Richard Rives, right, and son David hunting for the Ark of the Covenant in Jerusalem in 2003.

A Tennessee historian and author best known for his searches for the Ark of the Covenant – the box containing the Ten Commandments – is now challenging much of modern Christianity, claiming the traditional version of the faith has more in common with ancient paganism than actual biblical content.

“Today, it is amazing what is being presented as Christianity,” says Richard Rives of Lewisburg, Tenn., who has just released a book and DVD collection titled, “Time is the Ally of Deceit.”

“First century believers would have never accepted [today’s practices],” the 56-year-old ark hunter told WND. “We must earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints.”

In his new book and videos, Rives goes on a history-packed journey beginning with the creation of the world and Satan’s deception in the Garden of Eden, examining how worship of the sun god among ancient cultures influenced the worship of the true God of the Bible.

He says the most important theme people will realize from his project is “that major components of traditional Christianity are actually pagan in nature and that they never had anything to do with Jesus. Educated theologians know that, and purposefully withhold that information.”

Get Richard Rives’ amazing probe into biblical history! “Time is the Ally of Deceit” complete book and DVD collection direct from WND’s online store. If you prefer ordering by phone, call WND’s customer service line toll-free at 1-800-4WND-COM (1-800-496-3266) between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Eastern, Monday through Friday.

Some specific assertions in “Time is the Ally of Deceit” include:

  • Easter is the name of a pagan fertility goddess. The believers that walked and talked with Christ observed Passover
  • December 25th is not the birthday of Jesus. It was the most important pagan birthday on the Roman calendar 300 years after the time of Christ
  • The spot where many Christians believe Jesus was born in Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity is really the exact location of the ancient worship of the pagan god Tammuz
  • Sunday is not the Sabbath. Theologians substituted Sunday rest in place of Sabbath rest
  • Believers are a part of Israel. There is only one plan of salvation – faith in the Messiah of Israel, Yeshua, Jesus Christ

“Time is the Ally of Deceit” traces deception from the Garden of Eden through ancient cultures and allegedly into modern Christianity.

The book actually contains a warning at its outset, explaining it is “not written as a form of entertainment,” and that those who read it “will be responsible for their knowledge of the truths” it contains.

The information was gleaned not only from encyclopedias and history books, but also in-person visits to numerous sites in Egypt, Turkey, Israel, Jordan, Greece and Italy. Rives also did research at many museums around the world including the Smithsonian in Washington, the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Philadelphia Museum, the Oriental Institute Museum at the University of Chicago, the Museum of London, the British Museum in London, the Cairo Museum in Egypt and the Anatolian museum in Turkey.

While some may think the author is perhaps anti-Christian with his claims, Rives (whose name is pronounced like actor Keanu Reeves) says that’s not the case. He stresses he himself is a Christian, believing that “Yeshua, Jesus Christ was the only begotten son of God, who laid down His life to pay the penalty for my sins.”

“Time is the Ally of Deceit” claims much of today’s Christianity is based on “Another Jesus,” not the Jesus revealed in the Bible.

“I must admit that, when asked, I am careful to make sure and explain just what kind of Christian I am,” he told WND. “There has been an identity theft. Today there are many believers who no longer want to be called Christians because of all the ridiculous things that attempt to associate themselves with Christianity.”

When asked if he thought today’s Christianity was basically a sham, Rives said no.

“Modern Christianity tells people about Jesus and what He has done for us,” he explained. “Modern Christianity does a good job in presenting ‘justification.’ It does a pitiful job in presenting ‘sanctification.’ It was in a traditional Baptist Church that I accepted Jesus as my Savior. Even so, I did not learn much about His commandments but rather about traditions that are actually in violation of those commandments. There are a lot of good people in modern Christian churches that just do not know the truth.”

Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity is the traditional location many say Jesus was born. But historian Richard Rives claims it is the precise spot where an idol of the pagan god Tammuz was worshipped.

Rives says reaction so far to “Time is the Ally of Deceit” has been mostly positive, with very few negatives.

“Those who do not like it want to find something wrong with me rather than the facts in the book,” he indicated. “They twist my words in an attempt to disregard the commandments of our Creator by saying that I indicate that salvation is by the law. I have never indicated that. We are saved by grace through faith and not by works of the law. It is amazing what those people do. No matter how many times I tell them that they just don’t seem to understand. They do not want to understand.”

Rives says the birth of one of his sons with an open spine years ago led him into deep prayer, and he discovered he was violating some of God’s laws as outlined in the Bible, especially the Fourth Commandment prohibiting work on the Sabbath, or day of rest.

At the time, he was running a corporate travel business that operated seven days a week. He said he started taking Sundays off, but in-depth Bible study led him to the premise that Saturday – not Sunday – is actually the biblically mandated Sabbath, an issue of dispute among Christians for centuries.

He explains: “I was shocked by what I learned, and the more research I did, the more I realized that many of the things I had been taught in church were based on the traditions of men rather than what the Bible actually teaches. I found that many aspects of traditional Christianity can be traced directly to pagan sun worship – SUNday being just one example.”

In 1995, he published a book on his findings titled, “Too Long in the Sun,” which he says “has become somewhat of a classic.”

As far as his hunt for the Ark of the Covenant in Jerusalem is concerned, Rives said:

At this time we cannot confirm the location of the Ark. We dug from the surface down to a depth of 38 feet. That is where the first century Roman level is located. We found first century buildings and were able to confirm that the area of the Garden Tomb was an agricultural area during that time period. We found a 12,000-gallon cistern and artifacts dating all the way back to the time of King Solomon. There are some additional locations that we would like to explore and are working with others to schedule that work. What is most important is not the Ark – the container itself – but what was placed in that Ark – the covenant, the Ten Commandments. I do not know where the Ark is but I do know where we can all find the covenant. It is easily located within the pages of our own Bibles – the Book of Exodus, chapter 20.

Note: Richard Rives can be e-mailed here.

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