2. Other Gods
The people of this world worship many gods—some local, and others worldwide (and beyond). But are all gods equal? Most main-line religions are exclusive—including Christianity—but even Christians have ‘conversations’ and mix with people of other beliefs. Furthermore, the adoption of practices associated with other religions is widespread.
Indeed, I have known Yoga to be taught in a rectory (with all the division that that caused in the church). I have also known someone who progressed through the ranks of ‘secular’ Karate to explore its more spiritual side.
But in the church, should this be so? Indeed, in the context of living in a secular society, what demands of our Old Testament God should we be applying to our Christian lives today?
Group Discussion: What should a Christian’s attitude be to other religions and practices today?
Personal Reflection: Am I involved in practices associated with other religions?
The world in which the Israelites lived was full of other gods. Indeed, it was not unusual for the master of the house to have a cupboard or niche in which his ‘household gods’ were placed. But God was determined that was not the way for the Israelites.
Read: Exodus 23:23-24; 32-33
1. What did God command the Israelites to do (or not to do)? (23-24)
2. Why was God so opposed to the gods of the Canaanites? (33)
3. What snares do we face living amongst peoples of other faiths?
There was a reason for God opposing the worship of other gods. It would turn people away from him.
Read: Leviticus 26:1; Deuteronomy 6:4, 14-15
4. God commanded that his people should not make idols etc., (or more properly, ‘worthless’ idols). What was he suggesting that the idols could or couldn’t do? (Leviticus 26:1)
5. God described himself as ‘one’ (Deuteronomy 6:4). What does that suggest?
6. God is often described in the Old Testament as being a ‘jealous’ God (Deuteronomy 6:15). What do you understand by the term ‘jealous’?
Despite excluding other beliefs, many people still see the merit of adopting practices that are (or have been) associated with other religions. Yet God was very clear in his instructions to the Israelites.
Read: Exodus 34:15-16; Deuteronomy 12:29-31; 29:16-18
7. Why did God warn of the dangers of associating with people of other beliefs? (Exodus 34:15-16)
8. The worship of other gods may be wrong, but does that mean that we cannot use their practices in our own worship of God? (Deuteronomy 12:29-31)
9. God required the expulsion—and even the death penalty—for those who engaged in other beliefs and their associated practices (Deuteronomy 29:16-18). Why did God demand such a severe punishment?
Living in a secular country means that Christians are surrounded by beliefs which are described in Old Testament terms as abominations to God.
10. What beliefs and practices associated (or previously associated) with those beliefs are you aware of today?
11. Can it be said that any former religious practice has been totally divorced from its religious origins?
12. What steps do you take to ensure your faith (and the faith of your church) is free from the influence of other religions?
Posted 25th September 2019
© 2019, Brian A Curtis