Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

God’s Rivals 3

I don’t know if you have observed this, but if you pay attention you will see something in the Old Testament: the authors and people of the OT at times seem to believe there are other gods. In chp 3 of Gerald McDermott’s God’s Rivals we find an examination of the OT and the “real existence of other gods.”
Assuming this is a fair summary, what does it say about other religions? about God’s rivals? about the scandal of particularity?
The chp contains one of the finest brief surveys of the “divine council” of the OT, the hosts of YHWH who seem to attend to God and even oppose God.
This chp contains lots of details, even if eminently clear, and there is no need even to begin trotting out too much evidence. But McDermott argues that texts like “all gods bow down before him” (Ps 97:7) do not indicate what many Christians today think. (Check out Deut 32:8-9 or 1 Kings 11:33).
After a lengthy survey of the Divine Council in the OT (e.g., Ps 89:5-8), McDermott contends the OT contains four views of the religions:
1. Some neighborly pluralism: there are some real gods; they are subordinate to YHWH; we can get along as long as they leave us alone.
2. Competitive pluralism: the gods of others rebelled against YHWH and are not worthy of honor.
3. Vehement missionary exclusivism: others are devoted to gods who are not really gods.
4. Cosmic war: religions are communities animated by powers hostile to YHWH.
These models of response are not mutually exclusive; and there is evidence in the OT for progression of thinking about the religions of others.

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Mike Clawson

posted January 3, 2008 at 2:12 am

How come comments are turned off for the previous post?

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Andrew Butler

posted January 3, 2008 at 4:04 am

Chris Wright in his book “The Mission of God” (IVP)also has a very helpful section discussing these kinds of issues.

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don bryant

posted January 3, 2008 at 4:06 am

Don’t you think Nietzche got it right, that Judaisitic monotheism killed the gods (plural)? This is what he held against Judaism/Christianity. No matter the evolutionary process of understanding the implications of monotheism in the Old Testament, the gods of the ancient world “laughed themselves to death” at the claims of Yahweh.

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posted January 3, 2008 at 8:20 am

But McDermott argues that texts like ?all gods bow down before him? (Ps 97:7) do not indicate what many Christians today think.

What do many Christians think today?

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posted January 3, 2008 at 8:42 am

One of the correlating factors between #1 and #s 3,4 is the concurrent solidification of Israelite nationalism.
It’s interesting that in Isaiah, in the passages about Cyrus (peaking in ch45-46), there is a beautiful interplay between the condemnation of idols and false gods and the invitation to all the peoples to recognise Jehovah, who is hidden but the only true God. The visible sign of God’s presence is righteousness and of God’s salvation is God’s rendering of justice.
I am in a culture in India where we are surrounded by all sorts of manifestations of gods and religions. The one lesson that we who claim to be followers of Jesus seem to have not learned well enough is that God will be mainly seen in the righteousness and in the justice that we live out.
One also is frequently faced with the opposite situation, where those who identify themselves as non Christians can be seen to live lives of greater righteousness and justice than do we who claim to represent the one true God.

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posted January 3, 2008 at 8:59 am

The Jewish Lesson
Most ancient cultures have their own hierarchical world of gods, demigods and a chief god. For example, Greek had Zeus, Athena and Hercules; the Germans had Wodan, Freia, Baldur and Loki, the Persians had Osmud, Ahriman and Ahura Mazda. An important metahistorical question concerns the relation between different worlds of gods. The phenomenology of religion describes all different worlds of gods that have occurred and puts them all together to avoid prejudgements. However, in doing so, one suggests that only names changed but that the gods remain still the same over time and cultures. In this way the Islamitic God Allah is considered the same as the Christian God of the Old Testament.
If one assumes that the worship of divine powers is only based on projection of anthropomorphic imaginations by the human spirit (a modern assumption put forward by Feuerbach) and that assumption is anachronistically applied to ancient cultures (meaning that religion in ancient times was also only projection), then it is plausible that since all human beings are equal, their projections must be equal too.
On the other hand, if one assumes that we can only approach ancient times by taking the experiences of that time for granted, because we have no ‘golden standard’ to judge, then all divine powers did actually (co-)exist according to expressions of that time that must be considered as authentic, whether or not we can feel those experiences in a similar way.
Metahistory aims to study gods of a culture in the way they are perceived by that culture. Striving to become synchronic with a culture under study, one sticks to that culture and to the world of gods belonging to that culture. However, in this way no relation can be found between different cultures and different worlds of gods. So far, there is one exception: the Jewish culture. Despite the fact that Jewish culture has a mono-theistic religion, this culture is the only culture that has not only knowledge about their own world of divine beings, but also about the worlds of gods of other cultures and the relation between them and the Jewish God. From a metahistorical point of view, the Jewish culture may fill the gap of mutual relations between gods of different cultures.
One of the proposed reasons for this specific characteristic of Jewish religion is the fact that Jews were always in confrontation with different leading cultures without changing themselves: the story of Moses in relation with Egyptian Pharaos, the role of Daniel in the Babylonic culture, and the acts of Jesus in the period of the Roman Empire. Although this reason has without doubt a major impact, one has to take a closer look. In fact, researchers must prepare themselves to overcome modern limitations of a materialistic rationalism, in order to go back even before Christian medieval metaphysics. When we focus on the Jewish Scriptures (in European tradition known as the ‘old testament of the Bible’), the Jewish lesson can be (re)constructed as follows.
Out of Great Stories of a culture, the essence of a culture may be retrieved (like Illias of Greek culture and Edda of Germanic). This essence can be interpreted as a revelation or emergence of a cultural being (like Goethe and Hegel did). This cultural being unifies a culture and determines a language community. According to Jewish Scriptures, many cultural beings are present: for example, heaven and earth are gods made by JHWH, the Jewish God. Furthermore, Jewish religion distinguish between gods and (self-made) images of gods. Although the Holy Jewish Law forbid Jewish people to worship images and forbid to worship other gods than the only Jewish God, the existence of gods of neighboring cultures is never denied. On the contrary, several Scriptures explicitly describe the relation between the Jewish God and the other cultural gods (Exodus 12:12, 22:8+9, Deuteronomy 4:19, Daniel, Psalms 138, Job, Ephesians 6:12). While all other cultures have their own chief god, this chief god is, according to Jewish lectures, intermediary between that culture and the highest Divine Being. The only difference with the Jewish culture is that Jews have no chief cultural god as intermediary, but they have to deal directly with the highest Divine Being. All Jewish stories subsequently showed the impossibility for human beings (at least for Jewish people) to fulfill this task.
According to the Jewish tradition, cultural gods derive their dominion and brilliancy from the highest Divine Being: they are appointed to mediate between a human culture and the divine world. However, both humans and cultural gods may choose to go for themselves instead of serving others. In this respect, both humans and cultural gods can ‘fall in darkness’ and then need conversion or inversion to their original destiny. Jewish tradition distinguishes between cultural gods, the inspiration of these gods in human beings and the influence of stronger powers behind these gods.
Finally, if a cultural god allows unjustice against the weakest or neglects mercy, he must die like a human being (Psalms 82). In this way a culture declines, becomes a civilisation and dies. The death of a cultural god means that the god will be withdrawn from its culture, having a decreasing influence (for a finite period of time), even though the god may appear sometimes (compare The Acts 16:9).
Metahistorical studies of Frank de Graaff, Dutch father of metahistory:
Inspired by Jewish thoughts, the cultural philosopher F. de Graaff, PhD, discovered the powers beyond European culture by careful investigation of the works European culture delivered.
In ‘Het Europees Nihilisme’ (European Nihilism) the essence of the European Culture is interpreted as a mixture between the Greek Sungod Apollo and the Israelitic God Christ. Apollo provided truth and Christ mercy.
In ‘Als Goden Sterven’ (when Gods die) the Christian God is distinguished from the Israelitic God. The Christian God mediates between the European culture and the Highest Divine Being, while the Jewish God is not an intermediary but the ‘God of gods': the Highest Divine Being. This distinction is reflected in two different kinds of mercy: the mercy of the Christian Church acts as a mediator while the mercy of the God of gods works directly on individual persons, not via churches.
In ‘Anno Domini 1000 – anno Domini 2000′ the last 1000 year of European history is explained as a decease and withdrawal of European cultural god. This god of the Western culture is incarnated in the German/Roman emperor Otto III, who sacrified himself for his culture to suspend a final judgement.
In ‘Het Geheim van de Wereldgeschiedenis’ (The Secret of World History) the key to understand world history is expounded in the Jewish story of the twins Jacob and Esau. The essence of Esau (exposed in Edom and Rome) is to conserve and use natural powers, while the essence of Jacob (exposed in Jewish prophets and religious reformations) is to open up the relation with the divine world.
In ‘Jezus de Verborgene’ (Jesus the Hidden One) the essence of the Jewish strategy (‘apparent ruse’) was carried through: Jesus as the fulfillment of the Jewish Thora publicly offered in vain the anti-Semite (Esau-inspired) Rome the opportunity to embrace the Jewish (Jacob-inspired) Israel.
In his book about Mozart’s ‘Die Zauberfl?te’ the movements of the Queen of the Night, the after-light of the Sunspirit, are accurately explained as the cultural context of Western Europe in which men and women may develop a three-fold essence in their relation. Allusion is made to a fair purification of fallen powers.
In ‘Isra?l, Hellas, Rome’ the elevation of the Greek culture by the wisdom of Diotima was brought to light. Alexander used this initiation to realize his highest destiny. The merit of Paul was to bring Hellenism back to the spirit of Alexander the Macedonian. When the Jewish principle became stronger in Christian Church, Rome worked out a ‘ruse’ too: the principle of Esau should get the exterior face of Jacob. Constantine converted to Christianity in the sign of the cross. In Western Europe the mediating cultural god was dignified under the patronage of the Roman Church as the crucified Christ. Thanks to the (few) Jewish elements left in Christianity, also Jesus Christ was dignified as Messiah. In Eastern Europe the Jewish elements were strengthened by the influence of Alexander and Paul: the protest against the principle of Esau increased.
Metahistory and History
Addressing issues beyond individual scale, one may speak about social constructions, interpretation contexts, or cultural paradigms. Describing the history of civilizations, Oswald Spengler considered a culture as a ?Lebewesen? (living being) with its own birth, growth, and development of rise and fall. In the Middle Ages, this ?Lebewesen? was named after patron saints or angels that may protect certain people or a specific culture. Ancient times honored these beings as sons of gods and the highest representative of a culture was often considered as a divine incarnation or at least as an intermediary between that culture and those heavenly beings. Metahistorical study nowadays can not naively start with metaphysical concepts of history. Spenglers ?metahistorical schema? must be verified with factual events and be extended by doing justice to the difference of cultures.
This was the merit of the historian Arnold Toynbee who critizes Spengler on these points. However, not only the verification of metahistorical hypotheses, but also the generation of these hypotheses must relate to historical events. This search for the metahistorical issues and approaches from within historical events and contexts is similar with the search for the ?universal within the particular?. However, from Socrates onwards this focus on essentials is our biggest challenge in thinking. The struggle about the ?universalia? at the start of the universities in medieval times and the breakthrough of Cartesian thinking has made this ?Goethian? approach more difficult. Although Plato and Aristotle discussed this issue deeply, some footnotes may be worthwhile for understanding and constructing our own time.
The term ?metahistory? suggests a history beyond history. Nowadays this meta-history is often interpreted philosophically as a ?reflection on history? or the ?philosophy of history?.
Modern philosophy, presupposing a distinction between subject and object, may suggest to interpret the term ?meta? as based on the distance between a subject reflecting on history and a scientific object. Metahistory in that context denotes the science to study the methods of history.
Mediaval thought considered ?meta? as ?above?, based on the distinction Thomas Acquino described between natural and supernatural. Metaphysics was considered as concerned with the knowledge beyond or above physics. The world was ideally viewed ?sub specie aeternitatis?: from eternal perspectives, from a Gods Eye point of view. Metahistory in this respect is the belief in a parallel world above ours in which gods, angels and saints rule or influence our world.
In ancient times both the modern subject-object split as well as the medieval separation between natural and supernatural was not experienced as such. Although the Greeks did have their own world of gods (especially in the pre-socratic era), their relation with that world was not yet distinct but more intimate and closely related to daily experiences due to ritual repetition of the great mythological stories. E.g. the origin of the Olympic Games is a renewed experience of a divine struggle with the aim to incorporate divine courage, persistence and victory. The Greek tragedy may utterly show a world of gods, but in fact it educated or inaugurated the Greeks, because they recognized these stories as ?magnifications of human inclinations? as we would say today. In this way, Nietzsche has opened up the underlying Greek dichotomy in the essences of Dionysos and Apollo for a nihilistic time in this way.
In our current post-modern time we are dealing with these three interpretations of ?metahistory?:
a greek experience of a divine struggle in the human condition,
a medieval consideration of history from a higher perspective, and
a modern focus on the methodology or the paradigm of history.
Metahistory and Historicism
An important approach in post-modern history is the historical context determining (the interpretation of) events: a historical event of 3 centuries ago must fit the paradigm of 3 centuries ago. To avoid a anachronistic interpretation of events, for example describing a historical happening with modern terminology and current moral distinctions, historicism suggests to become synchronic with the time of those events in the first place.
However, it is not easy to imagine time and place of the events under study. Historicism requiring this too strictly will disable historiography: it is after all rather difficult for the generations to put themselves into the position of the people living in the inter-bellum. Some argue that the time before 1917 is hardly possible to become familiar with, or the period of Europe before the French Revolution, let alone how difficult it is for us to get inaugurated in the Greek mystery cult.
Historicism in practice limits itself therefore to a formal requirement: the interpretation of an event must fit current interpretations of other events in the same period of time. As a side effect, the danger of fragmentation occurs: the smaller a time-interpretation horizon, the easier to achieve a fit. From this formal requirement, historicism addresses important methodological questions of metahistory: how to become synchronic with (distant) past phenomenons and how to distinguish between short and longer periods of interpretation horizons? For example, it seems plausible that religious wars have a longer horizon than fashion issues, but what are the criteria we use and what about the possibility of ?eternal horizons? that enable human beings to experience unfamiliar cultural contexts?
Metahistory and Culture
A possible way to study this kind of metahistorical questions is to link metahistory with philosophy of cultures: the interpretation horizon fits then with a specific culture. In this way, it becomes clear that age-old traditions of Chinese or Jewish culture are not immediately understandable for Western-Europeans nowadays. Referring to the enormous amount of New Age books, one may conclude that wisdom from other cultures inspires people, but understanding by becoming synchronic is, metahistorically perceived, something different. Cultures on this level are quite different, ?have their own paradigms? we would say now, and the experiences of people in a culture may therefore be different. Realizing a stable multi-cultural society must be based on a mutual understanding, meaning an understanding of each others culture (with their origin, traditions and diversities) from within. Metahistory in this perspective focusses on the questions: what is culture, what is typical for a culture, where are the cultural bounderies, what determines a culture?
To avoid anachronistic interpretations, not only the cultural context and terminology of that time must be taken into account, but also the way ?metahistory? is perceived. In different cultures different ideas on metahistory might be used. Even within one tradition, like the Western-European, we observed different readings of metahistory. This phenomenon requires self-critical and reflective way of studying. For example, a metahistory of ancient Greek culture nowadays must include the Greek world of gods, despite the fact that we might consider this world nowadays differently. Even the interpretation of the dialogues of Plato, who lived in the transition period between the Greek and Roman culture, must deal with gods and ?daemons?, otherwise the content of that written wisdom will not be disclosed. However, if one accepts that the experience of a world of gods belongs to a period of time (and thus also for our understanding of that time), but also accepts that the world of gods is perceived differently nowadays, one must unavoidably deal with the question: what happened in the mean time? By emphasizing some lessons of current historicism, one can?t avoid asking how and when, for example, the world of gods disappeared. Have the Greek gods really vanished, did the medieval god hide himself, is God dead or is our ability to experience a divine world perished, do we have still antennas for (very) long term culturally plans (besides our physical ones)?
The reflectivity in being engaged in metahistory raises new issues that are hardly addressed in a traditional historical or in a historicistical approach. For example, a longitudinal search for previous causes of a (mono-disciplinary) event, as traditional history is aiming at, does neglect all different kinds of (multi-disciplinary) changes within one culture during a time of change. But, what happens during that period of change, and how to deal with the suggestion of an overall (metahistorical) cause within that period of time? Historicism as a reaction on a naive interpretation of different times and cultures, suggest interpretation time-frames in which different concepts and different paradigms can be studied in their own right. But, what happens in-between, and how to deal with (metahistorical) constancies beyond historical changes. Metahistory suggests the possibility of a continuity behind changes that might cause a contingency.
Metahistory and Metabletics
Metabletics, the study of changes, focusses on the synchronic nature of several changes. For example, a new style in church architecture is often established in the same period as the determination of new theological dogma?s or new scientific publications. Changes like these can be found by a phenomenological method. Addressing the synchronic nature of these changes by metabletic studies suggests a surprising connection; usually we say ?a new spirit of times occurred?. Metahistorical studies take it further: ?what is that spirit of times and why is it occurring at that specific moment in time? The grounding father of metabletics is the Dutch psychiatrist professor Jan Hendrik van den Berg. The father of the Dutch metahistory is cultural philosopher and theologian Frank de Graaff. Both scholars met frequently and, like experienced chess players, discussed the turning points in history. F. De Graaff departed this life in 1993 and at the same time a celebration book was published for the occasion of his 75th birthday. The contribution of J.H. van den Berg for this celebration book was titled: ?Devoot humanisme? (devout humanism). This post-renaissance stream in the flourish period of the European culture, not only had religious dignity but also a deep respect for human creature. One experienced free will of an individual co-existing with a sovereignty surpassing any individual. This implacable duality was cherished and the tragedy occurred as encore to express ultimately people?s fate on earth. In this way history and metahistory must go together, although they might be considered and experienced as implacable. The life of people with their daily ups and downs and at the same time with all their acts that witnesses a superhuman inspiration is an inexhaustible source for studying this duel.

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Scott M

posted January 3, 2008 at 9:18 am

[Scratches head] I guess I’ve been too shaped by pluralism to see how this is an issue. It seems obvious to me that there are many gods and many powers. The story of scripture is filled with talk of gods and powers. It’s in the middle of that cosmic perspective that the claims of the Jewish and Christian God stand out.

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posted January 3, 2008 at 10:11 am

I guess I’ve never heard a Christian seriously present this idea (although I can remember wondering about it when I was younger). I can brainstorm reasons why this idea would not be acceptable in a lot of churches today, but then what about multiple gods in the NT? When would this idea have faded (or did it)?

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posted January 3, 2008 at 10:18 am

Revolutionary Error » Blog Archive » My Morning Reading

[…] Maybe I just haven’t been paying attention, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard a Christian maintain or even suggest that there are actually multiple gods and that some of the authors of the Bible may have believed this. Scott McKnight reviews chapter 3 of God’s Rivals where the author writes about this idea and (judging from the comments) Scott seems to think this is a fairly easy conclusion to make. That got my attention. It seems an idea that would be quickly shot down in discussion. […]

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posted January 3, 2008 at 10:21 am

What is different in the Hebrew understanding of the world is that gods are tied to political entities and Yahweh is supreme. Placing other gods above Yahweh is the true sin that disobeys the essence of the Shema, but acknowledging their existence is not. This is a far cry from how other gods are interpreted in terms of the monotheistic manifestations of Judaism and Christianity today. The Hebrews were decidedly henotheistic in this regard.

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John W Frye

posted January 3, 2008 at 10:24 am

Assuming Paul was knowledgable of the Old Testament history of Yhwh and other “gods” and with the Roman empire’s syncretistic pagan “gods,” can we bring his observations in 1 Corinthians 8:4-6 into this conversation? Paul wrote, “So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.” For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.”

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posted January 3, 2008 at 10:29 am

I wonder if some of the texts about gods are more figure of speech than theology.
For one reason, in our day-to-day experience, we are mostly safe from nature. But if we lived under the open sky and were affected as the ancients were by hot and cold, rain and shine, I wonder if colloquialisms about the gods of nature and such wouldn’t be more common among us as well.
The second reason is that I assume that the Israelite authors would be likely to apply metaphors from surrounding cultures in referring to those cultures. Example: perhaps it would be equivalent to say “Dagon bows down to YHWH” as “The one true God has defeated the Philistines.”
Perhaps I am wide of the mark but it was something I was thinking about in response to the post.

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Rick in Texas

posted January 3, 2008 at 10:30 am

Comment 6 seems dramatically out of place – a 7 screen comment? A link would’ve been fine.
Because scripture tells a story about an importunate widow before a judge who feared not God nor man, does not in my judgment oblige me to believe that there was a specific such woman about whom Jesus was directly referring. Similarly I don’t feel obligated to conclude that there really are other gods in existence because some writers seems to suggest so. The texts that clearly state otherwise aid me in concluding that such references are an accomodation to the worldview of those around the writer. If I am wrong, and some authors actually did believe there were other gods, I still conclude that the higher vantage points of scripture are those that speak of the singularity of the one true God.

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posted January 3, 2008 at 10:31 am

I’ve taken this to be a kind of progressive revelation.
First, people are not expected to believe in only one god; instead they are simply expected to believe that there is only one worth worshipping — aka henotheism. This is probably through the pentateuch.
It would be hard to take Abraham out of a polytheistic enviroment and make him a strict monotheist. It would be simpler and easier on him to just make it clear that only YHWH was worth worshipping. Ditto for the post exodus generation.
Next, as the Israelites moved into Canaan there seems to be a harder line toward the other gods — not surprising considering the practices common there.
It doesn’t seem to be until the prophets that God says explicitly that the other “gods” are just hunks of wood and gold.
“what does it say about other religions?”
“Ignorant are those who carry about idols of wood, who pray to gods that cannot save” (Is 45:20).
That God was briefly lenient with polytheism does not mean it’s ok now. “In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30).

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posted January 3, 2008 at 10:49 am

# 9 John:
I think Paul’s argument in 1 Corinthians definitely applies to this discussion, but in its full context– from chapters 8-10.
In 8, Paul recites the Corinthians’ assumption that “an idol is nothing.” Here, Paul tentatively agrees. An idol is like counterfeit money– it has nothing to back it up.
But when we get to chapter 10, Paul tells the Corinthians that they forgot one aspect of idols– yes, they are “nothing,” but these nothings are the very tools Satan uses to enslave people and direct them away from the one true God who saves.
Look at what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:
18 Consider the people of Israel: Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar? 19 Do I mean then that a sacrifice offered to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons. 22 Are we trying to arouse the Lord’s jealousy? Are we stronger than he?
I think Paul’s argument is this: Idols have no real “god” behind them in any metaphysical sense, yet they are powerful because the Evil One, who does exist, uses them for his purposes in turning people away from the one true God.

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posted January 3, 2008 at 10:56 am

#7, Scott M, I agree and I think the point needs to be stressed that every ‘god’ is unique, having a certain character and demanding certain ethical behaviour in turn.
Apart from anything else, the particularity of Christianity is the particularity of who our God is. But this neither means that Christians automatically “know God” better, nor does it imply that our bad theology (or anyone’s) can prevent God from revealing who He is to us as He chooses.

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jon zebedee

posted January 3, 2008 at 11:22 am

Read God Against the Gods by Kirsch for a great non-literal perspective. It helps to view all of ancient culture on an even plane and see the commonalities they share and what they learned from each other.

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posted January 3, 2008 at 11:40 am

Thank you for this wonderful insight.

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posted January 3, 2008 at 12:47 pm

I certainly agree that Paul’s words from Corinthians apply here. To overlook the fact that many things in our culture are worshipped or percieved as gods (1 Corinthians 10:12, So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!) could be tragic. In my young life (I’m 32), I have worshiped many gods, but only one true God has saved me from the others. Thanks to everyone for your insight and perspective.

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posted January 3, 2008 at 1:01 pm

As I have been thinking and meditating doesn’t true revival come from the Holy Spirit? Doesn’t it come from fasting, praying, laying on handing, dividing out spiritual gifts to all the believers, and as one body striving to keep in step with the Spirit by doing the will of God?
Is this revival for us today? Following the Holly Spirits leading in our lives. Doing God’s will in every aspect. Understanding it is “NO LONGER I” “BUT CHRIST” So that would me that I come to church not for self (what can I get out of it, what is in it for me, my kids, my family) It is (what can I do for the church, what my kids do for the church, what can my family do for church, what ministry can we get involved in).
Do we preach “No Longer I” “But Christ” In a self-center society? Or Has the church become a part of society where we have the idea we have ministires to attract the “I” part us.
Just something to think about I think.
I believe revival start when the church functions that way God wants it to function. When we “Christians” get of the pew and get excited about being a “Follower of Christ”. We we come to the understand that it is no longer “I” but it is all, our entire, ever aspect is about Christ.+

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Bill V.

posted January 3, 2008 at 1:35 pm

I like McDermott’s take if Scot reads him right. This is not something many Christians consider. A close look at the Passover account in Exodus shows God doing battle with the gods of Egypt. God was set to prove His supremacy over all gods so He could prove Himself to His people.
God was not necessarily at war w/ the Egyptians. He took their gods to the mat and He was quite effective. We need to take notice if God, our God, acknowledges the existence of other “gods” and He goes toe-to-toe with them.
There is no pacifism from God regarding other “gods”. Winner takes all and we know Who wins and it doesn’t seem to matter to Him too much if He has to turn a river to blood or eliminate the first born (as serious as that is) to prove His point. We embrace other “gods” and we are bound to lose unless we turn to the true God. Oh yeah, The Revelation mentions stuff like this too.

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tim atwater

posted January 3, 2008 at 2:37 pm

happy Epiphany all,
thanks for this post, Scot.
Sunday is Epiphany, the readings (the same every year) are Isaiah 60:1-6, Ps 72, Ephesians 3:1-12 and Matthew 2:1-12 —
the theme of course is also the same every year but
ever-too-deep to get to the end of… the mystery of the gospel — the once exclusive-to-Israel (well almost, yea there’s Abe with Melchizedek and Joseph with his Egyptian priest-caste wife and Moses with his Midian priest-class wife… and Elijah and Elisha and Ruth…still we think of it as an exclusive for Israel don’t we?) now become radically inclusive in Christ — and the mystery made known in human flesh, first in Christ, now in us, the church (that IS in my mind, even more mysterious….!)
the Magi are still not as far as i can tell definitively defined anywhere in history (? please correct me if this is wrong, anyone)… but they do seem to be pagan priest-class of some sort, from metro-Persia-Babylon (Iran-Iraq)…
and my guess is they would ‘feel’ much more like outsiders then and there in Jerusalem and Bethlehem than they do now, named and tamed in song and folklore…What kind of god or god-image did they believe in…? that led them, with the star, to Bethlehem?
As noted above — the bible has at least these four basic views of other gods or ‘gods’… Which emphasis is appropriate when for us?
i too go to Acts 17 (and Romans 2, Gentiles who’s conscience may aquit…) often…
CS Lewis often went this route in both the Narnia chronicles and the ‘Space Trilogy’ — in That Hideous Strength the greek gods come to merry old england to help Ransom (and Christian-druid Merlin) and the house church in the battle against the darker powers and principalities represented on earth by Megacorporations, megagovernment and megauniversity/culture-shapers….(I like Walter Wink’s more dispassionate analysis of the gods, demons, and other powers and principalities too… but Lewis is the one who rocks and rolls with it at his best…)
still pondering.thanks in advance for any further clues…nudges… etc.
Epiphany blessings!

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posted January 3, 2008 at 3:03 pm

I get my inbox full with all kind of stuff; I don’t want that.

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Bob Brague

posted January 3, 2008 at 3:43 pm

I’m with Ted. I think 2 Tim 3:7 applies to the rest of the discussion. (Sorry to sound so dogmatic and uncharitable, but it is what it is.)

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Bob Brague

posted January 3, 2008 at 3:44 pm

Ted as in #12.

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More Blogs To Enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Jesus Creed. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Red Letters with Tom Davis Recent prayer post on Prayables Most Recent Inspiration blog ...

posted 11:15:58am Aug. 16, 2012 | read full post »

Our Common Prayerbook 30 - 3
Psalm 30 thanks God (vv. 1-3, 11-12) and exhorts others to thank God (vv. 4-5). Both emerge from the concrete reality of David's own experience. Here is what that experience looks like:Step one: David was set on high and was flourishing at the ...

posted 12:15:30pm Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Theology After Darwin 1 (RJS)
One of the more important and more difficult pieces of the puzzle as we feel our way forward at the interface of science and faith is the theological implications of discoveries in modern science. A comment on my post Evolution in the Key of D: ...

posted 6:01:52am Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Almost Christian 4
Who does well when it comes to passing on the faith to the youth? Studies show two groups do really well: conservative Protestants and Mormons; two groups that don't do well are mainline Protestants and Roman Catholics. Kenda Dean's ...

posted 12:01:53am Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Let's Get Neanderthal!
The Cave Man Diet, or Paleo Diet, is getting attention. (Nothing is said about Culver's at all.) The big omission, I have to admit, is that those folks were hunters -- using spears or smacking some rabbit upside the conk or grabbing a fish or ...

posted 2:05:48pm Aug. 30, 2010 | read full post »


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