We have seen by scores of examples that a mixture of paganism and Christianity produced the Roman Catholic Church. The pagans worshipped and prayed to a mother goddess, so the fallen church adopted mother-worship under the name of Mary. The pagans had gods and goddesses associated with various days, occupations, and events in life. This system was adopted and the “gods” were called “saints.” The pagans used statues or idols of their pagan deities in their worship, so the fallen church did also, simply calling them by different names.
From ancient times, crosses in various forms were regarded in superstitious ways. Some of these ideas were adopted and associated with the cross of Christ. The cross as an image was outwardly honored, but the true “finished” sacrifice of the cross became obscured by the rituals of the Mass with its transubstantiation, mystery drama, and prayers for the dead!
Repetitious prayers, rosaries, and relics were all adopted from paganism and given a surface appearance of Christianity. The pagan office and title of Pontifex Maximus was applied to the bishop of Rome. He became known as the pope, the Father of fathers, even though Jesus Christ said to call no man father (Spiritually speaking). In literally hundreds of ways, pagan rites were merged into Christianity at Rome.
Catholic scholars recognize that their church developed from a mixture of paganism and Christianity. But from their point of view, these things were triumphs for Christianity, because the church was able to Christianize pagan practices.
The Catholic Encyclopedia makes these statements: “We need not shrink from admitting that candles, like incense and lustral water, were commonly employed in pagan worship and in the rites paid to the dead. But the church from a very early period took them into her service, just as she adopted many other things – like music, lights, perfumes, ablutions, floral decorations, canopies, fans, screens, bells, vestments, etc., which were not identified with any idolatrous cult in particular; they were common to almost all cults.”
The Catholic Encyclopedia continues, “Water, oil, light, incense, singing, procession, prostration, decoration of altars, vestments of priests, are naturally at the service of universal religious instinct. Even pagan feasts may be baptized: certainly our processions of 25 April are the Robigalia; the Rogation days may replace the Ambarulia; the date of Christmas Day may be due to the same instinct which placed on 25 December the Natalis lavicti of the solar cult.”
The use of statues, and customs such as bowing before an image, are explained in Catholic theology as having developed from the old emperor worship! “The etiquette of the Byzantine court gradually evolved elaborate forms of respect, not only for the person of Caesar but even for his statues and symbols. Philostorgius says that in the 4th century the Christian Roman citizens in the East offered gifts, incense, even prayers (!) to the statues of the emperor. (Hist. eccl. II, 17). It would be natural that people who bowed to, kissed, incensed the imperial eagles and images of Caesar (with no suspicion of anything like idolatry) should give the same signs to the cross, the images of Christ, and the altar. The first Christians were accustomed to see statues of emperors, of pagan gods and heroes, as well as pagan wall-paintings. So they made paintings of their religion, and, as soon as they could afford them, statues of their Lord and of their heroes.” It should be noticed that no claim for any scriptural command is even suggested for these things. It is clearly stated that these customs developed from paganism.
Sometimes various wall-paintings of the early centuries, such as those in the Roman catacombs, as referred to as though they represented the beliefs of the original Christians. We do not believe this is true, for there is clear evidence of a mixture. While these paintings included scenes of Christ feeding the multitudes with the loaves and fishes, Jonah and the whale, or the sacrifice of Isaac, other paintings were unmistakably pagan portrayals. Some feel this mixture was a disguise used to avoid persecution, but nevertheless, it cannot be denied that the roots of mixture were present.
Says the Catholic Encyclopedia: “The Good Shepherd carrying the sheep on his shoulders occurs frequently, and this preference may well be due to its resemblance to the pagan figures of Hermes Kriophorus or Aristaeus, which at this period were much in vogue. Even the fable of Orpheus was borrowed pictorially and referred to Christ. Similarly the story of Eros and Psyche was revived and Christianized, serving to remind the believer of the resurrection of the body. The group of the Twelve Apostles probably attracted the less attention because the twelve Dii Majores were often also grouped together. Again the figure of the Orans the woman with arms uplifted in prayer, was quite familiar to classical antiquity. Similarly the fish symbol, representing Christ, the anchor of hope, the palm of victory, were all sufficiently familiar as emblems among pagans and excited no particular attention.
In the Old Testament, the apostasy unto which the Israelites repeatedly fell was that of mixture. Usually they did not totally reject the worship of the true God, but mixed heathen rites with it! This was the case even when they worshipped the golden calf (Ex. 32).We all realize that such worship was false, heathenistic, and an abomination in the sight of God. Yet, and this is the point we would make – it was claimed that this was a “feast unto the Lord” (v- 5) a feast to Jehovah (or more correctly) Yahweh, the true God! They sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play. They practiced rites in which they made themselves naked (v. 25), perhaps similar to those which were carried out by naked Babylonian priests.
During the forty years in the wilderness, the Israelites carried the tabernacle of God. However, some of them were not content with this, so they added something. They made unto themselves a Babylonian tabernacle that was carried also! “But ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chium, your images” (Amos 5:26; Acts 7:42-43). These were but other names for the sun-god Baal and the mother goddess Astarte. Because of this mixture, their songs of worship, sacrifices, and offerings were rejected by God.
At another period, the Israelites performed secret rites, built high places, used divination, caused their children to pass through the fire, and worshipped the sun, moon, and stars (II Kings 17:9-17). As a result, they were driven from their land. The king of Assyria brought men from various nations, including Babylon, to inhabit the land from which the Israelites had been taken. These also practiced heathenistic rituals and God sent lions among them. Recognizing such as the judgment of God, they sent for a man of God to teach them how to fear the Lord. “Howbeit every nation made gods of their own” (vs. 29-31), attempting to worship these gods and the Lord also – a mixture. “So” – in this way -- “they feared the Lord, and made unto themselves of the lowest of them priests, they feared the Lord, and served their own gods (v 32).
Mixture was also apparent in the days of the judges when a Levite priest who claimed to speak the word of the Lord served in a “house of gods” and was called by the title “father” (Judges 17:3, 13; 18:6). At the time of Ezekiel, an idol had been placed right at the entrance of the Jerusalem temple. Priests offered incense to false gods which were pictured upon the walls. Women wept for Tammuz and men worshipped the sun at dawn from the temple area (Ezk. 8).Some even sacrificed their children and “when” they had slain their children to their idols,” God said, “then they came the same day into my sanctuary” (Ezk. 23:38-39). Jeremiah’s message was directed to people who claimed to “worship the Lord” (Jer. 7:2), but who had mixed in paganistic rites. “Behold,” God said, “ye trust in lying words that cannot profit. Ye burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods, make cakes to the queen of heaven and come and stand before me in this house” (vs. 8-18).
Considering these numerous Biblical examples, it is clear that God is not pleased with worship that is a mixture. As Samuel preached, “If ye do return unto the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtoreth (the pagan mother worship) from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the Lord, and serve him only; and he will deliver you” (I Sam. 7:3).
We should remember that Satan doesn’t appear as a monster with horns, a long tail, and a pitchfork. Instead, he appears as an angel of light (II Cor. 11:14). As Jesus warned about “wolves in sheep’s clothing” (Matt. 7:15), so in numerous instances the paganism that was disguised in the outer garments of Christianity became a mixture that has deceived millions. (Rev. 12:9). It was like removing the warning label from a bottle of poison and substituting a peppermint candy label in its place. The contents are deadly just the same. No matter how much we may dress it up on the outside, paganism is deadly. True worship must be “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24), not pagan error.
Because of the cleaver ways that paganism was mixed with Christianity, the Babylonish influence became hidden, a mystery – “mystery Babylon.” But as a detective gathers clues and facts in order to solve a mystery, so in this article we have presented many Biblical and historical clues as evidence. Some of these clues may have seemed insignificant at first glance or when taken alone. But when the full picture is seen, they fit together and conclusively solve the mystery of Babylon – ancient and modern! Over the centuries God has called his people out of the bondage of Babylon. Still today his voice is saying, “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins” (Rev. 18:4).
It is a delicate task to write concerning religious subjects on which very fine and sincere people have strong differences. One wants to speak frankly enough to make a point, yet also to maintain a proper balance so that in disagreeing he is not needlessly disagreeable.
Salvation is not dependent on a human priest, Mary, the saints, or the pope. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life: no man comes unto the Father but by me” (John 14:6). “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Let us look to Jesus Christ who is the author and finisher of our faith, the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, the Lamb of God, the Captain of our Salvation, the Bread from Heaven, the Water of Life, the Good Shepherd, the Prince of Peace, the King of kings and Lord of lords!