egypt03I received the following question:

So the other day I got into it with one of my co-workers who is an atheist and apparently he has quite a bit of hate for Christians or anything of God.  He is under the impression that Christianity was stolen from Egyptian religions from earlier centuries and the Egyptian religion ultimately stole it from the stars where there is a story of the crucifixion and the story of the gospel before Christianity stole it.  It was never supposed to be a true life story.  I’m pretty sure that he would debate if Jesus was a real man who existed.  What are your thoughts on this?  Have you heard of anything like this?  I’m guessing that he heard all this trash from a God-hating television documentary which he mentioned to me weeks earlier.  It’s interesting because he was claiming that all Christians are really stupid for believing in a God.  Although his religion of atheism did not account for how non-life passed to life.  When questioned he answered through his other “god” TIME which settles all debate apparently.  He also believes in love and morality which I said cannot truly exist without the presence of a Creator.  He apparently has some belief in an over-arching power or energy like the Eastern religions.  Do you have any thoughts to add to my information?

No, I had not heard of this particular claim, but it is not surprising. As you probably know from reading the Companion Bible, Satan often tried to anticipate God and counterfeit the things of God before God actually came to that part of His plan (Canaanites in the land of Israel, the Code of Khammurabi before the Law, demon possession before Christ’s birth, the anti-Christ before Christ’s second coming, etc.) If there are similarities in earlier religions to both what was in Judaism and what is in Christianity, then this is not too surprising. Satan knew things about God’s plan in advance, and this is a great way of trying to discredit it.

That said, from what I know of and could find on the Egyptian religion, it appears to me that this is largely someone with an axe to grind trying to discredit Christianity. Some of the arguments, for example, are based on elements of Christianity that are not Biblical, and which might have pagan origins anyway. Some are based on “similarities” that are highly questionable…for example, the father/mother/son gods and goddess motif that goes back perhaps to Nimrod. This idea was around before Egypt, and the behavior of this trio in pagan religions is far from moral or Christ-like. As you know, Catholicism has tended to deify Mary, calling her the “queen of heaven,” which goes right back to this pagan theme. But this is not real, Biblical truth.

If your co-worker is an atheist, he has an axe to grind, and that probably makes him willing to believe anything he sees on TV, as long as it is detrimental to Christianity. Much of this type of programming is sensationalist garbage that any real scholar would quickly dismiss. It is the higher critic type of argument that is willing to believe anything but the Bible, regardless of the real evidence.

As you know, Israel at the time of Christ was largely influenced by the Greek and Roman world, and the influence of Egypt had mostly taken a back seat. Yet many of the passing similarities between paganism and the truth are largely common to any pagan religion. If Christianity stole anything, it would make much more sense to claim it stole it from Greece or Rome, not from Egypt. Egypt is probably just a likely sounding argument since it is old and mysterious.

As for Egypt getting their religion from the stars, this would put the real question back further…who put together the constellations in the first place? As you know, Bullinger thought this was Divine work. I don’t think we can tell at this point for sure. Similarities between Christianity and the stars may be incidental, or they may be because God put them there, or they may be because Satan was counterfeiting things.

There are plenty of historical reasons for rejecting this viewpoint. For one thing, many of the early Christians, as you know, were uneducated Israelites, who would have little knowledge of things like ancient Egyptian religions. What they knew was Judaism, which had nothing like the birth, life, and death of Christ any time before this. Also, the historicity of Jesus is well attested to, not just by the gospels, but by other, contemporary writers. The gospels were written among a people and culture that were violently opposed to the idea of a man being God, and yet claims of the Lord’s deity were made among them in the first century. While some violently opposed this, none ever claimed that the Lord did not work miracles. The fact that many believed in Him shows that something very unlike a made-up religion was taking place. Ultimately, it makes little historical sense to claim He never lived, and I don’t think anyone who has really taken any time to examine the evidence at all would make such a claim, although some who have not do, of course.

It is going to be hard to influence someone who has already made up his mind and is strongly opposed to it. You are going to have to live your faith mostly, I suppose. God would have to touch his heart to make him actually consider something different. Maybe you could explore why he is so against the concept of a God in the first place. Usually it is because of the behaviors one has seen from those whom one associates with God, more than any logical argument.

Also, prayer is always good.