Is Christianity Based On Paganism


Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion that is based on the life and teachings of Jesus, its only founder.Although Christianity is thought to have originated within Judaism, there are many who claim that it has its roots in Ancient Paganism. The debate over the connections between Christianity and Paganism is an ongoing and sometimes acrimonious one. This article will explore the link between Christianity and Paganism, exploring the evidence for and against this controversial claim.

The Pagan Origins Argument

The Pagan Origins argument is a contested one that claims that certain elements of Christianity originated in Paganism. Proponents of this argument often cite parallels between the stories and teachings of Jesus and the myths of Ancient Pagan religions. For instance, there have been comparisons made between Jesus’ death and resurrection, and the stories of the dying/reborn god figures in Ancient Greek and Roman myths. There is also evidence to suggest that some of the teachings and practices witnessed in modern Christianity originate from Paganism, such as the observance of Easter, and the use of candles and crosses in worship.

Moreover, the combination of Christianity with the pre-existing Pagan religions in countries such as Ireland, England and Scotland since the fifth century casts further doubt upon the ‘unique’ identity of Christianity. For many critics, the similarities between Christianity and Paganism constitute evidence that Christianity was, at least partially, derived from Paganism.


In order to explore the link between Christianity and Paganism, this article draws on a variety of scholarly research. Special attention has been paid to historical documents which discuss religious practices and rituals of Ancient Paganism, and the interactions between Christian and Pagan religions. Moreover, this article considers the implications of these findings for our understanding of Christianity.

Case for Christianity as Unique

However, there are also many who claim that Christianity is a truly unique religion, with no connections to Paganism. Those who favor this argument point out that there are multiple differences between Christianity and other pre-existing Ancient religions. For instance, Christianity explicitly speaks of the one true God, who has eternal life and has dominion over everything. Ancient Paganism was generally polytheistic, and so the concept of the one true God is quite distinct. Moreover, Christianity emphasizes the life and teachings of Jesus,which set it apart from the stories and rituals of Paganism.

Furthermore, Christianity was seen as a direct affront to Paganism. Modernity is often depicted as the antithesis of primitive hierarchy and superstition, which was often associated with Paganism. Therefore, it is argued that Christianity was deliberately developed as a distinct religious identity without any Pagan influence.

Perceived Need for Consistency

The debate over the Pagan origins of Christianity also focuses on whether or not the Church created such a narrative in order to appease Ancient Pagans. This was especially commonly seen in the fifth century, when Christianity began to spread and attempt to be accepted by the Pagan societies of Europe. In the quest for acceptance and unity, the Church may have deliberately merged certain Pagan rituals, such as the Easter festival, with Christianity, in an attempt to remain consistent with pre-existing religious beliefs.

This method of ‘compromise’ also served as a way of unifying the two religions and subjugating the beliefs of both Pagan and Christian devotees. Deviating from this created the risk that some of Christianity’s founding principles, such as the absolute nature of the Church and its teachings, could be questioned.

Opposition From Scholars

This discussion has been met with opposition from scholars, who assert that Christianity has a distinct identity and is not derived from Paganism. These scholars claim that the behaviors and systems of belief associated with Christianity are completely unique, and they refute the idea that Paganism is the root of Christianity. They also believe that it is both offensive and ahistorical to suggest that Christianity is adopted from Paganism, which they describe as primitive and superstitious.

Rather, they explain that Christianity was derived from the teachings of Jesus and its interpretations in the Bible, and that any perceived comparisons with Paganism constitute a misunderstanding. This argument has also been popular amongst Christian fundamentalists and apologists, who feel that their faith should not be seen as an evolved form of Paganism.

Comparisons Between the Two Religions

As the discussion around the Pagan origins of Christianity continues,this article has shown that there is evidence of similarities between the two religions. There are overlapping stories and traditions, as well as ceremonies and religious practices. Furthermore, the willingness of the Church to keep certain Pagan traditions and rituals suggests a desire to present Christianity as an evolved form of Ancient Paganism.

Ultimately, the debate over the connections between Christianity and Paganism is an ongoing one, and the subject’s nuances and complexities must be explored further. Nonetheless, it is clear that there are multiple similarities between the two religions, although the extent to which Christianity is derived from Paganism remains a controversial question.

Similar Mythological Tradition

The mythological tradition that both Christianity and Paganism can trace their beginnings to it is evident even in today’s society. Beliefs in a higher power and miracles are still preached and sought out, regardless of the religion. It is said that there are more than 33,000 various different mythologies and religion, and Christianity is the one of the most popular religions in the world. Despite its massive following, there are still certain mythological tales that can be found in Christianity, as it is with Paganism.

The tales of gods and goddesses, spirits, and immortal beings to be found in Paganism can also be found in Christianity. The way these stories are told are different of course, but the core is essentially the same. It is argued that this commonality is due to the fact that these stories were shared by different cultures and were adapted over time. This goes to show that even without Paganism as its root, Christianity still retains some of its mythological elements.

Christianity Adapting to its Environment

It is also argued that Christianity adapted to its environment in order to increase acceptance. Christianity has often been introduced to societies in the past with a long-rooted pagan belief system. To ensure its success and acceptance, it would then have to adapt to some aspects of the societies’ belief and culture. Examples of such are the celebration of Easter, the usage of the cross, or the adaptation of the ‘Saturnalian’– the festival of Saturn which would become Christmas. It is evident that Christianity today has incorporated some of the traditions held in Paganism.

This scenario indicates that a religion that originated in Judaism, which was an exclusive religion, had to adapt in order to gain acceptance. It is undeniable that Christianity has since evolved and grown, far beyond the expectations of its founder. This growth could be attributed to its willingness to accommodate diverse cultural and religious practices, which would include Paganism.

Persistence of Pagan Precedence

A further argument which suggests the precedence of Paganism to Christianity is its persistence in modern society. Despite Christianity’s historical inclination towards conversion and monopolization, this is not true for Paganism. Even with the advent of other popular religions in recent times, Paganism and its respective customs are still observed by certain cultures, proving that it still has a place in the thoughts of many. This indicates that, just like certain aspects of Paganism was incorporated into Christianity, the same can be applied to other religions.

It is argued that this is due to the overlap of various mythological tales and ancestral beliefs which were passed down through generations. Even today, Christianity is not that strictly enforced, and many of its followers are not condemnatory of some of the beliefs held in Paganism. This indicates that Paganism is, and always has been, a part of Christianity.

Religious Network

A final argument to be made in the debate of whether Christianity is based on Paganism is the religious network that exists today. While Christianity exists as an Abrahamic religion, Paganism still remains, albeit as a subset of various mythologies and cultures. It is clear then, that the two religions have progressed side-by-side, co-existing in the religious world. This has given them plenty of opportunities to interact, of which the incorporation of Pagan beliefs in Christianity could be seen as a result.

Moreover, it could also be argued that this religious network has enabled a more widespread acceptance of Christianity, since some of the Pagan beliefs can be found in Christianity. This further furthers the notion that Christianity is not a religion free from Paganism, but instead has been incorporating aspects of Paganism since its advent.

Jennifer Johnson is an experienced author with a deep passion for exploring the spiritual traditions of different cultures and religions. She has been writing about religion and spirituality for the past ten years in both print and digital platforms, engaging readers in meaningful dialogue about the soul's journey through this life. With degrees in Comparative Religion and English Literature, she brings an insightful perspective to her work that bridges the gap between traditional knowledge and modern theories. A lifelong traveler, Jenn has lived in multiple countries exploring various paths to understanding faith, and her dedication to learning new things is palpable in every piece she creates.

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