Particularly among those who have made a study of the origins of freemasonry, as well as the religions of the ancient world that at first appear to be sun worship, but are not; Many readers on the subject have concluded that Paul, one of the foremost authors of the New Testament was not a Christian, but an initiate in one of the mystery religions of the ancient world. There are many examples where the line between Biblical scripture and the "paganism" of the ancient world appears to be blurred. Since secrecy was the norm within these secret cults, initiates were required and performed admirably their oaths not to reveal their doctrine. There is very little evidence for these practices, but some evidence of their rituals survived, and commentators of the day have made it clear these were steeped in allegory. The question is, Is Paul's doctrine more compatible with these cults, or with the teachings of Jesus Christ?

The Mystery Religions
A brief explanation of what precisely constituted such a cult, and how similar things can be between Christianity and these pagan societies. Make no mistake, these were not godless bands of savages. They had many prayers and much poetic verse that could be inserted into a modern church with only a couple of name changes, and on the whole, taught of a monotheistic deity. Secret initiations provided the teaching in allegory or perhaps "conditioned" members to believe.

In the Days Of These Kings
It is a remarkable series of events across the Mediterranean and Asia that provided the groundwork for the rise of Christianity. Everything seems to slot into place so that when Christianity began, the world was wholeheartedly ready for its acceptance, even though the authorities of the time may have been slow to realise. From the moment Daniel made his interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar's statue dream, it was not simply a long wait for Rome to build a powerful empire, God started setting up His kingdom almost immediately. When it finally arrived, "the harvest was ripe".

Why Christianity Won
Superstitions, lack of personal meaning, lacking fellowship, the expensive practice of magic, no life after death, guilt ridden consciences - These are just a few of the reasons why both the state religions of the Graeco-Roman world failed as did their mystery cult competitors. Christianity appears to do a "one size fits all" and offer all the good points of both types of system. However, the reason for it winning in the end was Judaism, which had spread across the world proselytising and building synagogues, and most importantly had a large canon of ancient and authoritative scripture readily available in the koine greek "international" language.

Saul, Part Of The Problem?
Many quotes have been made from the NT, taking Paul's words and painting a picture of his faith as transformative of the "lusts of the flesh". The Orphic religion teaches the same thing through an understanding of the old pageantry of the pantheistic past gods as allegory. There are many examples of this alchemical refinement of the character. The cults that believed all were at the mercy of the planets required magic to force often uninterested deities to give aid. As monotheism emerged from the syncretism of the ancient world, this became less of a problem to the believer. Initiation was all that was required. Jesus Christ baptises with fire and the Holy Spirit; NOT water. Are Jesus' words used to describe something more like an initiation under an induced excited state as in the mysteries? Paul's words are not enough to settle the issue because it was not his emphasis.

Were Paul Not In Christ, Why Would He Risk It All?
Those who have formed an opinion against Paul, state that Paul taught to the Jews a biblical, (or very close) version of Christ, from the scriptures. When Paul turned to preach to the gentiles - teaching them a different Jesus from a different gospel, (what they had already but as if reworded) would have not only condemned him in front of his own people of Judea, but against Christ. There is only one possible explanation. If the allegation against Paul is to be merited, then in pursuit of his God and his own religion (whatever it was), if he were a hermetic then he must have been attempting to proselytise the Jews in Judea into his hermetic 'heresy'. By examining Paul's words to the Jews in detail, (under scrutiny) we may determine whether Paul was for Jesus Christ, or for some other (false) christ.

It is popular to accuse satan of spreading mystery religions before Christ to diffuse Jesus' teachings. Thousands of years before Jesus Christ died on a cross, religions all over the ancient world taught a similar but fraudulent set of events. - "He shall crush thy head and thou shalt bruise his heel." In Paul's own words, that he is convinced that all things work together for good, he admits his many hindrances lead to a fuller goal. Things may be bad and good will come from them. So it is with the vessels of dishonour that are the mystery religions of the Graeco-Roman world that fell before the kingdom of God and quickened it's spread. For satan, his "master work" as many put it is a no win scenario... Christianity took root, because a good tree can be told by its fruit. Have we been left with a Christianity today that is recognisable as coming from Jesus, or descending from the pagan mysteries? Moreover, we must ask ourselves that even if the answer is the latter, upon the basis of Paul's teachings, is it Paul's fault - was he its source?

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