Roman Mithraism and Richard rives

Having subscribed to rives mini-messages via email for a few years now. I find out a lot of information that is unreported by most Christian media writers, bloggers and others who should be skeptical of rives teachings.

Rives and Theonomists like him are convinced that current Christianity is somehow involved in the pagan religion of Mithraism that came from Rome. In order to provide evidence of this bizarre ideology he has written the following attacks against Christians like me.

Samples of rives satanic hatred about the Cross of Christ.

 

“Dear Friends and Fellow Servants,”

 

“The worship of the sun god Mithra found its way through the Persian, Grecian and Roman empires. Not only that, but aspects of that worship can be found in today’s contemporary Christianity. “

 

“The pagans of antiquity were well aware of that fact. They challenged those calling themselves Christians to defend themselves regarding the association of aspects of paganism with the worship of Christ. “

 

“In a futile attempt to do so, The first century Christian apologist Justin Martyr wrote that elements of Mithraism were actually derived from Christianity – that wicked devils had imitated Christianity. “

 

“Tertullian, a second century theologian, said basically the same thing. Both Justin and Tertullian attempt to defend elements of their faith which were similar and sometimes exactly the same as Mithraic rituals. The problem is that many of those Mithraic precepts predate Christianity – – – – by centuries. “

 

“Let’s take a look at one aspect of Mithraism that Tertullian attempts to defend: The use of the cross as a Christian symbol. “

 

“The pagans of Tertullian’s day knew that the sign of the cross was an image that had been adopted from the worship of pagan gods. Having been challenged, Tertullian, in his work known as Apology, attempts to explain: “

 

“…If any of you think we render superstitious adoration to the cross, in that adoration he is a sharer with us…….We have shown before that your deities are derived from shapes modeled from the cross. But you also worship victories, for in your trophies the cross is the heart of the trophy. The camp religion of the Romans is all through a worship of the standards, a setting the standards above all gods. Well, as those images decking out the standards are ornaments of crosses. All those hangings of your standards and banners are robes of crosses.”

 

“In another work entitled “Prescription against Heresy” Tertullian indicates that the Mithraists placed a symbol similar to that in use among Christians upon their foreheads: “

 

“The question will arise, By whom is to be interpreted the sense of the passages which make for heresies: By the devil, of course, to whom pertain those wiles which pervert the truth, and who, by the mystic rites of his idols, vies even with the essential portion of the sacraments of God. He, too, baptizes some – that is, his own believers and faithful followers; he promises the putting away of sins by a laver (of his own); and if my memory still serves me, Mithra there, (in the kingdom of Satan) set his mark on the foreheads of his soldiers.”

 

“Even though the pagans of His day knew full well that the cross had been a pagan symbol in use for centuries before the time of Christ , Tertullian states that: “…the devil “imitates even the main parts of our divine mysteries”, and “has gone about to apply to the worship of idols those very things of which the administration of Christ’s sacraments consists”. “

 

“Tertullian’s statement is extremely revealing. What he calls the “main points” of Christianity, which he calls “sacraments” were the same precepts that the pagans applied to idols. “

 

“Aspects of pagan sun worship never had anything to do with Jesus. Let us heed the admonition of the Book of 1 John. …we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. “

 

“Little children, keep yourselves from idols. “

 

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

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Another posting via email gives us another insight to rives ideology.

“The Cross”

“Thursday, April 28, 2011 6:02 AM”

“Dear Friends and Fellow Servants,”

 

“Today many define Christianity by the writings of the so called “Church Fathers” – men who based what they wrote on the traditions of their day – traditions which by that time were far from the faith of those who walked and talked with Christ. Let’s take a look at what one of those men had to say in reference to the sun god Mithra.”

 

“Tertullian, a second century Christian writer, states that Mithraism had imitated Christianity and attempts to defend the sign of the cross – a known Mithraic symbol. The pagans of Tertullian’s day knew that the sign of the cross was an image that had been adopted from the worship of pagan gods. Having been challenged, Tertullian, in his work known as Apology, attempts to explain:”

 

“…If any of you think we render superstitious adoration to the cross, in that adoration he is a sharer with us……. We have shown before that your deities are derived from shapes modeled from the cross. But you also worship victories, for in your trophies the cross is the heart of the trophy. The camp religion of the Romans is all through a worship of the standards, a setting the standards above all gods. Well, those images decking out the standards are ornaments of crosses. All those hangings of your standards and banners are robes of crosses.”

 

“In another work entitled Prescription Against Heresy, Tertullian indicates that the Mithraists placed a symbol similar to that in use among Christians upon their foreheads.”

 

“The question will arise, By whom is to be interpreted the sense of the passages which make for heresies: By the devil, of course, to whom pertain those wiles which pervert the truth, and who, by the mystic rites of his idols, vies even with the essential portion of the sacraments of God. He, too, baptizes some that is, his own believers and faithful followers; he promises the putting away of sins by a laver (of his own); and if my memory still serves me, Mithra there, (in the kingdom of Satan) set his mark on the foreheads of his soldiers.”

 

“Even though the pagans of his day knew full well that the cross had been a pagan symbol in use for centuries before the time of Christ, Tertullian states that “…the devil imitates even the main parts of our divine mysteries,” and “has gone about to apply to the worship of idols those very things of which the administration of Christ’s sacraments consists.””

“The sign of the cross was not a Christian symbol among the first century believers that had walked and talked with Christ. It was a well known Mithraic symbol. Tertullian was right about one thing. The attempt to corrupt the truth can be traced directly to the “wiles of the devil.””

“Earnestly contending for the faith once delivered to the Saints:

I’m Richard Rives with Just the Facts.  “

————————————————-

But wait…. Are his claims correct?

According to this article:

“MITHRAISM The Legacy of the Roman Empires Final Pagan State Religion”

http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Gazetteer/Periods/Roman/Topics/Religion/Mithraism/David_Fingrut**.html

Only the following evidence is true.

“The great festival of the Mithraic calendar was held on December the 25th, and the 16th of every month was kept holy to Mithras. The first day of the week was dedicated to the sun, to whom prayers were recited in the morning, noon, and evening. Services were held on Sundays, in which bells were sounded and praises were offered to Mithras. On great occasions, the ‘soldiers of Mithras’ took part in the sacrament of bread and wine as sacred bulls were sacrificed.”**

But what does that have to do with modern Christianity?

We don’t have pagan ritual in the Church.

We don’t have prayer 3 times a day.

We don’t have a ‘holy day’ every 16th day of the 12 months in a year.

We don’t sacrifice bulls or other animals on Communion.

To further complicate rives claims let’s look a little more at this Roman Mithraism rituals.

“The Rites of Mithraic Initiation:

 

:”Upon enlistment, the first act of a Roman soldier was to pledge obedience and devotion to the emperor. Absolute loyalty to authority and to fellow soldiers was the cardinal virtue, and the Mithraic religion became the ultimate vehicle for this fraternal obedience. The Mithras worshipers compared the practice of their religion to their military service. All of the initiates considered themselves sons of the same father owing to one another a brother’s affection. Mithras was a chaste god, and his worshipers were taught reverence for celibacy (a convenient trait for soldiers to maintain). The spirit of camaraderie (and celibacy) was to be continued in the Roman Empire by the Christian belief in neighborly love and universal charity. :”

 

“:However, the worshipers of Mithras did not lose themselves in a contemplative mysticism like the followers of other near-eastern sects. Their morality particularly encouraged action, and during a period of war and confusion, they found stimulation, comfort and support in its tenets. In their eyes of the Roman soldiers, resistance to evil deeds and immoral actions became just as valued as victory in glorious military exploits. They would fight the powers of evil in accordance with the ideals of Zoroastrian dualism, in which life was conceived as a struggle against evil spirits. :”

 

“:By supplying a new conception of the world, Mithraism gave new meaning to life by determining the worshipper’s beliefs concerning life after death. The struggle between good and evil was extended into the afterworld, where Mithras ensured the protection of his followers from the powers of darkness. It was believed that Mithras would judge the souls of the dead and lead the righteous into the heavenly regions where Ahura-Mazda reigned in eternal light. Mithraism brought the assurance that reverence would be rewarded with immortality. :”

“:Mithraism was an archetypal mystery cult and secret society. Like the rites of Demeter, Orpheus, and Dionysus, the Mithraic rituals admitted candidates by secret ceremonies, the meaning of which was known only to the initiated. Like all other institutionalized initiation rites of the past and present, this mystery cult allowed the initiates to be controlled and put under the command of their leaders. Preceding initiation into the Mithraic fold, the neophyte had to prove his courage and devotion by swimming across a rough river, descending a sharp cliff, or jumping through flames with his hands bound and eyes blindfolded. The initiate was also taught the secret Mithraic password, which he was to use to identify himself to other members, and which he was to repeat to himself frequently as a personal mantra. :”

“Mithraic worshippers believed that the human soul descended into the world at birth. The goal of their religious quest was to achieve the soul’s ascent out of the world again by gaining passage through seven heavenly gates, corresponding to seven grades of initiation. Therefore, being promoted to a higher rank in the religion was believed to correspond to a heavenly journey of the soul. Promotion was obtained through submission to religious authority (kneeling), casting off the old life (nakedness), and liberation from bondage through the mysteries. “

“The process of Mithraic initiation required the symbolic climbing of a ceremonial ladder with seven rungs, each made of a different metal to symbolize the seven known celestial bodies. By symbolically ascending this ceremonial ladder through successive initiations, the neophyte could proceed through the seven levels of heaven. The seven grades of Mithraism, were: Corax (Raven), Nymphus (Male Bride), Miles (Soldier), Leo (Lion), Peres (Persian), Heliodromus (Sun-Runner), and Pater (Father); each respective grade protected by Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, the Moon, the Sun, and Saturn. “

 

“The lowest degree of initiation into the grade of Corax symbolized the death of a new member, from which he would arise reborn as a new man. This represented the end of his life as an unbeliever, and cancelled previous allegiances to the other unacceptable beliefs. The title Corax (Raven) originated with the Zoroastrian custom of exposing the dead on funeral towers to be eaten by carrion birds, a custom continued today by the Parsis of India, the descendants of the Persian followers of Zarathustra. “

 

“Further initiation involved the clashing of cymbals, beating of drums, and the unveiling of a statue of Mithras. The initiate drank wine from the cymbal to recognize it as the source of ritual ecstasy. Next, he ate a small morsel of bread placed on a drum, to signify his acceptance of Mithras as the source of his food. This bread had been exposed to the rays of the sun, so by eating the bread the worshipper was partaking of the divine essence of the sun itself. The initiate would also offer a loaf of bread and cup of water to the statue of Mithras. “

“When a neophyte reached the degree of Miles (soldier), he was offered a crown, which he had to reject with the saying “Only Mithras is my crown”. The indelible mark of a cross, symbol of the sun, was then branded on his forehead with a hot iron to symbolize his ownership by the deity, and he would renounce the social custom of wearing a wreath. From then on, the neophyte belonged to the sacred militia of ‘The Invincible God Mithras’. All family ties were severed and only fellow initiates were to be considered brothers. “

“Worshippers used caves and grottos as temples wherever possible, or at least gave temples the internal appearance of caves or of being subterranean by building steps leading down to the entrance. They took part in masquerading as animals, such as ravens and lions, and inserted passages into their ritual chants that were devoid of any literal meaning. All of these rites that characterized Roman Mithraism originated in ancient prehistoric ceremonies. “

 

“During the rituals, the evolution of the universe and the destiny of mankind was explained. The service consisted chiefly of contemplating the Mithraic symbolism, praying while knelt before benches, and chanting hymns to the accompaniment of flutes. Hymns were sung describing the voyage of Mithras’ horse-drawn chariot across the sky. Invokers and worshippers of Mithras prayed, “Abide with me in my soul. Leave me not [so] that I may be initiated and that the Holy Spirit may breathe within me.” Animal sacrifices, mostly of birds, were also conducted in the Mithraeums. “

 

“The Mithraic clergy’s duty was to maintain the perpetual holy fire on the altar, invoke the planet of the day, offer the sacrifices for the disciples, and preside at initiations. The Mithraic priests were known as Patres Sacrorum, or Fathers of the Sacred Mysteries. They were mystically designated with the titles Leo and Hierocorax, and presided over the priestly festivals of Leontica (the festival of lions), Coracica (the festival of ravens), and Hierocoracica (the festival of sacred ravens).”

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(And this is the last paragraph **)

Hmmm too pagan to be Christian if you ask me.

Next what about Roman Mithra worshipers wives and families do they goto the local cave to worship this pagan god?

“The Taurobolium “

 

“While Mithras was worshipped almost exclusively by men, most of the wives and daughters of the Mithraists took part in the worship of Magna Mater, Ma-Bellona, Anahita, Cybele, and Artemis. These goddess religions practiced a regeneration ritual known as the Taurobolium, or bull sacrifice, in which the blood of the slaughtered animal was allowed to fall down upon the initiate, who would be lying, completely drenched in a pit below. As a result of their association with practitioners of this rite, Mithraists soon adopted the Taurobolium ritual as their own. “

“This baptism of blood became a renewal of the human soul, as opposed to mere physical strength. Mithraic baptism wiped out moral faults; the purity aimed at had become spiritual. The descent into the pit was regarded as symbolic burial, from which the initiate would emerge reborn, purified of all his crimes and regarded as the equal of a god. Those who made it through the Taurobolium were revered by their brethren, and accepted in the fold of Mithraism. “

“The taurobolium had become a means of obtaining a new and eternal life; the ritualistic ablutions were no longer external and material acts, but were supposed to cleanse the soul of its impurities and to restore its original innocence; the sacred repasts imparted an intimate virtue to the soul and furnished sustenance to the spiritual life.”

———————————

So will rives and his Theonomist ilk also claim links to baptism and other subjects to ‘prove’ that so called roman paganism is of Protestant Christianity or is rives just chicken scratching for more subjects to accuse modern Christianity with?

Where is the proof from rives that such things have anything to do with modern Christianity? You’d think he would be willing to reproduce the sources of his claims.

Meanwhile… A little internet research produced the following examples that counter rives claims.

Mithraism A Roman Mystery Religion

Jun 2, 2010

Paula I. Nielson

http://www.suite101.com/content/mithraism—-a-roman-mystery-religion-a244110

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Mithraism by Copyright 2009 by Kevin Knight.

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/10402a.htm

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Roman mithra initiation symbols

http://www.ostia-antica.org/regio5/9/9-1.htm

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MITHRAISM The Legacy of the Roman Empires Final Pagan State Religion

http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Gazetteer/Periods/Roman/Topics/Religion/Mithraism/David_Fingrut**.html

————————————–

Conclusion:

With all the known doctrine and theology of roman Mithraism it is obvious to those who read up on this dead religion that it has nothing to do with Modern Christianity.

While rives thinks that he has found evidence to discredit Christianity. And thus his claims and so called study only provide loose evidence for atheists, moslems and others who like him have a hatred of God, Jesus and Christianity.

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