I went to buy blank videotapes in a van emblazoned with Christian VideoNet on both sides. When I came out of the van, an Asiatic gentleman engaged me in friendly banter. He was clearly not a Christian, but I soon got the impression he was in the marketplace for a new religion. He did not wait for me to witness to him. Having seen the insignia on the van, he wanted me to tell him about Christianity. But then he had some vital questions he wanted cleared up right at the onset.
“Your religion,” he asked, “does it allow you to drink alcohol?” “Yes,” I replied expansively, “we even drink wine in church.” “Wonderful, wonderful,” said my new-found friend, brightening up. Then he asked: “How many gods do you have?”
I was a bit slow on the uptake and did not quite understand what he was getting at. “What do you mean how many gods do I have?” I asked incredulously. “Yes, yes,” the man replied, without any hint of mischief. “How many gods do you have?”
“I have only one God,” I insisted marvelling at him. “Only one?” he asked in disbelief. “You have only one God?” “Well, yes,” I replied, now defensive. “I have only one God.” The man shook his head in a way that said eloquently: “Forget it.” I imagine him saying to himself: “What is the point of a religion where you only have one God? That is simply too risky. What if he happens to be busy at any given time?”
On later reflection, I came to the conclusion that it was a god-sent question. Therefore, I pose the same question here: “How many gods do you have?” “Do you even know how many gods you worship?”
One of the most important subjects that Jesus addresses in the scriptures is idol worship.
One of the Ten Commandments of God says: “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:2-3).
Atheism does not exist. Man is a worshiper. Everybody worships. The critical question is who or what we worship. We either worship the one true God or we worship idol gods. Says John Calvin: “The heart of man is an idol factory.” Left to himself, without divine revelation, man will worship almost anything. We worship what we highly esteem. For this reason, Jesus says: “What is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” (Luke 16:15).
Jesus himself faced the challenge of idol worship at the very inception of his ministry: “The devil took him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, ‘All these things I will give you if you will fall down and worship me.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only you shall serve.’” (Matthew 4:8-10).
Many people, including those who call themselves Christians, have accepted the devil’s offer. We worship the devil and his “things”, instead of the one true God. Thus, Jesus counsels: “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:20-21).
It goes without saying that God is the only real treasure we have. Every other so-called treasure is ephemeral. God is: “the Desire of All Nations.” (Haggai 2:7).
Accordingly, John warns all believers: “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.” (1 John 2:15-16).
Idols of the Heart
Jesus told a Samaritan woman: You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.” (John 4:22).
The same conundrum applies today. Many presume salvation is of the Italians or the Romans, but it is not. Salvation is of the Jews. For this reason, Roman Catholicism is full of idol worship. God says: “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God.” (Exodus 20:4-5).
But Roman Catholics have deliberately removed this injunction from their own non-scriptural version of the Ten Commandments, so that the people would be unaware that they are contradicting it. As a result, the making of idols is very big business in Rome, and the worship of idols is standard fare in Catholicism.
However, the problem is not limited to Roman Catholics. It is a general predicament among all Christians. The problem with idol worship is that many who worship idols are unaware that they are worshiping idols. Many worship God, while also worshiping idols. But when we worship God and other gods simultaneously, we become idol worshipers. Thus it is said of the people of Samaria: “They feared the LORD, yet served their own gods – according to the rituals of the nations from among whom they were carried away.” (2 Kings 17:33).
Even more fundamental is the fact that many of the idols worshiped today are not physical idols: they are idols of the heart. God identifies this tendency to Ezekiel: “Son of man, these men have set up idols in their hearts and put wicked stumbling blocks before their faces.” (Ezekiel 14:3).
These idols are strongholds set up in our hearts and minds that prevent us from growing in the knowledge of God, and from seeing the glory of God in our lives. Thus, Paul says we should cast down: “imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Corinthians: 10:5).
Worship of Money
One of the idol that Christians have been seduced into worshiping is mammon – the god of money. Paradoxically, this worship even takes place during church services. Today, everything is upside down. People go to church to pray for money, to invest money and to learn about how to make money. God has become second-place – simply an instrument for the acquisition of money.
Mercenary pastors now claim the gospel gives us the power to get wealth. In his book, The $elling of Je$u$, Victor Bryditzki observes cryptically that: “Je$u$ is a multi-billion dollar industry, expanding into places where angels (and sober Christians) fear to tread.”
But the word of Jesus remains sure, having this seal|: “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” (Luke 16:13).
Whenever there is a cautionary word of prophecy, it is customary for supercilious Christians to automatically exclude themselves. Thus, some Christians object to the assertion that Christians are idol worshipers on the grounds that it does not leave room for possible exceptions. But the prophetic word does not give room for self-exclusion. It is tautological, creating the need for general self-introspection.
Christians who feel they should be excluded from prophetic rebukes fall into a trap. They are like Jesus’ proverbial Pharisee who comes to the prayer altar flaunting his credentials. But Jesus says: “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:32)
One critical attribute of idol worship is the glorification of self. We are warned in the scriptures: “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment.” (Romans 12:3).
However, many Christians worship at the altar of the self. We are proud; devoted primarily to ourselves. We see everything through the prism of “me, myself and I.” Our principal yardstick for determining the appropriateness of anything is: “What is in it for me?” We are lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. Our agenda for action says: “If it benefits me and feels good, do it.”
This tendency is forewarned in the scriptures: “In the last days perilous times will come: for men will be lovers of themselves.” (2 Timothy 3:3). Lovers of self-worship themselves and not God. For this reason they cannot be disciples of Christ. Jesus says: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself.” (Matthew 16:24).
Jesus alone is the saviour of true God worshipers. Jesus says: “Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.” (Matthew 16:25). However, self-worshipers are inclined to save their lives by their own devices; while true worshipers no longer live for themselves but for Christ. The latter also comply with Christ’s injunction to give their lives as a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45).
Holy Days and Holidays
Jesus says God is looking for those who will worship him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:23-24). But Christians are idol worshipers because we celebrate pagan festivals refurbished into Christianity by Roman Catholics.
In the scriptures, God institutes holy days such as the Passover, the Pentecost and the Feast of Tabernacles. (Leviticus 23). However, the Church of Rome replaced these with heathen holidays camouflaged as Christian, in the bid to make it easier for pagans to become Christians; while largely ignoring the divinely ordained holy days that Jesus and his disciples observed.
Jesus berated the Jews saying: “they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matthew 15:9). He said to them: “You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” (Mark 7:6-8). Nevertheless, Christians remain either ignorant or unconcerned that quite a number of so-called Christian practices have nothing to do with God or biblical Israel, but belong instead to the traditions of pagan Rome.
God specifically warns the Israelites about the idolatrous practices of their neighbours: “You must be especially careful not to ask, ‘How did those nations worship their gods? Shouldn’t we worship the LORD in the same way?’ No, you should not! The LORD hates the disgusting way those nations worship their gods.” (Deuteronomy 12:29-31). However, Christians have adamantly refused to heed this warning.
Worship of Tammuz
Emperor Aurelian of Rome proclaimed the sun god Tammuz as principal patron of the Roman Empire on December 25, 274 (AD). The date corresponds with the winter solstice when pagans celebrate the renewed power of the sun. It was also the day of the Roman Saturnalia; a festival dedicated to Saturn, the god of agriculture, after whom Saturday was named.
This date was then morphed into “Christmas;” a fictional celebration of the birthday of Jesus, for which there is no precedence in the Acts of the Apostles.
When Tammuz was allegedly killed by a wild boar, Ashtoreth instituted an annual ritual of 40 days of mourning for Baal worshipers, when no meat was to be eaten. This pagan tradition of “weeping for Tammuz” is specifically proscribed in the scriptures.
God said to Ezekiel: “Turn again, and you will see greater abominations that they are doing.” So he brought me to the door of the north gate of the LORD’S house; and to my dismay, women were sitting there weeping for Tammuz.” (Ezekiel 8:13-14). Nevertheless, Christians weep for Tammuz by the institution of Lent; a 40-day period of fasting and prayer observed as a prelude to Easter.
Jeremiah also writes: “Thus says the LORD: “Do not learn the way of the heathen; do not be dismayed at the signs of heaven, for the Gentiles are dismayed at them. For the customs of the peoples are futile; for one cuts a tree from the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the ax. They decorate it with silver and gold; they fasten it with nails and hammers so that it will not topple.” (Jeremiah 10:2-4).
This is virtually identical with the current practice of putting a green tree in the house at Christmastime. Therefore, when Christians decorate “Christmas trees” with lights, glitter and tinsel, they are actually observing the God-forbidden protocols of a pagan festival in honour of an idol god!
Similarly, the burning of yule logs during the so-called “yule-tide season” of Christmas is really a ritual of Teutonic sun worship.
Worship of Ashtoreth
Easter is another pagan festival that has been surreptitiously infused into Christianity. Noah’s grandson, Cush, married a woman called Ashtoreth. In some cultures, Ashtoreth is called Ishtar which, transliterated into English, became Easter.
Ashtoreth made herself “the Queen of Heaven;” the goddess of fertility. The worship of Ashtoreth has then been camouflaged in Christendom as the celebration of Easter; the death and resurrection of Jesus. At this pagan festival, “hot crossed buns” (cakes decorated with solar crosses) are offered to the goddess of Easter. This practice, currently observed by some Christians at Easter is specifically God-forbidden in the scriptures.
God says: “The women knead dough, to make cakes for the queen of heaven; and they pour out drink offerings to other gods, that they may provoke me to anger. Do they provoke me to anger? Do they not provoke themselves, to the shame of their own faces? Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, my anger and my fury will be poured out on this place.” (Jeremiah 7:17-20).
Queen Ishtar was allegedly “hatched” from an egg that fell into the Euphrates River from the moon. This “Ishtar’s egg” is now the “Easter egg” of Christians.
Furthermore, sun worship is expressly forbidden in the scriptures. Ezekiel says: “I was then led into the temple’s inner courtyard, where I saw about twenty-five men standing near the entrance, between the porch and the altar. Their backs were to the LORD’s temple, and they were bowing down to the rising sun. God said, ‘Ezekiel, it’s bad enough that the people of Judah are doing these disgusting things.’” (Ezekiel 8:16-17).
Nevertheless, following this pagan tradition, “Sunrise Services” are conducted on Easter Sunday mornings in the churches.
To be continued