lord Jesus Christ?
If you are an erring child of God who has left the Lord, why not return to Him this very instant through repentance and prayer?
The Bible tells Christians:
1 John 1:9-If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.