I’ve read in various Protestant books and websites, as well as been told by several Protestant friends, that the Catholic Church is largely pagan. They claim that the original church that Yeshua (Jesus) founded was corrupted over the centuries and evolved into the Catholic Church. They maintain that the real church died out to almost nothing, with only a few underground believers in hiding. Then, the Protestant Reformation allowed these underground believers to “come out”, and the real church was restored.
Also, I’ve had several Protestant (and even non-Christian) friends tell me that Christmas and Easter are actually pagan holidays. They claim that the Church adopted the pagan holiday of Yule and changed its name to Christmas, and decided to celebrate the birth of Messiah on this day. Furthermore, several people have told me that Easter is actually a celebration of the pagan goddess Ishtar (Where the name Easter supposedly comes from).
Ishtar is a Semitic divine name from the Mesopotamia of (roughly) 2500 BC - how did it come to be known in Western Europe, which has different languages, different religions, and a different culture from Mesopotamia ?
Why would a feast which is supposedly in honour of Christ’s Resurrection, be named after a Babylonian goddess ? Why would the Church want to honour her ?
The idea is ingenious - but it does not make sense. People can claim anything they want - to be convincing, they have to show some evidence. ##
They claim the Church took this holiday, changed it’s name to Easter, and started celebrating the Resurrection on this day. I’ve been told by several Protestant friends that this is further evidence of the Catholic Church’s paganism.
I also read in “Are We Living in the End Times” by Tim Lahaye that the Madonna and Child is actually the ancient Babylonian goddess Tammuz and her child,
That is silly. FWIW, that idea as quoted is unusually interesting, because Tammuz is usually the name of the child. To give a name meaning “true son” to a goddess, is like calling one’s daughter Julius or Habakkuk, or one’s son, Stephanie. What are Lahaye’s words ?
There was a god named Tammuz - he was a vegetation- god, and is best known for the myths which associate him with the goddess Inana (the Sumerian equivalent of the Semitic goddess Ishtar). “Tammuz” is the Semitic form of the Sumerian name “Dumuzi” - true, or, legitimate, son.
His mother is either Duttur or Sirtur - apparently a deified ewe. She is seldom mentioned in what texts remain: Inana his wife is far more important, with his sister Geshtinana and his brother-in-law Utu the sun-god.
He is identified with the child-god Damu in some texts - but as the two gods have nothing in common, a different meaning may be intended: not “My Damu” but, “My child”. There is also a deity Dumuzi-abzu, of indeterminate sex - at one place a goddess, at another a god.
What there is no evidence for in Babylonia, is a “Babylonian Madonna” - a goddess nursing a male child- god. Apart from anything else, there were so many gods in Babylonia - about 3000 names are known - that the context for such a thing would be entirely different from the context in a strictly monotheistic religion such as Christianity is.
and the title “Queen of Heaven” comes from this very same Babylonian goddess.
No one knows for sure who the QoH is - her worship has described in Jeremiah 7 and 44 has nearly nothing in common with the honour shown to Mary (the usual reason for mentioning the QoH)
Even if Mary and Ishtar (or some other goddess) share titles, so does Christ with some gods. Does “Zeus the Saviour” make Christ any less our Saviour ? Of course not. What matters, is not the words as such, but the meaning the words are intended to express.
Besides - why should not Ishtar (or whoever is meant) be less fitly called QoH than Mary ? IOW - the genuine Saviour is not Zeus, but Christ; the genuine QoH is not a goddess, but the humble virgin who bore God. IOW - Mary is the Divinely-intended woman of whom the goddesses Ishtar, Nanaya, Isis and the rest are approximations: because Christ is the Saviour of whom other saviours were approximations. ##
Can someone help me understand, refute, etc. these allegations? Does anyone have any insights? Thanks.
Shalom Ha Moshiach!
It’s a popular thesis, which is complicated by the fact that one man’s “Babylonian abomination” is another’s “usage of non-Christian origin which is nonetheless tolerable in the Church”.