Sunday: Memorial of Creation or Mithraism?

By COGwriter

When we were in Greece in June 2007, my wife Joyce took a photograph of the following which is actually named “Sunday Church”.

Sunday Church Naxos Greece

Sunday Church, Naxos Greece

Is Sunday a memorial of creation or a memorial of Mithraism?

Notice the following news account:

Asia News, Italy – Sept 9, 2007

Vienna (AsiaNews) – Sunday is an “interior necessity” for Christians, but also for all of the west where activism has reduced rest to time that is “free ….. and empty”, and with is exploitation of natural resources ahs exposed God’s creation to “multiple dangers”: with these Christian, ecological and human motivations Benedict XVI reaffirmed the value of Sunday as a day of rest, of “encounter with the Lord”, of humanity’s recreation from a society such as Austria’s – and many others – which seeks to reduce Sunday to yet another day of commercial trade or another “empty” day…

Sunday – said the pontiff, has been transformed in our Western societies…

Sunday is also the Church’s weekly feast of creation – the feast of thanksgiving and joy over God’s creation. At a time when creation seems to be endangered in so many ways through human activity, we should consciously advert to this dimension of Sunday too. Then, for the early Church, the first day increasingly assimilated the traditional meaning of the seventh day, the Sabbath. We participate in God’s rest, which embraces all of humanity. Thus we sense on this day something of the freedom and equality of all God’s creatures…

But the Bible disagrees with the pope as it says that the seventh-day Sabbath is the memorial of creation:

For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it (Exodus 20:11).

Where did Sunday then come from?

There are many theories. Here is one I read yesterday from the 21st century historian Craig Harline:

The Roman calendar has long featured numerous annual festivals and an eight day market cycle, but it had no tradition of weekly commemoration of a particular day. During the first century AD, this changed as Rome adopted a seven-day week of its own, shaped by Jewish, planetary, and native Roman traditions…

To begin with, Sun Day mattered more than even among Roman pagans, who still far outnumbered Christians and who may well have influenced how Christians worshiped on their special day.

The second century pagan empire was not irreligious…on Sun Day, Roman pagans began with early services in honor of the rising Sun and Sun God…

More important in raising the status of Sun Day among pagans was Mithraism. This movement was related to the emperor’s Invincible Sun Cult but carried much broader appeal, especially among the empire’s multitude of soldiers. Followers of Mithra did emphasize Sun Day, and with greater impact than early Christians. In fact they may have influenced the Christian choice of the first day of the week for worship and some Christian forms of worship. Purification by baptism, the virtues of abstinence…setting aside heaven for the pure…and celebrating the birth of their God on December 25 are all allowable parallels. Another was Mithraism’s treatment of Sun Day.

Christians assigned their own meanings to such practices…Christ was the true Sun, and east was the direction in which Christ ascended into heaven…the similarities in worship, the new status of the first day among both groups at about the same time, the pagan assumption that Christians were fellow Sun-worshipers, and the emergence of the Christian metaphor “Christ the Sun” all suggest a connection of some sort (Harline C. Sunday: A History of the First Day from Babylonia to the Super Bowl. Doubleday, NY, 2007, pp. 5,9-10).

Absolutely astounding! There is nothing in the Bible to suggest Jesus Christ is the Sun nor that east was the direction in which Christ ascended into heaven (to verify that latter point, simply read the account in Acts 19-11)–yet people who claimed Christ AND Sunday, claimed such non-biblical positions.

Actually, the Bible is clear that humans are not to worship any celestial bodies, which includes the sun:

And take heed, lest you lift your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven, you feel driven to worship them and serve them, which the LORD your God has given to all the peoples under the whole heaven as a heritage (Deuteronomy 4:19).

Although in English, the terms “son” and “sun” sound exactly the same, that is not the case in either Greek nor Latin. Furthermore, the Greek for the expression Christ the Sun would be Χριστός τό Ηλίου. Ηλίου meant sun, but was also the name of the sun god (Helios).

Wikipedia has this interesting statement:

In Late Antiquity a cult of Helios Megistos (“Great Helios”) drew to the image of Helios a number of syncretic elements, which have been analysed in detail by W. Fauth by means of a series of late Greek texts, namely: an Orphic Hymn to Helios; the so-called Mithras Liturgy (Helios. Wikipedia. verified 09/10/07).

Notice that Helios is tied to Mithraism. And that the cult of Helios drew syncretic elements. Combining “Christianity” was pagan elements is syncretic.

Does any true Christian think that real Christians were going around saying, “Christ is Helios”?

Of course not!

Thus, this is apparently why those into Mithraism would consider that the “Christians” that did this were sun-worshipers like them. This probably brought the two groups (Mithraism/Helios followers and sun-honoring Christ professors) closer together and may better explain how what passes for mainstream Christianity adopted such non-biblical practices such as a December 25th celebration called Christmas.

Several articles of related interest may include:

Sunday and Christianity Was Sunday observed by the apostolic and true post-apostolic Christians? How clearly endorsed Sunday?
What Does the Catholic Church Teach About Christmas and the Holy Days? Do you know what the Catholic Church says were the original Christian holy days? Was Christmas among them?
The Sabbath in the Early Church and Abroad Was the seventh-day (Saturday) Sabbath observed by the apostolic and post-apostolic Church?
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church?

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