Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Chi Rho Symbol & More Anti Catholic Bias

In response to this post: (add .htm to the end of it... I'm trying not to help it's google rankings) I have to remind our dear readers not to trust everything you see on the internet. I posted on the topic of the whole Catholicism / Roman Pagan Sun God Worship conspiracy theory before and here we are again on the same topic.

First an overview of beliefs:
Most non-Catholics believe that the Church started out good but became corrupted. They just disagree on how long it took. In my mind it can be broken down into two groups:

1. First Generation Corruption - These groups believe that immediately after Christ & the Apostles, the first generation of Christians (1 or 2 degrees of separation from Christ) got it totally wrong. These saints would include St. Linus, St. Anacletus, St. Polycarp, St. Mark, St. Justin Martyr, St. Irenaeus, St. Timothy & many more. Most of these groups believe that even the Bible itself was either poorly preserved or the object of deliberate manipulation (especially the New Testament). Despite the fact that almost no serious New Testament or historical scholar would agree with this, we still have many people believing this today. Example groups would include: Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, Islam, Dan Brown (& followers), 7th Day Adventists, & lapsed 'Christian' teenagers who think Jesus was against organized religion.

2. Gradual Corruption - These groups believe that the Bible was preserved and the original Greek was inspired --- what we have today is a close guess. (Some of the more fanatical types like the KJV Only crowd irrationally believe that it was still preserved without the slightest error up until 1611 AD). Additionally, they believe the Apostles were true to Christ's dogmas and probably their immediate successors. But very soon after however, there began a steady decline in orthodoxy and a gradual shift away from the truth that Christ & the Apostles taught. The Holy Spirit no longer guided the church and only operated on a personal, individual level after Pentecost except for specific mentions in the NT (like the council of Jerusalem) and in one other crucial event: the selection of the Canon. Although there were several main influential councils which convened and pronounced decisions on the canon, the Holy Spirit was only partially at work. That is, these councils only got it partially right (since they all included the Apocrypha which this group of anti-Catholics now reject). The Holy Spirit, (according to this group) would not fully perfect His inspiration of the canon until a little over a millenium later when the Apocrypha was removed from the Bible. (Although unbeknownst to most of the KJV only crowd, the original 1611 King James Version still included the Apocrypha so technically I'm not really sure when the Holy Spirit finally finished His inspiration of the Canon (again according to these people... not my beliefs)). One might ask, did He really inspire the Canon? Of course , there's no tangible or authoritative reason to believe such a thing aside from the authority of the visible Church passed down by Apostolic Succession yet those in this group really need to believe that the Canon was inspired or else their belief system really starts to sound silly. According to this group, outside of the examples mentioned above, the Holy Spirit no longer involved Himself with the Church after the council of Jerusalem until He raised up a man 1500 years later named Martin Luther to call the Church to return to what he saw as the original doctrines of Christianity. Since Martin Luther failed at this (the Church didn't "return" to anything and it didn't change it's doctrines) he was excommunicated by choice and started his own church. To summarize, this group believes that the first generation Christians were very close to the teachings of Christ & the Apostles, but there began immediately a slow gradual exodus from orthodoxy which was more or less fixed about 1500 years later when it had reached a point of no return. This group of course would include Lutherans, Presbyterians, Methodists & Baptists and virtually all of the subsequent Protestant denominations.

Wow. Ok back to the original subject. Anti-Christian bias (but specifically anti-Catholic)... Same old baseless accusations brought up again: Constantine radically changed Christianity and introduced many pagan influences. As I said before in my previous post... where is the scholarship behind these accusations? The author of the video I refuted in my last post on the subject kept using the phrase "all of this can be verified by looking in any encyclopedia". While there is some slight truth to that (many encyclopedias will say similar things) they dont quote any sources and they only make very vague statements like this one from the webpage above:

According to Church Father Eusebius, on the eve of the Battle of the Milvan Bridge, the Emperor saw the emblem in a dream, with the inscription, "By this sign, you shall conquer." According to the story, the battle was won. In return for the victory, Constantine erected Christian churches. Unfortunately, this story is very unlikely, as Constantine's conversion occured on his deathbed, if at all.

Oh really? Is that a fact? Is it unlikely that Constantine had a dream? Apparently this woman has done some MAJOR MAJOR archeological work and put in decades of study on the topic no doubt finding her sources in a variety of ancient texts since I'm sure she has advanced degrees in both Latin & Greek. She would have to in order to be so confident as to contradict the great Church historian Eusebius who oh, by the way was ALIVE AT THE TIME! Unfortunately for us she doesnt list any of these sources or credentials or document any of her studies on her bio page. In fact, she looks woefully inadequate to comment on the subject.

The point I'm trying to make is an important one. No, I'm not really concerned with refuting this particular point of hers (I think Eusebius's work speaks for itself) but I'm concerned with pointing out that just because something is in an encyclopedia or an otherwise trusted source doesn't mean its true or reliable. Most people accept this in general terms but you should be very suspicious when it starts talking about Catholicism. Wrongs of the Church tend to be exaggerated or completely fabricated, facts tend to be used in misleading ways and completely false information tends to be stated as fact as long as it contradicts Church teaching. The hypocrisy is that if it is pro-Catholic information, it must undergo the most scrutinizing trials by fire one can immagine and even then will probably be spun to reflect a more "tolerant" stance. Just remember its normal human beings with their own prejudices and biases writing encyclopedias, websites & producing 'scientific' tv shows (like the crap you see on History Channel: "The Historical Jesus")
Before it became the monogram of Christ, the chi rho was the monogram of Chronos, the god of time, and an emblem of several solar deities.
Can't be from just one pagan god huh it has to be from them all... Again, no sources... Now don't misunderstand me: I'm not saying that I believe it was never in use before Christians started using it. I'm just saying if it was... fine show me some sources or at least allude to the idea that you have a source and are not simply quoting other anti-Catholic sources. I pointed out in my last post on this topic; that so many people take it as fact anything that is stated against Catholicism in these types of articles. Someone might use her article as a source in a research paper one day. Yet she hasnt done any real research on the topic. Anyone who has gone through the painstaking trouble of real research is going to have their sources well documented in case any one second guesses them.

It's funny when I was looking at the whole "Christianity Borrowed its Practices from Pagan Sources" junk, I tried to research the religion which we supposedly copied: Mithraism. Every reliable or otherwise trustworthy source had at most a paragraph and talked mostly about how little is actually known of the secretive cult. The only ones that actually made assumptions about the religious practices and beliefs were baseless articles not too dissimilar from the one above written by people with absolutely no credentials and a clear anti-Catholic bias in their tone.

Directly above the picture on the right, she says:

The chi rho was used in hermetic alchemical texts to denote time.

How misleading to an uneducated audience! It subtly implies that this is an image of an ancient, pre-Christian, alchemical symbol and it bears a striking resemblance to the Christian Chi-Rho symbol. But since it has the Greek letters alpha & omega it is clear that this is a Christian symbol!

Unless of course.... Christians stole that too.... Hmm....... Give me a break.

The Catholic Encyclopedia says this of the symbol:

These two letters formed what is known as the monogram of Constantine, so called -- not because it was the invention of this emperor, for it had been a familiar Christian symbol prior to his conversion -- but because of the great popularity it enjoyed from the date of its appearance on the imperial standards.

Now surely the Catholic Encyclopedia is going to lean pro-Catholic but the burden of proof is on the accuser.

This page (again you have to add .htm) is even worse. It claims that Christ wasn't even crucified on a cross but on a pole. Apparently he's never read Tertullian:

We Christians wear out our foreheads with the sign of the cross.

So who is more reliable, Tertullian (2nd century) or this guy? I'm not sure if he realizes or not but... the Roman empire was still alive and kicking during Tertullian's time. They still had crosses. They knew what a cross was.

Just beware of anti-Catholic bias... that's all I'm saying.

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Anonymous said...

"It subtly implies that this is an image of an ancient, pre-Christian, alchemical symbol "

It certainly does not. it's a picture of a stonecarving, and clearly illustrates the article, not the particular phrase. I think you're whipping yourself into a froth and looking for excuses to be offended. I'm still not sure how dsiscussing the symbol's origins is "anti-catholic." Would it also be anti-catholic to point out the cross is an ancient pagan symbol? of course not. I think you need to get over yourself and spend more time being a good example of Catholocism than ranting and raving like a frothing fundamentalist.

TheGodFearinFiddler said...

Ok let's recap.. Shes been talking about how the symbol is pre-Christian (and fails to show any real proof) she says "The Chi Rho symbol is an ancient alcemical symbol" then immediately shows an image of the Chi Rho symbol yet somehow this doesnt lead the reader to think she's talking about that image? Why place the image there not at the beginning like the other one? That was my first impression of it anyway... Apparently you disagree.

I'm not offended by what she wrote and I'm not "whipping myself into a froth". If you had read my previous post on the topic you would have a better idea where i'm coming from. Theres a link to it in the beginning of the post. Once you read that let me know if you're still unsure why I'm bringing up the topic of the symbol's origin. Same thing with the cross issue.

What's so self-enveloped about having an opinion on something and expressing it? Thats what blogs are for bro...if you don't want to see people expressing opinions stop reading blogs.

As for the image's origin, I dont really have any opinion on the origin. It doesn't mean anything to me one way or the other. The symbol may very well have been used before. I dont care. I do care when people start talking about Catholic traditions are nothing but practices borrowed from pagan sources. I will defend my faith when people start making false accusations like that.

I thought I made it clear that the post was just a warning to beware of anti-Catholic bias when I said "Just beware of anti-Catholic bias... that's all I'm saying."

And if you're going to post here all I ask is that you refrain from insults. Have any opinion you want just show respect.

Anonymous said...

You're attacking the writer as "anti-Catholic" without clearly articulating why. If your best evidence of bias is an old stonecarving close to a line about alchemy (which is not so ancient), your basing a whole lot of snark on a pretty big assumption. other entries in that dictionary have the pictures on the bottom just like this one, so I'd say you're barking at shadows.

BTW, you can see the symbol on Ptolemy Euergetes' coinage, about 300 BCE- and ole Constantine's arch depicts the sun God Apollo...curious, no?

Here's a Catholic site making the same claim re cronos and using the same picture, will you snark at accuse them of being anti-catholic as well?

It's also hypocritical, to say the least, to post slamming another writer and then demand I not 'insult' you.

TheGodFearinFiddler said...

Thank you for being respectful.

I'm not saying that the writer is an evil catholic hating person. In fact, judging by her bio I'd guess she's fairly 'tolerant' and accepting of Catholics.

I think if you read my previous post on the subject (linked to in the beginning) it would clear up some of the confusion.

Although yes, I'd be curious to see the symbol on coinage, the post wasnt particularly about whether or not the symbol predates Christianity just that she offered no proof or sources for her assumptions. This stuff flies when it comes to anything that in anyway seems to undermine the authenticity of Catholic Church (such as if the Church got its symbolism from other places) but it wouldnt fly elsewhere.

As for the website you sent, will I accuse them of being anti-catholic as well? Hmmm.. Yes I will have to say they are anti-Catholic. They are not Roman Catholic they are Arian catholic which is a cult that follows Arius who was excommunicated by the Church. I was completely shocked when I went to that page and thought "wow I cant believe a so-called catholic church would have such false and misleading information here" but it made sense when I back tracked to the home page and found out that they're not Catholic at all.

"The use of the cross as a symbol was condemned by at least one church father of the 3rd century A.D. because of its Pagan origins. The first appearance of a cross in Christian art is on a Vatican sarcophagus from the mid-5th Century."

In contrast here is a quote from a pro-Catholic source:

"Early in the third century Clement of Alexandria ("Strom.", VI, in P. G., IX, 305) speaks of the Cross as tou Kyriakou semeiou typon, i.e. signum Christi, "the symbol of the Lord""

I mean that stuff about cross being a pagan symbol is just silliness anyway. Like I said in my previous post on this, to the extent at which any of these accusations are true, they mean absolutely nothing. The cross is a very basic geometrical shape and sure its been used before. Doesnt mean a damn thing. Catholics began using it not because pagans did before but because our Lord was crucified on a Roman cross.

The site also mentions in passing other baseless claims without backing them up which is the precise type of double standard I originally posted about. It says something like:

The Greek word translated as Cross actually means pole.

But let me remind you that this is one baseless claim from an openly anti-Roman Catholic source. The truth is that the overwhelming majority of Koine Greek scholars now and in the last 2000 years disagree with him. One has only to look at Bible translations as the site itself mentioned all but one translate it as cross. Of course, the leading Koine Greek scholars always have been and always will be Christians because they are the ones with the "vested" interest in knowing it fluently.

So I should add our friends over at the Arian Catholic site in with Dan Brown, Mormons & our other Catholic Conspiracy Theory friends which I dubbed "First Generation Corruption".

Ok back to the coinage, Id be interested to see it if you have any images or links to more info on the subject. I tried to do some searching myself but didnt come up with anything.

(And BTW I am by no means defending Constantine. In my eyes he was a pagan sympathetic to Christianity who apparently had some kind of a vision but gradually fell away)

As for insults, I did not directly insult her or her character that is the difference. I disagreed with her opinion and called out her lack of research / valid sources on the subject she wrote on supposing to be an authority (which she's not and neither am I). I was more cynical in my tone than I should have been I'll admit that.

But theres a big difference between attacking someone's viewpoint or argument and attacking a person.

NotMyOpinion30 said...

Why do misinformed anti-Catholics always refer to Contantine? Please read a real source on the history of the Early Church. Constantine converted to Catholicism but was NOT a member of the clergy. Before all of the Freemason revolutions in Europe, every European nation was a Catholic monarchy or aristocracy. Did that make them part of the clergy or give them the ability to make decisions for the Church? No. Why did King Henry the VIII become a heretic? Because he had no control over the Church! Also, try reading what really happened during the so-called Spanish Inquisition. The Church has always transcended the rule of worldly kingdoms.
Constantine stopped the persecutions of Christians in the Roman Empire, he didn't lead any Councils or influence any popes. Did Christianity flourish when he ended Roman persecution of Christians? Yes, of course. But it wasn't his will, it was God's will. And after that he was just another prince of the world.

By the way, an interesting thing to do would be to read the Early Church fathers before the Council of Nicea. You'll find that all of the Catholic doctrines and dogmas were practiced Traditions long before Constantine or the Bible. Oh, and another interesting tidbit, if you decide to read those writings, is that none of those Traditions came from the pagan world. Believe it or not, they all had to do with Christ!!!

TheGodFearinFiddler said...

I agree. I think anonymous was taking my post as over reacting to this woman's article when (like I said twice to him) if he would just read my previous post he would understand that this is just a small part of a large effort by (as you say) mis-informed anti-Catholics to undermine the authenticity of the church.

Dave Gudeman said...

Don't know if you are still reading this far back in your comments, but I think you are misunderstanding the Protestant view of church history. It isn't that there was a time when the church "went bad", it's more that the church always had good and bad from the New Testament onward. It was never perfect and never totally corrupt.

But the church hierarchy was always part of the bad. Not that the people in the heirarchy were all evil, just that they were misunderstanding God's plan for the church. This doesn't prevent them from doing other good things like set out the cannon.

The Protestant view is that even if Catholic doctine hadn't gone astray into what we view as idolatry and other errors like the priesthood, the Catholic church hierarchy still would not have any God-given authority. God never intended for the church to have a head on earth, just as he never intended for Israel to have a king on earth. In both cases, men are supplanting the proper role of Christ.

TheGodFearinFiddler said...

Dave: luckily the blog software emails me when people post on the forum. Although I disagree, I can understand where you're coming from.

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