Copycat Christian Conspiracies And Jesus’ Resurrection

It is written:

“You know about Jesus from Nazareth. God made him the Messiah by giving him the Holy Spirit and power. Jesus went everywhere doing good for people. He healed those who were ruled by the devil, showing that God was with him. 39  “We saw all that Jesus did in Judea and in Jerusalem. But he was killed. They put him on a cross made of wood. 40  But on the third day after his death, God raised him to life and let him be seen openly. 41  He was not seen by everyone, but only by us, the ones God had already chosen to be witnesses. We ate and drank with him after he was raised from death. 42  “Jesus told us to go and speak to the people. He told us to tell them that he is the one God chose to be the Judge of all who are living and all who have died. 43  Everyone who believes in Jesus will have their sins forgiven through his name. All the prophets agree that this is true.” (Acts 10:38-43 ERV)

Many in our day and age are being led away from the Jesus of the New Testament by the sensationalist claims of conspiracy theories. One of these theories rapidly growing in acceptance is the belief that Christianity “borrowed” its’ teachings of Jesus’ Resurrection from pre-existing pagan teachings. Hearing that there were pagan gods and goddesses who arose from the dead, it is easy for them to believe that Christianity is simply a “copycat” religion.

However, when one examines the facts regarding these alleged resurrections in pagan religion, he finds something quite different from what the conspiracy theories claim. The fact is, the evidence shows that the pagan religions borrowed their teachings of resurrection from Christianity! Keener has pointed out:

“Even apart from this observation, bodily resurrection was a Palestinian Jewish idea. It is difficult to conceive of a rapidly hellenizing Gentile church preaching a dying-and-rising mystery deity triggering Palestinian Jewish Jesus people to adopt a pagan idea and then modify it in a Palestinian Jewish direction (including the specifically Jewish language of “resurrection”). It is far more likely that later Gentiles attracted to a growing Jewish cult would have adopted and transformed a Palestinian Jewish understanding of the resurrection. 28 Supposed pagan parallels to the resurrection stories prove weak; Aune even declares that “no parallel to them is found in Graeco-Roman biography.” 29 Whether any “parallels” exist depends on what we mean by a “parallel”; but plainly none of the alleged parallels involves a historical person (or anyone) resurrected in the strict sense. This is probably in part because resurrection in its strict (bodily and permanent) sense was an almost exclusively Jewish belief, and among Jewish people was reserved for the future. Most pagans would have preferred to play down a savior’s or demigod’s human death. 30 Ancients commonly reported apparitions of deceased persons31 or deities, and hence occasionally those of persons who had become immortal, 32 but these are not resurrection appearances. Even the appearance of Apollonius of Tyana, which exhibits some parallels with the Gospel accounts, 33 is not an exception. This story appears in a third-century source, after Christian teaching on the resurrection had become widely disseminated; further and more to our present point, Apollonius proves that he has not died, not that he has risen. 34 In another third century CE work probably by the same author, the hero Protesilaos appears to people and lives on; he is said to have “come back to life,” though he refuses to explain the nature of this claim. 35 But whatever else his “return” from death might claim, it does not involve bodily resurrection: his body explicitly remains buried. 36 Moreover, even claims like this one made for Protesilaos do not predate the rise and proliferation of the Christian teaching about Jesus’ resurrection. 37….“But the parallels remain problematic. While there seems to be pre-Christian evidence for the account of Osiris’ rescusitation, 60 he is magically revivified, not transformed into an eschatological new creation. His corpse is awakened through the same potencies as exist in procreation, and he remains in the netherworld, still needing protection by vigilant gods, and replacement on earth by his heir. 61 Adonis’ death was mourned annually, 62 but his rising is not documented prior to the middle of the second century CE. 63 (Some sources suggest simply seasonal revivification, 64 which, as we argue below, differs greatly from early Jewish and Christian notions and origins of the resurrection.) Attis, too, was mourned as dead, 65 but there is no possible evidence for his resurrection before the third century CE, and aside from the testimony of the Christian writer Firmicus Maternus, no clear evidence exists before the sixth century CE.” (Craig S. Keener, The Historical Jesus of the Gospels, 420-424 (Kindle Edition, emphasis added, M.T.); Grand Rapids, Michigan; William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company)

Please notice two things with me from Keener’s observations.

First, it is the case that Christianity predates these claims of resurrection in the pagan religions. Christianity did not borrow its’ teachings from the pagans; instead, the pagans borrowed their teachings from Christianity.

Second, the conspiracy theorists who accuse Christians of “copycatting” from pagan religions often have to exaggerate and misapply the pagans actual writings in order to try and make their case. This is another serious problem with the Christian “copycat” assertion.

When it boils right down to it, the primary difference between Christianity and the pagan religions amounts to one word: proof.

The Jesus of the New Testament is a historical Person (verified by the genuine and credible Gospels of the New Testament, by other ancient Christian sources, by accident Jewish sources, and by ancient pagan sources). The evidence of His miracles and Resurrection have been confirmed by over 500 witnesses.

Please don’t be fooled by the “copycat” conspiracy theory.

Why not turn your life to Jesus Christ today and be saved from your sins (Acts 2:37-47; 1 John 1:7-2:2)?

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

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