Is Jesus Simply a Retelling of the Mithras Mythology? Part 4
So, How Did God Eventually Appear?
OK, these eleven driving motivations have clearly contributed to the thinking of those who originally created the mythology of Mithras. As humans, we can evaluate the environment around us and form a reasonable notion about the God who created it. While Mithras is MUCH different from Jesus, it is interesting to note that God eventually met and exceeded the expectations of those who dreamed about Him. Jesus is everything we might have hoped for, and so much more. He is powerful and defied the natural expectation upon his emergence into our world. He has infinite wisdom and the power to be the master of our lives. He loves us enough to gather to himself disciples that will continue to share the truth with others. He exists today outside and beyond this life, and he loves us enough to bring us to Him in his eternal home. He has the power to perform miracles and control the forces of the natural environment. He wants to save his children and come to their rescue. He is powerful enough to defeat death. He communicates with His children and represents himself strongly. He loves us enough to provide us with a way to know God the Father, representing Him as a mediator. Jesus meets the expectation that early God seekers had and exceeds their expectation in every way!
Paul Told Them That God Was Greater Than Their Expectations
That really shouldn’t surprise us, because Paul told early God seekers this very thing as he was addressing the people of Athens on Mars Hill, two thousand years ago. He told these Greek thinkers and seekers that while they had imagined the nature of God (just as Mithras believers had also dreamed about God), there was actually a TRUE God, Jesus Christ, who came into the world and exceeded their expectations:
Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you. “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone-an image made by man’s design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.”
Paul seemed to recognize that God had an answer for all those who had been dreaming about His nature. God was not unaware of all the mythologies that preceded His appearance in the form of Jesus Christ. He knew everything that these cultures had imagined and dreamed about Him. He saw how they had shaped their gods. He knew how they had described them with miraculous powers and abilities. Why should it surprise us that God would eventually appear and prove to mankind that He was the ONE TRUE GOD by simply MEETING our expectations, point for point (and then surpassing these expectations along the way)? It should not surprise us that God might, in some way, CHOOSE to appear in a form that is consistent with the expectations of man, particularly when God wants his creation to recognize him. God could simply be saying, “Children, I know you have imagined me to be a certain way. In some small measure you have imagined correctly. In many other ways you have been very far from the mark. Let me show you who I am. Watch me meet all the expectations you had about my nature. Let me help you believe by the miraculous life that I will live among you. Let me rescue you in a way you could never have dreamed of.”
Jesus Ends the Search
Maybe that’s why in the long lineage of mythologies and descriptions of God, Jesus completes the list. There are no significant mythologies that follow Jesus. Ever wonder why? Is it simply because the human race developed past such fables? Or is it because the human race developed past its own immaturity to the point and place where God finally determined it was time to appear in the flesh? Perhaps God decided that the time in which he had “overlooked such ignorance”, was now complete, so He presented himself in a way that ended all mythology. He appeared in TRUE power and glory, putting all prior mythologies to rest forever; meeting and exceeding anything we could ever have hoped for.
Christianity Continues to Thrive
While there are actually very FEW similarities between Mithras and Jesus in detail, there are similarities between them in the underlying expectations early seekers had for God. Jesus simply meets the hopes and dreams of these seekers as the true incarnate God. While Mithraism is now a dead religion, Christianity continues to thrive. Why? Because the Mithras tradition is inconsistent with the geological history of our world, inconsistent with the archeological history of humanity, and unsupported by textual evidence. In contrast, Christianity still continues to speak to the minds of seekers today. It has strong geological and archeological consistency with what we see in our world and strong textual evidence to support the earliest of claims. Atheists have tried to portray Mithras as something he isn’t in order to make us believe that Jesus never existed at all. But the story of Mithras should only encourage us to believe in the God who exceeds our expectations!
In researching this expansive topic, we purchased and read three important and dissertational volumes related to the Mithras Cult. These later works are far more reliable than 19th century scholarship (which is often cited by some of the conspiracy theorists who claim that Jesus is a re-working of Mithras), and we highly recommend these books for further research:
The Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries
(Cosmology and Salvation in the Ancient World)
by David Ulansey (Oxford University Press, 1989)
Mithras, the Secret God
by M. J. Vermaseren (Barnes and Noble Publishers, 1963)
(Proceedings of the First International Congress of Mithraic Studies – 2 Volumes)
edited by John R Hinnells (Manchester University Press, 1975)
COMING NEXT: Final Thoughts
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