The idea that the Catholic Church is the pagan anti Christ has been around since the Protestant Revolution. If your sect had been persecuted by the Catholic Church it was easy enough to see the corrupt Roman hierarchy in the ominous warnings from the Book of Revelation.
When you read, “I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls. She held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries. The name written on her forehead was a mystery: BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF PROSTITUTES, AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of God’s holy people, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus.” You couldn’t help but think of the opulence of the Roman prelates and the cardinals and monsignori in their robes of purple and scarlet. Then when you read that the ‘seven heads’ were the seven hills on which the harlot sat, and you knew that Rome was the city of seven hills it would seem obvious: the Roman Catholic Church was that great whore.
It was only a short hop from there to connect all manner of Catholic beliefs and practices to the ancient pagan religions. With only a little bit of imagination (and inspiration from the Holy Spirit of course) you soon came to see that Christmas and Easter were taken over from the pagan Spring and Winter celebrations, that the ‘worship’ of the Blessed Virgin Mary was derived from the ancient cult of Diana of the Ephesians, that the Eucharist was taken from Egyptian fertility rites, baptism and the idea of the ‘sacraments’ were lifted from Mithraism and yes, the bishop’s miter was really part of the secret worship of Dagon the fish god of the Philistines.
The list could go on and on. In fact, it is only limited by the imagination of those who wish to discover pagan antecedents to Catholicism. It’s simple. Look hard enough and you will find what you seek. Begin with your theory and then find the ‘facts’ to support it. All of these ‘historical’ theories can be easily refuted with a bit of research and explanation, but instead of tackling the different theories I would like to unlock the thinking behind the ‘Catholicism is re-hashed paganism’ fable and show how best to counter it.
It is easy to think that the ‘Catholicism is re-hashed paganism’ is only put out by extremist Protestants like Jack Chick in his lurid ‘Christian comics’, but the idea that ancient paganism was adopted into Catholicism is an assumption that is standard within every level of Protestantism. It may not be as extreme and wacky as Chick tracts or the idea that the bishop’s miter is a carry over from the worship of Dagon, but most Protestants believe that at least some Catholic customs are pagan in origin.
Furthermore, the idea that Catholicism is merely paganism re born is very prevalent among secular critics of the Church. Protestants use the theory to dismiss Catholicism with horror because they all paganism is of the devil. Continue Reading