How should we answer this?

Just read through some anti-Christianity articles and there was one thread that i am not sure how to answer, partly because it’s an area that as yet i have not had time to study.

It states that Christianity has borrowed it’s central beliefs from other older ancient religions which it says are full of virgin births, tripartite gods, mankind saving messiah’s in human form, heaven and hell. The example it cited was Mithra.

I remember CS Lewis saying that God left mankind ‘sweet dreams’ by which i think he meant spiritual beliefs that pointed towards the coming of Christ and his saving work, is that how we answer?

Here is Lutheran Satire’s slightly sarcastic answer to this question.

Here is Lutheran Satire’s answer.

Isn’t that essentially a post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy?

The Pagans and the Jews both offered sacrifice to their God on their altars. Did the Jews copy the Pagans or the other way around? God created the Pagans as well as all of us. Being made in the image and likeness of our Creator equipped us with a desire to offer to a Creator that transcended ourselves. There certainly are similarities of religious practice between cultures even if the object is not the same. Some were “imperfect”. There were also similarities in every other walk of life between cultures too.

The question you’re asking is one put forth by those that seek to find similarity and then use it to discredit one group by drawing conclusions to back their own ideology. Some efforts are completely false and some partially false, but the reality is Pagans did not worship Jesus Christ as the object of their worship regardless of method. Christians do.

If you carry a wallet that was “all the rage” in France, are now a Frenchman?

Judaism is hardly copied from paganism. Judaism was distinct. They stood out in the world, which is why they were so persecuted. Nor was Christ suddenly invented by men copying pagan traditions. That is absurd. Christianity came about and was spread very quickly by men who were quite willing to be martyred for their new Faith. This is not consistent with a mere invention.

That said, the pagan religions may well have had some elements of truth in them.

Aside from the other great answers you’ve received so far, similarity doesn’t prove “copycat.” It’s a statistical principle that correlation doesn’t prove causation.

More importantly, though, the central tenets of Christianity (we’ll say Catholicism here, for clarity) are radically different than the Pagan doppelgangers. While there may have been Pagan tripartite gods, they were essentially different from the doctrine of the Trinity. Even Brahma, the Hindu trinity, is essentially different, whereby Shiva and Vishnu (and all the sub-gods) were “modes” of “forms” of Brahma, which is the heresy of Modalism in Christianity.

And again, Christ as Saviour is essentially different from any Pagan beliefs. He saves us from human sin, whereas all other saviours save us from some external evil.

And again, Christ as a Son of God, or a “God-man” is essentially different from the Pagan counterparts. Christianity professes that Jesus is fully human, as well as fully God. The Pagan counterparts are half human-half god.

And again, resurrection stories in Pagan mythologies are essentially different from the Christian claim. This is for various reasons, but the main one is that Christ’s victory over death has implications for every human person, not so with the Pagan legends.

You can do this sort of thing with every example. Among the different Pagan mythologies, you had similar stories, and they were basically the same content. However, when you arrive at Christianity, many of the stories may appear similar on the surface, but are dramatically different when you understand what each story is about.

Yes, C.S. Lewis did talk about this, and I think the Church does too. All of history points toward Christ. All time before Christ pointed forward to Him. All time after Christ looks back toward Him. Pre-Christ religion prefigured Him. Post-Christ religion attempts to mimic Him, or usurp Him, in some way.

It is truly fascinating to learn about the Zoroastrian God Mithra and how the Persians brought it to Rome. But if one looks into these things seriously, it appears that it was the other way around.

What I mean is that the real similarities between Jesus and Mithra appear AFTER Christ (200 AD). So it is the Pagans who worshiped Mithra who borrowed what they learned from Christianity and incorporated it.

It is common for Pagan religious (being pantheistic) to freely incorporate other people’s God’s. Especially the successful ones.

Sorry, but your anti-Christian folks simply have it exactly backwards.

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