Menu of Meditations

Christianity is Really Paulinism

Tim C. Leedom has edited a book entitled "The Book Your Church Doesn't Want You To Read." Among other historical insights, the book reminds us that there have been at least twenty other "Messiahs" in religions preceding Christianity.

Many of these earlier Messiahs have purportedly descended from heaven, become human, worked miracles, arranged for the salvation of the world and then ascended back into heaven. Others were said to have been born of virgins, some were crucified, and nearly all were worshipped as sons of God. Information such as this reveals that the thought patterns which most Christians have always accepted were not original to the Christian faith, but were largely adopted from earlier pagan religions.

A chapter which caught my attention is entitled, "Paul: First Christian Heretic." It states that, for the first three-and-a-half centuries of the Christian era, the new religion's greatest rival was Mithraism, the most powerful pagan faith in the Empire. It was eventually suppressed by the church, but the most telling reason for its decline was the fact that Christianity adopted many of its pagan beliefs.

Tarsus, Paul's original home, was one of the chief centers of Mathra worship. Paul had been immersed in Mithraic concepts from his earliest years. One idea in particular must have caught his attention -- that of a sacrificial person who is offered as an atonement for sin. This is a very old concept, which can be seen in other primitive religions where young virgins, for instance, were thrown into the mouths of volcanoes to appease the gods of the region.

It is interesting to note that this idea is not found in the teachings of Jesus. He preached a new birth of the human soul. Paul, by contrast, preached an old idea which combined Mithraic concepts with Jewish animal sacrifice -- priest, altar, bloodshed. Paul saw Jesus as the spotless Passover lamb who was sacrificed to satisfy the demands of a hostile god.

The chapter concludes with this statement: "Paul…chose to ignore [the teachings of Jesus.] Instead he presented to the Gentile world a mystery religion in which he transformed Jesus into a divine spirit who existed before the world began and who had gone away to prepare the kingdom of God, not on this earth but in the world of the hereafter." The writer points out that the original disciples (who had studied with Jesus) did not accept Paul (who had not) as a true believer, but considered him a heretic.

So, in fact, the church for all these years has been teaching Paulinism rather than the simple truth of Christ. Jesus claimed that we were potentially his equals. Paul said that we are all doomed to hell. Who would you rather believe?

Posted 6-01-05

Copyright: John W. Sloat 2005