Mithraism is the worship of Mithra. The original source of the cult is unknown but argued to be of Persian, Indian or Chinese descent. It has been called an offshoot of Zorastrianism but that is also contested and not much literary evidence of the cult has survived. According to Persian legends, Mithra was born of a rock and a virgin mother called the "Mother of God" and was first attended by shepherds. Mithra was called "the Light of the World." They believed in a heaven and hell and the dualism of good and evil, a final day of judgment, the end of the world as we know it and a general resurrection. Long before Jesus, Dec. 25th was celebrated as the date of Mithra's birth. Mithra was also associated with the sun, and his followers marked Sunday as his day of worship, they called it the Lord's Day. A few of the extra-biblical traditions seem to have found its way to Christianity through Roman Mithraism.

Among the milder ceremonies of the followers of Mithra were baptism in holy water and a partaking of a sacred meal of bread and wine. After passing several ordeals the converts were "reborn" as a new man in Mithra. Though Mithra had ascended into heaven he had promised to return and bring life everlasting to his loyal followers.

With all the similarities of Mithra to Christ, there are some that say that Christianity came from Mithraism but that is just nonsense. For a time, the two religions co-existed together and even competed with each other but Christianity survived. At the same time, there could be prophetic questions here in prefiguring the true Son of God that would come later. There had been many Messianic types of Christ in the Jewish scriptures (David and Joseph for example) and God may have been telling Gentiles also, but this is merely conjecture and there are other religions with the same similarities. The Wise men from the east who visited Jesus were said to be Zorastrian.

The similarities to New Testament Christianity cease upon a closer examination of Mithraism. They were a secret society, they had graded membership, women were excluded, Mithra is one of many gods and they had a separate priesthood called "Fathers."

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