In Defense of Christmas

in-defense-of-christmas

In the upcoming series of articles on Christmas I hope to share what I’ve found in regards to this holiday.  In this particular article I hope to share some background on my “journey” in regards to this holiday.

For many years I was adamantly opposed to Christmas and spent a lot of time and effort in exposing the “evils” of the holiday. In recent years I’ve come to see my understanding of this holiday was wrong and since I’ve publicly taught against this holiday in error with this website I believe it is only right that I publicly correct my error with the venue of this website.

In 2003 I came to the belief that Christmas was evil and each year following I would dig deeper into the holiday and re-examine my understanding, usually focusing on the “evil” of the holiday.  There is an abundance of literature out there which is in opposition to Christmas so it is not hard to find more information about how “evil” the holiday is.  The problem is that most of this literature is based upon the foundation of faulty research and poor/incomplete understanding of history.

In 2011 I was working on a series of studies called “Daily Tidbits” in which I was looking at themes of the year and examining them in light of the concept of “Shadows of Messiah.”  At the time I was greatly opposed to Christmas so it was a bitter pill to swallow when I began to see that God placed many shadows of Messiah within the winter season and in particular the worship of God during this time.

For the next few years I was still against Christmas but continued to re-examine it with the Shadows of Messiah focus.  As I continued this for a few years I began to see more and more good in the holiday so I asked the Lord to show me whether or not this holiday was pleasing or not to Him.  I believe He showed me the answer when He led me to completely re-examine my understanding and truly dig into the history of the holiday from original sources as opposed to research of others.

It wasn’t until 2015 that my convictions were finally changed so this was a four year process for me.  For those who are going to read these articles and are currently opposed to the holiday, I don’t expect you to be convinced easily or soon.  My hope is that I can share the same information the Lord led me to that slowly changed my heart and let Him guide you according to His Spirit into whatever direction He so desires.

Going back to the fall of 2003 I had a “Paul on the road to Damascus” experience which led me into deep Bible study and seeking God’s will in all things.  Around November of 2003 I ran across Herbert Armstrong’s teaching opposing Christmas as a pagan holiday and became convinced this teaching had legitimacy.  I tried to find information to refute Armstrong’s teaching but there was nothing “out there” at the time which I could access.

I then read Lew White’s book Fossilized Customs and Alexander Hislop’s Two Babylons.  After reading these things and seeing anti-Christmas teaching in encyclopedias, the History Channel and Doc Marquis’ video at the Prophecy Club I was completely convinced Christmas was evil.

The mistake I made is that I didn’t fully examine the claims of the aforementioned teachers.  At the time I saw a lot of hypocrisy in the Church (especially amongst televangelists) and this teaching fed my preconceived animosity against the Church.  This was not righteous judgment.  I believed my thought process was based upon zeal for God but in reality it was carnal envy.

The word for “envying” in 1 Corinthians 3:3 is ζῆλος ‘zēlos’ which also means zealousness. Zealousness for God’s truth is great (Revelation 3:19; Titus 2:14), but we must be careful that this zealousness does not turn into carnal envy. Although we have been given God’s Spirit, we still have sin dwelling in our carnal flesh (Romans 7:11, 17-18). Carnality is carnality whether or not it is disguised as religion or not. Sadly, many times our zealousness for God can be used by satan to lead us into persecution of one another in the guise of religious zeal (Acts 22:3-4; Philippians 3:6; Romans 10:2-4).
This religious ‘passion’ does not bring forth the righteousness of God (James 1:20). It is ‘devilish’ (James 3:13-18).

I’ve come to see however that the aforementioned teachings are full of errors historically and Scripturally.  My foundation for opposition against Christmas was not based upon truly looking at history and source documents, my foundation was based upon the writings of men who lived 1800 years or more after the time in which they were teaching about.  Herbert Armstrong and Lew White recapitulated the teachings of Alexander Hislop and men like him who cannot be relied upon for accurate history.  Hislop, I believe, was sincere in his efforts to oppose the Roman Catholic Church but in his zealousness went astray trying to connect the RCC to Nimrod.

There are many people and ministries today which oppose Christmas because of the perceived “paganism” of the holiday but sadly are relying upon the foundation of teachings by men such as Alexander Hislop.  I’ve read and watched a lot of these teachings in my yearly re-examinations of Christmas in order to get more “arrows for my quiver” to stand against the holiday so I’ve run across pretty much every argument you can muster against the holiday.  From my estimation, most of the “anti-Christmas” teachings out there are “Hislopian” in nature.

In upcoming articles I hope to look at these arguments against Scripture and give a defense against them based upon history and most importantly, the Word of God.

alexander-hislop
Alexander Hislop

First, let’s look at Alexander Hislop who is the foundation of most modern anti-Christmas beliefs, either directly or indirectly.

For me personally, Alexander Hislop’s book looked authoritative as Hislop referenced many ancient documents.  However, as one digs deeper, the claims of Hislop as to what was said in these documents and what was really said are not congruent.

“Though many of Hislop’s claims about pagan origins cannot be confirmed by any reliable history book, he repeatedly gives impression his arguments are based on recognized facts!”  {Babylon Connection – Ralph Woodrow pg 86}

“Another thing that seems to give a lot of credibility to Hislop’s work is the use of many footnote references – “over 260 original sources of facts,”  a publisher’s note says!  But having put forth considerable effort to find many of the old books to which he refers, I have discovered that the references often do not match his claims.”  {Babylon Connection – Ralph Woodrow pg 88}

Alexander Hislop – Two Babylon’s

Two Babylons

 

Many of the beliefs of the “Christmas is pagan” camp come forth from the teaching of a man named Alexander Hislop.  I have found that Hislop made numerous mistakes and brought forth many many half-truths and outright lies in his book “Two Babylons.”  Those who are seeking to worship God in Spirit & Truth (John 4:24) should discard Hislop’s claims as they are, in essence, a fantasy.

Hislop formed his own mythology, a mixture of various stories from paganism to form an entirely new “religion”.  Many who focus on the need to “come out of Babylon” have entered into just another “Babylon” (mixture) of Hislop’s mind.  This is not to condemn Hislop as I believe he was sincere in his beliefs, but this does not mean his findings are factual.  I’m not saying Hislop was a complete fraud but I don’t believe his research can be used as a legitimate source to form a theory condemning Christmas as pagan.

 

Much of Hislop’s theories are based on poor etymology. Scripture warns us of this (1 Timothy 6:4; 2 Timothy 2:14). Another aspect that Hislop relies on are fables, in particular Jewish fables to prove his theory which Scripture also warns about (1 Timothy 1:4; 4:7; 2 Timothy 4:4; Titus 1:14; 2 Peter 1:16).

“…Mr. Hislop’s reasoning would make anything of anything. By the aid of obscure passages in third-rate historians, groundless assumptions of identity, and etymological torturing of roots, all that we know, and all that we believe, may be converted … into something totally different.”  {The Two Babylons – Hislop’s hypothesis debunked}

2Ti 2:14  Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers.
2Ti 2:15  Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
2Ti 2:16  But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.

2Ti 2:23  But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.
2Ti 2:24  And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,
2Ti 2:25  In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
2Ti 2:26  And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

1Ti 6:3  If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;
1Ti 6:4  He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,
1Ti 6:5  Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.

Another aspect that Hislop relies on are fables, in particular Jewish fables, to prove his theory.  The Holy Scriptures warn us not to fall into this trap.

1Ti 1:4  Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.
1Ti 1:5  Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:
1Ti 1:6  From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling;
1Ti 1:7  Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.
1Ti 1:8  But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully;
1Ti 1:9  Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,
1Ti 1:10  For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;
1Ti 1:11  According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.

1Ti 4:7  But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.

2Ti 4:1  I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;
2Ti 4:2  Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
2Ti 4:3  For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
2Ti 4:4  And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

Tit 1:9  Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.
Tit 1:10  For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision:
Tit 1:11  Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake.
Tit 1:12  One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies.
Tit 1:13  This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith;
Tit 1:14  Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.
Tit 1:15  Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.
Tit 1:16  They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.

Hislop’s teaching is vain jangling which Paul warned Timothy of.

1Ti 1:4  Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.
1Ti 1:5  Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:
1Ti 1:6  From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling;
1Ti 1:7  Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.
1Ti 1:8  But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully;
1Ti 1:9  Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,
1Ti 1:10  For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;
1Ti 1:11  According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.

Vincent Word Studies

N.T.o. olxx. oClass. The word illustrates the writer’s fondness for unusual compounds. Jangling is an early English word from the old French jangler, comp. jongleur a teller of tales. Hence jangling is empty chatter.

Hislop’s ‘Babylonian Mystery Religion’ Teaching Exposed and Overturned.

“In 1858 a Scottish minister called Alexander Hislop published a book called ‘The Two Babylons’. The book’s basic teaching is that modern Christianity, in its more ritualistic form (as evidenced within Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy), is entirely pagan and can be traced back to the worship of Nimrod and Semiramis and to the very worst of ancient pagan practises. I myself read this book when it was loaned to me by a friend around 1981. The book was certainly fascinating but I recall being disturbed that almost none of Hislop’s claims could really be substantiated by any reputable source, although it was certainly ‘meat and drink’ to the gullible. I did not entirely reject Hislop’s thesis but put in on the back burner for a few years with the feeling that Hislop’s points were not backed up with conclusive evidence (something which Hislop himself was apparently blind to). Basically, I came to the conclusion that outrageous accusation is not the same thing as carefully compiled and decisive evidence.

Today, of course, the book is soundly rejected because of the flawed and mostly unsubstantiated mish-mash which it is. Note, for instance, what the Wikipedia Encyclopedia says about this book,

The book has been severely criticized for its lack of evidence, and in many cases its contradiction of the existing evidence: for instance, the Roman state religion before Christianity did not worship a central Mother Goddess, and Jupiter was never called “Jupiter-Puer.” Likewise, Semiramis lived centuries after Nimrod, and could neither have been his mother, nor married him. Hislop also makes unacceptable linguistic connections and fanciful word plays, e.g. the letters IHS on Catholic Holy Communion wafers are alleged to stand for Egyptian deities Isis, Horus and Seth, but in reality they are an abbreviation for Ihsous, the Latin spelling of Jesus’s name in Greek (Ιησους), although popularly, they stand for the Latin Iesus Hominum Salvator meaning Jesus, Savior of Mankind (which also fits the teaching of Transubstantiation, where the wafer and wine are said to become the body and blood of Christ).” (Source: Wikipedia article, Alexander Hislop)

I believed that – as late as 1998 – no self-respecting evangelical would wish to touch this book; imagine my astonishment, then, when one day – circa 1998 – I found this book still for sale in a highly reputable evangelical book shop! Actually, perhaps naively, even now many still cling to every (usually erroneous) word of Hislop.

Originally influenced by this error-strewn book, Ralph Woodrow wrote Babylon Mystery Religion. But this honest man has since withdrawn this book (an action which has caused him much financial loss) because of his later honest acceptance of Hislop’s flaws. See Woodrow’s frank and honest admission about his Hislop-inspired book and about the errors of Hislop HERE.

Here is just one brief quote from Woodrow’s article to help us to note the flawed reasoning which Hislop so often used and which spread to the cults and sects:

“Some claim that round objects, such as round communion wafers, are symbols of the Sun-god. But they fail to mention that the very manna given by God was round! (Exod. 16:14). Some are ready to condemn all pillars and historical monuments as pagan. But they fail to take into account that the Lord himself appeared as a pillar of fire; and, in front of his temple, there were two large pillars (Exod. 13:21,22; 2 Chron. 3:17).”

I am not going to go further into the errors of Hislop here but would commend Woodrow’s article to all, plus the book which he has now written, The Babylon Connection?, to help put right freely-admitted earlier errors (see the earlier link).

How worrying then, that even now in November 2005, when I did a Google search for ‘The Two Babylons’ and ‘Alexander Hislop’, the first 15 pages which came up were overwhelmingly in support of Hislop’s position (most of these pages were from the websites of the cults and sects but some extreme fundamentalists were also represented). I finally only found about 3 references out of a few hundred which Google produced which understood that Hislop’s arguments are now discredited!

Please be aware that in rejecting Hislop’s wild claims about Roman Catholicism I am in no way defending error where it is present within Romanist doctrine, indeed, my whole internet ministry is based on exposing theological error (wherever it may be found), but I believe that it is vital for Christian Apologetics and Countercult ministries to ensure that they carefully substantiate all claims.”

 

See also:

 The Two Babylons – Hislop’s hypothesis debunked

“On September 17, 1859, The Saturday Review openly castigated Hislop in a stinging rebuttal of his arbitrary hypothesis:

In the first place, his whole superstructure is raised upon nothing.

Our earliest authority for the history of Semiramis wrote about the commencement of the Christian era, and the historian from whom he drew his information lived from fifteen hundred to two thousand years after the date which Mr. Hislop assigns to the great Assyrian Queen.

The most lying legend which the Vatican has ever endorsed stands on better authority than the history which is now made the ground of a charge against it.

Secondly, the whole argument proceeds upon the assumption that all heathenism has a common origin.  Accidental resemblance in mythological details are taken as evidence of this, and nothing is allowed for the natural working of the human mind.

Thirdly, Mr. Hislop’s reasoning would make anything of anything. By the aid of obscure passages in third-rate historians, groundless assumptions of identity, and etymological torturing of roots, all that we know, and all that we believe, may be converted … into something totally different.

Fourthly, Mr. Hislop’s argument proves too much. He finds not only the corruptions of Popery, but the fundamental articles of the Christian Faith, in his hypothetical Babylonian system…

We take leave of Mr. Hislop and his work with the remark that we never before quite knew the folly of which ignorant or half-learned bigotry is capable.”

 

The Two Babylons:  A Case Study in Poor Methodology

“While seeking to condemn the paganism of Roman Catholicism, Hislop produced his own myths. By so doing, he theorized that Nimrod, Adonis, Apollo, Attes, Baal-zebub, Bacchus, Cupid, Dagon, Hercules, Januis, Linus, Lucifer, Mars, Merodach, Mithra, Moloch, Narcissus, Oannes, Odin, Orion, Osiris, Pluto,
Saturn, Teitan, Typhon, Vulcan, Wodan, and Zoroaster were all one and the same.

By mixing myths, Hislop supposed that Semiramis was the wife of Nimrod and was the same as Aphrodite, Artemis, Astarte, Aurora, Bellona, Ceres, Diana, Easter, Irene, Iris, Juno, Mylitta, Proserpine, Rhea, Venus, and Vesta.

Take enough names, enough stories, and enough centuries; translate from one language to another; and a careless writer of the future might pass on all kinds of misinformation. Gerald Ford, an American president, might be confused with Henry Ford, the car manufacturer .  Abraham Lincoln might end up as the inventor of the automobile, the proof being that many cars had the name “Lincoln.” The maiden name of Billy Graham’s wife is Bell.  She has sometimes gone by the name Ruth Bell Graham. The inventor of the telephone was Alexander Graham Bell.  By mixing up names, someone might end up saying Billy Graham was the inventor of the telephone; or that he invented Graham Crackers. In fact, the inventor of Graham Crackers was Sylvester Graham. Again, similarities could be pointed out. Both men were named Graham. Both men were ministers. But the differences make a real difference: Sylvester was a Presbyterian and Billy a Baptist, and they were from different generations.

Building on similarities while ignoring differences is an unsound practice. Atheists have long used this method in an attempt to discredit Christianity altogether, citing examples of pagans who had similar beliefs about universal floods, slain and risen saviors, virgin mothers, heavenly ascensions, holy books, and so on.  As Christians, we don’t reject prayer just because pagans pray to their gods. We don’t reject water baptism just because ancient tribes plunged into water as a religious ritual. We don’t reject the Bible just because pagans believe their writings are holy or sacred.  The Bible mentions things like kneeling in prayer, raising hands, takin g off shoes on holy ground, a holy mountain, a holy place in the temple, pillars in front of the temple, offering sacrifices without blemish, a sacred ark, cities of refuge, bringing forth water from a rock, laws written on stone, fire appearing on a person’s head, horses of fire, and the offering of first fruits.

Yet, at one time or another, similar things were known among pagans. Does this make the Bible pagan? Of course not!

If finding a pagan parallel provides proof of paganism, the Lord Himself would be pagan. The woman called Mystery Babylon had a cup in her hand; the Lord has a cup in His hand (Ps. 75:8). Pagan kings sat on thrones and wore crowns; the Lord sits on a throne and wears a crown (Rev. 1:4; 14:14). Pagans worshiped the sun; the Lord is the “Sun of righteousness” (Mal. 4:2).

Pagan gods were likened to stars; the Lord is called “the bright and Morning star” (Rev. 22:16). Pagan gods had temples dedicated to them; the Lord has a temple (Rev. 7:15). Pagans built a high tower in Babylon; the Lord is a high tower (2 Sam. 22:3). Pagans worshiped idolatrous pillars; the Lord appeared as a pillar of fire (Exod. 13:21).”
The Two Babylons – Hislop’s hypothesis debunked

“20th Century historians have since reconsidered Hislop’s thesis and found it wanting – but for those who had rashly nailed the Hislopean flag to their masts, it was far too late. In a series of embarrassing retractions, Woodrow abandoned his original views and wrote a second book – The Babylon Connection? – in which he confessed that his previous studies had been shallow and unprofessional:

As time went on, however, I began to hear rumblings that Hislop was not a reliable historian, I heard this from a history teacher and in letters from people who heard this perspective expressed on the Bible Answer Man radio program.  Even the Worldwide Church of God began to take a second look at the subject.  As a result, I realized I needed to go back through Hislop’s work, my basic source, and prayerfully check it out.

As I did this, it became clear: Hislop’s “history” was often only an arbitrary piecing together of ancient myths.  He claimed Nimrod was a big, ugly, deformed black man.  His wife, Semiramis, was a beautiful white woman with blond hair and blue eyes.  But she was a backslider known for her immoral lifestyle, the inventor of soprano singing and the originator of priestly celibacy.

He said that the Babylonians baptized in water, believing it had virtue because Nimrod and Semiramis suffered for them in water; that Noah’s son Shem killed Nimrod; that Semiramis was killed when one of her sons cut off her head, and so on.  I realized that no recognized history book substantiated these and many other claims.

The subtitle for Hislop’s book is “The Papal Worship Proved to Be the Worship of Nimrod and His Wife.”  Yet when I went to reference works such as the Encyclopædia Britannica, The Americana, The Jewish Encyclopædia, The Catholic Encyclopædia, The Worldbook Encyclopædia – carefully reading their articles on “Nimrod” and “Semiramis” – not one said anything about Nimrod and Semiramis being husband and wife.  They did not even live in the same century.  Nor is there any basis for Semiramis being the mother of Tammuz.

I realized these ideas were all Hislop’s inventions.

After considerable work in finding old reference books to which Hislop referred, it was not uncommon to find things taken out of context.  He sought to link the round communion wafers of the Roman Catholic Church with paganism, for example, by citing Wilkinson’s ANCIENT EGYPTIANS.

But Wilkinson also said the Egyptians used oval and triangular cakes, folded cakes, cakes shaped like leaves, animals, a crocodile’s head, etc.  But Hislop did not mention this.  His claims about the cross symbol, the letters I.H.S., candles, and halos were also in error.

Because many of these teachings were interwoven in my book, it could not simply be a case of producing a revised edition.  Honesty, despite the financial loss to our ministry, demanded a correction of this teaching. For this reason, we now publish a 128-page book “THE BABYLON CONNECTION?” which explains all that is involved in this, and includes 60 illustrations and 400 footnote references.

We believe the best way to combat errors in the Roman Catholic Church (or any other group) is by the Scriptures themselves – not by trying to find pagan parallels in ancient mythology.  Things that are indeed pagan should be rejected, of course; but we should not brand things as being pagan when this is really not the case.

In my earlier Christian experience, certain literature fell into my hands which claimed paganism had been mixed into Christianity. While the Roman Catholic Church was usually the target, it seemed other churches had also been contaminated by customs and beliefs for which pagan parallels could be found.

“The Two Babylons” by Alexander Hislop (1807-1862), with its alarming subtitle, “the papal worship proved to be the worship of Nimrod and his wife,” was THE textbook on which much of this teaching was based. Over the years, this book has impacted the thinking of many people-ranging all the way from those in radical cults to very dedicated Christians who hunger for a move of God and are concerned about anything that might hinder that flow. Its basic premise is that the pagan religion of ancient Babylon has continued to our day, in disguise, as the Roman Catholic Church and is described in the book of Revelation as “Mystery Babylon the Great”-thus, the idea of TWO Babylons, one ancient, and on modern. Because Hislop’s book is very detailed, having a multitude of notes and references, I assumed, as did many others, it was factual. We quoted “Hislop” as an authority on paganism, jut like “Webster” might be quoted on word definitions.

As a young evangelist I began to share a sermon on the mixture of paganism into Christianity, and eventually wrote a book based on Hislop-“Babylon Mystery Religion.” In time, my book became quite popular, went through many printings, and was translated into Korean, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and several other languages. I came to be regarded by some as an authority on the subject of pagan mixture. Even a noted Roman Catholic writer, Karl Keating, said: “Its best-known proponent is Ralph Woodrow, author of ‘Babylon Mystery Religion’.”

Many preferred my book over “The Two Babylons” because it was easier to read and follow. Sometimes the two books were confused with each other. Letters in a steady flow were received praising my book. Only occasionally would there be a dissenting voice. ONE WHO DISAGREED was Scott Klemm, a high school history teacher in southern California. Being a Christian, and appreciating other things I had written, he began to show me EVIDENCE THAT HISLOP WAS NOT A RELIABLE HISTORIAN. As a result, I realized that I needed to go back through Hislop’s work, my basic source, and prayerfully check it out!

As I did this, it became clear-Hislop’s “history” was often only mythology. Even though myths may sometimes reflect events that actually happened, an arbitrary piecing together of ancient myths can not provide a sound basis for history. Take enough tribes, enough tales, enough time, jump from one time to another, from one country to another, pick and choose similarities-why anything could be “proved”!

The concern about not having anything pagan in our lives can be likened to a ship crossing a vast ocean. This concern has taken us in the right direction, but as we come to a better understanding as to what is actually pagan and what is not, a correction of the course is necessary in our journey. This is not a going back, but a correction of the course as we follow “the shining light, that shines more and more unto the perfect day” (Prov. 4:18).

Although we challenge some of Hislop’s claims in THE BABYLON CONNECTION?-this is not intended as an attack against him personally. As far as we know, he was a dedicated Christian, a brother in Christ. Nor is it our goal in writing this book to merely discredit another book. Instead, it is our desire that this effort will help us understand “the way of God more perfectly” (cf. Acts 18:26), find a biblical balance, and glorify Him who said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).”   {From Ralph Woodrow’s Website}

“Though many of Hislop’s claims about pagan origins cannot be confirmed by any reliable history book, he repeatedly gives impression his arguments are based on recognized facts!”  {Babylon Connection – Ralph Woodrow pg 86}

“Another thing that seems to give a lot of credibility to Hislop’s work is the use of many footnote references – “over 260 original sources of facts,”  a publisher’s note says!  But having put forth considerable effort to find many of the old books to which he refers, I have discovered that the references often do not match his claims.”  {Babylon Connection – Ralph Woodrow pg 88}

“If the teaching about pagan origins has a positive side, it would be that it forms a consciousness that there can be things in our lives and churches that do not please the Lord and hinder the flow of the Holy Spirit.  but, if the anti-pagan teaching is carried too far, it can have a negative and fruitless effect.  Pretty soon virtually all churches are wrong – not just the Roman Catholic Church – so that one might suppose he is doing God’s work by condemning churches and fellow Christians as pagans.  His message to others may become “I have no need of you” (1 Cor. 12:21).  So who does he align with?  Himself?

Too long it has been said:  “We saw one over here ministering in the name of Jesus, but we rejected him because he did not belong to our group.”  But Jesus says: “Do not reject him, he who is not against us is for us” (cf.  Lk. 9:49, 50)- emphasizing the principle of inclusion, not exclusion.”

“This is not compromise, but compassion, as we become “all things to all men” that we “might by all means save some” (1 Cor. 9:22, 23)  {Babylon Connection – Ralph Woodrow pg 118-119}

“Some have quoted the statement of Moses, “You shall not add unto the word which I command you” (Deut. 4:2) as though it meant that only those things actually spelled out in the Bible are valid.  On this basis, one group refused to eat potatoes or tomatoes – because they are not mentioned in the Bible!

When Moses told the Israelites not to add to the word he commanded them, it must be understood in context.  It cannot mean God had no further revelation to his people – beyond what Moses said – for then Deuteronomy would have been the last book in the Bible!  Indeed, this is the error the Samaritans fell into, believing no books added after Deuteronomy were authoritative.  Consequently, they taught that Mount Ebal was where men should worship God (Deut. 27:4); while the Jews, accepting the later books of the Bible, placed their focus on Jerusalem (2 Chron. 7:12).  This difference prompted the Samaritan woman at the well to say to Jesus: “Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and you say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship” (John 4:20).  The reply of Jesus, surpassing details about a geographical location, pointed out that God is a Spirit and those who worship him must do so in spirit and in truth.”  {Babylon Connection – Ralph Woodrow pg  99}

“If a pastor could add nothing to the Bible, his sermons would consist only of reading or reciting the Bible.  He could not give his personal testimony of what God has done in his life, yet – in the Bible – Paul repeatedly did this!  The pastor’s sermons could not give any contemporary illustrations, yet Jesus and the apostles – in the Bible – commonly did this:  a farmer sowing seed, shepherds tending sheep, men who run in a race, soldiers preparing for battle, a wayward son, the rudder on a ship, etc.  It is strange to say, but there is a danger for some, like the Pharisees of old, of becoming so strict about always being Biblical, they become un-biblical.
Make no mistake about it, nothing can be added as far as salvation is concerned; clearly this is found in Christ (Acts 4:12).  “For other foundation can no man lay that that is laid which is Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 3:11), yet on this foundation, we do build.  The wrong is not that we build, but how we build, as Paul explains (verses 10-15).  Following the Day of Pentecost, things were added, a notable example being the missionary outreach to Gentiles that developed (Acts 11:18).  Even that portion of the Bible that we call the New Testament was added after Pentecost!”

“Rather than hastily condemning a practice as wrong because it is not spelled out in the Bible, it would be better to ask:  Is it spiritually fruitful?  Does it glorify Christ?  Is it in harmony with the Bible?  If not, then of course it should be discarded along with anything that is truly pagan.” {Babylon Connection – Ralph Woodrow pg  99}

“By citing pagan similarities, the Bible itself could be condemned as being “pagan.”  { Babylon Connection – Ralph Woodrow pg 100}

The word Bible itself can be condemned as “pagan”

“The word ‘Bible’ did not appear as a title for the complete Christian Scriptures until the 5th century.  According to Harper’s Bible Dictionary, “Byblos (the Phoenician city from which the word ‘Bible’ is derived) was for centuries a center of Adonis worship similar to that of Tammuz”  So, what are we to do?  Waste time preaching against the word ‘Bible’”?  {The Babylon Connection – Ralph Woodrow pg 98}

“If we build on similarities, ignoring differences, nearly anything can be made out to be pagan.  Atheists have used the same method, rejecting the Bible altogether, supposing its writers borrowed their ideas from paganism.  But in many cases, it was the other way around.  Adam Clarke, from whom many of the references mentioned here were gleaned, says pagans often borrowed from events and practices recorded in the Bible.  This point was emphasized by Tertullian.”  {Babylon Connection – Ralph Woodrow pg 105}

Hislop’s ‘Babylonian Mystery Religion’ Teaching Exposed and Overturned:  The Commendable Intellectual Honesty of Ralph Woodrow

Towards a Legitimate Methodology

“Whenever one encounters a proposed example of pagan influence, one should demand that its existence be properly documented, not just asserted.  The danger of accepting an inaccurate claim is too great.  The amount of misinformation in this area is great enough that it is advisable never to accept a reported parallel as true unless it can be demonstrated from primary source documents or through reliable, scholarly secondary sources.

After receiving documentation supporting the claim of a pagan parallel, one should ask a number of questions:

1.  Is there a parallel?

Frequently, there is not.  The claim of a parallel may be erroneous, especially when the documentation provided is based on an old or undisclosed source.

For example: “The Egyptians had a trinity.  They worshiped Osiris, Isis, and Horus, thousands of years before the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost were known” (Robert Ingersoll, Why I Am an Agnostic).

This is not true.  The Egyptians had an Ennead—a pantheon of nine major gods and goddesses.  Osiris, Isis, and Horus were simply three divinities in the pantheon who were closely related by marriage and blood (not surprising, since the Ennead itself was an extended family) and who figured in the same myth cycle.

They did not represent the three persons of a single divine being (the Christian understanding of the Trinity).  The claim of an Egyptian trinity is simply wrong.  There is no parallel.

2.  Is the parallel dependent or independent?

Even if there is a pagan parallel, that does not mean that there is a causal relationship involved.  Two groups may develop similar beliefs, practices, and artifacts totally independently of each other.

The idea that similar forms are always the result of diffusion from a common source has long been rejected by archaeology and anthropology, and for very good reason: humans are similar to each other and live in similar (i.e., terrestrial) environments, leading them to have similar cultural artifacts and views.

For example, Fundamentalists have made much of the fact that Catholic art includes Madonna and Child images and that non-Christian art, all over the world, also frequently includes mother and child images.  There is nothing sinister in this.  The fact is that, in every culture, there are mothers who hold their children!

Sometimes this gets represented in art, including religious art, and it especially is used when a work of art is being done to show the motherhood of an individual.  Mother-with child-images do not need to be explained by a theory of diffusion from a common, pagan religious source (such as Hislop’s suggestion that such images stem from representations of Semiramis holding Tammuz).

One need look no further than the fact that mothers holding children is a universal feature of human experience and a convenient way for artists to represent motherhood.

3.  Is the parallel antecedent or consequent?

Even if there is a pagan parallel that is causally related to a non-pagan counterpart, this does not establish which gave rise to the other.  It may be that the pagan parallel is a late borrowing from a non-pagan source.

Frequently, the pagan sources we have are so late that they have been shaped in reaction to Jewish and Christian ideas.  Sometimes it is possible to tell that pagans have been borrowing from non-pagans.  Other times, it cannot be discerned who is borrowing from whom (or, indeed, if anyone is borrowing from anyone).

For example: the ideas expressed in the Norse Elder Edda about the end and regeneration of the world were probably influenced by the teachings of Christians with whom the Norse had been in contact for centuries (H. A. Guerber, The Norsemen, 339f).

4.  Is the parallel treated positively, neutrally, or negatively?

Even if there is a pagan parallel to a non-pagan counterpart, that does not mean that the item or concept was enthusiastically or uncritically accepted by non-pagans.  One must ask how they regarded it.  Did they regard it as something positive, neutral, or negative?

For example: circumcision and the symbol of the cross might be termed “neutral” Jewish and Christian counterparts to pagan parallels.  It is quite likely that the early Hebrews first encountered the idea of circumcision among neighboring non-Jewish peoples, but that does not mean they regarded it as a religiously good thing for non-Jews to do.

Circumcision was regarded as a religiously good thing only for Jews because for them it symbolized a special covenant with the one true God (Gen. 17).  The Hebrew scriptures are silent in a religious appraisal of non-Jewish circumcision; they seemed indifferent to the fact that some pagans circumcised.

Source.

We would do well to follow such a methodology. It is logical, rational, objective – and above all, intelligent. It is just the sort of methodology that we would wish others to employ when examining our own faith.

Conclusion
The evidence presented in Leeming’s book (combined with my time at university and my personal studies in Greek, Norse, Celtic, Anglo-Saxon, Arabian, Christian and Jewish mythology) has led me to believe that there are common sources for many of the primal myths found throughout history. The first of these (naturally enough) is history itself, while the second is the predisposition of the human psyche.

To argue (as Hislop does) that the sole source is a shared religious tradition, is to ignore the plain facts of history and invite any amateur scholar to deconstruct the entire Christian faith on the basis of a few coincidental similarities.

A foolish mistake indeed.”

ralph woodrow

Ralph Woodrow, was considered the “modern day Alexander Hislop” due to his book “Babylon Mystery Religion” which was based upon Alexander Hislop’s research.  I know of numerous believers (formerly myself) who believe that Christian holidays are “pagan” based primarily on Woodrow’s book.

Ralph Woodrow later came out with a book called “The Babylon Connection?” which refutes Hislop’s theory after Woodrow dug deeper into the claims of Hislop and found out they were false. In essence, Hislop formed his own mythology based upon connecting various myths from around the world and attributing them to Nimrod, Semiramis and Tammuz. The problem is that there is no historical evidence that Nimrod ever knew anyone by the name of Semiramis. There’s really no evidence that a person named Tammuz ever lived either…Tammuz was a vegetation god but there’s no evidence he was ever a real person.

 

Message from Ralph Woodrow regarding the book BABYLON MYSTERY RELIGION

“For a number of years my book BABYLON MYSTERY RELIGION was very popular, enjoyed a wide circulation, and was translated into various languages. To this day, we do not cease to receive orders and inquiries about it. Despite its popularity, several years ago we pulled it out of print and now offer a replacement book THE BABYLON CONNECTION?

Because misinformation about this decision persists on the Internet, and in other ways, the aim of this article is to set the record straight.

According to one rumor, “the Catholics” put so much pressure on me, I had a heart attack and almost died! Consequently, I “recanted” and wrote the other book. There is no truth to this!

Another rumor is that my motives were financial—my desire was to be popular and make more money. To the contrary, BABYLON MYSTERY RELIGION was extremely popular and provided more income to our ministry than all other books and offerings put together! We have faced much financial loss because of the decision to pull the book out of print.

Some letters we have received have been very warm, commending me for honesty and integrity, expressing appreciation for the clarification provided by the replacement book THE BABYLON CONNECTION? But other letters have been mean-spirited—that I am “stupid,” “scum,” “scared of the truth,” a “low down coward,” a “traitor to Christ,” following “a false god,” and am an “undercover Jesuit”! One even said, “I hope you die soon, I want you dead!”

It puzzles me how some can be so fanatical against one set of errors—or what they perceive to be errors—only to develop greater errors: becoming judgmental, hateful, and dishonest.

My original book had some valuable information in it. But it also contained certain teachings that were made popular in a book many years ago, THE TWO BABYLONS, by Alexander Hislop. This book claims that the very religion of ancient Babylon, under the leadership of Nimrod and his wife, was later disguised with Christian-sounding names, becoming the Roman Catholic Church. Thus, two “Babylons”—one ancient and one modern. Proof for this is sought by citing numerous similarities in paganism. The problem with this method is this: in many cases there is no connection.

Let’s suppose that on May 10th a man was stabbed to death in Seattle. There were strong reasons for believing a certain person did it. He had motive. He was physically strong. He owned a large knife. He had a criminal record. He was known to have a violent temper and had threatened the victim in the past. All of these things would point to him as the murderer, except for one thing: on May 10th he was not in Seattle—he was in Florida!

So is it with the claims about pagan origins. What may seem to have a connection, upon further investigation, has no connection at all!

By this method, one could take virtually anything and do the same—even the “golden arches” at McDonald’s! The Encyclopedia Americana (article: “Arch”) says the use of arches was known in Babylon as early as 2020 B.C. Since Babylon was called “the golden city” (Isa. 14:4), can there be any doubt about the origin of the golden arches? As silly as this is, this is the type of proof that has been offered over and over about pagan origins.

By this method, atheists have long sought to discredit the Bible and Christianity altogether—not just the Roman Catholic Church.

By this method, one could condemn Protestant and evangelical denominations like the Assemblies of God, Baptist, Church of Christ, Lutheran, Methodist, Nazarene, etc. Basic things like prayer, and kneeling in prayer, would have to be rejected, because pagans knelt and prayed to their gods. Water baptism would have to be rejected, for pagans had numerous rites involving water, etc.

By this method, the BIBLE itself would need to be rejected as pagan. All of the following practices or beliefs mentioned in the Bible, were also known among pagans—raising hands in worship, taking off shoes on holy ground, a holy mountain, a holy place in a temple, offering sacrifices without blemish, a sacred ark, city of refuge, bringing forth water from a rock, laws written on stone, fire appearing on a person’s head, horses of fire, the offering of first fruits, tithes, etc.

By this method, the LORD himself would be pagan. The woman called Mystery Babylon had a cup in her hand; the Lord has a cup in his hand (Psa. 75:8). Pagan kings sat on thrones and wore crowns; the Lord sits on a throne and wears a crown (Rev. 1:4; 14:14). Pagans worshipped the sun; the Lord is the “Sun of righteousness” (Mal. 4:2). Pagan gods were likened to stars; the Lord is called “the bright and morning star” (Rev. 22:16). Pagan gods had temples dedicated to them; the Lord has a temple (Rev. 7:15). Pagan gods were pictured with wings; the Lord is pictured with wings (Psa. 91:4).
Here is a list of the some of the unsubstantiated claims that are made about the religion of ancient Babylon:

• The Babylonians went to a confessional and confessed sins to priests who wore black clergy garments.

• Their king, Nimrod, was born on December 25. Round decorations on Christmas trees and round communion wafers honored him as the Sun-god.

• Sun-worshippers went to their temples weekly, on Sunday, to worship the Sun-god.

• Nimrod’s wife was Semiramis, who claimed to be the Virgin Queen of Heaven, and was the mother of Tammuz.

• Tammuz was killed by a wild boar when he was age 40; so 40 days of Lent were set aside to honor his death.

• The Babylonians wept for him on “Good Friday.” They worshipped a cross-the initial letter of his name.

It is amazing how unsubstantiated teachings like these circulate—and are believed. One can go to any library, check any history book about ancient Babylon, none of these things will be found. They are not historically accurate, but are based on an arbitrary piecing together of bits and pieces of mythology.

Hislop, for example, taught that mythological persons like Adonis, Apollo, Bacchus, Cupid, Dagon, Hercules, Janus, Mars, Mithra, Moloch, Orion, Osiris, Pluto, Saturn, Vulcan, Zoraster, and many more, were all Nimrod! He then formed his own “history” of Nimrod! He did the same thing with Nimrod’s wife. So, according to his theory, Nimrod was a big, ugly, deformed black man. His wife, Semiramis—also known as Easter, he says—was a most beautiful white woman with blond hair and blue eyes, a backslider, inventor of soprano singing, the originator of priestly celibacy, the first to whom the unbloody mass was offered! This is not factual history—it is more in the category of tabloid sensationalism.

Some claim that round objects, such as round communion wafers, are symbols of the Sun-god. But they fail to mention that the very manna given by God was round! (Exod. 16:14). Some are ready to condemn all pillars and historical monuments as pagan. But they fail to take into account that the Lord himself appeared as a pillar of fire; and, in front of his temple, there were two large pillars (Exod. 13:21,22; 2 Chron. 3:17).

Because Babylon had a tower (Gen. 11:4), some suppose this must be why there are church buildings with towers or steeples: they are copying Babylon! A newspaper reporter in Columbus, Ohio, wrote to me about this. In that city, and numerous other places, this claim has been made. Let me say it quite clearly: No church ever included a steeple or tower on their house of worship to copy the tower of Babel! Why discredit thousands of born-again Christians by promoting ideas that have no connection? If a tower in itself is pagan, God would be pagan, for David described him as “my high tower” (2 Sam. 22:3; cf. Prov. 18:10).

No Christian who puts a bumper sticker with a fish symbol on the back of his car has ever done so to honor the fish-god Dagon. No congregation has ever put a cross on a church building for the purpose of honoring Tammuz. No Christian has ever gone to an Easter sunrise service to worship Baal. No Christian has ever worshipped a Christmas tree as an idol. Claims that imply “all these things started in Babylon,” are not only divisive and fruitless, they are untrue.

The concern about not wanting anything pagan in our lives can be likened to a ship crossing a vast ocean. This concern has taken us in the right direction, but as we come to a better understanding as to what is actually pagan and what is not, a correction of the course is necessary in our journey. This is not a going back, but a correction of the course as we follow “the shining light, that shines more and more unto the perfect day” (Prov. 4:18).”

“To all my brothers and sisters in Christ who feel that finding Babylonian origins for present-day customs or practices is of great importance, my advice is to move cautiously in this area, lest we major on minors. If there are things in our lives or churches that are indeed pagan or displeasing to the Lord, they should be dealt with, of course. But in attempting to defuse the confusion of Babylon, we must guard against creating a new “Babylon” of our own making.” {Babylon Connection – Ralph Woodrow pg 32}

“If the teaching about pagan origins has a positive side, it would be that it forms a consciousness that there can be things in our lives and churches that do not please the Lord and hinder the flow of the Holy Spirit. but, if the anti-pagan teaching is carried too far, it can have a negative and fruitless effect. Pretty soon virtually all churches are wrong – not just the Roman Catholic Church – so that one might suppose he is doing God’s work by condemning churches and fellow Christians as pagans. His message to others may become “I have no need of you” (1 Cor. 12:21). So who does he align with? Himself?

Too long it has been said: “We saw one over here ministering in the name of Jesus, but we rejected him because he did not belong to our group.” But Jesus says: “Do not reject him, he who is not against us is for us” (cf. Lk. 9:49, 50)- emphasizing the principle of inclusion, not exclusion.”
“This is not compromise, but compassion, as we become “all things to all men” that we “might by all means save some” (1 Cor. 9:22, 23) {Babylon Connection – Ralph Woodrow pg 118-119}

 

“By citing pagan similarities, the Bible itself could be condemned as being “pagan.”

“If we build on similarities, ignoring differences, nearly anything can be made out to be pagan. Atheists have used the same method, rejecting the Bible altogether, supposing its writers borrowed their ideas from paganism. But in many cases, it was the other way around. Adam Clarke, from whom many of the references mentioned here were gleaned, says pagans often borrowed from events and practices recorded in the Bible. This point was emphasized by Tertullian.”
“If we base conclusions on similarities alone, not only the Bible, but the Lord himself would be pagan!
The pagan “woman” called “Mystery Babylon” had a cup in her hand; the Lord has a cup in his hand (Psa. 75:8).
Pagan kings sat on thrones and wore crowns; the Lord sits on a throne and wears a crown (Rev. 1:4; 14:14).
Pagans worshipped the sun; the Lord is the “Sun of righteousness” (Mal. 4:2).
Pagan gods were likened to stars; the Lord is called “the bright morning star” (Rev. 22:16).
Pagan gods had temples dedicated to them; the Lord has a temple (Rev. 17:15).
Pagans built a high tower in Babylon; the Lord is a high tower (2 Sam. 22:3).
Pagan gods were pictured with wings; the Lord is pictured with wings (Psa. 91:4).
Janus, “the god of doors and hinges,” was represented with a “key,” and called Patulcius and Clusius, “the opener and shutter.”  But the Lord Jesus, speaking to the church at Philadelphia in Asia Minor – as though to counter this – says He has a “key” and that He “opens, and no man shuts, and shuts, and no man opens” (Rev. 3:7).  Pagan may have regarded Janus as their opener and shutter, but to Christians, the true opener and shutter is Jesus Christ!
In each of these examples there is a similarity – but the differences are AWESOME! Primitive men may have worshipped a rock, but as a Biblical writer put it, “Their rock is not as our Rock!” (Deu. 32:31).”  {Babylon Connection – Ralph Woodrow pg 105-106}

Following are a couple examples of “pagan parallels” in the feasts celebrated by Israel.

firstfruits
Babylon Connection – Ralph Woodrow pg 105

 

feast of tabernacles
Babylon Connection – Ralph Woodrow pg 104

More pagan parallels from Ralph Woodrow’s book “The Babylon Connection?”

Babylon Connection – Ralph Woodrow pg 100

 

Babylon Connection – Ralph Woodrow pg 100

 

Babylon Connection – Ralph Woodrow pg 101

 

Babylon Connection – Ralph Woodrow pg 101

Babylon Connection – Ralph Woodrow pg 101

 

Babylon Connection – Ralph Woodrow pg 101

 

Babylon Connection – Ralph Woodrow pg 102

 

Babylon Connection – Ralph Woodrow pg 102

 

Babylon Connection – Ralph Woodrow pg 102

 

Babylon Connection – Ralph Woodrow pg 102

 

Babylon Connection – Ralph Woodrow pg 102

 

Babylon Connection – Ralph Woodrow pg 102

 

Babylon Connection – Ralph Woodrow pg 103

 

Babylon Connection – Ralph Woodrow pg 103

 

Babylon Connection – Ralph Woodrow pg 103

 

Babylon Connection – Ralph Woodrow pg 103

 

rod

 

Babylon Connection – Ralph Woodrow pg 103

 

Babylon Connection – Ralph Woodrow pg 104

 

Babylon Connection – Ralph Woodrow pg 104

 

Babylon Connection – Ralph Woodrow pg 104

 

Babylon Connection – Ralph Woodrow pg 104

 

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 The Two Babylons – Hislop’s hypothesis debunked

The Commendable Intellectual Honesty of Ralph Woodrow…

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Pagan Parallels

Catholicism and Paganism – Is the Catholic Church the New Babylon?

 The Babylon Connection

 

Holidays

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blessing-4

 

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