Paganism In Christianity Essay

This essay has a total of 3210 words and 15 pages.

Paganism In Christianity

Religions across the globe have their own distinctive rites and rituals, idols,
traditions, and values. Each have in common a desire to explain something unexplainable by
common wisdom, or attributing some aspect of life to some higher power. Many religions
have at their heart etiological stories, which explain some sort of natural phenomenon
through the physical manifestation of their deity or deities. From high winds and
thunderstorms to love, fertility, and the sun, such religions focus on the physical world
in this life. Other religions try to explain the "next" life or the afterlife. These
religions usually give a moral code to live by, with stricter adherence to this code
offering a better afterlife.

So, aside from obvious differences in practice and ritual, not all religions even address
the same issues. In the online Merriam-Webster Dictionary, religion is officially defined

1 : the service and worship of God or the supernatural
2 : commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance
3 : a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and

Religions have in common three things, then: first, a supernatural being to worship;
second, a commitment to this being; third, a set of rules to guide the follower through
his or her devotion.

Throughout the ancient world, there were many different peoples worshipping in many
different ways, as there still is today. Many of these religions were polytheistic in
nature, and were of the etiological type. Greco-Roman religion in particular was the basis
for a rich culture, giving rise to an extremely artistic and creative period of time.

Greece had philosophers and playwrights such as Aristotle, Socrates, Plato, and Aeschylus.
These men eloquently told of their gods, and provided ideas to strengthen the moral
character of their culture. You might almost say they were the real prophets of the time.
The Buddha guided other nations, Jesus still others. They were pioneers in their own time,
and are still revered today. These men looked deep into the heart of the human spirit, and
asked what it was to be human. Their insights have given meaning to many people's lives,
and have been the basis for many beliefs held today. These men and the cultures they came
from have heavily influenced the fields of philosophy, art, theater, architecture,
religion…war, and every individual practitioner of each.

In some ancient Asian cultures, the beauty of nature was revered over everything, and this
view became the basis of the Eastern lifestyle, creating beautiful gardens around their
homes to celebrate their harmony with life. They, too, had their heavens and hells,
deities and demi-gods.

In short, each religion differs somewhat, but they all have similarities as well. Many
stories in several classical religions share common themes or events. There are a great
many similarities between stories of Babylonian, Greek, and Christian origin. An example
of a shared event would be "the flood" story. Each of these religions tries to explain the
reason of a severe flood, which historians have found actually occurred in their shared

Christianity eventually replaced the "old" religions, mostly by means of the spread of the
Holy Roman Empire. There were many who opposed being converted, but after the remaining
members of these religions realized that failure to convert meant you were a heretic,
which meant death, the job of converting was much easier. Even then, some people did not
want others telling them how to worship. They had their rituals and customs-they didn't
want new ones. This sentiment was conveyed to the leaders of the Roman Churches, who
"bent" their rules and procedures to fit these pagan rites and rituals. A good way to
convert someone is to make him or her feel like it's the same religion. This is how
Christianity has become riddled with elements of "Paganism."

The purpose of this paper is to highlight major aspects of Christianity that have been
"borrowed" from other religions in order to show that Christianity is myth just like all
of the other "false" religions.

Perfect examples of this are the dates of Christian holidays, most notably
Christmas--December 25th. This date is widely used as the birthday of some religious
figure in many different cultures for many different people. In India, people decorate
their houses and give presents to their friends. Like Christ, Buddha is believed to have
been born on this day. Also like Christ, a virgin mother supposedly birthed him. Mithras,
god of the Persians, is also believed to have been born on the 25th of December, long
before the coming of Jesus. The Egyptians celebrated this day as the birthday of Horus,
their great savior. Another Egyptian god, Osiris, god of the underworld (again, the son of
"the holy virgin,") shared this birthday as well. The Chinese shut down most commercial
business and had great feasts on this day. In Greece, December 25th is the birthday of
Adonis*, Bacchus, and Hercules. The Scandinavians celebrated the 25th of December as the
birthday of their god Freyr.

*An interesting side note I found while researching this, I found that ceremonies of
Adonis' birthday were recorded to have taken place in the same cave in Bethlehem that is
claimed to have been the birthplace of Jesus.

. The Romans observed this day as the birthday of the god of the sun, "Natalis Solis
Invicti" ("Birthday of Sol the invincible"). On this day, they closed all the shops and
had huge parties. There were public games. Presents were exchanged. They even allowed
their slaves to go and celebrate on this day (how holy of them). Many emperors were
elevated to the level of a God in Rome; this was the god they were supposed to be an
incarnation of.

Early Celtic rituals had their sun god born on the 25th as well. The Winter Solstice was
the day of the longest night. After this, there was a "rebirth" and the God is born. At
the vernal equinox, days and nights are the same length. This was supposedly the standoff
between this sun god and the prince of darkness. Christianity conveniently adopted this
holiday as well, turning it into what is known today as Easter. The sun god wins the
standoff, and the days eventually grow longer and longer.

Ultimately, scholars believe all of these rites share a common background in the Germanic
observance of the winter solstice. The Christmas tree gains its origins here. It was
believed by pre-Christian pagans to have special powers of protection against the forces
of nature and evil spirits because it keeps its green needles throughout the winter
months. The Christmas tree is "derived from the paradise tree, symbolizing Eden, of German
mystery plays" (Abdullah 3).

Another popular holiday is Halloween. Variously called "All Hallows Eve" or "All Saint's
Day" by Christians, Halloween has its roots deep in pagan ritual. Druids, priests of
Celtic myth, believed people needed to be cleansed after they died. ""The souls of the
departed were transferred by magic to the bodies of animals. During the night of October
31, the enchanted souls were freed by the Druid god, Samhain [the god of the dead], and
taken together into the Druid heaven. This festival was always accompanied by animal and
sometimes human sacrifices and linked with all kinds of magic" (Occult ABC, Kurt Koch, p.
87)." (Gordon 1).

The Holy Cross is considered by many to be an irrefutable sign of Christianity,
particularly Catholicism. In fact, however, even this sacred icon was borrowed from pagan
ritual. It served as the symbol for the Hindu god, Agni. Hindu gods such as Siva, Brahma,
Vishnu, Krishna, Tvashtri, and Jama, also sometimes appear with this holy symbol in
paintings, drawings, and weavings. Buddhists and religious sects in Tibet also recognize
the sign of the cross as holy.

During Christ's time, the cross was associated with being cursed by God. Crucifixions
apparently didn't endear the sign of a cross to many people. Christ's symbol was actually
that of a fish! This possibly arose due to the fact that part of the Holy Meal consisted
of fish. Our modern-day cross is derived from the Egyptian "Crux Ansata," with the
original Crux-Ansata design denoting peace.

Different cultures used the cross to signify different things. In Egypt, Osiris held out
the cross to the newly dead signifying their end of mortality in exchange for the next
life. The Persian Mithra cult was comprised of members who held their own religious
crosses, each depicting a crucified hero on them.

The Holy Roman Church is known today as the Catholic Church. Catholicism is extremely
widespread across the Western World. As a child, I remember my Cousins giving the sign of
the "Father, Son, and Holy Ghost," the Holy Trinity at meals. Again, the Holy trinity was
not an original idea coming from the Christians.

The Sword In Hand organization gives the historical account as follows:
"AD 325 - In response to the Arian heresy, which denied the deity of Christ and claimed
the Holy Spirit was begotten of Christ, the First Ecumenical Council met at Nicea and
formulated the Nicean Creed." Here then is the Nicean Creed:

"Whoever will be saved shall, above all else, hold the catholic faith. Which faith, except
everyone keeps whole and undefiled, without doubt he will perish eternally. And the
catholic faith is this, that we worship one God in three Persons and three Persons in one
God, neither confusing the Persons nor dividing the Substance" (Bogusnews).

This trinity in the Christian faith represents one god. There is no separation between the
three. "They are considered to be co-eternal, co-substantial, and co-equal" (Abdullah p1).
It is believed that the Father preceded the son and the Holy Ghost. "Only the (Father) was
self-existent" (p1). Buddhism and Hinduism both have their own versions of the trinity.

Hindus have their version of the divine trinity called "Tri-murti" which means "three
forms" consisting of Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva. This is an inseparable unity even though
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