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This website is mostly aimed at providing arguments and evidence for the non-Christian, the Christian who may be struggling with what he or she believes, or those Christians who are interested in reaching out to others.
My opinions may contradict what other Christians believe, but many of my arguments are also based on arguments given by a variety of Christian sources. I especially owe a debt of gratitude to the writings of Glenn Miller, J.P. Holding, Paul Maier, Grant R. Jeffrey, Lee Strobel, and Gerald Schroeder.
Please feel free to borrow ideas or arguments of mine (since many of them were not mine to begin with). I do ask that if you quote from my site directly, to please credit me.
Re: Diabolical Mimicry
The sender wrote:
That's amazing! Tertullian, Origen, and other early church fathers heard these same objections to Jesus being a copycat of Meditteranean mystery religions and they could only come up with the fact that it must be "diabolical mimicry"---yet you, 2000 years later have figured it all out....They recognized that there were in fact striking simlarities and rather than just dismiss them, as you would expect them to do, they said "Ok, we see the similarities but the Devil must have done it!" Why would they have felt it necessary to respond to an argument that was obviously erroneous? Living in the time of Pagan mystery religions they could have simply explained, as you did, how there really weren't any correlations...That's not what they did though...They saw the similarities and could offer no better explanation than the devil did it...Great job....Read 'The Jesus Mysteries' by Peter Freke and Timothy Gandy...How can you in good conscience deny the obvious similarities? It is apparent that early Christians borrowed heavily from their pagan mystery religion neighbors. Does that invalidate Chrsitianity? No...It simply shows that they were people of their time appealing to other people of their own time...When Christians offer half historic answers to legitimate objections it only weakens Christianity...
First of all, I agree that some of the similarities between Christianity and other cults is a case of 'diabolical mimicry', but it's the other religions, not Christianity, that are doing the mimicry. Neither Tertullian, Origen nor any of the other church fathers made the claim that other religions borrowed from *Christianity itself* prior to the existence of Christianity, but that in some cases they borrowed from Old Testament practices and prophecies after the original Biblical writings but prior to the New Testament. There are no significant similarities between pre-Christian religions and events or practices that are EXCLUSIVELY New Testament Christianity. And I'm hardly going to be taking Freke and Gandy at face value, since there is not one scholar at any respectable university who would agree with their thesis. It's typical conspiracy-theory stuff that's already been disproven time and time again. If you want to give me examples of specific things that Tertullian, Origen, et al claimed that pre-Christian pagan religions 'mimicked' from Christianity, I'll be glad to post your evidence at my site and respond to it.
The sender responded:
How could it be the other cults doing the 'mimicry' since they were around for centuries before Christianity? And if your response is that these Pagan philosophers read the Old Test and figured out precise details about Jesus centuries ahead of time and then for some reason decided to write there own accounts, that takes some real faith...
Except that those "precise details" were already written down many centuries before Jesus walked the Earth. There are over 100 prophecies about the coming messiah in the Old Testament that Jesus fulfilled. Other people wanting to make others believe that their "godman" was the coming messiah would logically use the Old Testament predictions and claim that their "godman" fulfilled them. For example, there are OT predictions (such as Isaiah 35:5) saying that the Messiah would be a healer. So if a religion in, say, 300 B.C. wanted people to believe that their godman was the Messiah, they would logically make their godman a healer. That doesn't mean that when Jesus turned out to be a healer, He was "copycatting" that 3rd century godman, just that He was fulfilling the Isaiah prophecy. This would be an example of "diabolical mimicry" in pre-Christian times, the kind of thing the early church fathers were talking about.
The sender responded:
Why would Egyptians and Persians and Greeks care anything about a Jewish Messiah, much less attempt to say that their godman was him...The Egyptians had no desire to claim Osiris was the Jewish Messiah. I see your point but it doesnt make much sense that these other cultures would care anything about fullfilling Jewish prophecies, especially in light of the fact that Judaism (contrary to what we believe today) was a rather insignificant religion from a rather insignificant region of the world. And 'diabolical mimicry' was proposed not as other cultures claiming to have fullfilled Jewish prophecies but that Satan started these stories to discredit Jesus when he finally did come. I believe you mentioned the fact that many of these other godmen stories were created after the fact (ie, Jesus lived and then the stories were created to fit)..Couldnt the same argument be made for Jesus fullfilling OT prophecies...The NT writers saw that the messiah was to be born of a virgin and guess what....He's born of a virgin! You must be willing to accept the same arguments against your beliefs that you level against others. Thanks for your responses. I apologize for my initial email...It was a little sarcastic...Look forward to hearing from you.
Why would Egyptians and Persians and Greeks care anything about a Jewish Messiah, much less attempt to say that their godman was him...The Egyptians had no desire to claim Osiris was the Jewish Messiah. I see your point but it doesnt make much sense that these other cultures would care anything about fullfilling Jewish prophecies, especially in light of the fact that Judaism (contrary to what we believe today) was a rather insignificant religion from a rather insignificant region of the world.
But which specific religions were the early church fathers claiming were guilty of "diabolical mimicry"? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe it was mostly the local mystery religions, ones that would take an interest in other local religions, and not major religions from other parts of the world. I haven't seen enough valid similarities between Jesus and the Egyptian, Persian, and Greek deities to make me think that anyone could have been copycatting anyone else there.
And 'diabolical mimicry' was proposed not as other cultures claiming to have fullfilled Jewish prophecies but that Satan started these stories to discredit Jesus when he finally did come.
So the early church fathers and I (and many others) disagree on the motivation. But either way, they did believe that the reason the other religions were able to correctly foresee (at least in some details) what Jesus would be like was that they got the details from the OT prophecies. The church fathers thought that satan was behind it in an attempt to discredit Jesus. Personally, I think it was people, not satan, behind this and that they were merely doing it to make their godman the prophesied Messiah, likely not believing that the true Messiah would ever show up. Either way, when Jesus fulfilled the OT prophecies, He was not 'copycatting' these earlier religious figures, but fulfilling the prophecies.
I believe you mentioned the fact that many of these other godmen stories were created after the fact (ie, Jesus lived and then the stories were created to fit)..Couldnt the same argument be made for Jesus fullfilling OT prophecies...The NT writers saw that the messiah was to be born of a virgin and guess what....He's born of a virgin! You must be willing to accept the same arguments against your beliefs that you level against others.
Except that Jesus couldn't control who He was born to. There are certainly some areas where Jesus could (and likely did) do certain things simply because He knew they were prophesized, such as some of the details surrounding His arrival in Jerusalem. But that only accounts for a handful of the prophecies He fulfilled. Most were things He had no control over, or (especially concerning His crucifixion) were things that no sane man would allow to happen to him without a very good reason. I know that there are those arguing that Jesus didn't actually do all of the things the NT claims He did, but that the authors added these details to His story in order to make Him fit the mold better (which I'm guessing is what you believe). But that would mean that the authors understood the OT prophecies, knew that Jesus didn't really fulfill them, but thought He was the prophesied Messiah anyway (making them idiots), or that they knew He wasn't, but wanted to make everyone think He was, despite the persecution that was going on against believers (making them cruel hoaxsters). Reading the NT, do you really get the feeling that the authors were idiots or hoaxsters, or that they didn't really believe that what they were writing was the truth? You'd think you'd see some signs of hesitation or regret in their writings if this were the case, but instead we see them weathering the storm of persecution with a faith that would put most modern believers to shame. There's little doubt in my mind that these were people who KNEW, not merely believed, that Jesus was who the Bible says He was. There's a saying that if Jesus wasn't who He claimed to be, then He was either a liar or a lunatic. I'd say a similar argument applies to the NT writers, as well, that if what they weren't writing was the truth, then they were either liars or lunatics. I'm just not seeing any evidence that they were liars or lunatics.
And yes, I am saying that what many accuse the NT writers of doing is essentially what the creators of the mystery religions did, making up a deity and falsely applying earlier prophecies to it. But I've never heard of the original creators of those religions suffering persecution rather than deny their religion, like the early Christians (including most, if not all, of the NT authors) did. Why on Earth would the early Christian writers be risking their lives, and the lives of those they preach to, over someone they knew wasn't the prophesied Messiah? And besides that, the creators of those religions would only have their godman fulfill one or two of the OT prophecies, making it hard to suppose that their godman really was the true Messiah when he failed to fulfill over 100 of the others like Jesus did. He stands so far above the imitators that it's easy to see which one is the true Messiah.
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