Bible Myths and their Parallels in other Religions Being a Comparison of the Old and New Testament Myths and Miracles with those of the Heathen Nations of Antiquity Considering also their Origin and Meaning
Page: 234Dr. Draper, in speaking of the early Christian Church, says:
"Great is the difference between Christianity under Severus (born 146) and Christianity under Constantine (born 274). Many of the doctrines which at the latter period were pre-eminent, in the former were unknown. Two causes led to the amalgamation of Christianity with Paganism. 1. The political necessities of the new dynasty: 2. The policy adopted by the new religion to insure its spread.
"Though the Christian party had proved itself sufficiently strong to give a master to the empire, it was never sufficiently strong to destroy its antagonist, Paganism. The issue of the struggle between them was an amalgamation of the principles of both. In this, Christianity differed from Mohammedanism, which absolutely annihilated its antagonist, and spread its own doctrines without adulteration.
"Constantine continually showed by his acts that he felt he must be the impartial sovereign of all his people, not merely the representative of a successful faction. Hence, if he built Christian churches, he also restored Pagan temples; if he listened to the clergy, he also consulted the haruspices; if he summoned the Council of Nicea, he also honored the statue of Fortune; if he accepted the rite of Baptism, he also struck a medal bearing his title of 'God.' His statue, on top of the great porphyry pillar at Constantinople, consisted of an ancient image of Apollo, whose features were replaced by those of the emperor, and its head surrounded by the nails feigned to have been used at the crucifixion of Christ, arranged so as to form a crown of glory.
"Feeling that there must be concessions to the defeated Pagan party, in accordance with its ideas, he looked with favor on the idolatrous movements of his court. In fact, the leaders of these movements were persons of his own family.
To the emperor,—a mere worldling—a man without any religious convictions, doubtless it appeared best for himself, best for the empire, and best for the contending parties, Christian and Pagan, to promote their union or amalgamation as much as possible. Even sincere Christians do not seem to have been averse to this; perhaps they believed that the new doctrines would diffuse most thoroughly by incorporating in themselves ideas borrowed from the old; that Truth would assert herself in the end, and the impurities be cast off. In accomplishing this amalgamation, Helen, the Empress-mother, aided by the court ladies, led the way.
[Pg 408]"As years passed on, the faith described by Tertullian (A. D. 150-195) was transformed into one more fashionable and more debased. It was incorporated with the old Greek mythology. Olympus was restored, but the divinities passed under new names. . . .
"Heathen rites were adopted, a pompous and splendid ritual, gorgeous robes, mitres, tiaras, wax-tapers, processional services, lustrations, gold and silver vases, were introduced.
"The festival of the Purification of the Virgin was invented to remove the uneasiness of heathen converts on account of the loss of their Lupercalia, or feasts of Pan.
"The apotheosis of the old Roman times was replaced by canonization; tutelary saints succeeded to local mythological divinities. Then came the mystery of transubstantiation, or the conversion of bread and wine by the priest into the flesh and blood of Christ. As centuries passed, the paganization became more and more complete."[408:1]
The early Christian saints, bishops, and fathers, confessedly adopted the liturgies, rites, ceremonies, and terms of heathenism; making it their boast, that the pagan religion, properly explained, really was nothing else than Christianity; that the best and wisest of its professors, in all ages, had been Christians all along; that Christianity was but a name more recently acquired to a religion which had previously existed, and had been known to the Greek philosophers, to Plato, Socrates, and Heraclitus; and that "if the writings of Cicero had been read as they ought to have been, there would have been no occasion for the Christian Scriptures."
And our Protestant, and most orthodox Christian divines, the best learned on ecclesiastical antiquity, and most entirely persuaded of the truth of the Christian religion, unable to resist or to conflict with the constraining demonstration of the data that prove the absolute sameness and identity of Paganism and Christianity, and unable to point out so much as one single idea or notion, of which they could show that it was peculiar to Christianity, or that Christianity had it, and Paganism had it not, have invented the apology of an hypothesis, that the Pagan religion was typical, and that Crishna, Buddha, Bacchus, Hercules, Adonis, Osiris, Horus, &c., were all of them