Origin of Christendom’s Rites and Ceremonies
✔ In his Ecclesiastical History John Lawrence von Mosheim tells of the compromise Christendom made from its beginning in Constantine’s day in order to get more pagans to accept Christianity: “While the fostering care of the emperors sought to advance the Christian religion, the indiscreet piety of the bishops obscured its true nature and depressed its energies, by the multiplication of rites and ceremonies. The observation of Augustine is well known, That the yoke once laid upon the Jews was more supportable, than that laid on many Christians in his age. For the Christian bishops introduced, with but slight alterations, into the Christian worship, those rites and institutions by which formerly the Greeks, Romans, and other nations had manifested their piety and reverence towards their imaginary deities; supposing that the people would more readily embrace Christianity, if they saw that the rites handed down to them from their fathers still existed unchanged among the Christians, and perceived that Christ and the martyrs were worshipped in the same manner, as formerly their gods were.
“There was, of course, little difference, in these times, between the public worship of the Christians and that of the Greeks and Romans. In both alike there were splendid robes, mitres, tiaras, wax tapers, crosiers, processions, lustrations, images, golden and silver vases, and numberless other things. No sooner had Constantine renounced the religion of his ancestors, than magnificent temples were everywhere erected, which were adorned with pictures and images, and which both in their external and internal form were very similar to the fanes and the temples of the gods. These temples . . . were consecrated with great pomp, and with rites borrowed in great measure from the ancient pontifical code of the Romans.”—Pp. 276, 277, Book II, Part, Chapter IV.
The early Christians, instead of borrowing from the pagans, heeded the divine command: “‘Get out from among them, and separate yourselves,’ says Jehovah, ‘and quit touching the unclean thing.’” They thus set the example for true Christians today.—2 Cor. 6:17.