Undoing the Reformation

It's a strange irony that when Jesus walked on the earth, he consistently rebuked only 1 people group: pious, religious people who believed in God. Here he had a wide variety of people following him: prostitutes, tax collectors, average fishermen, poor people, yet he was consistently at odds with the Pharisees: a group of pious, religious Jews who followed God.

The problem wasn't that the Pharisees followed God. The problem was they were fakes: carefully doing religious ritual, even building their own rules and rituals twice as strict as the ones found in the Law. (Everything from not mixing dairy and meat, to not eating food baked in an oven built with a brick laid on the Sabbath, all inventions of Pharisaical rabbis.)

Jesus put it this way:

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the Law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

Did you catch that? The reason Jesus was at odds with them was not because they were Law-followers, but rather, because they were Law-less, missing the "weightier matters of the Law". Jesus compares them to tombs: the outside gravestone may be beautiful polished marble, but the inside is a rotting corpse.

Paul reinforces Jesus:

I have a special word of caution for you who are sure that you have it all together yourselves and, because you know God's revealed Word inside and out, feel qualified to guide others through their blind alleys and dark nights and confused emotions to God. While you are guiding others, who is going to guide you? I'm quite serious. While preaching "Don't steal!" are you going to rob people blind? Who would suspect you? The same with adultery. The same with idolatry. You can get by with almost anything if you front it with eloquent talk about God and his law. The line from Scripture, "It's because of you that the outsiders are down on God," shows it's an old problem that isn't going to go away.

The religious people of Jesus' time were so concerned with religion, they missed the Messiah right in front of them. They held so dearly onto their rituals, festivals, and religious rites, they lived for the religion, not for God. Anything that went against their theology, then, was labeled heretical.

It's a real wake-up call to Christians to be humble and be tied to God instead of religion and rituals.

I bring this up on the eve of Lent and Easter. For the 3rd straight year, I visited the largest Protestant Christian church in Minnesota, US, yesterday, after finding out they were celebrating the Roman Catholic festival of Lent. Not to criticize or condemn, but to learn.

A short history on Lent

Now the festival of Lent is rooted in several old pagan feasts celebrating Spring and the reincarnation of the world after its death in the winter. The word Lent actually comes from a old word meaning "spring". Unfortunately, Lent derives from a very old Babylonian religious rite of weeping for Tammuz, the son of Nimrod and Easter/Ishtar. The weeping is in honor of Tammuz's tragic death by a wild boar. This festival is mentioned by the prophet Ezekiel:

The Master said to me, "Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel are doing in the darkness, each at the shrine of his own idol? They say, 'The LORD does not see us; the LORD has forsaken the land.' " Again, he said, "You will see them doing things that are even more detestable."

Then he brought me to the entrance to the north gate of the house of the LORD, and I saw women sitting there, mourning for false god Tammuz. He said to me, "Do you see this, son of man? You will see things that are even more detestable than this."

He then brought me into the inner court of the house of the LORD, and there at the entrance to the temple, between the portico and the altar, were about twenty-five men. With their backs toward the temple of the LORD and their faces toward the east, they were bowing down to the sun in the east.

Ezekiel is dismayed to see people weeping for Tammuz; then he sees the sun worshipers, bowing to the sun. This same Tammuz-worship and sun-worship was common for well over a millenia, lasting at least until the 300-400 CE, and was embraced by the Roman Catholic Church.

Before Christianity spread over Europe, Christians never celebrated such abominations. It wasn't until about 320 years after Jesus, when a man named Constantine, a Mithra-follower himself, pulled a brilliant political move and assimilated all the various cultures under his rule to this new fledgling Christian religion, thereby becoming the first so-called Holy Roman Emperor, founding the Roman Catholic Church in the process.

Of course, Constantine never let Christianity and its teachings of humility and rejection of sin take over his Mithra religion. The Catholic Church to this day acknowledges Constantine rose at sunrise every morning, bowing to the sun on the steps of the church in Rome. (If only Ezekiel could see him!) Nor did Constantine let Christianity change his lifestyle: instead of bringing on the Biblical feasts (Passover, Pentecost, Trumpets, etc.) he instead took the existing Mithra and pagan holidays of Tammuz Weeping, Easter/Ishtar, Nimrod's Birthday, and others, and simply re-labeled them as Christian, making them official holidays of Christianity. Thus, the Tammuz Weeping holiday became Lent. The first day of the 40-day festival of Lent became Ash Wednesday, the day you put ashes on yourself in mourning for Tammuz. But instead of weeping for Tammuz, we pretend we're weeping for Jesus in the desert. Easter/Ishtar holiday, honoring Tammuz' mother Easter, was preserved, but we instead pretend we're remembering Jesus' resurrection.

As an interesting side note, of all the pagan holidays, Easter is easily the best preserved: the name remains the same as Tammuz's mother, the goddess of fertility and spring. The Mithra sunrise observances are still often held in the form of church sunrise services, and many people still eat a pig on the festival, just as the old pagans ate a pig out of spite for the wild boar that killed Tammuz. Even many fertility symbols such as rabbits and eggs remain an integral part of the pagan festival.

Nimrod's birthday on the 25th of December was relabeled as well. Instead of Nimrod's birthday, we're to pretend it's Jesus' birthday.

This same version of Christianity found it no difficult thing to change the sabbath to a Mithra-follower's favorite day, Sun-day. Constantine used this opportunity to institute sun worship at the church, at sun-rise, every Sun-day.

Of course, over time, the whole Biblical calendar was thrown out and replaced with one whose months and days are named after false gods. To this day, we've inherited such a calendar: January is named after the false god Janus, February named after a ritual of whipping women with goatskin whips, a pagan fertility rite known as Februa, and so on.

And the days of the week are no exception: Thursday named after the norse pagan false god Thor, Saturday named after Saturnalia. And of course Sun-day is named for the object of a Mithra-worshiper's affection. Not all of these are Constantine-instituted -- they're pulled from different pagan cultures, many of them rooted in the Babylonian mystery religion -- but Constantine's initial mixing blazed the trail for other pagan mixings of holy and profane.

In short, Constantine created a new Christianity and promoted the hell out of it. What we have today in Western Christianity is based largely on that version of Christianity created by Constantine when he founded the Roman Catholic Church.

Undoing the Reformation

But after several hundred years of spiritual darkness in the Dark Ages brought on by this false Christianity, a man named Martin Luther spotted the unbiblical, ungodly nature of these things. He saw the confession of sins to priests, and realized this was a man-made ritual without basis in Scripture. He saw the selling of indulgences and saw the huge gap between this practice and Jesus' teachings. He realized the "Pope-as-god" idea was pure idolatry. He nailed his famous 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg church, and started a movement to get back to the basics of the faith: no more ritual, just faith in God. He threw out many of the rituals of sun-worshipping, threw out priestly confessions, selling of indulgences, he tried to get Bibles into the hands of anyone who could read (the RC church never allowed Bible reading), and he almost restored the sabbath to its biblical day.

In short, Martin Luther threw out much of the paganism took on by the Roman Catholic Church and got back to the basics. He kept some of the rituals: communion, certain religious holidays, for example, but by and large, he got rid of much of the evil the Roman Catholic Church had swallowed up so happily. Luther was quoted as saying we should do away with the traditions of men. Interestingly, Luther and Lutherans never fully realized this goal. They removed plenty, but they stopped cleaning house at a point, perhaps due to the strong cultural and religious ties involved. However, at least most Protestant Churches eventually succumbed to that basic urging by Luther, ridding themselves of "traditions of men", including Lent.

Going spiritually backwards

But in our modern Christian religion, we are embracing these old rites once again. Just yesterday I attend the largest Protestant church in Minnesota, USA, for a Lent service. Like Ezekiel, I was both shocked and saddened to see a congregation of 7000 strong re-instituting pagan traditions of men.

But what irked me most was the pastor, who is now head of the National Association of Evangelicals, got on the pulpit and told his large congregation things that simply aren't true. I cringed when I heard him speak of Lent as a patently Christian holiday celebrated by early Christians -- an historical falsehood, verifiable by anyone who wishes to research the origins of the holiday: the apostles and early Christians certainly never celebrated -- let alone heard of -- this Lent holiday. I curled my toes and bit my tongue when I heard the pastor tell the congregation things that I knew to be false.

I thought to myself, "Surely he had to research this a bit before writing a sermon on the topic?!" That thought scared me: if the pastor did research and discovered the origins of Lent, yet still taught something contrary to reality, he was knowingly and purposefully misleading many.

And for what? For religious rites, for ritual, for tradition unbiblical.

As the organist played a deathly, melancholy tune, blasting away through the hundred foot tall pipes reaching the unreachable ceiling, and as I looked over the Latin inscriptions on the wooden background behind the altar, watched as unbiblical ceremonies were performed, it dawned on me that these people are practicing a different faith than I. They're worshiping a Greek Christ Jesus that destroyed the Law and created a new religion. That's not the same Jewish Yeshua HaMoshiach I know.

These people, God bless them, are being led astray by the inherited lies from our ancestors. What's worse is that some of our fathers did away with these lies, we only are restoring them in our modern times. We're rolling back the progress of the Reformation.

Modern Pharisees

When Yeshua the Jewish Messiah comes back with the blast of a shofar to Zion, will our Christianity dismiss him because he's not a Greek white Christian adonis with a halo around his head? When the prophesied Messiah comes back as a political king and destroys evil, conquering all the nations and turning our warfare into joy, will our Christianity pass him up because he's not a peacenik, touchy-feely Jesus? When this Jewish Messiah revolutionary invites the whole world to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles with him, in Jerusalem, will our Christianity thumb its nose at such "Jewish" things, opting instead for our so-called Christian holidays of Lent and Easter?

I wonder. At the same time, I am worried the answer is "yes", if history is any indication. The religious people of Jesus' time were too caught up in their religion, too caught up in ritual and unbiblical tradition to recognize Messiah right in front of them. I hope with everything in me that history does not repeat, hope that we won't miss Messiah because he's not the Greek, anti-Jewish, anti-Torah, pale-skinned peacenik adonis we pretend Him to be.

I already anticipate replies to this post: "there is no condemnation...for those in Christ!", and the obligatory, "Paul says this...", "Paul says that...". Friends, I'm not here to condemn anyone, I've sinned worse than all of you. I'm here to say, "Let's get out of sin, get out of false-god practices." It's time for some humility. Unlike the Pharisees, let's acknowledge that we both can be wrong and can be corrected. The Pharisees thought they had it right and had a whole host of Scripture to back them up, but without any humility, they rejected Messiah outright because he didn't fit the religion they had created. I fear unless we change and reject our man-made religious rites, traditions, and holidays, we'll follow suit, and reject Messiah because he doesn't fit our Western, Christian definition of Him.


  1. Tov meod, achi (very good, bro)!
    Awesome blog. I posted a link to your blog in a bulletin on MySpace.
    Great stuff, great stuff.

  2. Amein, amein and amein!

    When my husband and I were attending a Lutheran "church" we asked a "pastor" there why they continued to hold babies in front of the congregations and tell the congregation "Welcome so and so to the kingdom of God" after the baptism. All as if to say the child is now part of God's family. The "pastor" had just got done confirming with us that salvation is through Jesus, not baptism or anything else. His reply: Because it's what the people want to hear. He must have seen our jaws drop to the floor because he proceeded to say, "If you don't like that you don't have to come back." Well... we didn't.

    What it all boils down to is buns in the seat. If the people aren't told what they want to hear about their traditions, they will leave and take their money with them. Less people means less money. It's the spirit of mammon we need to confront in these places.

  3. Teshu'ah, thanks for visiting and commenting.

    It's sad that there are churches like that whose only focus is "buns in the seats", as you put it. Leaders in places like that are acting precisely how the Pharisees acted.

    There are plenty of good, strong believers in Messiah; it's not a matter of "let's slam Christians/the Church". I just fear the de facto Protestant Christian doctrine is degenerating into lawlessness, and people are buying it. That's sad.

    Paul talks about a huge apostasy in the end times...I can certainly see the possibility of it, given this westernized, Greek version of Jesus we've created for ourselves, piled on with this deeply ingrained religious system we've setup.

  4. Not so much. I don't have the space to show you the error of your ways here but I blogged on it over at my site.

    Hope you check it out.


  5. Hey there Dr. Q. Thanks for posting, I respect your beliefs, but at the same time, feel an urgency for Christians to rid ourselves of paganism. If we're so tied to our religious rituals that we're unable to think clearly, it confirms that we may be headed towards becoming the new Pharisees when Jesus returns.

    I've replied to your post on your blog. I probably won't check it; if you reply, please reply here or at least notify me here if you want to continue this discussion.

    Thanks, take care.

  6. I appreciate your getting the message out about how pagan christian worship really is. Christianity has turned Yeshua (Jesus) into a pig-eating, Sabbath breaking, Christmas and Easter celebrating heathen. This is Certainly not the Messiah that I worship. The one I worship was the Word (torah) that became flesh and He Kept all His Father's commands and commandments...My immediate family (husband and two grown boys) stopped celebrating easter and christmas in 1998 after doing some research (just like you have done:)May Yahveh richly bless you for following the Truth. And may he increase your Wisdom & Knowledge, so you can be a blessing to others, those that he has called to worship him in Spirit and Truth.

    Mat 22:14 For many are called, but few [are] chosen.

    Blessing~ Sher

  7. Sher, thanks for the encouragement. Refreshing to hear in the midst of all the stubborn lash-backs I get from some Christians.