In ancient pre Christian religions there are differing concepts of heaven and hell that are sometimes similar to the Christian concept of heaven and hell. But why is this? Did God reveal Himself to these cultures, but they distorted the truth? That’s my hypothesis, what is your opinion?
St. Thomas Aquinas said that mankind can know God through reason alone. Mankind has always sought the divine, usually getting it wrong, but sometimes getting it right (or, at least, certain aspects of it).
Sometimes people figure the same stuff out without there being any relationship. Calculus, for example, was developed by Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz in the same timeframe but without any knowledge of the other’s work.
Scripture even speaks of the moral law written on the hearts of Gentiles who did not have the revelation special to the Jews, so I don’t think it’s so much that God gave them the same revelation but that they “distorted” it. One could argue they had less to work with, yet still discerned truths by whatever graces or observation of the natural world enlightened them.
See also: *The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men. Indeed, she proclaims, and ever must proclaim Christ “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), in whom men may find the fullness of religious life, in whom God has reconciled all things to Himself.(4)
The Church, therefore, exhorts her sons, that through dialogue and collaboration with the followers of other religions, carried out with prudence and love and in witness to the Christian faith and life, they recognize, preserve and promote the good things, spiritual and moral, as well as the socio-cultural values found among these men. (Nostra Aetate, #2)*That document is all about the Church’s relationship to non-Christian religions.
At risk of stating the obvious, I would simply say that as our cultures seek and evolve over the centuries, we learn more truths as we go and move forward.
Some information we discard along the way if it no longer makes sense; others, we take with us to the next level.
The Christian religion didn’t come out of nowhere; the other religions before it provided a base or jumping off point, for lack of better phrase.
Are you possibly thinking that no truth was ever realized before 2000 years ago?
For many people, the observation is that Christianity has many pagan elements.
So??? If a Christian Church incorporates an arch (a Roman design element), is it somehow a pagan church?