Is Jesus Simply a Retelling of the Mithras Mythology? Part 3
So, What is Left?
From this quick examination of the Mithras tradition, we can see that he is formed from the rock of a mountain. His birthday celebration was later adopted at the winter solstice, just as the Roman Catholics did for the birth of Christ. Mithras was not a teacher like Jesus. He did not have twelve disciples like Jesus. He may have offered his followers immortality, as this was common for deity mythologies of all kinds. He was believed to have performed miracles, like other deities. He did not sacrifice himself for the world as did Jesus. There is no evidence that Mithras ever died, was ever buried or ever resurrected. In a similar way, there is no evidence that Mithras was ever called the “Good Shepherd” or associated with the lamb. He was loosely associated to the lion in that he was a sun-god associated to Leo. Mithras has never been called the “Way, the Truth and the Light,” the “Logos,” “Redeemer,” “Savior” nor “Messiah.” He was called a “mediator” but in a very different way than Jesus. Followers of Mithras did celebrate on Sunday in the years FOLLOWING the Christian celebration of the “Lord’s Day”, and while Mithras followers did fellowship together, they did not celebrate a Eucharist of any kind. So in hindsight, how similar is Mithras to Jesus after all?
How Could They Have Imagined That?
Even with all the differences between Mithras and Jesus, it is still striking that early men would imagine a God with even a few similarities, don’t you think? How could that happen? Is it really possible that someone could imagine something that could later become a reality, even if only in part? Well, let’s take a look at another example from history. What if I told you that a man named Morgan Robertson once wrote about a British ocean liner that was about 800 feet long, weighed over 60,000 tons, and could carry about 3,000 passengers? The ship had a top cruising speed of 24 knots, had three propellers, and about 20 lifeboats. What if I told you that this ocean liner hit an iceberg
on its maiden voyage in the month of April, tearing an opening in the starboard side forward portion of the ship, and sinking along with about 2,000 passengers? Would you recognize the event from history? You might say, “Hey, that’s the Titanic!” Well, you would be wrong. While all these details are identical to the Titanic, the ship I am talking about is the “Titan” and it is a fictional ship described in Robertson’s book called “the Wreck of the Titan” or “Futility” (Buccaneer Books, Cutchogue, New York, 1898). This book was written fourteen years BEFORE the disaster took place, and several years before the construction was even begun on the Titanic! In addition to this, other writers and thinkers had also started to develop a mythology about such large ships. In the 1880’s, the well known English journalist, W. T. Stead also wrote an account of a sinking ocean liner in the mid-Atlantic, and by 1882 had added the detail that an iceberg would be the cause of the disaster. There are also quite a number of recorded premonitions on the part of passengers who cancelled at the last minute before boarding the Titanic for its maiden voyage in 1912, citing that the ship would suffer a similar fate.
How could all these people foresee something like this? How could Robertson foresee this so accurately? Well, it is quite possible that these men and women had a prophetic gift of sorts (after all, even atheists will concede that some among us are at least more intuitive than others), but it is also possible that they simply observed the world around them, thought about the possibilities, examined the history of man leading up to the era, and imagined what an ocean liner like this might be like. Clearly they did actually imagine something that was close to the truth of history. Now if a thousand years from now we were examining the truth of the Titanic in history, and we discovered the story of the Titan, do you think we would find ourselves saying, “Hey, that story about the Titanic is a lie, it was just a re-creation of a prior mythology called the Titan!” I hope not. I hope, instead, that we would evaluate the evidence related to the existence of the Titanic, read the eyewitness accounts, study the impact the event had on history, and then make a decision about the event. I would hope that a prior mythology would not stop our search for the truth. And let’s face it, the similarities between the Titan and the Titanic are far greater than the similarities between Mithras and Jesus.
What Was in the Heart of Those Who Created Mithras?
So, is there also something in the heart of man that drives him to seek God and try his best to understand and know him? Is there something in the heart of man that encourages him to dream and imagine mythologies about God, just like he might imagine a boat like the Titanic? The Bible certainly maintains that God has placed the truth of his existence in the world around us:
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
And the Bible also tells us that God has given us a conscience that testifies to his existence:
All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.)
Why should we be surprised that as people created in the image of God, we would have a mind and a heart that dreams about the nature of our creator? If God has placed his moral truth in our heart, and hinted at his existence with the wonder of the created world around us, it is reasonable that even before anything was directly revealed in the Bible, men and women thought, imagined and dreamed about the nature of God (just like some obviously thought about large ocean liners!) We would actually expect these mythologies to bear a resemblance to the reality of God’s nature once it IS revealed to us, just as the Titan resembled the Titanic!! And that appears to be the case with Mithras. But let’s be realistic about the Mithras similarities. They are NOT all that powerful and striking; especially when we investigate them and see that the vast majority of the claims of similarity are simply not historically verified. They are lies.
But go back for a minute and re-read the reasoning of the creators of the Mithras mythology. Think about what motivated them. They reasoned through the notion of God, based on what they saw in their environment and the seed of God’s conscience planted in their heart, and decided that if there is a God,
(1) He must be an incredibly strong being who could emerge in our world in a way that defies the natural order of things,
(2) He must have infinite wisdom and have the power to be the master of our lives,
(3) He would love us enough to gather to himself disciples that would continue to share the truth with others,
(4) He must exist outside and beyond this life, and if he loves us, he would want to bring us to Him in his eternal home,
(5) He must have the power to perform the miraculous and control the forces of the natural environment,
(6) If He loves us, he would want to save his children and come to their rescue,
(7) He must be powerful enough to defeat death,
(8) He would communicate with His children and represent himself strongly,
(9) He would love his creation enough to provide us with some way to know him, perhaps in the form of a mediator,
(10) His existence would result in believers who want to honor this God regularly, and
(11) These believers would reasonably want to come together to celebrate their faith and unite under the same belief system.
Retrieved From: http://www.pleaseconvinceme.com/index/pg79641
COMING NEXT: So How Did God Eventually Appear?, Paul Told Them That God Was Greater Than Their Expectations, Jesus Ends the Search, Christianity Continues to Thrive.