Difference between revisions of "Is Christianity based on myth?"

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According to Bart Ehrman, an agnostic scholar who wrote a book entitled "''Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth''", there are so many independent attestations of Jesus' existence, that it is actually "astounding for an ancient figure of any kind".  Ehrman dismisses the idea that the story of Jesus was an invention based on pagan myths of dying-and-rising gods, maintaining that the early Christians were primarily influenced by Jewish ideas, not Greek or Roman ones.  Ehrman repeatedly insists that the idea that there was never such a person as Jesus is not seriously considered by historians or experts in the field at all.<ref>Ehrman, Bart D. (2012). Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth.</ref>
 
According to Bart Ehrman, an agnostic scholar who wrote a book entitled "''Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth''", there are so many independent attestations of Jesus' existence, that it is actually "astounding for an ancient figure of any kind".  Ehrman dismisses the idea that the story of Jesus was an invention based on pagan myths of dying-and-rising gods, maintaining that the early Christians were primarily influenced by Jewish ideas, not Greek or Roman ones.  Ehrman repeatedly insists that the idea that there was never such a person as Jesus is not seriously considered by historians or experts in the field at all.<ref>Ehrman, Bart D. (2012). Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth.</ref>
  
=Did the resurrection take place?=
+
=Similarities to ancient mythical figures=
  
 +
Numerous examples can be given of Krishna, Attis, Dionysus, and other mythological gods having clear similarities to the story of Jesus, but the result is always the same. In the end, the historical Jesus portrayed in the Bible is unique. The alleged similarities of Jesus’ story to pagan myths are wildly exaggerated.
  
 +
Further, while tales of Horus, Mithras, and others pre-date Christianity, there is very little historical record of the pre-Christian beliefs of those religions. The vast majority of the earliest writings of these religions date from the third and fourth centuries A.D. To assume that the pre-Christian beliefs of these religions (of which there is no record) were identical to their post-Christian beliefs is naive. It is more logical to attribute any similarities between these religions and Christianity to the religions’ copying Christian teaching about Jesus.<ref>Got Questions Ministries, Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2002–2013).</ref>
  
 +
Here are a couple of specific examples:
  
 +
==The Horus Myth==
 +
 +
The movie, Zeitgeist, makes these claims about the Egyptian god, Horus:
 +
 +
*He was born on December 25 of a virgin: Isis Mary
 +
*A star in the East proclaimed his arrival
 +
*Three kings came to adore the newborn “savior”
 +
*He became a child prodigy teacher at age 12
 +
*At age 30 he was “baptized” and began a “ministry”
 +
*Horus had twelve “disciples”
 +
*Horus was betrayed
 +
*He was crucified
 +
*He was buried for three days
 +
*He was resurrected after three days
 +
 +
However, when the actual writings about Horus are competently examined, this is what we find:
 +
 +
*Horus was born to Isis; there is no mention in history of her being called “Mary.” Moreover, “Mary” is our Anglicized form of her real name, Miryam or Miriam. “Mary” was not even used in the original texts of Scripture.
 +
*Isis was not a virgin; she was the widow of Osiris and conceived Horus with Osiris.
 +
*Horus was born during month of Khoiak (Oct/Nov), not December 25. Further, there is no mention in the Bible as to Christ’s actual birth date.
 +
*There is no record of three kings visiting Horus at his birth. The Bible never states the actual number of magi that came to see Christ.
 +
*Horus is not a “savior” in any way; he did not die for anyone.
 +
*There are no accounts of Horus being a teacher at the age of 12.
 +
*Horus was not “baptized.” The only account of Horus that involves water is one story where Horus is torn to pieces, with Isis requesting the crocodile god to fish him out of the water.
 +
*Horus did not have a “ministry.”
 +
*Horus did not have 12 disciples. According to the Horus accounts, Horus had four demigods that followed him, and there are some indications of 16 human followers and an unknown number of blacksmiths that went into battle with him.
 +
*There is no account of Horus being betrayed by a friend.
 +
*Horus did not die by crucifixion. There are various accounts of Horus’ death, but none of them involve crucifixion.
 +
*There is no account of Horus being buried for three days.
 +
*Horus was not resurrected. There is no account of Horus coming out of the grave with the body he went in with. Some accounts have Horus/Osiris being brought back to life by Isis and then becoming the lord of the underworld.
 +
 +
When compared side by side, Jesus and Horus bear little, if any, resemblance to one another.<ref>Got Questions Ministries, Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2002–2013).</ref>
 +
 +
==What about Mithras?==
 +
 +
Jesus is also compared to Mithras by those claiming that Jesus Christ is a myth. All the above descriptions of Horus are applied to Mithras (e.g., born of a virgin, being crucified, rising in three days, etc.). But what does the Mithras myth actually say?
 +
 +
*He was born out of a solid rock, not from any woman.
 +
*He battled first with the sun and then with a primeval bull, thought to be the first act of creation. Mithras killed the bull, which then became the ground of life for the human race.
 +
*Mithras’s birth was celebrated on December 25, along with winter solstice.
 +
*There is no mention of his being a great teacher.
 +
*There is no mention of Mithras having 12 disciples. The idea that Mithras had 12 disciples may have come from a mural in which Mithras is surrounded by the twelve signs of the zodiac.
 +
*Mithras had no bodily resurrection. Rather, when Mithras completed his earthly mission, he was taken to paradise in a chariot, alive and well. The early Christian writer Tertullian did write about Mithraic cultists re-enacting resurrection scenes, but this occurred well after New Testament times, so if any copycatting was done, it was Mithraism copying Christianity.<ref>Got Questions Ministries, Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2002–2013).</ref>
  
 
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Revision as of 21:08, 4 December 2019

Some people who leave the message (or another Christian cult) move on to reject any concept of God. They are opposed to the very concept of Christianity as a result of their prior bad experiences and become atheists or agnostics. This is quite understandable given the deception, lies and spiritual abuse they experienced while in the message.

The purpose of this series of articles is to present a reasoned response to some of the questions relating to Christianity and God that former ex-message followers have presented to us. We certainly understand their pain and how this has led them to doubt the existence of God and the good news that Jesus Christ brought to the world.

Click on the link below to go to the specific topic. You are currently in the article that is in bold.

Questions raised:


Some ex-message followers come to the conclusion (in our view, incorrectly) that, since William Branham has been largely shown to have been a fraud,n the same conclusion can be made about Jesus - the New Testament is not factual but simply a collection of legends regarding Jesus.

Did Jesus exist?

We have had ex-message followers tell us that they do not believe Jesus even existed.

So let's start with the historical question: Did Jesus exist?

People who deny the existence of Jesus are referred to as "mythicists." But it is interesting to note that no reputable scholars believe that the mythicists are correct.

Cornelius Tacitus was a Roman historian who lived approximately between AD 56 and 120. Historian Robert Van Voorst says Tacitus “is generally considered the greatest Roman historian” and his Annals is his “finest work and generally acknowledged by modern historians as our best source of information about this period.” His Annals dates back to the time of Augustus through Nero.

The writings of Tacitus confirm the New Testament accounts that Jesus’ crucifixion happened when Tiberius was emperor and Pilate was his appointed leader in Judea. Tacitus also confirms the spread of Christianity after Christ’s death and points to the continued growth of Christianity in the years shortly after Jesus died as reported in the New Testament book of Acts. [1]

Flavius Josephus was a Jewish politician, soldier, and historian who lived around AD 37–100. He is considered the single most important Jewish historian of the ancient world. Antiquities of the Jews was written by Josephus to explain the Jewish people and their beliefs to Romans in an effort to reduce anti-Jewish bigotry. His writing is so influential that historians agree that all discussions regarding the Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, and Qumran community must take Josephus into account.

Among other things in his writings, Josephus verifies that a man named James was put to death, that he was Jesus’ brother, and that this Jesus was called the Christ. He also attests that Jesus was the founder of the Christian movement and that he had been condemned by the ruling priests and crucified by the Roman governor Pontius Pilate.[2]

According to Bart Ehrman, an agnostic scholar who wrote a book entitled "Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth", there are so many independent attestations of Jesus' existence, that it is actually "astounding for an ancient figure of any kind". Ehrman dismisses the idea that the story of Jesus was an invention based on pagan myths of dying-and-rising gods, maintaining that the early Christians were primarily influenced by Jewish ideas, not Greek or Roman ones. Ehrman repeatedly insists that the idea that there was never such a person as Jesus is not seriously considered by historians or experts in the field at all.[3]

Similarities to ancient mythical figures

Numerous examples can be given of Krishna, Attis, Dionysus, and other mythological gods having clear similarities to the story of Jesus, but the result is always the same. In the end, the historical Jesus portrayed in the Bible is unique. The alleged similarities of Jesus’ story to pagan myths are wildly exaggerated.

Further, while tales of Horus, Mithras, and others pre-date Christianity, there is very little historical record of the pre-Christian beliefs of those religions. The vast majority of the earliest writings of these religions date from the third and fourth centuries A.D. To assume that the pre-Christian beliefs of these religions (of which there is no record) were identical to their post-Christian beliefs is naive. It is more logical to attribute any similarities between these religions and Christianity to the religions’ copying Christian teaching about Jesus.[4]

Here are a couple of specific examples:

The Horus Myth

The movie, Zeitgeist, makes these claims about the Egyptian god, Horus:

  • He was born on December 25 of a virgin: Isis Mary
  • A star in the East proclaimed his arrival
  • Three kings came to adore the newborn “savior”
  • He became a child prodigy teacher at age 12
  • At age 30 he was “baptized” and began a “ministry”
  • Horus had twelve “disciples”
  • Horus was betrayed
  • He was crucified
  • He was buried for three days
  • He was resurrected after three days

However, when the actual writings about Horus are competently examined, this is what we find:

  • Horus was born to Isis; there is no mention in history of her being called “Mary.” Moreover, “Mary” is our Anglicized form of her real name, Miryam or Miriam. “Mary” was not even used in the original texts of Scripture.
  • Isis was not a virgin; she was the widow of Osiris and conceived Horus with Osiris.
  • Horus was born during month of Khoiak (Oct/Nov), not December 25. Further, there is no mention in the Bible as to Christ’s actual birth date.
  • There is no record of three kings visiting Horus at his birth. The Bible never states the actual number of magi that came to see Christ.
  • Horus is not a “savior” in any way; he did not die for anyone.
  • There are no accounts of Horus being a teacher at the age of 12.
  • Horus was not “baptized.” The only account of Horus that involves water is one story where Horus is torn to pieces, with Isis requesting the crocodile god to fish him out of the water.
  • Horus did not have a “ministry.”
  • Horus did not have 12 disciples. According to the Horus accounts, Horus had four demigods that followed him, and there are some indications of 16 human followers and an unknown number of blacksmiths that went into battle with him.
  • There is no account of Horus being betrayed by a friend.
  • Horus did not die by crucifixion. There are various accounts of Horus’ death, but none of them involve crucifixion.
  • There is no account of Horus being buried for three days.
  • Horus was not resurrected. There is no account of Horus coming out of the grave with the body he went in with. Some accounts have Horus/Osiris being brought back to life by Isis and then becoming the lord of the underworld.

When compared side by side, Jesus and Horus bear little, if any, resemblance to one another.[5]

What about Mithras?

Jesus is also compared to Mithras by those claiming that Jesus Christ is a myth. All the above descriptions of Horus are applied to Mithras (e.g., born of a virgin, being crucified, rising in three days, etc.). But what does the Mithras myth actually say?

  • He was born out of a solid rock, not from any woman.
  • He battled first with the sun and then with a primeval bull, thought to be the first act of creation. Mithras killed the bull, which then became the ground of life for the human race.
  • Mithras’s birth was celebrated on December 25, along with winter solstice.
  • There is no mention of his being a great teacher.
  • There is no mention of Mithras having 12 disciples. The idea that Mithras had 12 disciples may have come from a mural in which Mithras is surrounded by the twelve signs of the zodiac.
  • Mithras had no bodily resurrection. Rather, when Mithras completed his earthly mission, he was taken to paradise in a chariot, alive and well. The early Christian writer Tertullian did write about Mithraic cultists re-enacting resurrection scenes, but this occurred well after New Testament times, so if any copycatting was done, it was Mithraism copying Christianity.[6]


Footnotes

  1. Josh McDowell and Sean McDowell, Evidence That Demands a Verdict: Life-Changing Truth for a Skeptical World (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2017).
  2. Josh McDowell and Sean McDowell, Evidence That Demands a Verdict: Life-Changing Truth for a Skeptical World (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2017).
  3. Ehrman, Bart D. (2012). Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth.
  4. Got Questions Ministries, Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2002–2013).
  5. Got Questions Ministries, Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2002–2013).
  6. Got Questions Ministries, Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2002–2013).


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