The Silent Conspiracy
One of the earliest entrances of sun worship into the church was through the spring pagan festival. The festival was celebrated in honor of Eostre (according to the eighth century cleric Bede). The festival often honored a goddess (such as Ishtar), and one of the more popular tales of this time concerned the god Attis, who was said to be resurrected each year during the month of March. According to one tradition, the festival of Attis began as "a day of blood on a black Friday and culminated after three days in a day of rejoicing over a resurrection."3 These spring festivals eventually became the Christian festival of Easter, complete with eggs and rabbits, both ancient pagan symbols of fertility.
At the Council of Nicaea, Constantine also persuaded those in attendance that only one Easter "Resurrection" day should be kept. "Our Savior has left us only one festal day … and he desired to establish only one Catholic Church," he argued. Then he added this significant statement. "You should consider … that we should have nothing in common with the Jews."4
Constantine felt that the Jews were "murderers of the Lord," and therefore desired to blot out any links between Christianity and Judaism. For this reason he persuaded the Christian church to drop the ancient biblical Sabbath, given at Creation, and replace it with Sunday worship. "The Church made a sacred day of Sunday … largely because it was the weekly festival of the sun; for it was a definite Christian policy to take over the pagan festivals endeared to the people by tradition, and to give them a Christian significance."5 Pope Sylvester I (314–335) finally made Christian Sundaykeeping official by decreeing that "the rest of the Sabbath should be transferred to the Lord’s day [Sunday]."6 Perhaps this was Constantine and Rome’s crowning conspiratorial victory—sneaking sun worship into Christianity by exchanging the true Christian day of worship for the day dedicated to ancient sun worship.
So Dan Brown was partly right after all. There has been a conspiracy. Constantine and Rome did change history. What Mr. Brown does not seem to realize is that the very things he has attacked are the only things that have kept truth alive. Believing in Jesus as Lord and in the Bible as His infallible Word are the only ways to safely combat error and ground ourselves in truth. Through the Dark Ages these facts were lost sight of, and paganism took over the church. Thank God that today we have ready access to the Bible, the ultimate resource, and to the throne of grace. God’s truth will always prove stronger than the world’s fiction.
1 Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code (New York: Doubleday, 2003), 1.
2 December 17, 2004, "No Gospel in ‘Da Vinci Code’ Claims, Scholars Say" National Geographic News.
3 Gerald L. Berry, "Religions of the World," Barnes & Noble, 1956.
4 From the Letter of the Emperor to all those not present at the Council, Found in Eusebius, Life of Constantine, 3: 18-20.
5 Arthur Weigall, The Paganism in Our Christianity, p. 145. (Copyright 1928, by G. P. Putnam’s Sons, New York).
6 Rabanus Maurus, as quoted in Sabbath and Sunday in Early Christianity, by Robert L. Odom, 1977 by the Review and Herald Publishing Association, pp. 247, 248.