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
a thundering of drums and the rhythmic shuffling of ten thousand feet.
Suddenly he is pushed, and 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 of 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. It comes as
close to home as virtually every Indian tribe in North America. Most scholars
trace the beginnings of sun worship to Babylon.
Nimrod founded Babylon, the first metropolis, 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. Countless recitations of his mighty exploits elevated
his status to superhuman proportions, and the rapidly expanding society at his
feet finally began not only to honor him as their king, but also 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
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 very 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 enough, 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 plant Mars (Tiu); Wednesday, Mercury (Woden); Thursday, Jupiter (Thor);
Friday, Venus (Frigg or Greya); and Saturday is obviously 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
other 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
– 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 a 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 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 though 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 their 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 a 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 moveable 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
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 known as 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 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
The first question is probably easier to answer than the second
is. 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 martyrs proved to be the seed of the church, and
as time passed, it became clear the 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 A.D. 538 Emperor Justinian decreed that the Roman Church
now ruled the world. Henceforth, its reign would be known as the “Holy
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
“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
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 that were 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 masterstroke 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 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, saying:
“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 they God.”
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.
We must ask then, 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; 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
may not be real chickens, but it’s the fox that 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” (vs. 4). But most importantly, 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 that
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 institutions 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
“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 they 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)
— Baptized Paganism, by Dennis Crews; ©2004, by Lu Ann Crews