My response to rives email: “Christians Practicing Paganism”

Last year rives sent out this email. At the end is my responce to this type of idiocy.

“Christians Practicing Paganism”

“Friday, February 18, 2011 1:11 PM”

“Dear Friends and Fellow Servants,”

“The middle part of the third century was an extremely difficult time for anyone claiming to be a Christian. In 250 A.D., under the rule of Decius Trajan, Christians suffered brutal persecution. Anyone claiming to be a Christian was required to sacrifice and offer libations-drink offerings to the pagan gods of Rome, and anyone thought to have anything to do with Christ was forced to sign a document stating that they had done so. The penalty for refusing to sacrifice and offer libations to the pagan gods ofRomewas death.”

“The documents that the Christians had to sign were known as “Libelli.” Let’s take a look what believers had to agree to:”

“We have always been constant in sacrificing to the gods, and now too, in your presence, in accordance with the regulations, I have poured libations and sacrificed and tasted the offerings, and I ask you to certify this for us below.”

“In 251 A.D. Decius Trajan was killed in a battle with the Goths; and in 253 only a few years later, Christianity would once again suffer great persecution under the rule of Rome’s new Emperor Valerian. Historians record that bishops, priests and deacons were executed. Those who refused to participate in pagan sacrifice were forced into slavery and their property was confiscated.”

“It is very important to realize that these were people claiming to be Christians while at the same time being forced to sacrifice to the pagan gods – – absolute proof that, during the 3rd century, paganism was being blended with Christianity – a blend that is still with us today. Absolute Proof!”

“Contending for the faith once delivered to the Saints: I’m Richard Rives with Just the Facts.”


My response:

Rives conclusion is flawed if not a out right lie.

Christianity then was not mixed with paganism back then or now We did not worship a god / goddess or make sacrifices to old roman gods. But of course rives ignores that. He simply wants to assume he knows the past history of the Christian church.

Those Christians who were caught by the Roman government after the deaths of the disciples were given a choice of death or making a Libelli”.

Now what is a “Libelli”?

One definition from this website says.


“1.certificates of conformity, to attest that the holders had conformed to the religious tests required by the edict of Decius;”

Another more descriptive definition would be:

“A libellus (plural libelli) was a document given to a Roman citizen to certify performance of a pagan sacrifice, hence demonstrating loyalty to the authorities of theRoman Empire. They could also mean certificates of indulgence, in which the confessors or martyrs interceded for apostate Christians.[1]”


“History: “

“Forty-six such certificates have been published, all dating from this same year [250 AD].”[2] This particular year falls into the period of persecution under the emperor Decius. Four libelli were found among the thousands of papyri at the archaeological site near Oxyrhynchus inEgypt(POxy 658, POxy 1464, POxy 2990 and POxy 3929).”


“Participating in pagan sacrifices was a sin for Christians and punished by excommunication, because the New Testament forbade Christians to either participate in “idol feasts” or to eat “meat sacrificed to idols”. However, not participating made one liable to arrest by the Roman authorities. A warrant to arrest a Christian (POxy 3035) was also found at Oxyrhynchus, this too has been dated precisely—to the year 256. The grounds for this arrest are not documented, however, and it predates the persecution under the emperor Valerian I by about a year.”


“At various times under Roman rule, failure to sacrifice was punishable by death. Christian theologians (for example Cyprian) debated whether the threat of the death penalty mitigated the sin of having communion with idols, leaving room for forgiveness and restoration to the Christian community. The unresolved debate became moot when the emperor Constantine I became a Christian (early 4th century).”



As we have read rives doesn’t ‘prove’ his case against modern Christianity being merged with paganism. This “Libelli” subject is not proper proof of paganism in ancient or modern Christianity.

It was a document / control device used by the long dead pagan / Roman Cesar’s to control and disrupt ancient Christians.

Rives has failed yet again.

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