The Purpose Fallacy
- The purpose and nature of the pagan mystery religions is completely different than the purpose and form of Christianity
- MR are cyclical: cycle of birth – death – rebirth following the vegetative – harvest cycle.
- MR involve secrecy – only members can participate; had to go through secret initiation rites; secret knowledge
- MR: Doctrine and beliefs were unimportant, emphasis was on mystical experience
- MR was not interested in historicity of its myth and often acknowledged myths as non-historical
Pagan Copycat Theory: The story of Jesus Christ as presented in the gospels is a myth incorporating various aspects of other ancient pagan religions.
–“Why should we consider the stories of Osiris, Dionysius, Adonis, Mithras, and other Pagan Mystery saviors as fables, yet come across essentially the same story told in a Jewish context and believe it to be the biography of a carpenter from Bethlehem.” (Freke and Gandy, The Jesus Mysteries, 9)
Common religious figures Jesus is usually compared to:
- Appolonius of Tyanna (Greek)
- Horus/Osiris (Egypt)
- Dionysus – Bacchus (GreekRoman)
- Attis (Phrygian)
- Mithra (Persian/Roman)
- Zoroaster (Persian)
- Krishna (Hindu)
General Comment: There are going to be some similarities between all religions:
- Belief in a God-like figure
- Rites and ceremonies that express that belief
- The universal human condition
- Our desire for a ground for meaning ,purpose and value
- Our struggle with our weaknesses and “sin”
- An answer to evil and suffering
- “I could not believe Christianity if I were forced to say that there were a thousand religions in the world of which 999 were pure nonsense and the thousandth (fortunately) true. My conversion, very largely, depended on Christianity as the completion, the actualization, the entelechy, of something that had never been wholly absent from the mind of man.” (C.S. Lewis, “Relgion Without Dogma”).