Skip to comments.CHRISTIANITY BEFORE CHRISTIANITY
Posted on 05/08/2006 9:46:31 PM PDT by TBP
Where It All Began
The very thing which is now called the Christian religion existed among the ancients also, nor was it wanting]rom the inception if the human race until the coming if Christ in the flesh, at which point the true religion which was already in existence began to be called Christian. -ST. AUGUSTINE, Retractiones
THIS ASTOUNDING STATEMENT by St. Augustine, one of the most brilliant thinkers in the earliest centuries of the Church, utterly refutes the traditional view that Christianity, though of obvious Jewish roots, virtually fell from the skies as a radically new, unique, all- surpassing religion destined to fulfill or eclipse all other faiths. St. Augustine here unequivocally states that "from the inception of the human race," the Christian religion has been around, and that it was held "among the ancients also." Elsewhere, speaking of Socrates (who antedated Christianity by about five hundred lears), he said that he was as grand a Christian as any churchly saint or martyr. Indeed, he said that Socrates' Pagan brand of Christianity was as lofty and pure as the kind he himself knew. Few Christians are aware that Augustine himself received the Christian doctrine of the Trinity from the Pagan philosopher Plotinus (c. 205-270 C.E.), who "fed his mind on the attributes of the Pagan divinities and was steeped in Hellenistic rational religion and esotericism."
Significantly, St. Augustine's words are echoed at considerable length by the Church historian Eusebius (c. 260-340), the most important-though highly biased-early historian of Christianity. "The religion published by Jesus Christ to all nations is neither new nor strange," Eusebius writes. "For though, without controversy we are of late, and the name of Christians is indeed new; yet our manner of life and the principles of our religion have not been lately devised by us, but were instituted and observed. . . from the beginning of the world, by good men, accepted by God; from those natural notions which are implanted in men's minds." This latter concept is crucial. It explains the archetypal nature of the Christos symbolism as it occurs throughout this investigation. Indeed, in his famous book Ecclesiastical History, Eusebius, the bishop of Caesarea and one of the major shapers of the emerging Christian orthodoxy he championed, says that the Gospels of the New Testament were really the old dramatic books of the Essenes, from pre-Christian days. Of a group of Essenes called Therapeutae (healers), in Egypt, he writes: "These ancient Therapeutae were Christians and their writings are our Gospels and Epistles."
Celsus, a famous Pagan philosopher with whom Origen waged a well-known, detailed debate, said: "The Christian religion contains nothing but what Christians hold in common with the heathen; nothing new." For this, Origen had no rebuttal. As well, Ammonius Saccas (c. 175-240), the great founder of Neoplatonism (born of Christian parents himself) and the teacher of Origen, stoutly maintained that Christianity and Paganism differed on no essential points.
The words from these early witnesses pack a huge wallop for orthodox theology. But they truly sink in only when one takes the time to examine meticulously the evidence on which they stand. The evidence of close similarities between Christianity and other ancient world faiths is massive, detailed, extremely specific, and quite incredibly far-flung, stretching from the Vedic wisdom of India to the Norse myths of Scandinavia, the legends of the Incas, and the original spirituality of the indigenous peoples of North America.
Without exception, every element of the allegedly "new," uniquely revealed religion was extant before the first Christian century in the traditions, practices, and literature of many other
Christ, to be born of a virgin mother, without any human mixture, and to be crucified, and dead, and to have risen again and ascended into heaven, we say no more than what you say if those whom you style the sons of Jove."
Christianity existed before Christ? Do tell... :o)
Why would Christians be aware of something that's not true? Saint Augustine received his Christian doctrine from Saint Ambrose, who converted him from Manichism. Whoever wrote this silly article must have been up too late reading his copy of "The gospel of Judas".
And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel."
PROTE EVANGELLIUM![the gospel before the gospel]
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.
In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
THE GOSPEL OF JON - GOD'S T.U.L.I.P. GARDEN
Considering that the work of Celsus has not been preserved at all except for whatever is quoted in Origen's extensive refutation Contra Celsum, color me a little skeptical on his alleged quote. We are to believe, I suppose, that Origen quoted Celsus simply to say "I have no answer for this". When in reality, his whole book is an answer to that. Moreover, I cannot find this quote anywhere in Origen or Justin Martyr (where another website says it is from). It has all the earmarks of a fabricated quotation.
Quoting Augustine as evidence of the equivalence between paganism and Christianity is another bewildering insanity. Augustine wrote a *massive* book De Civitate Dei (On the City of God) whose express purpose was to prove to skeptical Romans that Christianity was not the reason for their downfall, and, in the process, to demonstrate the absurdity of paganism. The author might want to try reading it sometime.
Exactly. He quotes them without understanding what the heck they meant.
Matt. 12:22-32 says, "Then there was brought to Him a demon-possessed man who was blind and dumb, and He healed him, so that the dumb man spoke and saw. 23And all the multitudes were amazed, and began to say, "This man cannot be the Son of David, can he?" 24But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, "This man casts out demons only by Beelzebub the ruler of the demons." 25And knowing their thoughts He said to them, "Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself shall not stand.
26"And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then shall his kingdom stand? 27"And if I by Beelzebub cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? Consequently they shall be your judges. 28"But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29"Or how can anyone enter the strong mans house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house. 30"He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters.
31"Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven men, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. 32"And whoever shall speak a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever shall speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age, or in the age to come," (All Scripture quotes are from the NASB).
B16 has said that the "spirit" is the essence of christianity and needs to be more firmly established. It should not be dismissed.
It's interesting to read a book like Frazer's "The Golden Bough" and see the echoes of Christianity in the distant past. Some banned the book when it first came out for Frazer's comparisons of the crucifixion to earlier rituals like the Saturnalia and the Corn God festivals... but all I see is God's prevenient grace at work, instilling in Man a need and a knowledge of our savior.
Justin the Martyr also wrote that the Logos came to some of the Greek Philosphers as a sort of "proto-evangelium" in their thought on the Logos. But if you go to Romans and back up a few chapters, you'll find that God has written in ALL men's hearts a natural law. This Law, no doubt, is the Law that Christ gave His Apostles - to Love.
Those who love as God intended for men abide in Christ ... that is the ultimate definition of a Christian - to abide in Christ. Thus, a person who follows the Law of Love as written in their hearts is abiding in Christ (the Logos before His incarnation), even before the Birth of Jesus. This much is clear. No one can please God except through faith - which comes from God. The OT is full of people who were pleasing to God - and thus had faith. Christianity is not a new invention, but a fulfillment of EVERYTHING good that God has revealed to man, whether it is Judaism, or whether it is in the heart of a man in the Amazon jungle.
Hats off to ya!
Got a new tagline for you...
That he failed in that sense (arrested in the fall at Succot [fresh palms prevalent in Jerusalem], crucified the following spring), was tragic for him and his supporters.
Yet he "rose again" in the sense of rising Christianity which eventually led to the founding of the United States, which couldn't have otherwise happened!
God certainly does work in mysterious ways.
Hyam Maccoby, Revolution In Judaea: Jesus and the Jewish Resistance