A Voice in the
"When Jehovah your God cuts off from before you the nations which you go to dispossess, and you displace them and dwell in their land, take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise. You shall not worship Jehovah your God in that way; for every abomination to Jehovah which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods. Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it." (Deut12:29-32)
"Jesus said to him, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." (Jn14:6)
Periodically our Public TV networks have fund-raising campaigns. During these times they will often show entire series of various programs, such as River Dance, Andre Rieu, Red/Green episodes, etc. Recently, on Sunday, Aug 5,01 they showed a series, Bill Moyer interviewing Joseph Campbell, who authored a book about "The Power of Myth".
While I have not read the book (and don't intend to), the interview told enough. It would be beneficial for us to review here the highlights, because it describes the world today. And once a person mixes all the world's mythologies together, a person can boil its beliefs down to a couple of key elements, and as Believers who need to "give a defense" (1Pt3:15) to the world regarding Faith in Christ, we can have the basics necessary to counter what the world believes, with God's Word.
While you may think that there are all these 'different' religions around the world, if you had heard this man talking, you would realize (as we continually suggest) that they are actually -all- 'one' religion. They, the anthropologists, are 'amazed' at how all these cultures separated by time and distance all seem to have the same basic belief traditions. And they assume that this is so, because these beliefs are innately 'truth' to all humanity, apparently being ignorant of the fact that they are so because they are the religion of Nimrod and Babel. Nimrod was the "mighty hunter in front of [obscuring and rebelling against] Jehovah". (Gen10:9) While he has died since the interview was recorded some years ago, on the tapes, in this one man from his lifetime of studies, seemed to be contained all the knowledge of the world's religions. As he spoke, he would give equal footing to Tibetan Buddhism, as to American Indian, as to New Guinea, as to catholic church, as to much of christendom; and would jump from one to the other with equal ease while expounding on any given topic. And indeed, often Bill Moyer (a 'good' southern baptist?) would chime in with, "I agree with you". The only 'thorn' of contradiction to all of this universality (in their discussion) was Israel and 'Judaism'.
Speaking of "southern baptists", the SB Al Gore's book on the earth and environment comes from the same basic world religion. From ancient times the earth was worshipped as the source of all life. Ancient art would depict a mother with a globe-like abdomen, with man drinking from her. Of course, in all this, pretty much all cultures also have a serpent/dragon associated with this mother; all harking back (in our Christian Scriptural understanding) to the serpent and Eve in Genesis ch3. By the artistic depictions, one would wonder if the serpent is supposed to also have been the "father" of those to whom the "mother" gave birth!? A distortion of Adam naming her Eve, "because she was the mother of all living" (Gen3:20) And they teach that the feminine concept predated the male dominance which (they say) usurped the feminine. Thus, today's feminism "restores" (in their minds) the 'original' order of things. I guess they missed how Gen2:23 actually came 'before' Gen3:20, and how Gen3:20 comes just after sin.
This Gaia/Gaea, goddess of the earth principle became focused in Egypt through Isis. And from there begins the concept of death and resurrection. Isis "giving life" to the one who is always depicted sitting on her lap. And in Rome it is called the "Madonna and child"; and in order to try to deceive the Church, falsely named, "Mary and Jesus". And so you see how they take away from Jesus the "life" which He has "in Himself". (Jn5:26) Where Jesus proclaimed, "I AM...the life" (Jn14:6) They have the earth goddess "giving life", taking away from God who "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life/soul" (Gen2:7) Thus, why shouldn't they pray to Mary!
In the opening passage God speaks to Israel about those who give their offspring in sacrifice. In the past we have observed about ancient middle-eastern cultures who would offer their 'live' babies into the fire-stoked red-hot 'hands' of Molech (1), (2) (Lev18:21,20:2,etc). We have spoken of the sexual rituals of specially chosen maidens, to whom young men would go in, as part of their worship ritual. And having already been drugged, they were then killed and offered on the altars of sacrifice after having had sex. Apparently this same thing occured in other more 'primative' cultures, where, as they were thus together in the act, the supports would be knocked out, and the roof would come crashing down upon the couple, killing them; whereupon they would be burned. And in some cases, also, cannibalized. What had died, they would eat, thus signifying a 'rebirth' and/or 'resurrection'.
This death/rebirth concept, a perversion of Christ's death and resurrection, is what reincarnation is all about. The continual 'cycle'. And in this thought, the 'circle' is supposed to be a most 'perfect' symbol; indicating the life, coming 'down' towards death at the bottom, and rising back up the other side to life again. And as was asked by a subscriber back when we studied about marriage and adultery, about the wedding 'ring'; back then I answered that I didn't know of any pagan connotations. All I could think of at the time was the legal, financial aspect of the "signet" ring used to conduct business, and how marriage was often a 'business' arrangement. But I did observe the pagan concept of the couple walking up the steps to the altar to be "blessed" by the priest, and in these pagan cultures, such a blessing was unto fertility to perpetuate this life/death cycle given by goddess earth, thus also the traditions of throwing rice. As I was hearing all this interconnection regarding this circle of life concept, and seeing all that they showed from art and architecture, and thinking how a circle circumscribed around certain objects (cross, triquetra) seems to convert them into occult images, I am coming to the suspicion that wedding bands also likely have this same pagan connection. "Christian" pastors will speak of the perfect circle indicating "eternal love" etc.etc. But I suspect they really go back to heathenism, goddess earth, and the world religion. [Editor: is there NOTHING that has not been corrupted by satan?? I guess that's why God promises for the future, "Behold, I make all things new" (Rev21:5)]
Then, Bill Moyer introduced John 1:14, "The Word became flesh.." and I thought to myself, Oh, finally, the baptist is going to introduce some Scriptural perspective against the rest of all this. Well, guess what the 'word' is. "Aum". That's "Ah-oo-mm"... the "aum principle". Tibetan monks 'hum' this "aum" in their monasteries. And when all of these world religions come down to their nitty gritty, it all boils down to self-focusing. "Aum" to get to the center of one's being. Buddhists do it with "aum". Others use other meditative techniques. Catholicism uses 'gazing' at the religious icons and mantracizing with their prayer beads. And yes, charismatics do it with their methods for becoming "spirit-filled". What Buddhists vocalize with "aum", christendom mantracizes with "praise music". It is all a focusing "inward" into one's own "self". Some beliefs (which culminate today in what is generically called "New Age") speak of chakras. These various levels of "centers" within one's -self-.
And why is all this? Here we get to the nitty gritty of the world's religion, in all its manifestations. While they are all called 'different' religions, when they are all boiled down to their core beliefs, they are the 'same'. Thus, it would be surprising if all the religions were not uniting as they are today. They -ARE- the 'same'. That's why they 'can' unite.
The core is that "there is no God". (Ps14:1, 53:1) Notice, Scripture calls them "fools". The "god" they perceive is 'self'. You see, when they see the Scriptural concept of a righteous God, and God's enemy satan; and they analyze that "cosmic struggle", they do not accept a judgment (Hell) that God would condemn humanity to. And if they do not recognize that, they also do not recognize the 'reality' of satan, even though they depict him in all their art in the various mutations of the serpent/dragon. (Rev12:9) And so, here is man... "better than" God, and rising 'above' this conflict through his own efforts and goodness. The God of the Bible they perceive as "evil" to their mind. "Woe to those who call evil good; and good evil...Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!" (Is5:20-21) So they ignore Him, and here is man-god. Goddess earth has given life, and man must realize his resultant divinity, and allow the "christ principle" (not 'person') to emanate from within himself. And so, man, by his own self-focus rises 'above' the concept he has of The Most High. Rising above even satan's original sin, "I will be like the Most High" (Is14:14)
Thus, the "personal" God of the Bible doesn't exist. God is not a "personal being". God is "within". That mystical 'thing/force'. Something to be focused and harnessed from within one's self. Those with connections to christendom call it the "power of prayer". Prayer in christendom is the same process of self-focus as the Buddhists humming "aum". They 'wield' prayer to effect certain outcomes. Several times J.Campbell would scrunch up his face, waving his hand, saying, we have to "get past" the fallacious concept of a -person- called "Jesus Christ". "Get past" Christ, and focus on the "god within".
The reason Israel/Judaism is such a thorn in the side of this otherwise universal goddess earth concept, is because it is so full of "absolutes". It has "right and wrong". Reward and judgment meeted out by their Deity. But in mythology's view, Nirvana is achieved when one has focused and elevated one's -self- to this higher plain of deity.
You see, for all the sophistication that many scholars try to emulate, and wax erudite, quoting this scholar, and referencing that tome; it all boils down to two concepts. 1) The God of the Bible, the Most High, does not exist. 2) Man is his own god. And a third, which covers over the gaps of man's origins, is goddess earth who gives man life. Some concentrate more on the 'god within'... others on 'goddess earth'. But it is all a denial of, and substitute for, the Most High.
God's answer to this..?? "The fool has said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, They have done abominable works, There is none who does good. Jehovah looks down from Heaven upon the children of men, To see if there are any who understand, who seek God. They have all turned aside, They have together become corrupt; There is none who does good, No, not one." (Ps14:1-3) And as the "nations rage" and the rulers take counsel "together against Jehovah" as they "cast Their cords from [them]" ... "He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; Jehovah shall hold them in derision" (Ps2:1-4)
"..If you return to Jehovah with all your hearts, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths from among you, and prepare your hearts for Jehovah, and serve Him only.." (1Sam7:3) "..it has been written, You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.." (Mt4:10)
While they worship 'goddess earth', I don't recall hearing them address the question, Where did 'she' come from? Perhaps that's the "big bang"? That still doesn't address where the big bang came from. "In the beginning -GOD- created the heavens and the earth" (Gen1:1) They want to "get past" Jesus Christ? "..without Him nothing was made that was made" (Jn1:3) You see, this "spirit" that would "get past" a -personal- Christ is the "spirit of the antichrist". (1Jn4:2-3) Yes, we know that 'the' antichrist is coming, but his spirit is already at work.
They strive to attain unto deity, through themselves, without Christ. Jesus said, "No one comes to the Father except through Me." (Jn14:6) When they are "getting past" Christ, they are not reaching to God, because "there is no other name (than Jesus)...by which we need to be saved" (Acts4:10,12) To be sure, they -will- bow before Jesus, "that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow.." (Phil2:10) But that will be just before their own names are found missing from the Book of Life, and they are cast into an -absolute/certain- "Lake of Fire". (Rev20:15) "..where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.." (Mk9:44)
Now, while J.Campbell was noticing Israel as a thorn to this whole world religion, they did not make mention of Believers into Jesus Christ... Biblical "Christians". (Acts11:26)
You see, by the very absence of their mention of Christ's Church, they proved what we declare continually, regarding the "pretend church" made up of "[c]hristians"; and how 'few' True Believers really exist. I don't know where B.Moyer stands today, but I think I recall (correctly??) that he used to be Southern Baptist? Is he still? Certainly, Al Gore has the label. Until recently, Jimmy Carter had the label. A foremost American "Christian" denomination.
Several centuries ago the Protestants broke away from the Catholic church. But its leaders, typically, stayed within the same basic form and structure of that from which they broke away. From that sprung out most of the denominations which today are called "evangelical". Most of these denominations today follow charismania to greater or lesser degrees, the same self-focus concept of "the christ within", and are also presently returning back to their 'home' at Rome. Some of them actually say that they "are christ". They practice the mystical of spiritual "power" and "power of prayer". While they mantracize the name "Jesus", their actual focus is on the thing/force; the 'experience'. Not the person. And thus these two men lumped "christianity" along with this earth religion concept.
Many of us came out of life-times of these traditions. We just always assumed that the platform (altar), candles, incense and various cerimonies were "Christian". But I would challenge anybody to find a single one of our "christian/evangelical" rituals (other than the Lord's Supper and Baptism/Immersion) in the Bible. You won't find them. But you will find all sorts of images and traditions for them from out of ancient paganism. Even the wedding ceremony, which people assume that, if a couple is together without it, they are sinning; nowhere in Scripture is a wedding "ceremony" -taught-. God commanded that "they shall become one flesh". (Gen2:24) But regarding going up steps to an altar God commands, "Nor shall you go up by steps to My altar.." (Ex20:26) Now, while the exact context speaks of exposing one's "nakedness" because they wore robes, if you think about it, Israel never had any ziggurats. But most pagan religions do. And it was up these steps the couple would go to the priest to have their fertility blessed by "the gods". But it was the ziggurat at Babel which God condemned.
So, dear Believer...
While it is easy to see the world's rejection of God, and the elevation of man's self above Christ, and any Believer with even a scant amount of Scripture knowledge can answer the core beliefs of paganism... what do we do about all these traditions we have observed, not having known them to be pagan? And as we come to realize how many are pagan, "what else" is there that we don't yet see?
Well, those things we know about, we do like the new Believers at Ephesus did. They had been engaged in the occult. When they came to Christ, they made a big bon fire and burned all the books of their past. (Acts19:19) When a righteous king in Judah replaced a wicked king, he often went on a rampage of tearing down all symbols and objects of paganism. Most notable of those being Hezekiah.
Notice about Hezekiah, that he also tore down Moses' bronze serpent. (2Ki18:4) For him to do that was as if a newly elected president of the US would go around tearing down the Washington Monument or Statue of Liberty. That was a national icon. Even David never saw the need to get rid of it. And indeed, when Sennacherib came thinking to capture Jerusalem, he taunts the people, "Has not the same Hezekiah taken away His high places and His altars, and commanded Judah and Jerusalem, saying, You shall worship before one altar and burn incense on it?" (2Chr32:12) But Hezekiah was obeying God, "You shall utterly destroy all the places where the [pagans] served their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree. And you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and burn their wooden images with fire; you shall cut down the carved images of their gods and destroy their names from that place. You shall not worship Jehovah your God with such things." (Deu12:2-4)
Thus, when we (Believers) come to understand what we have been doing all these years that is of pagan origins, we eradicate them out of our lives and worship. But what about those things we don't yet know about? As we come to certain realizations, it might be easy to become fearful and think, "If all 'these' are bad...what 'else' is there??"
In the series on the "Seven Churches" (in the Library) we noticed how Thyatira was related to the church of Rome (Rev2:18-23) and God's judgments against her. And then it says to Christ's Believers, "Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depts of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden. But hold fast what you have till I come." (vs24-25) This is to Believers who find themselves within this system, and don't understand all the depths and inner workings of where all this came from (after all, it's been 6000 years in the making, and been done to look like "light" and "righteousness"! -2Cor11:14-15), I will put on you no other burden. In other words, 'Don't worry about it'. What you do know and have, cling to that. We may not understand everything, but we are called on to "keep [His] works unto the end" (vs26) When Paul speaks of things "offered to idols" he says to not go investigating and asking questions "for conscience sake". (1Cor10:25,27) From this standpoint, dear Believer, we come back to our opening passage. Don't be spending your time investigating everything occult and mythological, to be studying and understanding "the deep things of Satan" of every world belief system. The intelligentsia of the world will scoff at you if you are not as learned as they are... if you cannot quote this thinker, or that philosopher. But God says, "do not inquire after their gods". If you happen to be doing something that pagans do in their worship, but you do not know it as pagan, just understand that "an idol is nothing" and that even if the pagans worship 'goddess earth', in reality there is only one God, the Most High. (1Cor8:4) If you don't know that what you are doing is pagan, don't worry about whether or not it 'might be', "for the earth is the Lord's, and all its fullness." (1Cor10:28) God knows your heart. "And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God." (1Jn3:19-21)
But as for worship... We do not look inward, but...
"Give unto Jehovah, O you mighty ones, Give unto Jehovah glory and strength. Give unto Jehovah the glory due to His name; Worship Jehovah in the beauty of holiness." (Ps29:1-2) "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!" (Rev5:12)