"The Earth belongs to HaShem and the Fullness Thereof."
IHS Chi-Rho and the Name of Master Y'shua
By Ben Ruach ha Kodesh (John of AllFaith) © 2.19.08
A friend asks:
I have a quick question that I'm sure you can help me with. You know the "IHS" symbols you might see in some churches. Well, I'm pretty sure the "I" stands for Ishtar and the "H" stands for Horus, but I'm uncertain about the "S". I think it is Shamash, but I'm not sure. Can you help or correct me?
This common belief is, in my opinion, completely unfounded, but yes, those who hold it to be true do use Shamash for the "S" usually. As you know, Shamash was the Akkadian Sun God and the God of Justice in Babylonia and Assyria as well as the Sumerian Utu (which opens several interesting possibilities that I wont delve into here).
The truth is however that "IHS" is one of the oldest Nazarene Way symbols there is (this and the Maranatha fish), demonstratively dating back to the third century and probably even before.
During the pre-Catholic period of Jewish and Nazarene Way persecution it was necessary for the Believers in Master Y'shua's reformed Jewish teachings to hide their faith and yet be able to communicate with each other. This gave birth to "IC" and "XC" and "IHS" and "XPS" being used as monograms for Iesous Christos (ie "Jesus the Anointed"). These letters and emblems were scrawled onto walls etc. as symbols directing people to places of worship, safety and so on, just as the Maranatha fish was used.
Emperor Constantine, who founded Christianity, worshiped Sol Invictus, the Roman Sun God, until the day he died. On his death bed he ordered coins with his image on one side and the Sun God on the other, then took Catholic communion for the first time in his life, and then died.
The continuing presence of Sol Invictus within Catholicism is seen in the sun that enlightens the IHS monogram as shown above. As Rome co-opted Master Y'shua's Nazarene Way movement, they incorporated these earlier symbols as charms (essentially). Catholicism also took what came to be known, in the 4th century, as the Chi-Rho, the (symbolic Gnostic) cross that supposedly led Constantine to his (mock) conversion. Hence, the Chi-Rho, the Maranatha fish and the IHS monogram (which often has a tiny Chi-Rho above and little fishes or three nails below it) became official Church emblems.
Interestingly enough, once Rome constituted the New Religion (ie Christianity) and banned all others, the true meaning of the monograms of our Master's name were largely forgotten, but the charms were powerful and popular with the masses and soon they gave rise to the name "Jhesus" or Jesus which is still generally used today. Our Master's name however was never "Jesus." It is Y'shua, Yeshua or, in English, Joshua, not "Jesus"... but what's in a name... (Philippians 2:10).
As initials, any combination of letters can mean anything. For instance, "IRS" (the Infernal Revenue Service) could just as easily stand for the International Religious Society (a wonderful group that does not abbreviate their name for some strange reason hehe.
There are lots of people who bash the Roman Catholic Church at every opportunity. I am not among them.
I have a deep and abiding love and respect for MUCH of what that Church has accomplished over the past 1500 years. MUCH of its present and past leadership have contributed enormously to the betterment of the world and to the quest for God. Some of the holiest and most saintly people I have ever had the honor of knowing have been Catholic priests, nuns, monks, brothers and lay people... and Saint Francis remains one of the people I most admire.
Having said that, I also think its vital to rightly understand the true history of the Christian faith and the negative (as well as positive) part in that history played by Roman Catholicism and its complete re-creation of Master Y'shua's Noahide Nazarene Way.
Hope this helps,
~John of AllFaith
Ben Ruach ha Kodesh