Many have been intrigued by the mix of fact and fiction in the recent bestseller The Da Vinci Code. Was "Christianity" really hijacked by non-Christian forces in the centuries after Christ? The answer may change the way you look at true Christian belief and practice!
Does The Da Vinci Code help explain how Christianity was hijacked? The real TRUTH of the matter may astonish you!
For months, Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code has been at or near the top of the best-seller lists. Millions have been enthralled by this fascinating novel. A film based on the book is sure to follow in due time.
What is so unusual about this book?
Apart from being fast-paced and well-written, The Da Vinci Code stretches the minds of its readers. Though cast in the form of a novel—and containing fictions and errors of which a Christian should be skeptical—it can spur a reader to realize that a lot more is under the surface of our religious ideas and practices than usually meets the eye. There are three principal characters in The Da Vinci Code: Sophie Neveu—a gifted French cryptologist; Robert Langdon—a Harvard symbologist; and Leigh Teabing—a former British Royal Historian.
Let us listen in on their conversation about the origins of what the world today calls "Christianity"—
"'Historians still marvel at the brilliance with which Constantine converted the sun-worshipping pagans to Christianity. By fusing pagan symbols, dates, and rituals into the growing Christian tradition, he created a kind of hybrid religion that was acceptable to both parties.'
'Transmogrification,' Langdon said. 'The vestiges of pagan religion in Christian symbology are undeniable. Egyptian sun disks became the halos of Catholic saints. Pictograms of Isis nursing her miraculously conceived son Horus became the blueprint for our modern images of the Virgin Mary nursing Baby Jesus. And virtually all the elements of the Catholic ritual—the miter, the altar, the doxology, and the communion, the act of 'God-eating'—were taken directly from earlier pagan mystery religions.'
Teabing groaned. 'Don't get a symbologist started on Christian icons. Nothing in Christianity is original. The pre-Christian God Mithras—called the Son of God and the Light of the World—was born on December 25, died, was buried in a rock tomb, and then resurrected in three days. By the way, December 25 is also the birthday of Osiris, Adonis, and Dionysus. The newborn Krishna was presented with gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Even Christianity's weekly holy day was stolen from the pagans.'
'What do you mean?'
'Originally,' Langdon said, 'Christianity honored the Jewish Sabbath of Saturday, but Constantine shifted it to coincide with the pagan's veneration day of the sun.' He paused, grinning. 'To this day, most churchgoers attend services on Sunday morning with no idea that they are there on account of the pagan sun god's weekly tribute—Sunday.'" (The Da Vinci Code, pp. 232–233).
"But that is all fiction!" you might say. "Where did this crazy author get all these strange ideas? I am sure that my religion is based completely upon the Bible!"
Please, my friends, do not be too sure!
The Bible itself tells us: "Prove all things. Hold fast that which is true" (1 Thessalonians 5:21, KJV). The actual truth is—and I do challenge you to prove it—that this part of Dan Brown's book is based on solid fact. For historian after historian acknowledges that the original Christianity of Jesus and the Apostles was dramatically changed within a few centuries after Jesus' death! As regular readers of Tomorrow's World should know by now, we have cited quote after quote from respected "mainstream" historians and theologians attesting to this well-known truth. As noted historian Will Durant wrote:
"Christianity did not destroy paganism; it adopted it. The Greek mind, dying, came to a transmigrated life in the theology and liturgy of the Church; the Greek language, having reigned for centuries over philosophy, became the vehicle of Christian literature and ritual; the Greek mysteries passed down into the impressive mystery of the Mass. Other pagan cultures contributed to the syncretist result. From Egypt came the ideas of a divine trinity… and a personal immortality of reward and punishment; from Egypt the adoration of the Mother and Child, and the mystic theosophy that made Neoplatonism and Gnosticism, and obscured the Christian creed; there, too, Christian monasticism would find its exemplars and its source. From Phrygia came the worship of the Great Mother; from Syria the resurrection drama of Adonis; from Thrace, perhaps, the cult of Dionysus, the dying and saving god.… The Mithraic ritual so closely resembled the eucharistic sacrifice of the Mass that Christian fathers charged the Devil with inventing these similarities to mislead frail minds. Christianity was the last great creation of the ancient pagan world.… [The Eucharist] was a conception long sanctified by time; the pagan mind needed no schooling to receive it; by embodying the 'mystery of the Mass,' Christianity became the last and greatest of the mystery religions" (The Story of Civilization, Vol. 5, Durant, pp. 595, 599).
Paul Johnson, the highly respected historian, is among many who openly acknowledge that the biblical seventh-day Sabbath observed by Christ and the original Apostles was changed: "Many Christians did not make a clear distinction between this sun-cult and their own. They referred to Christ 'driving his chariot across the sky,' they held their services on Sunday, knelt towards the East and had their nativity-feast on 25 December, the birthday of the sun at the winter solstice. During the later pagan revival under the Emperor Julian, many Christians found it easy to apostatize because of this confusion; the Bishop of Troy told Julian he had always prayed secretly to the sun. Constantine never abandoned sun-worship and kept the sun on his coins. He made Sunday into a day of rest" (A History of Christianity, Johnson, 1976, pp. 67–69, Emphasis ours).
What happened after Constantine? The widely read mainstream religious author Jesse Lyman Hurlbut explains: "The forms and ceremonies of paganism gradually crept into the worship. Some of the old heathen feasts became church festivals with change of name and of worship. About 405ad images of saints and martyrs began to appear in the churches, at first as memorials, then in succession revered, adored, and worshiped. The adoration of the Virgin Mary was substituted for the worship of Venus and Diana; the Lord's Supper became a sacrifice in place of a memorial; and the elder evolved from a preacher into a priest.… The church and the state became one when Christianity was adopted as the religion of the empire, and out of the unnatural union arose two evils, one in the eastern, the other in the western provinces. In the east the state dominated the church until it lost all energy and uplifting life. In the west ["Rome," Ed.] as we shall see, the church gradually usurped power over the state, and the result was not Christianity but a more or less corrupt hierarchy controlling the nations of Europe, making the church mainly a political machine" (The Story of the Christian Church, pp. 79–80).
So where does all this lead? Did the leaders of the Protestant Reformation really bring the professing Christian church "back on track" to the "faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3)—back to the true Christianity of Jesus and the original Apostles? Although undoubtedly sincere, the Protestant reformers carried over most of the anti-law, anti-obedience attitudes they had come to adopt in their rebellion against "Mother Rome." Yet, like Rome, they were still involved in a paganized system of false doctrines, wrong Holy Days, and false concepts of God, which God Himself describes in Revelation 17:4–5: "The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication. And on her forehead a name was written: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH."
With this form of "Christianity" as the state religion, masses of former pagans "converted." Many did so out of convenience rather than conviction, and kept their old beliefs privately. Others came to the new syncretistic faith uneducated in its beliefs, and able to receive only the most basic instruction.
"Babylon" is a symbol of confusion. The formation of the Roman Catholic Church and then the later appearance of dozens of "daughter" churches has certainly brought about a spiritual malaise of conflicting denominations, doctrines, creeds and practices—all supposedly "Christian." Yet none of them corresponds remotely to the Christianity that the original Apostles and the early Church of God followed for decades after the death of Jesus of Nazareth. They all have retained dozens of pagan ideas, and practices, that would have been utterly foreign to the early Church!
Back in the 1940s, noted author Alexander Hislop wrote his landmark book, The Two Babylons. Although it appears that Hislop remained a Protestant until his death, he carefully pointed out—with much historical documentation—that the modern Roman Catholic Church is a continuation of the ancient Babylonish mystery system, and that its religious festivals and most of its practices were drawn directly from the Babylonian religion and its priesthood. Hislop partially makes the connection with the "daughter" churches that have come out of Rome. But he was evidently blinded to the full meaning of what has happened to modern "Christianity."
Near the beginning of his book, Hislop lays out the basic thesis that he goes on to document in full:
"It has been known all along that Popery was baptized Paganism; but God is now making it manifest, that the Paganism which Rome has baptized is, in all its essential elements, the very Paganism which prevailed in the ancient literal Babylon, when Jehovah opened before Cyrus the two-leaved gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron.… Her judgment is now evidently hastening on; and just as it approaches, the Providence of God, conspiring with the Word of God, by light pouring in from all quarters, makes it more and more evident that Rome is in very deed the Babylon of the Apocalypse; that the essential character of her system, the grand objects of her worship, her festivals, her doctrine and discipline, her rites and ceremonies, her priesthood and their orders, have all been derived from ancient Babylon; and, finally, that the Pope himself is truly and properly the lineal representative of Belshazzar. In the warfare that has been waged against the domineering pretensions of Rome, it has too often been counted enough merely to meet and set aside her presumptuous boast, that she is the mother and mistress of all churches—the one Catholic Church, out of whose pale there is no salvation. If ever there was excuse for such a mode of dealing with her, that excuse will hold no longer. If the position I have laid down can be maintained, she must be stripped of the name of a Christian Church altogether; for if it was a Church of Christ that was convened on that night, when the pontiff-king of Babylon, in the midst of his thousand lords, 'praised the gods of gold, and of silver, and of wood, and of stone' (Daniel 5:4), then the Church of Rome is entitled to the name of a Christian Church; but not otherwise. This to some, no doubt, will appear a very startling position; but it is one which it is the object of this work to establish; and let the reader judge for himself, whether I do not bring ample evidence to substantiate my position" (The Two Babylons, pp. 2–3).
Later Hislop describes how the Catholic "confessional" was borrowed from paganism, giving the priests greater authority over the lay members of the church. He explains that the pagan festivals of Christmas and Easter were introduced into "Christianity" centuries after Christ revealed the full Truth to his Apostles. "Indeed," Hislop writes, "it is admitted by the most learned and candid writers of all parties that the day of our Lord's birth cannot be determined, and that within the Christian Church no such festival as Christmas was ever heard of till the third century, and that not till the fourth century was far advanced did it gain much observance. How, then, did the Romish Church fix on December the 25th as Christmas-day? Why, thus: Long before the fourth century, and long before the Christian era itself, a festival was celebrated among the heathen, at that precise time of the year, in honour of the birth of the son of the Babylonian queen of heaven; and it may fairly be presumed that, in order to conciliate the heathen, and to swell the number of the nominal adherents of Christianity, the same festival was adopted by the Roman Church, giving it only the name of Christ. This tendency on the part of Christians to meet Paganism half-way was very early developed" (The Two Babylons, pp. 92–93).
Meeting paganism half-way "was very early developed," Hislop writes! Yet God clearly told our ancestors: "Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not" (Jeremiah 10:2–4, KJV). Yet modern day churchgoers persist in doing just that—and then have the audacity to stamp the name "Christian" on the outside of this package of pagan beliefs and practices! Those genuinely interested in the basic history of this relationship between ancient Babylon and modern professing Christianity should, if possible, find and read the book, The Two Babylons, and prove to themselves that modern "churchianity" is simply a continuation of the old Babylonian religion, with the name "Christian" stamped on the outside!
All of this information is not just a philosophical argument against genuinely pagan practices—important as that may be. The understanding of this matter can also help protect sincere and zealous Christians—if they will take action—from the coming "Holocaust" described in the Bible as the Great Tribulation! Brilliant author Adrian Hilton describes the background of what is right now underway:
"Jesus had said his kingdom was not of this worldly order, and talked much of the world and the Church being at odds until his return. It was not until Constantine began a process of syncretism that Christians began to understand the nature of the beast which was evolving. The Saturday Jewish Sabbath was replaced by Constantine's edict forbidding work on 'the venerable day of the sun' [Sunday], and the celebration of the Passover was declared illegal—on pain of death. It was replaced by 'Easter', celebrated on a Sunday and inherited from a Babylonian cult to the goddess Ishtar. The Roman pseudo-Christianity caused many faithful believers to flee into the mountains of Europe and Asia Minor to escape persecution and death, and there they continued, away from the world's view, as the true church of Christ. The majority of Christians, however, were awed by the universal influence of the new unity. There was one Empire under the one Emperor, leading one Church under one God. Many believers began to wonder if they had not misunderstood the concept of the kingdom of God—it might have been the Church itself, or even the christianised Empire. Thus the fateful union of Church and State was ratified—a union that was to shape the evolution of Europe for centuries to come" (The Principality and Power of Europe, pp. 23–24).
Later, Hilton continues:
"Just as crucial to the federalizing process is the erosion of the achievements of the Reformation. Even some prominent Evangelical Christian leaders have presented this momentous move of God as one of the greatest tragedies that ever happened to the Church, and state that Protestants 'destroyed the unity of Christendom'. They fail to mention the true nature of the Papal system of religion, the depths of spiritual darkness in which it keeps its followers, and its diametric opposition to true biblical Christianity. Unity, it seems, is more important than truth. The concept of Christendom, however unbiblical its practice, appears to matter more than the national boundaries set between one principality and another, regardless of the liberties those boundaries defend.
While visiting Austria in 1983, the Pope spoke out against the 'national and artificial borders' all over Europe. He added:
'Europeans should overcome the menacing international confrontations of states and alliances, and create a new united Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals.'
In 1988, he continued this theme when he addressed the European Parliament in Strasbourg; an occasion at which many asked why a perceived spiritual leader was addressing the issues of political unity. The Sunday Telegraph, in 1991, summed up the Pope's plans for the 'evangelisation' of Europe. It stated:
'He is calmly preparing to assume the mantle which he solemnly believes to be his Divine Right—that of new Holy Roman Emperor, reigning from the Urals to the Atlantic.'" (pp. 36–37).
As Britain's Sunday Telegraph reported, the Pope wants to "reign" over a new Holy Roman Empire. However, the key question is: will it really be "holy"? Or will it actually be a revival of an ancient, pagan, Babylonian church-state system that God condemns?
In a prophecy for our time, the prophet Isaiah described a modern virgin "daughter" of the ancient Babylon, who would profane her own people (Isaiah 47:1–9). God clearly describes this modern Babylon as "the lady of kingdoms" (v. 5). Then God states: "And you said, 'I shall be a lady forever,' so that you did not take these things to heart, nor remember the latter end of them. 'Therefore hear this now, you who are given to pleasures, who dwell securely, who say in your heart, "I am, and there is no one else besides me; I shall not sit as a widow, nor shall I know the loss of children"; but these two things shall come to you in a moment, in one day: the loss of children, and widowhood. They shall come upon you in their fullness because of the multitude of your sorceries, for the great abundance of your enchantments'" (vv. 7–9).
Notice how some of these exact statements are used against the modern Babylon that will fight Christ at His Second Coming! "In the measure that she glorified herself and lived luxuriously, in the same measure give her torment and sorrow; for she says in her heart, 'I sit as queen, and am no widow, and will not see sorrow.' Therefore her plagues will come in one day—death and mourning and famine. And she will be utterly burned with fire, for strong is the Lord God who judges her" (Revelation 18:7–8).
This is the soon-coming church-state system in Europe, which will eventually turn on the American and British-descended peoples and bring about the Great Tribulation! It will be a revival of ancient Babylon—with its priestly castes, its pagan rituals and doctrines and its complete disregard for the commands of God. It will be a clever counterfeit of true Christianity. To millions, though, it will seem like the real thing!
Because the vast majority of professing Christians do not generally study the Bible. They do not really dig in and try to "prove" all things as God commands. Therefore, even many evangelical Christians—and their ministers—will eventually be caught up in the euphoria of this powerful Babylonish system! For it will be part of the "ecumenical movement." It will seem like "the thing to do."
Please remember Jesus' own words: "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it" (Matthew 7:13–14).
The Jesus Christ of your Bible also gave this powerful warning: "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'" (Matthew 7:21–23).
The beautiful pageantry, the music, the pomp and ceremony and the intimidating power of this coming Babylonian system will be very impressive. But only those who genuinely do the will of God and who keep His commandments—all ten of them—will be in Christ's soon-coming Kingdom. "Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus" (Revelation 14:12).
At the very end of His inspired word, our Creator tells us plainly: "Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie" (Revelation 22:14–15). The religious sorcery and idolatry of the Babylonian system will be enticing to many millions. For the vast majority will go that way. But the above passage warns about anyone who "loves and practices a lie." The teachings of modern "Babylon" are filled with a series of lies, misunderstandings and pagan practices.
Yet God's word describes the temporary wealth and power of this system: "For your merchants were the great men of the earth, for by your sorcery all the nations were deceived. And in her was found the blood of prophets and saints, and of all who were slain on the earth" (Revelation 18:23–24). And how will it end? "Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, 'Thus with violence the great city Babylon shall be thrown down, and shall not be found anymore'" (v. 21).
God warns: "Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird!" (v. 2). Then God commands: "And I heard another voice from heaven saying, 'Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues'" (v. 4).
In this magazine, and on the Tomorrow's World telecast, we will continue to explain the prophetic events now unfolding to bring about the revival of Babylon—and of the coming Kingdom of God. Our message will not be popular! We will be harassed, vilified and persecuted for bringing you the plain truth about what is really happening in world affairs.
May God help you to act on this message while you have the opportunity. May God help you to start proving to yourself what the Bible really says, and to find out about—and fulfill—the genuine purpose for your life.
"He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death" (Revelation 21:7–8).