This is the continuation of my response to Samuel Butler’s claims about Christianity. In my previous post I showed that the idea of Mithraism being an influence on Christianity was unwarranted. This time I’d like to deal with Samuel’s claims about two Papal quotes:
…Pope Leo X (died 1521) called Christ a “Fable”. Later Pope Paul III expressed similar sentiments.
Immediately I should point out that even if the two men here did indeed claim that Christianity was a fable, this does not lead logically to the falsification of Christianity. There are probably many people who will promote an ideology, whether it be secular or religious, who in the back rooms laugh and scoff at the very ideas that they promulgate, reaping their own benefits from doing so. For instance, let’s pretend that President Obama’s recent support for same-sex marriage was not based on his own convictions, but because he wanted the ‘gay vote’ and that secretly he found the idea morally incorrect.1 Now let’s pretend that after his election this was somehow leaked out to the public. Would the LGBTQ movement feel as though their position was now incorrect since an authority figure had lied to them? Of course not. It is no difference for Christianity – not to mention that there are multiple bodies within Christendom that do not agree with the jurisdictional claims of the Pope and would eagerly use such quotes to discredit the claims of the Church of Rome.
In fact, this is exactly what happened in the case of Pope Leo X. The quotations that are famously attributed to him: “How well we know what a profitable superstition this fable of Christ has been for us,”, and “What profit has not that fable of Christ brought us,” were from the works of John Bale, a sixteenth century artist whose works attacked the Church of Rome since he had joined the Protestant movement. The full quotation is from his work Pageant of the Popes on page 179: “For on a time when a cardinal Bembus did move a question out of the Gospel, the Pope gave him a very contemptuous answer saying: All ages can testify enough how profitable that fable of Christ hath been to us and our company.”2
As for the Pope Paul III, Samuel explains further in his video on YouTube that the Pope said, “’Jesus never existed,’ adding that he was ‘no other than the sun, adored in it’s Mithraic sect…’”.3 Now I can’t find the source for this quote after a quick search. That being said, seeing as the quote once again relies off of the false notion of Mithraic influence on Christianity, even if Pope Paul III did utter these words, which I doubt, it would mean absolutely nothing to the validity or invalidity of Christianity.
My last post in this series will deal with Samuel’s accusation of Moses, though don’t expect that one for awhile as it will probably take more research and I eagerly want to get back to my work on the Shroud of Turin.
1 A rather polemical and charged example, but I think it gets my point across. And, no, I don’t actually think this is what Obama is doing – I’m fairly certain he wholeheartedly supports those claims and is not doing it to obtain the voters of a certain demographic that, let’s be honest, he probably had to begin with.
3 Beyond All Religion, Narrated. Samuel Butler. Retrieved 8/13/12. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CPi-S3I7Ov4&feature=channel&list=UL