Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Was the New Testament Influenced by Pagan Religions?
Many Christian college students have encountered criticisms of Christianity based on claims that early Christianity and the New Testament borrowed important beliefs and practices from a number of pagan mystery religions. Since these claims undermine such central Christian doctrines as Christ's death and resurrection, the charges are serious. But the evidence for such claims, when it even exists, often lies in sources several centuries older than the New Testament. Moreover, the alleged parallels often result from liberal scholars uncritically describing pagan beliefs and practices in Christian language and then marveling at the striking parallels they think they've discovered.
During the first half of the twentieth century, a number of liberal authors and professors claimed that the New Testament teaching about Jesus' death and resurrection, the New Birth, and the Christian practices of baptism and the Lord's Supper were derived from the pagan mystery religions. Of major concern in all this is the charge that the New Testament doctrine of salvation parallels themes commonly found in the mystery religions: a savior-god dies violently for those he will eventually deliver, after which that god is restored to life.
READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE
If you are interested in reading more on this topic, here are a few more resources:
The Case for the Real Jesus by Lee Strobel (chapter 4)
The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus by Gary Habermas and Michael Licona (chapter 5)
The Gospel and the Greeks by Ronald Nash (chapters 7-11)
Reinventing Jesus by J. Ed Komoszewski, M. James Sawyer, and Daniel Wallace (chapters 16-18)