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受了洗的异教

作者:丹尼·克鲁斯日期:2017-06-02 9:56:10浏览数:5234
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虽然刚刚来到这个世界,对前面会遇到什么危险还是一无所知,但幼小的新生儿只要躺在妈妈温暖的怀里,就会倍感安全。然而此刻,他突然感到母亲非常紧张。在靠近圣地时,母亲把孩子用力地搂在怀里,贴紧胸膛。他从未听过这么多人一起发出的轰隆声以及咏唱中传出的神秘音乐。他感到母亲的手臂开始颤抖,眼泪混着汗水滴落在襁褓上,并弄湿了包裹他的布料。长笛和手鼓传出的狂躁声,在山谷中不断地回响着。这时,母亲紧抱的双臂开始变软,突然,一个穿着白袍的男人,在夜空中,用他强有力的大手将男婴举起,并放在一个坚硬发烫的金属器皿上。

因为感到不安,宝宝开始哭。他呜咽着,努力地寻找妈妈怀抱的安慰。他的眼睛还不够健全,不能专注于他头上那个巨大铜牛的牛头。由于周围所焚烧的香熏痛了他的双眼,再加上青铜香炉的铜柄所散发出来的热量,使他难以忍受,他从呜咽变成了嚎啕大哭。他母亲也跟着他大声哀号,但这哭声却被震耳的鼓声,和成千上万狂舞者用脚踏地的轰隆声所淹没。突然,他被推了下去,从那人的手臂上滑落到燃烧的烈火中。他发出痛苦的尖叫,他的母亲歇斯底里地哀鸣着,但那只是徒增了不和谐的刺耳声。众多异教徒们在长笛和手鼓的奏鸣声中,舞蹈跳得愈加疯狂。在火焰噼啪作响声和孤独母亲凄凉的哭号声中,异教的祭司宣布:众人所敬拜的太阳神已经悦纳了他们的供物——那个男婴。

纵观历史,人们对太阳崇拜的实践极其残忍恐怖,已遍布于世界的每个角落。巴比伦人称太阳为“沙玛十”;埃及人称它为“Ra”;亚述人称之为“巴力”;迦南人称其“摩洛”;波斯人称它为“密特拉”;希腊人称之为“赫利俄斯”,德鲁伊教称其为“Hu”;罗马人称它为“索尔(不可战胜的太阳神)”。随着历史的发展,这些拜太阳的异教习俗影响了很多地区。包括亚洲的印度、日本,甚至北美洲的阿兹特克族以及每个土著部落。对于崇拜太阳神的起源,大多数学者认为可追溯到巴比伦时期。

巴比伦王国,是洪水后由当时的英雄之首——宁录所建立。(见创10:8-10)那时,地上有巨人,他们是上古时期的伟人。但随着他们的相继死去,新的种族似乎明显逊色了。毕竟宁录保留了其先祖所有的体力与智力特征。起初,宁录只是一个猎人,但随着时间的推移,他的冒险行径,却成为了追随者们的一个传奇。由于对他的强大战绩缺乏记载,宁录被提升到了超乎常人的地位,这种影响力在他所建立的社会中迅速扩大。终于,人们不仅开始尊他为王,而且拜他为神。

宁录非常傲慢,但也次于他的妻子——塞米勒米斯。塞米勒米斯以美丽绝伦和狡诈著称,并以铁腕控制政权。她如宁录一样,同样被后人所神化。在迷信思想的驱使下,当时的人们转离敬拜独一的真神上帝,而宁录和塞米勒米斯因着可怕的能力及美貌,则被供奉为太阳神和月亮神。

虽然对于宁录实际死亡的历史记载很模糊,但可以肯定的是,他留给了塞米勒米斯一个庞大的政权和与之相当的巨大困境。那就是,她该如何维护宁录所建立的帝国?只有一个方法,而且她对此着魔。她声称,宁录的灵魂已上升为太阳神。她口若悬河地向人们描述,宁录已经升为他们的保护神和帮助者。每天早晨,当他升起并在天空移动时,就给大地带来了光明和生命。晚上,他会下到地球的另一边,与地下的恶魔和魔鬼作战,保护人类免受毁灭。有时候,战争是血腥的,黄昏时红色的天空可作此凭据。每天早晨,百姓都要在日出前献祭,敬拜这位已故的领袖和得胜的保护者。这个计谋实在是太成功了。宁录的追随者们自愿离弃真神上帝,也就断绝了他们先祖曾拥有的获得生命知识的惟一途径,便只能凭借感官认知去生活。他们欣然接受了塞米勒米斯荒谬的捏造。可他们并不知道,自己已成为撒但邪恶计划中的棋子。撒但,谎言之父,就此为后世的每个异端教派奠定了一个共同的基础。

首先,是日期。他们致力于将一周的第一日(即周日),作为敬拜太阳神的日子(Sunday)。以此类推,一周的其余日子分别敬拜其他较小的天体。值得注意的是,虽然密特拉教后来重组了一些日子次序,但我们现今星期的由来,依然保留了古日耳曼民族的命名法,从中可看出他们将行星当作神来敬拜:

星期日(Sunday),敬拜太阳(Sun),以太阳神命名;

星期一(Monday)敬拜月亮(Moon),以月亮神命名;

星期二(Tuesday),敬拜火星,以战神蒂乌(Tiu)命名;

星期三(Wednesday),敬拜水星,以古代祭祀主神奥丁沃登(Woden)命名;

星期四(Thursday),敬拜木星,以北欧神话中的雷神托尔(Thor)命名;

星期五(Friday),敬拜金星,以女神弗雷亚(Freya)或弗丽嘉(Frigg)命名;

星期六(Saturday),敬拜土星,以罗马神话中的农神萨图尔努斯(Saturn)命名。

随着时光的流逝,异教领袖们开始为太阳崇拜添加了教义和仪式。他们宣称,如果太阳神赋予人以生命,那么他就需要生命来加强力量,支撑其在天空的旅程。因此,成千上万的男女和孩童,被以活祭的形式献给了太阳神。对于这种异教崇拜,上帝曾透过摩西警告说:“你不可向耶和华你的上帝这样行,因为他们向他们的神,行了耶和华所憎嫌所恨恶的一切事,甚至将自己的儿女用火焚烧,献与他们的神。”(申12:31)这些人被自私的宗教领袖欺骗,对自己的宗教信仰也一无所知,只是盲目遵循着魔鬼的教义。

宁录死后不久的一个春天,骄奢淫逸的塞米勒米斯被发现怀孕了。她召齐了巴比伦的文士,要他们为她准备一篇引人注目的新闻稿,她要召开发布会。她宣称:宁录透过太阳热烈的光线,使她怀孕了。这个让人期待的小孩就是太阳神的后裔,他将自称为神,其在地上的代理人则是塞米勒米斯。因此,塞米勒米斯,从此变成了“神的母亲”。这种言辞,在我们看来,显然是在亵渎上帝,但对于当时离弃真神上帝的国家而言,此种荒谬却是家常便饭。大众的迷信行为,为撒但的骗局提供了肥沃的土壤,使毒草丛生蔓延。

搭模斯(Tammuz)(结8:14),被称为“太阳神之子”的小孩,出生于12月25日。他的出生被誉为一个伟大的奇迹。因为其出生的日子是在冬至后,日照时间慢慢延长,因此也被视为是太阳重生的预兆,受到了人们喧声震天的欢呼颂赞。此后,12月25日便作为太阳神之子的生日,成为整个国家一年一度的节日。

像他所谓的父亲宁录一样,搭模斯也被认为是一位伟大的猎人。也许是因他征服一切的力量,不管怎样,他被神话为女神伊斯塔(Ishtar)的同盟。而女神伊斯塔,是自然界中掌管一切生殖能力的生育女神,也被视为月亮女神和天堂的女王。她是亚述人主要敬拜的女神。对于同一位生育女神,在不同的文化中,有着不同的名字。腓尼基人称其为亚斯他录(Ashtoreth),希腊和罗马人称之为阿施塔特(Astarte)(士2:13),日耳曼人称之为厄俄斯特(Eostre),盎格鲁·撒克逊人称之为春之女神依丝翠(Eastre)。在埃及,伊斯特尔又名伊希斯(Isis),是地狱之神欧西里斯(Osiris)的妻子和妹妹,且是太阳神荷鲁斯(Horus)的母亲。今日复活节(Easter)的兔子和彩蛋,早期正是用于象征着代表生命和繁殖的伊斯塔(Ishtar)。春分后的第一个满月,万物复苏时,正是举办一年一度庆祝其生日的异教节日。

不幸的是,塞米勒米斯的儿子搭模斯(也称为阿多尼斯Adonis,在古代神话中指的是“主”)竟被野猪獠牙所伤而英年早逝。在这里,传奇故事与时并进。有些人说,搭模斯三天后奇迹般地自我复活,也有人说,悲痛欲绝的伊斯塔去阴间找他,使他复活。数天后,伊斯塔继承了太阳神的王位,但疏于政务和缺乏经营的激情,全地都在哀痛中苦苦挣扎,民不聊生。据说,当全国举哀结束后,搭模斯变成了稳坐宝座的新的太阳神,他的名声最终甚至超过了宁录。

每年,在伊斯塔节(复活节)前的四十天,人们都要为搭模斯的惨死及被提升为太阳神,以禁食和自哀来纪念他的受苦和死亡。(这就是以西结书8:13-14中,上帝口为所说“为搭模斯哭泣”的可憎行为。)这个节期的最后一天,是一周的第一日,人们会到家附近的最高的一座山上。在那里,他们会用酒和肉向搭模斯献祭,并烧香磕头,以此来迎接日出,并高呼“我们的主复活了!”然后就开始为伊斯塔——这位生殖女神和天堂女王举行盛大的庆典。为了这一庆祝会,人们会把小蛋糕切成十字状(即今日常见的十字架上挂个圆圈的形状,有人说那个圆圈代表基督的荆棘冠,但在基督钉十字架之前它早已存在,那是异教徒用之象征生育女神的符号),然后他们将蛋糕在阳光的烘烤下吃掉,作为仪式的一部分。在那一天,人们会尽情狂欢,并经常以献活人为祭,作为异教庆典的最高潮。

这些古老的变态做法,在当时非常盛行,甚至连分别为圣、敬拜独一真神上帝的以色列民,也受到其负面的影响。犹太人曾向周围的异教徒妥协,允许一个又一个异教习俗掺杂在侍奉上帝的纯粹敬拜中,到最后,他们几乎完全随从了异教。在耶利米书7:17-19节,先知向我们揭示了上帝因祂子民拜偶像而心中悲伤:“‘他们在犹大城邑中和耶路撒冷街上所行的,你没有看见吗?孩子捡柴,父亲烧火,妇女抟面作饼,献给天后,又向别神浇奠祭,惹我发怒。’耶和华说:‘他们岂是惹我发怒呢?不是自己惹祸,以致脸上惭愧吗?’”(耶7:17-19)

事实上,混乱,是每位敬拜上帝的子民向邪恶世界妥协的必然结果,也是当时人们留给后代的遗产。

说到这,可能我们每学习一个宗教节日,就会发现,整个基督教界仿佛起源于异教文化,这实在是令人感到不安。但历史向我们证明,耶稣诞生于两千多年前,这一事实无可置疑。太阳之子,搭模斯的生日,成为所谓上帝之子的生日。哀悼搭模斯的第四十天,变成了基督教的“四月斋(大斋节)”,而搭模斯复活的传说,自然而然的,便假借基督复活的故事而广为流传。天堂女王的蛋糕,成为十字面包,伊斯塔可耻的生育仪式,演变为复活节的庆典。(顺便提一下,每年的复活节没有一个固定的日子,它依然是随月亮周期的移动而变化,落在春分第一个满月后的第一个星期日去庆祝。)

即便是较小的异教圣日或节期,也已渗入到基督教的文化中。在秋天,百花衰败的季节,异教文化相信,死者的灵魂会在此时出现在众人身边萦绕不回。除非有人祈求他们,并给他们以食物和住所,不然,人们担心这些灵魂便会留下来,给他们带来不幸。换句话说,“不给糖就捣蛋”。正因此,在万圣节那天,孩子们会挨家挨户的要糖果等礼物,如不遂其愿,便会恶作剧。在今天,人们之所以称之为万灵节,即指所有的灵魂将出现的前一晚,通常叫作万圣节。

西方的情人节,也是起源于古罗马的牧神节。在每年早春的洁净礼上,罗马教的神父们会手持羊皮鞭,模仿牧神,在街道上奔跑。而年轻的妇女们,则会聚集在街道两旁,祈望羊皮鞭抽在自己的头上,使她们在来年生儿育女。未婚男女会在随后的相亲会上,通过随机选择读出名字的方式而结为情侣。羊皮鞭后来又演变成罗马神话中爱神丘比特手中的箭。所以今天,在婚介中心安排男女见面时,会有针对性的安排双方交换情人节卡片。

还有许多其他例子,但上述提到的内容足以说明,我们今日的宗教文化和世俗文化,都或多或少地混杂着异教传统。为什么会这样呢?毕竟,我们还是处于开明时代的基督教国家,不是吗?前一个问题可能比后一个更容易回答。

基督教早期,人们生活很艰难。异教徒世界无情而强大,它试图消灭那些尊耶稣基督为救主的小教派。但殉道者的鲜血,却是教会福音的种子。随着时间的流逝,历史清晰地显明,基督教必将盛行。

当撒但用暴力来逼迫教会却招致失败时,它便采取了另一种新的策略——它要亲自进入教会,转而从内部去破坏教会。事实也证明,这是一个相对成功的阴谋。在公元四世纪,罗马帝国向成长中的基督教会,投入了大量的金钱,并赋予其极大程度上的政治力量,意图借此来扩大自己的统治。不幸的是,宗教和世俗力量的融合,造成了一种令人陶醉的混合体,且永远改变了那些经受过它的人们的信仰。在这种影响下,基督的身体——教会,不再是温顺无害,而成为吞噬那喂养她的手。公元538年,罗马皇帝君士坦丁(Justinian)宣布:由罗马教会来统治世界。从今以后,它要被称为“神圣罗马帝国”。

在罗马教会的黑暗统治下,人们的生活民不聊生。罗马教会对权力的更大渴望,也驱使她吸收了所有其他宗教的文化,并为己所用,于是各种异教邪说便更加明目张胆地掺入基督教的纯正道理之中,且混在一起,令人真假难辨。在所有的异教国家中,都有这种典型特性,那就是,将他们的神说成是能征服永恒的。在威尔·杜兰的《世界文明史》中,有这样一句话:“人的一生,每时每刻都有神在掌管着:有掌管房屋和花园的神;有掌管饮食的神;还有掌管健康与疾病的神。”——罗马教会把这些神统统吸纳其内,并以圣徒的名字给它们分别命名。例如,从前人们为死去的人向异教女神西布莉(Cybele)献上的祈祷,现在摇身一变成为向圣母玛利亚的雕像祷告。偶像和护身符也被保存下来,堂而皇之地演变为虔诚的敬拜之物和祭品,还有告解礼和赎罪券等等。更可怕的是,从前异教之国的国王被冠以是太阳神的化身,而如今罗马教会的教皇,则宣称自己是基督在地上的代理人。

早期的基督徒曾拒绝向一切虚假教义妥协,甚至因不愿在异教祭坛上献香而欣然殉道。然而在短短几代的时间里,道德黑暗的帷幕已将教会笼罩。因着渴望同化并征服异教,教会几乎将太阳崇拜的每一个特征都融入到自己的敬拜仪式之中。尽管犹太人憎恶这种通过军事手段迫使大批敬拜太阳神的罗马军队加入“信仰”,但教会领袖们早就擅自将神圣的安息日(星期六)转移到一周的第一日(星期日)。星期日被宣布为纪念耶稣的复活,且被定为宗教节日。对真理的狡猾歪曲,最终带来了对上帝伟大的道德律法——十条诫命的蔑视。随着时间的推移,这种巧妙的行为也实际地破坏了对宇宙创造主——独一真神上帝的敬拜,也为几个世纪后出现的进化论思想及其发展,开辟了广阔的道路。

今天,进化论只是纯正信仰大规模倾覆中的冰山一角。事实上,从我们的衣着打扮到言行举止,无一不渗透着异教传统。然而,若抛开这些传统的原始意义,许多习俗看上去似乎也无伤大雅。甚至有些披上了基督教的外衣的异教习俗,看上去似乎还是好的。但问题是,对于今天的基督徒,人们当如何面对圣诞节、复活节,又当如何对待星期日敬拜呢?既然已经没有多少人真正知道这些事情的来龙去脉,那么,今天的我们,是否还需要在意这些?

提出此类问题是合理的,且值得深思。若要寻找答案,最佳的源头就是圣经。在圣经中,上帝曾严厉地吩咐以色列人:“那时就要谨慎,不可在他们除灭之后,随从他们的恶俗,陷入网罗,也不可访问他们的神,说:‘这些国民怎样事奉他们的神,我也要照样行。’你不可向耶和华你的上帝这样行。”(申12:30,31)

为什么上帝的话语会如此严厉?因为祂完全不同于那些异教的神,人们得时刻留意其反复无常,且要不断地满足它们的要求。上帝是公义、慈爱、圣洁的,祂超乎万有之上。祂所要的,乃是一种截然不同的、更为崇高的敬拜,一种建基于祂与其子民之间的神圣关系上的敬拜。然而,太阳崇拜和偶像崇拜仪式,却阻断了人与上帝之间的一切关系,且在人们的意识中贬低了上帝。此外,这些异教敬拜中还包含了最败坏的行为,如献活人为祭。

所以我们必须问:“难道纪念耶稣的诞生和复活有什么不对吗?”当然不是。对每个真正的基督徒,耶稣的诞生与复活都充满了深刻意义。问题在于,这些日期,我们根本无法从圣经和历史记载中找到依据。并且,圣经中也未吩咐人们要遵守一年中的这些日子。相反,上帝以祂无限的智慧,希望我们在一年中的每一天都能牢记耶稣的诞生与复活,每一天当然也就包括了12月25日(圣诞节)和复活节。

基于此点,很显然,无论是圣诞节还是复活节,都不具有任何属灵意义。这些日子的选择,完全是基于异教徒的考虑,被人为地融入了基督教的信仰。人们已经不可能简单地忽视这些节日,因为它们已变成我们文化中的重要节日,虽然如此,但我们绝不应视这些日子为圣,因为它们根本不具备任何基于圣经的属灵意义。值得我们庆幸的是,这些源于异教的日子,尚没有取代或废除上帝律法的任何部分。

但这里还有一个问题,那就是,我们应当如何对待星期日敬拜呢?那不是一个合理的记念耶稣复活的日子吗?不!这是撒但惯用的伎俩。持守星期天就如狐狸和鸽子一同溜进鸡窝,也许鸽子不是母鸡也无妨,但如果狐狸留下来,就会摧毁整个鸡窝。

这究竟意味着什么?在罗马书第六章,圣经告诉我们,基督的被钉和复活对于基督徒的属灵意义,它绝未指示人们去守星期日以纪念基督的复活,而是预表着洗礼和随后“新生的样式”。(罗6:4)而最严重的问题是,星期日敬拜,乃是异教信仰中直接反对上帝权威的残留之一。圣经从没有说,我们可随意挑选一日来作为敬拜上帝的“圣日”。相反,上帝特别赐福与第七日(星期六),并定为“圣日”,这是我们所都不能漠视的。

安息日乃是对上帝创造之工的一个神圣纪念,是将上帝与所有假神分别出来的证据。上帝一直吩咐祂的子民,要将世俗与神圣区别开来,要分别为圣。而撒但,则不断地试图模糊圣俗之别。其最终目的,乃是要使罪为正,使义为俗。撒但成功了吗?希望你看看现今的基督教,就会答案自明了。

在圣经中,你找不到任何一处经文,提到要我们将神圣的安息日(星期六)更改为第一日(星期日)。基督降世的福音也不曾废除上帝的任何律法。只有那些受了撒但迷惑的人,才会去修改圣安息日。只有将这一不法的改变,隐藏在大量的异教仪式中,又使无数尚未悔改的异教徒“受洗”加入基督教,才能让人们以为,自己是在敬拜上帝。事实上,撒但早已成功地混入了整个基督教,并破坏了上帝神圣的律法。

《浸信会手册》的作者,爱德华·希斯克思博士(Dr. Edward T. Hiscox)曾在一群牧师面前坦率地承认:

“守安息日为圣的诫命,过去有,现在仍有,但那个安息日不是星期天。我热切地寻找资料,并已研究多年。因为我想知道,圣经在哪里可以找到,有关安息日变更为星期日的记载或凭据。最终我发现,它不在新约圣经之中,那里绝没有。并且,在整本圣经中,也没有任何经文,能证明安息日已经从第七日转到了七日的第一日。当然,我很清楚,在基督教的早期历史中,人们便已经开始遵守星期日了……但遗憾的是,它明确地烙刻着异教习俗的印记,且命以太阳神的名字。是背道的罗马教廷,藉着强制和遗赠,将之作为一种神圣遗产,传给了基督教新教!”(爱德华·希斯克思博士于1893年11月13日 在纽约教牧大会上宣读的论文)

在五光十色的各样习俗中,隐藏着众多异教信仰的毒蛇。撒但清楚地知道,惟有罪能将我们与耶稣基督的永恒之乐隔绝。为此,它精心地设下网罗。那么,我们会不会中了撒但的圈套呢?请让我们像大卫王一样向上帝献上祷告:

“求祢赐我悟性,我便遵守祢的律法,且要一心遵守。求祢叫我遵行祢的命令,因为这是我所喜乐的。”(诗119:34,45)



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英文:

Baptized Paganism
By Dennis Crews
 
So new to the world, so unaware of the danger, the tiny newborn is secure, nestled in the warm cradle of his mother s arms. Yet now he senses a strange tenseness in her body. Tightly, ever so tightly, she clasps him to her breast as they approach the sacred grounds. He has never heard the rumble of so many voices or the mystical sounds of the chants. His mother s arms have begun trembling and drops of tears mixed with sweat are dampening the swaddling cloth that covers him. Wild sounds of flutes and timbrels begin to echo down the mountain into the valley below. His mother s grasp weakens and suddenly the large, strong hands of a man garbed in white lift him into the night air and lay him high upon a hard, metallic surface. 
Insecure, the baby whimpers, seeking the comfort of his mother s arms. His eyes are not yet strong enough to focus upon the large, bronze calf s head above him. His whimpers turn into cries as smoke stings his eyes and the sculpted bronze hands supporting him become unbearably hot. His mother s cries join his but are soon muffled by the thundering of drums and the rhythmic shuffling of ten thousand feet. Suddenly he is pushed, and he slides down the sloping arms into the fire below. He gives a painful shriek. His mother s hysterical cries only add to the discordant shrillness of the flute and timbrels as the dance becomes more frenzied. When only the crackling of the fire and the mournful, lonely cries of the mother can be heard, the priest announces that the sun-god is pleased.
Throughout history the practice and horrors of sun worship have reached every region of the world. The Babylonians called the sun-god Shamash; the Egyptians, Ra; the Assyrians, Baal; the Canaanites, Moloch; the Persians, Mithras; the Greeks, Helios; the Druids, Hu; and the Romans, Sol Invictus (the Unconquerable Sun). The list continues down through history and encompasses cultures as diverse as the Hindus, the Japanese, and the Aztecs and comes as close to home as virtually every native tribe in North America. Most scholars trace the beginnings of sun worship to Babylon.
Babylon, the first metropolis, was founded by Nimrod soon after the flood (Genesis 10:8–10). There were giants walking the earth in those days, ancient men of renown from the earlier world, but as they slowly died, the new race seemed markedly inferior. Nimrod, however, retained all the physical and intellectual earmarks of his ancestors. At first Nimrod had been only a hunter but in the passing of time his escapades became the stuff of legend among his followers. Fewer recitations of his mighty exploits elevated his status to superhuman proportions, and the rapidly expanding society at his feet finally began to not only honor him as their king, but to worship him as their god.
Nimrod s arrogance was ultimately surpassed only by that of his wife, Semiramis. Notoriously beautiful and cunning beyond imagination, she wielded her own power with an iron hand. Like Nimrod, Semiramis was deified by the common people. To the superstitious minds of a race that had separated itself from worship of the one true God, Nimrod and Semiramis in their terrible strength and beauty were exalted as the sun and moon in human form. 
Though historical accounts of Nimrod s actual death are vague, it is certain that he left Semiramis with a large dominion and an equally large dilemma. How was she to maintain her hold on the empire he had built? There was but one solution, and she pursued it with diabolical zeal. Nimrod s spirit had ascended into the sun itself, she claimed. With breathtaking eloquence she described to the people his new and elevated role as their benefactor and protector. Each morning he would rise, bringing light and life to the land as he traveled across the sky. In the evening he would plunge below the edge of the earth to battle the subterranean evil spirits and demons that would otherwise crawl over and annihilate mankind. At times the battle would be bloody, and the red-streaked sky bore witness to the fray. Each morning the people were to lay their offerings before the rising sun and worship it as their departed leader and victorious protector. The plan was only too successful. In their self-imposed isolation from the worship of the living God, Nimrod s followers had also forfeited the only living link with the knowledge of their ancestors. Left with nothing but their physical senses to inform them, they readily accepted the preposterous fabrications of Semiramis. Unbeknownst to them, they had become pawns in the sinister plan of Satan, the arch-deceiver, as he laid the common foundation for every heresy of paganism.
It was decided that the first day of the week would thenceforth be dedicated to the worship of the sun-god, and in like manner the rest of the weekdays would be dedicated to worship of the lesser heavenly bodies. Remarkably, though Mithraism later reshuffled the order of several, our own weekdays today retain the Teutonic names of these same planetary deities. The first day of the week remains Sunday; Monday commemorates the moon; Tuesday, the planet Mars (Tiu); Wednesday, Mercury (Woden); Thursday, Jupiter (Thor); Friday, Venus (Frigg or Freya); and Saturday is clearly named for Saturn.
As generations passed, religious leaders began to add doctrines and ceremonies to sun worship. They declared that if the sun gave life, it must require life in order to strengthen it in its journey across the sky. In response, hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children were sacrificed to the sun-god. Of such worship, God declared through Moses, "Every abomination to the LORD, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods" (Deuteronomy 12:31). Deceived by self-serving leaders and knowing no other religion than their own, the people blindly adhered to the doctrines of devils.
One spring not many years following Nimrod s death, the voluptuous Semiramis was found to be with child. Calling the scribes of Babylon together, she issued a most remarkable press release. Nimrod had impregnated her, she claimed, through the lively rays of the sun. As the offspring of the sun-god, the anticipated child would itself lay claim to deity, and by proxy, she, Semiramis, would henceforth be the "mother of god.” Such blasphemy seems transparent in our day, but to a nation that had departed from the living God, the absurd became commonplace. The superstition of the masses was fertile ground for Satan s deceptive schemes, and like noxious weeds, they flourished.
On December 25, Tammuz, the child of the sun-god, was born. His birth was hailed as a great miracle. Falling as it did during the slowly lengthening days immediately after the winter solstice, it was also seen as an omen of the sun s rebirth and was heralded by tumultuous rejoicing. December 25 was thereafter observed as the birthday of the son of the sun-god, and became a yearly feast day throughout the kingdom. 
Like his supposed father Nimrod, Tammuz was reputed to have been a great hunter. Perhaps his greatest conquest of all, however, was his mythical union with Ishtar, the mother goddess who embodied all the reproductive energies of nature. Also variously regarded as the moon goddess and the queen of heaven, Ishtar was the principal female deity of the Assyrians. This same goddess, with certain variations, can be identified in other cultures as Ashtoreth (Phoenician), Astarte (Greek and Roman), Eostre (Teutonic), and Eastre (Saxon). Her counterpart in Egypt was Isis, wife and sister of Osiris and mother of Horus. Rabbits and eggs were both symbols of life and fecundity that early came to be identified with Ishtar. The yearly celebration honoring her took place around the first full moon after the spring equinox, when all of nature seemed to be bursting with reproductive vitality.
Unfortunately, the youthful Tammuz (also known as Adonis, meaning "lord" in classical mythology) met an untimely death at the tusk of a wild boar. Here legend overtakes history altogether. Some accounts say that after three days Tammuz miraculously resurrected himself; others say that the grief-stricken Ishtar journeyed far into the netherworld to find him. After many days she succeeded, but during her absence the passion of love ceased to operate and all of life on earth languished in mourning. By all accounts, when the lamenting was over, Tammuz was firmly ensconced as the new god of the sun, and his renown eventually exceeded even Nimrod s.
Every year following Tammuz tragic death and presumed ascension to the sun, the forty days preceding Ishtar s festival were set aside for fasting and self-affliction to commemorate his suffering and death. (It was this practice, "weeping for Tammuz,” that God called an abomination in Ezekiel 8:13, 14.) At the end of this period of mourning the people would waken early on the first day of the week and travel to the highest hills near their homes. There they would present their offerings of wine, meat, and incense and prostrate themselves before the rising sun, exclaiming "Our lord is risen!” Then would commence the festivities of Ishtar, queen of heaven and goddess of fertility. In preparation for this high celebration, the people would make small cakes, inscribing them with a cross (a pagan fertility symbol), for baking in the sun and eating as part of their ritual. The day would conclude in orgiastic revelry of a most debasing sort, and often included human sacrifices.
The practice of these ancient perversions was so widespread that even the nation of Israel, a people sanctified by worship of the one true God, did not escape their baleful influence. Ever compromising with their pagan neighbors, the Jews allowed their own pure worship to be adulterated with one heathen custom after another until at a last it was almost wholly corrupt. In Jeremiah 7:17–19, the prophet revealed God s clear displeasure at the idolatry of His people. "Seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger. Do they provoke me to anger? saith the LORD: do they not provoke themselves to the confusion of their own faces?"
Indeed, confusion was the inevitable result of every compromise by God s people with the ways of the unsanctified world. And confusion was the legacy left to the generations who came after.
It may be unsettling to learn that virtually every religious holiday now observed throughout Christendom originated in paganism, many hundreds of years before Christ, but ancient history proves it beyond a doubt. The birthday of the sun s child, Tammuz, became the alleged birthday of the Christ child. The season of mourning for Tammuz became Lent, and the resurrection legend of Tammuz conveniently lived on as the resurrection story of Christ. The cakes to the queen of heaven became hot cross buns, and the disgraceful fertility rites of Ishtar evolved into the celebration of Easter. (Incidentally, Easter is still a movable festival that finds its date each year from the cycles of the moon. It is always celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox.)
Even the lesser pagan holy days, or "holidays," were absorbed into Christian culture. During autumn, the season of decay, spirits of the dead were believed to be hovering nearby. If they were not prayed for and provided with adequate food and shelter, the people feared they would remain and haunt them with misfortune. In other words, "trick or treat." Today we are left with All Soul s Day—the evening before is called Eve of All Hallows, or more commonly, Halloween.
St. Valentine s Day is what remains of Lupercalia, an early spring purification rite in which the priests would run through the streets with whips made from strips of goatskin. With these whips they would strike women, insuring them of fertility for the coming year. Matchmaking between young people would occur later in the day by random selection of names. The goatskin whips evolved into little arrows shot by Cupid, and matchmaking today occurs through the more purposeful exchange of Valentine cards.
Many other examples might be given, but suffice it to say that our religious and secular culture today is littered with pagan traditions, large and small. How did it happen? After all, we are a Christian nation in an enlightened age, aren t we? The first question is probably easier to answer than the second.
Life was difficult at best during the early years of the Christian church. The pagan world was ruthless and powerful, and it sought to stamp out the little sect of worshipers who revered Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. But the blood of the martyrs proved to be the seed of the church, and as time passed it became clear that Christianity would prevail.
When Satan failed to destroy the church by violence, he resorted to a new strategy—he would join the church himself and corrupt it from within. This proved to be a far more successful plan. By the fourth century A.D., the Roman Empire had invested the growing church with its own wealth and a large degree of political power, thinking to extend its own domain. Unfortunately for the world, this blend of religious and temporal power was an intoxicating mix that forever changed those who tasted it. No longer the meek and harmless body of Christ, the church devoured the hand that fed her, and in 538 A.D. Emperor Justinian decreed that the Roman Church now ruled the world. Henceforth, it would be known as the "Holy Roman Empire."
The world staggered under the oppression of the Roman Church during the dark ages that followed. In her thirst for ever greater power and domination, she absorbed all other religions into herself and adulterated the pure doctrine of Christ with an amalgam of superstitions and heresies. This characteristic itself was typical of all the pagan nations, which by conquest perpetually added to their list of deities. Says Durant in The Story of Civilization: "There were gods who presided over every moment of a man s life, gods of the house and garden, of food and drink, of health and sickness.” The Roman Church gathered these gods into her bosom and gave them saints names. Prayers for the dead, instead of ascending to Cybele were now offered up to the Virgin Mary. The use of idols and amulets was preserved, as were offerings of appeasement (penance and indulgences). The pagan kings were believed to be incarnations of the sun-god, and the Roman Church had its counterpart in the pope as the vicar of Christ.
The earliest Christians had denied all compromise with false doctrine and had gladly suffered horrible martyrdoms for refusing even to place a pinch of incense at the feet of pagan altars. Yet in just a few generations of time, a curtain of moral blackness shrouded the church. Ever anxious to assimilate and conquer, she integrated virtually every feature of sun worship into her own rites. To spite the Jews whom they hated and to accommodate the legions of sun worshipers entering the "faith" through conquest, church leaders very early presumed to transfer the sanctity of the Sabbath to the first day of the week. Sunday was proclaimed a holiday in honor of Jesus resurrection, a cunning perversion that eventually brought scorn upon God s great moral law, the Ten Commandments. In time this master stroke also effectively obliterated the worship of God as the literal Creator of the universe, which in turn prepared a wide path for the emergence of evolutionary philosophy centuries later.
Today evolution is only the tip of a massive, many-headed iceberg. From the words we use down to the way we wear our clothes, our culture is thoroughly steeped in pagan traditions. Stripped of their original significance, however, many of these customs appear to be relatively harmless and some, updated with their Christian dressings, seem actually wholesome. But how should the Christian of today relate to Christmas, or Easter, or Sunday keeping? Not many people are really aware of the history of these things, so should we even be concerned?
These questions are reasonable, and they deserve thoughtful consideration. The best place to begin looking for answers is in the Bible itself. God strictly commanded Israel, "Take heed to thyself ... that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God" (Deuteronomy 12:30, 31).
Why were God s words so strong? Because He was utterly unlike the heathen deities, whom the people regarded as capricious and in need of continual appeasement. God Himself was just, loving, and above all, holy. He required a different, higher kind of worship, based on a holy relationship with His people. The very forms of sun worship and idolatry precluded any kind of relationship between God and His people, and degraded their conceptions of Him. Moreover, these forms encompassed the most debasing practices, including human sacrifices.
So we must ask, "Is there anything wrong with commemorating the birth and resurrection of Jesus?" Of course not. These events are filled with deep meaning for every true Christian. The only problem is that neither the Bible nor history has preserved the dates of these events for us. Consequently, there is no biblical command to observe them on any particular day of the year. God in His wisdom left us free to remember them any and every day of the year, including December 25 and Easter Sunday.
At this point it should be evident that Heaven places no religious significance on Christmas or Easter. The selection of these days was based solely on pagan considerations, and men later contrived the means by which to incorporate them into the Christian religion. It is impossible simply to ignore the holidays that have become such a staple in our own culture, yet we should not invest them with a sacredness that they do not deserve. At least we may be thankful that these days do not seek to displace or nullify any part of God s holy law.
But now how about Sunday keeping—isn t that a legitimate commemoration of Christ s resurrection? Ah! Here is where Satan s plot has been leading all along. Sunday observance is the fox that slipped into the chicken coop along with the pigeons. The pigeons might not be real chickens, but it s the fox who will destroy the whole brood if he stays.
What in the world does this mean? In Romans 6, the Bible gives us the symbol of Christ s death and resurrection for the Christian, and it isn t Sunday keeping. It is baptism and a subsequent "walk in newness of life” (verse 4). But most important, Sunday keeping is the one remnant of paganism that is placed in direct opposition to God s authority. We have not been told merely to pick one day out of seven for worship. Rather, we are told that God specifically blessed the seventh day and made it holy—a fact we dare not disregard. 
The Sabbath is a sacred memorial of the creative power which distinguishes God from all false deities. God has always required His people to put a difference between the sacred and the profane, between the holy and the common. Satan has unceasingly sought to blur this distinction. His final goal is to make sin appear righteous, and righteousness to appear profane. Has he succeeded? Look at modern Christianity and decide for yourself.
Nowhere in the Scriptures is any mention made of transferring the Sabbath s sanctity to another day. Nowhere does the gospel of Christ nullify any portion of God s law, though the gates of hell have raged against it. It was only by hiding the change within a mass of pagan ritual and "baptizing" the whole lot, that Satan succeeded in causing the entire Christian world to break God s holy law while thinking to honor Him. Dr. Edward T. Hiscox, author of "The Baptist Manual," made this candid admission before a group of ministers:
There was and is a commandment to keep holy the Sabbath day, but that Sabbath day was not Sunday. Earnestly desiring information on this subject, which I have studied for many years, I ask, where can the record of such a transaction [change of the Sabbath] be found? Not in the New Testament, absolutely not. There is no scriptural evidence of the change of the Sabbath institution from the seventh to the first day of the week. Of course I know quite well that Sunday did come into use in early Christian history. ... But what a pity that it comes branded with the mark of paganism, and christened with the name of the sun god, when adopted and sanctioned by papal apostasy and bequeathed as a sacred legacy to Protestantism! (In a paper read before a New York Ministers Conference, November 13, 1893.)
There is a serpent hidden in the bundle of colorful customs handed to us from paganism. Satan well knows that sin is the only thing that can separate us from the joys of eternity with Christ, and thus he has laid his snare. Will we be taken in the net of our adversary? Or will our prayer, like David s, be— "Give me understanding and I shall keep thy law yea; I shall observe it with my whole heart. Make me to go in the path of thy commandments, for therein do I delight"? (Psalm 119:34, 35).