Saturday, March 4, 2017

Does the Bible approve of slavery?

The Apostle Paul writes in three different letters on the topic of slavery and, in no instance, does he denounce the practice. To the Ephesians, he writes:
“Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ” (Ephesians 6:5).
To the Colossians:
“Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart” (Colossians 3:22).
And, to Philemon:
“For perhaps he was for this reason separated from you for a while, that you would have him back forever, no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a beloved brother, especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord
(Philemon 15-16).
In fact, Paul sent Onesimus, a slave, back to his former master Philemon. Doesn’t that demonstrate that Paul approved of slavery?

How widespread was slavery?
Slavery pre-dated even first century Christianity by centuries and was widely practiced in the ancient world, from China and India to Greece and Rome. And, most cultures were accepting of the practice.[1] Some examples of slavery practiced in the ancient world include Egypt, where slaves were widely used for many purposes, including the building of the pyramids. Genesis 37 and 39 recount the story of Joseph, who was sold to traders[2] and purchased by an Egyptian.[3] In that instance, Joseph was apparently treated well.[4] During the war between the Persians and the Greeks around 481 BC, both armies employed slaves as soldiers.[5] Thousands of Jews were taken into slavery in AD 70 when the Romans conquered Judea.[6] So, it is a bit disingenuous for critics to single out early Christianity for not coming out forcefully against slavery. Nonetheless, Christians certainly did vigorously oppose the practice.

Who led the abolitionist movements?
The leading force behind the abolition of slavery in the British Empire was a devout Christian, William Wilberforce (1759-1833). He joined with Thomas Clarkson and others in the campaign for the abolition of the slave trade and was, for 20 years, parliamentary leader of this movement. Abolition of the slave trade by the British Parliament was finally achieved in 1807.[7]  Wilberforce created two formal organizations in 1787: the Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade and the Society for the Reformation of Manners. His antislavery ideas arose not out of a background of secular liberalism but out of his religious beliefs.[8]

In American, one of the most well known voices in the abolitionist movement was Christian preacher Charles G. Finney (1782-1875), a leading figure in the Second Great Awakening. Finney stated:
“how could any man persist longer in its use without damning sin? So of slavery. As soon as light prevails on this subject, men can no longer go on in the same course of sustaining the system, without the greatest guilt.”[9]

Does slavery exist today?
The U. S. Department of State, in its 2006 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) annual report, stated “of the estimated 600,000 to 800,000 men, women, and children trafficked across international borders each year, approximately 80 percent are women and girls, and up to 50 percent are minors.” The report details some of the practices in specific nations, including:
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (D.P.R.K. or North Korea) is a source country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and sexual exploitation.”
Problems are also present in modern day Sudan:
“Small numbers of Sudanese girls are reportedly trafficked within Sudan for domestic servitude, as well as for commercial sexual exploitation in small brothels in internally displaced persons (IDP) camps. The terrorist rebel organization ‘Lord's Resistance Army’ (LRA) continues to abduct and forcibly conscript small numbers of children in Southern Sudan for use as cooks, porters, and combatants in its ongoing war against the Government of Uganda”
As well as in Burma:
Burmese men, women, and children are trafficked to Thailand, the People's Republic of China (the P.R.C.), Bangladesh, Malaysia, Korea, and Macau for sexual exploitation, domestic service, and forced labor -- including commercial labor.’
There are problems in many nations, even with some reports of forced labor in the United States by those promising international victims employment and educational opportunities. Many nations vigorously investigate and prosecute these cases; though, unfortunately some governments look the other way or even participate in this activity.[10]

Ideal versus permitted
One explanation for the seeming toleration for slavery in the Bible is that God’s ideal is for all people to be free, but given that slavery and similar forms of servanthood were widely practiced, He permitted the activity, with restrictions. For example, Colossians 4:1 states,
“Masters, grant to your slaves justice and fairness, knowing that you too have a Master in heaven.”
Another example of this principle of God’s dislike but toleration is found in the issue of divorce. God’s ideal is that marriage is sacred and He hates divorce[11]. However, because of the hardness of our hearts[12], God permits divorce in some situations[13].

The Bible does not approve of slavery.
Paul makes the point in Galatians that all people are equal in God’s sight:
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).
God rescued the Israelites from slavery:
“You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm” (Deut. 5:15).
The point should be made that, when Paul admonished slaves to be obedient to their masters, “he is not thereby approving of the institution of slavery, but simply alluding to the de facto situation in his day.”[14] Furthermore, Paul encouraged Philemon to accept Onesimus back to him, not as a slave, but a “beloved brother”.

What did Jesus say?
We have no record that Jesus Christ spoke of slavery directly. However, it should be noted that He did not speak of other social issues directly, such as taxation or the rule of Palestine by the Romans. In fact, though He referred to tax collectors in less than favorable terms, Jesus paid his required taxes.[15] He also recognized that the poor would always be among us as well as recognizing, though not approving of, certain political situations.[16] Jesus intentionally did not work to change the social conditions on a large scale, but sought to convert one life at a time. Once a person is born again (John 3:3), he or she then is expected to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39) and “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12). So, although Jesus may not have specifically denounced slavery, he clearly taught how we should treat other people.

When Jesus walked the earth, He sought to reach people one at a time and change the heart first. The primary message of the Bible is not a top-down approach to societal change, rather bottom-up, one soul at a time. Numerous Bible verses instruct us to treat others well; in fact, Paul wrote that we should “regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4). Paul also wrote: “The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’" (Galatians 5:14). So, whereas slavery appears to be tolerated in the Bible, mistreatment of anyone is clearly condemned. We are commanded to treat all other persons with the highest dignity and respect.

[Biblical quotations are from the NASB version unless otherwise indicated.]

[1] D’Souza, Dinesh, What’s So Great About Christianity, (Washington, DC:  Regnery Publishing, 2007), p. 70.
[2]“ Then some Midianite traders passed by, so they pulled him up and lifted Joseph out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. Thus they brought Joseph into Egypt” (Genesis 37:28).
[3] “Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an Egyptian officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the bodyguard, bought him from the Ishmaelites, who had taken him down there” (Genesis 39:1).
[4] “Joseph found favor in his sight and became his personal servant; and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he owned he put in his charge” (Genesis 39:4).
[5] Packer, J.I., Merrill C. Tenney and William White, Nelson’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Bible Facts, (Nashville, TN:  Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995), p. 151.
[6] Packer, p. 400.
[7]The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition (Columbia University Press, 2008), cited on HighBeam Encyclopedia, accessed 8 Oct 2008, <>
[8] Encyclopedia of World Biography, (Gale Group, 2004), cited on HighBeam Encyclopedia, accessed 8 Oct 2008, <>
[9] Finney, Charles G., “Guilt Modified by Ignorance – Anti-Slavery Duties”, Reprinted from The Oberlin Evangelist, 1852,  The Gospel Truth website accessed 18 Oct 2008, <>
[10] U. S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report, report dated June 5, 2006, accessed 13 Oct 2008, <>
[11]“’I hate divorce’, says the Lord God of Israel” (Malachi 2:16).
[12] “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning” (Matthew 19:8).
[13]I Corinthians 7
[14] Geisler, Norman, and Thomas Howe, When Critics Ask (Wheaton, IL:  Victor Books, 1992), 510.
[15]“When they came to Capernaum, those who collected the two-drachma tax came to Peter and said, ‘Does your teacher not pay the two-drachma tax?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, ‘What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?’ When Peter said, ‘From strangers,’ Jesus said to him, ‘Then the sons are exempt. However, so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for you and me’” (Matthew 17:24-27).
[16]‘Jesus said to them, ‘You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. ‘But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all’” (Mark 10:42-44).

Friday, March 3, 2017

Does God disapprove of sex?

Isn't God overly puritanical and out of touch with modern times in regard to sex? After all, we're so much more advanced in our understanding today than those backward unsophisticated ancient Jews, right?
Let’s clear up some inaccurate allegations from the start: God is not against sex. In fact, He created it. God is not a cosmic killjoy. The Bible is not anti-sex and neither is Christianity. That being said, I can have sex with anyone I want, right?
Some of the questions many people ask these days include:
·         If I am a Christian, can I still have sex with my boyfriend/girlfriend?
·         Is sex before marriage a sin?
·         Isn’t it a good idea to have sex with my significant other to find out if we’re compatible before getting married?
If God created sex and made it enjoyable, does it make sense to find out what He says about it? In doing that, these questions will be answered.

What does the Creator say about sex?
Sex is good, according to the first chapter of Genesis:
“God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (Genesis 1:27-28). Then, “God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good” (v.31).
So, immediately after God created a man and a woman, then directed them to “be fruitful and multiply”, He declared everything to be “very good”. The sexual relationship between Adam and Eve was part of everything that was very good.  

Moving on to the time of the second wisest man who ever lived (Jesus being the first), Solomon wrote of sexual intimacy:
“rejoice in the wife of your youth. As a loving [deer] and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; Be exhilarated always with her love” (Proverbs 5:18-19).
God wants us to be “exhilarated” with love. The Song of Solomon is a beautiful story of the rapture of intense love between a man and woman – and it’s in the Bible! That’s the Designer’s plan for sex.

What is the Designer’s best for us?
Ephesians 5 provides a powerful reason for a total, lifelong commitment between a man and woman in marriage. The Apostle Paul explains that the earthly marriage relationship should be a mirror of the relationship between Jesus Christ and the worldwide body of believers.[1] This answers the question concerning the Designer’s best plan for us:  husbands should love their wives as much as Christ loves the people who comprise the church, even to the point of giving his own life. And, in response to that, wives should be committed to their husbands and the church should be wholeheartedly and uncompromisingly committed to Christ. Though many marriages unfortunately do not adequately demonstrate that committed relationship, the design is still excellent. As with many things in this life, God’s original creation and plan are good, but humans sometimes mess it up. In this world, would guys be willing to lay down their lives for a temporary sexual partner? Would girls be willing to give total commitment to multiple boyfriends? Jesus’ enduring love for his people is meant to be the heavenly analogy for true love within marriage.

Is sex before marriage a sin?
Another related question:  Is it only a sin to have sex outside of marriage, with someone not my husband or wife? In other words, if I’m not married, then I’m not committing adultery, right? The Bible speaks of adultery, which most people would agree is a sin, but God’s word also mentions fornication. Fornication is sexual activity between people who are not married and is it a sin. The word “fornicate” in the Greek is πόρνος (pornos, Strongs # 4205), which is translated as:
“one who is sexually immoral (male or female), in some contexts distinguished from an adulterer (1 Co 6:9):-whoremongers [4], fornicators [3], fornicator [2], whoremonger [1].”[2]
The root of this Greek word is pernemi, which means “a man who prostitutes his body to another's lust for hire, a male prostitute, a man who indulges in unlawful sexual intercourse, a fornicator”.[3] Some have argued that sexual sin mentioned in the Bible only concerns adultery, but not sex between two unmarried people. Is that true?

The Bible states:
“Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4). The term “fornicators” in this verse obviously does not apply to adultery, because that is mentioned separately.
The Bible also states:
“do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals” (1 Corinthians 6:9). In this passage, adulterers and homosexuals are mentioned separately, so “fornicators” are clearly a separate category.

The Bible is very clear that sex outside of a married relationship between one man and one woman is sin and not within God’s best plan for our lives. However, even if someone does not care what God says, there are other very tangible and significant reasons for following His plan.

What’s the big deal?
If two unmarried people want to have sex and use a condom, what’s the harm? Are Christians being too old fashioned? Come on, this is the 21st century: Do you really expect people to wait for marriage? 

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention, Department of Health and Human Services, website agree with God – even in the 21st century - when addressing the topic of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs):
“The surest way to avoid transmission of sexually transmitted diseases is to abstain from sexual intercourse, or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and you know is uninfected.”[4]
This CDC factsheet then goes on to state, “For persons whose sexual behaviors place them at risk for STDs,” male latex condom usage is recommended, though “no protective method is 100 percent effective, and condom use cannot guarantee absolute protection against any STD. “[5]  

Someone may say, “That won’t happen to me. My partner and I use protection and, besides, he/she is so wonderful and faithful to me that I’ll never get an STD.” That’s what 19 million Americans thought last year, almost half of whom are between the ages of 15 and 24.[6]  Worldwide it is estimated that 340 million people will contract an STD every year.[7] A CDC study released 3/11/08 estimated that:
“one in four (26 percent) young women between the ages of 14 and 19 in the United States – or 3.2 million teenage girls – is infected with at least one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases”[8]
Condoms have been around for decades and there are still 340 million cases every year. How many STDs would be prevented if we followed God’s plan and had sexual relations only with our husband or wife?

Unwanted babies
CDC statistics track the total number of legal reported abortions performed in the United States:  A total of 848,163 legal induced abortions were reported for 2003.[9] The total number of abortions worldwide in 2003 was 42 million. Globally there were 31 abortions on average for every 100 live births.[10] Of all women and girls who become pregnant, about one in four pregnancies end in abortion. Certainly, condoms do have some effectiveness when used consistently and effectively and they are easy to obtain in schools, truck stops, and corner drug stores. The point here is not so much to debate the effectiveness of condoms, but to demonstrate that our assiduous efforts to circumvent the Designer’s perfect plan leave many unresolved issues – about 42 million yearly to be more accurate. This is not intended to condemn the women who became pregnant, but here’s a very important question to consider:  How many of these abortions would have been prevented if the biological parents had followed God’s plan for sex?

For anyone who has made mistakes, God does not wish to punish, but rather provides forgiveness and restoration. Going against the tide of a modern sexually permissive culture is not easy. But, even removing God completely from the equation, we see that the number of STDs and unwanted pregnancies are pandemic. If we follow the Designer’s best for our lives in the area of sex we will reduce the risk of disease and unwanted pregnancies to near zero. God does not want to take away the pleasure of sex.  In fact, sexual enjoyment between a husband and wife is a wonderful gift from God.

[All Biblical quotations in this article are from the New American Standard Version.]

[1] Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.”
[2]James Strong, The Strongest Strong’s (Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan, 2001), p. 1638.
[3] Blue Letter Bible Lexicon, Study Tools, accessed Aug 2008, 
[4] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Health and Human Services, accessed Aug 2008, last modified 5/14/07,
[5] Ibid.
[6] Weinstock H, et al. Sexually transmitted diseases among American youth: incidence and prevalence estimates, 2000. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health 2004;36( 1):6-10, cited on the CDC website , last modified Nov 2007, accessed Aug 2008,
[7] CDC website, CDC Health Information for International Travel 2008, last modified Jun 2007, accessed Aug 2008,
[8] CDC press release, last updated Apr 2008, accessed Aug 2008,
[9] CDC website, accessed Aug 2008, date last reviewed 10/26/06,
[10] The Lancet, “Induced abortion: estimated rates and trends worldwide”, Volume 370, Number 9595, 13 October 2007.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Did Christianity derive early beliefs from Mithraism?

Did early Christians use elements of the mystery religion of Mithras to form beliefs about Jesus Christ? And, just as importantly, why does this matter? Here’s why: If components of another religion, such as Mithraism, were borrowed, this would have devastating consequences for Christianity. Unlike beliefs of some religions, those concerning Jesus Christ are decidedly based in actual history and fact. If some of the biblical accounts of Jesus are mythological and did not really occur, the Christian faith is useless and we may as well put the Bible on the shelf next to Homer’s Odyssey and Aesop’s Fables. This website ( does not subscribe to the notion that whatever one believes and whatever religion works for you is fine. On the contrary, we base our beliefs on facts and sound reason. So, it does matter.

Who was Mithra?
In the Zoroastrian system, Mithra (also written as “Mithras”) was an ancient god in India and Persia (modern day Iran) around the 6th century BC. He became elevated to the principle god of light and wisdom in the Persian Empire around the 5th century BC. Around the 2nd century AD, Mithraism was popular among the soldiers in the Roman Empire because he was depicted as a warrior. The religion declined rapidly in the 3rd century AD.[1] The Encyclopedia Britannica provides the following description:
“The creation of the world is the central episode of Mithraic mythology. According to the myths, the sun god sent his messenger, the raven, to Mithra and ordered him to sacrifice the bull ... But at the very moment of the death of the bull, a great miracle happened. The white bull was metamorphosed into the moon; the cloak of Mithra was transformed into the vault of the sky, with the shining planets and fixed stars … One Mithraic hymn begins: ‘Thou hast redeemed us too by shedding the eternal blood’ … With the bull’s death and the creation of the world, the struggle between Good and Evil began: thus is the condition of man’s life … After the sacrifice, Mithra and the sun god banqueted together, ate meat and bread, and drank wine. Then Mithra mounted the chariot of the sun god and drove with him across the ocean, through the air to the end of the world.”[2]
One only needs to read the biblical accounts of the creation of the world and the death of Jesus Christ alongside the complete account of Mithra to note the monumental discrepancies between myth and history.

What was the taurobolium?
A ritual associated with Mithraism involved the taurobolium, described as a:
“bull sacrifice practiced from about ad 160 in the Mediterranean cult … The person dedicating the sacrifice lay in a pit with a perforated board placed over the pit’s opening. A bull was slaughtered above him, and the person in the pit bathed in the blood streaming down. Thus the ceremony, perhaps influenced by Christianity, gradually took on the elements of moral purification.”[3]
Some have suggested that the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ was derived from the taurobolium ceremony. But, as noted here, the dating of this practice was much later than the development of Christianity, which began around 33 AD. In his work on ancient Roman society, Samuel Dill explains:
“The first glimpses of the taurobolium appear before the middle of the second century, and the goddess figures on the coins of Antoninus Pius. A taurobolium for that emperor was offered ‘with intention’ at Lyons in 160 A.D.”[4]
In addition to this practice showing up much later than the sacrifice of Jesus, the god Mithra himself was not sacrificed; rather, Mithra slew a bull.

Franz Cumont
Belgian scholar Franz Cumont (1868-1947) is considered by many to be the leading expert of his time on the beliefs and practices of Mithraism. And, many have credited him with advancing the notion that Christianity followed and was derived from Mithraic teachings. However, even Cumont noted the timing of the spread of these beliefs as late in the first century:
“In the ancient religion of the Achemenides, Mithra, the genius of light, was coupled with Anâhita, the goddess of the fertilizing waters. In Asia Minor the latter was assimilated with the fecund Great Mother, worshiped all over the peninsula, and when at the end of the first century of our era the mysteries of Mithra spread over the Latin provinces.”[5]

In his influential book Mysteries of Mithra (1903), Cumont noted:
“At the time when this pagan monotheism sought to establish its ascendency in Rome, the struggle between the Mithraic Mysteries and Christianity had long begun. The propagation of the two religions had been almost contemporaneously conducted, and their diffusion had taken place under analogous conditions.”[6]
In his extensive research, Cumont concluded that Mithraic beliefs were advanced concurrently with Christian beliefs. He further noted, as the two religions continued to progress through the fifth century AD, some Mithraic practices may have been adopted by some so-called Christians, but not by orthodox Christianity: 
“Certain of its sacred practices continued to exist also in the ritual of Christian festivals and in popular usage. Its fundamental dogmas, however, were irreconcilable with orthodox Christianity”[7]

Alleged Similarities
Some today have advanced the notion that Mithraism bears many striking similarities with Christianity and therefore was influential in the formation of early Christian beliefs and practices. Some of these borrowed beliefs are said to include:
1.    Mithra was born of a virgin
2.    He was born on December 25th
3.    He was a great traveler with 12 disciples
4.    His followers were promised immortality
5.    He sacrificed himself for world peace
6.    He was buried in a tomb and rose after three days
7.    He conducted a sacramental meal resembling Jesus’ last supper

If these beliefs pre-dated the beginnings of Christianity and were known in the same part of the world, the Biblical writers may have some explaining to do. Is that the case? Even if so, does similarity necessarily imply causality?

Dating the development of Mithraism
Edwin Yamauchi was interviewed concerning these issues by Lee Strobel for his book, The Case for the Real Jesus. Yamauchi obtained a doctorate in Mediterranean studies, has studied 22 languages, and written 17 books including Persia and the Bible, which includes his research involving Mithraism. Furthermore, Yamauchi was one of the scholars who attended the Second Mithraic Congress in Tehran, Iran in the 1970’s, during which the conclusions of Franz Cumont were examined.

Edwin Yamauchi addressed each of the alleged similarities between Mithraism and Christianity and his conclusions are listed here:
1.    Mithraism did not teach that he was born of a virgin; rather, the mythical Mithra was born out of a rock. Furthermore, he was born an adult, not a baby as was Jesus. And, Jesus was of course not born in a cave as the second century letter of Barnabas alleges. 
2.    The birthday of Jesus Christ is not mentioned in the Bible and is not known. In fact, the earliest birth date for Jesus celebrated by Christians was January 6th. The earliest time in which Dec. 25th was used by Christians is AD 336 when Emperor Constantine proposed this day – possibly appropriated from the sun god worship. December 25th is close to the winter solstice and was chosen by Emperor Aurelian for the dedication of his temple to the sun god.
3.     Mithra was not a traveling teacher of disciples.
4.    The belief of immortality may be inferred in Mithraism, but that is common to almost all religions, so is not significant.
5.    Mithra did not sacrifice himself for anyone, he killed a bull.
6.    After extensive study, Yamauchi knows of no references to Mithra’s death. And, consequently, there are no records of his resurrection.
7.    Any possible sacramental meal in Mithraism is unrelated to the Lord’s Supper because it was initiated much later, in the second century. Furthermore, the Christian meal is based on the Passover, begun during the time of Moses.[8]

Even if similarities exist between Mithraism and Christianity, we should not be surprised. Nearly all religions are similar in some ways, e.g. belief in the afterlife, a god who performs miracles, and so on. Allegations that early Christians borrowed from Mithraism have no basis in fact; rather, speculate based on the relatively close chronological proximity of the two belief systems. Also, many of the Mithraic beliefs vary significantly from those of Christianity, as seen above. Furthermore, the biblical record of Jesus Christ is established by eyewitness accounts written and circulated during the lifetime of other witnesses. Leonard Patterson, in his book Mithraism and Christianity, concluded there is “no direct connection between the two religions either in origin or development.”[9] Edwin Yamauchi summarizes by stating, “There’s no evidence of Mithraism influencing first-century Christianity. Far from assimilating Mithraism, the church fathers – from Justin Martyr to Tertullian – denounced Mithraism as a satanic imitation.”[10]

[1] The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition (New York, NY:  Columbia University Press, 2007), 32286.
[2] "Mithraism." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2008. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 04 Oct. 2008 <>.
[3]Taurobolium." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2008. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Accessed 03 Oct. 2008 <>.
[4] Dill, Samuel, Roman Society: From Nero to Marcus Aurelius (New York, NY:  MacMillan, 1905), 549.
[5] Cumont, Franz, The Oriental Religions in Roman Paganism (Chicago, IL: Open Court, 1911), 65.
[6] Cumont, Franz, The Mysteries of Mithra, translated from the second revised French edition by Thomas J. McCormack (Chicago, IL:   Open Court, 1903), 188.
[7] Cumont, 206.
[8] Strobel, Lee, The Case for the Real Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan, 2007), 170-173.
[9] Patterson, Leonard, Mithraism and Christianity (Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 1921),  94, cited in Strobel, 170.
[10] Strobel, 176.