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Author Topic: "No Other Gods Before Me"  (Read 1521 times)

Donal2018

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Re: "No Other Gods Before Me"
« Reply #15 on: August 20, 2019, 01:08:17 pm »
My understanding is that other cultures at the time were not thought to be bound to worship only Yahweh.

I'll have to get back to you, but Deuteronomy somewhere implies that the hosts of heaven or deities are delegated to other nations.

Regarding other gods as non-celestial, non-fallen angels, I have a theologian friend who considers this a possibility and acceptable theological opinion.

I have a Jewish study bible with lots of information on this stuff.  I'll again have to get back to you on the exact name.

As far as Christians who are more conventional and monotheistic-- if trinitarianism is purely monotheistic-- they tend to say that revelation at the time was progressive, so it took time for the truth of monotheism to be revealed.

That's what I've gathered by discussion with others on the matter.  But this is not a universal opinion among those identifying as Christian, as with just about any theological opinion.

The host of heaven delegated to other nations sounds almost exactly like what I was suggesting, that deities of other nations and other cultures might be spirits/angels/deities of the biblical God. It is speculation on my part, but really what I am trying to do is reconcile Judeo-Christianity with Paganism. I will defer to your knowledge of Christianity. I would look forward to any more comments from you on this topic. Thanks!

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Re: "No Other Gods Before Me"
« Reply #16 on: August 20, 2019, 01:58:08 pm »
It is an interesting position. I still wonder if you might address why God created multiple other gods and what their purpose is in Creation from a Christian point of view.

Every knee will bow I am sure would apply to these deities. Anyway, I would like to know what a Christian thinks about say Athena. "Thou Shall Not Have Any Other Gods Before Me" implies that there are other gods (as I have said in the OP). Athena is one of them.

I just wonder how monotheist people feel about other deities. I use Athena as an example because she seems like a very good, powerful, wise and capable Deity. You would think that Yahweh would want her on His side. This versus other gods who might not be so compatible with Yahweh.

I thought it was interesting that you point out the different personalities of your Godhead- Jehovah, Jesus, the Holy Spirit. It sort of nods to polytheism, but maybe escapes that by pointing out that these are different aspects of One God. So what are other Gods? Athena, Thor, the Morrigan, etc. Surely they are not aspects of the Old Testament God. Can you reconcile these Pagan Deities with the Biblical God at all?

Although Eric's answer might be in his original comment- "God" is a summation of various personalities across time and space (apparently some science fiction mixed in with that cosmology, which I like).

So perhaps other deities (Athena  Thor, the Morrigan) are absorbed into these summations that is "God". Interesting, but I am not certain all Christians would subscribe to this.

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Re: "No Other Gods Before Me"
« Reply #17 on: August 20, 2019, 02:08:46 pm »
The host of heaven delegated to other nations sounds almost exactly like what I was suggesting, that deities of other nations and other cultures might be spirits/angels/deities of the biblical God. It is speculation on my part, but really what I am trying to do is reconcile Judeo-Christianity with Paganism. I will defer to your knowledge of Christianity. I would look forward to any more comments from you on this topic. Thanks!

The passage begins with Deuteronomy 4:19 which can be interpreted as acknowledging other gods depending on translation, though in some translations that idea seems more obscure.  The study bible I mentioned has some interesting comments on this and other passages.

The translation I am referring to is The Jewish Study Bible, editors: Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler.  I've really enjoyed it, and there are essays on Jewish mysticism and other topics.
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Re: "No Other Gods Before Me"
« Reply #18 on: August 20, 2019, 02:19:29 pm »
It is speculation on my part, but really what I am trying to do is reconcile Judeo-Christianity with Paganism.

It just depends on which elements from paganism you want to reconcile with which elements of Judaism or Christianity.  I am not an expert on Christianity, though I do have some knowledge.  But this thread has some good comments.

I am no longer identifying as Christian even in an extremely liberal or esoteric sense, though there are still Christian elements in my path, and I will talk more about that in PM if you wish and perhaps future threads if relevant.
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Donal2018

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Re: "No Other Gods Before Me"
« Reply #19 on: August 20, 2019, 06:26:50 pm »
The passage begins with Deuteronomy 4:19 which can be interpreted as acknowledging other gods depending on translation, though in some translations that idea seems more obscure.  The study bible I mentioned has some interesting comments on this and other passages.

The translation I am referring to is The Jewish Study Bible, editors: Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler.  I've really enjoyed it, and there are essays on Jewish mysticism and other topics.

I don't have my Bible on me right now, but I will check out Deuteronomy 4:19 when I get home. Thanks for the reference.

Donal2018

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Re: "No Other Gods Before Me"
« Reply #20 on: August 20, 2019, 06:46:30 pm »
It just depends on which elements from paganism you want to reconcile with which elements of Judaism or Christianity.  I am not an expert on Christianity, though I do have some knowledge.  But this thread has some good comments.

I am no longer identifying as Christian even in an extremely liberal or esoteric sense, though there are still Christian elements in my path, and I will talk more about that in PM if you wish and perhaps future threads if relevant.

The main thing that I am trying to reconcile is the concept of One God versus Many Gods. So Judeo-Christian Monotheism versus Pagan Polytheism. I think that there might be some middle ground. I am personally sort of leaning towards a Christian Pagan Polytheism, with Christ as one amongst many gods, but sort of first amongst equals. A Prince amongst Gods and Goddesses.

If the First Commandment admits that there are other Gods than Yahweh (I think that it does), then there might be a Biblical basis for Polytheism, which would be important to me, and maybe some others. So that is what I was trying to get at.

MadZealot brought up the concepts of Henotheism and Monolatry. Both admit that there are many Gods/Goddesses, but they place One above all the others. Monolatry is the worship of One God that admits that other Gods exist. Henotheism is the worship of One God, but admits that there might be Others that exist and are worthy of praise.

I did mention in one prior comment that I am interested in a pagan view that can incorporate and absorb Christ into a pagan context. Worshipping the White God (Christ) on the same altar as Thor was mentioned. I am fascinated as to how Pagan Cultures reacted to Christ and incorporated Him into their existing religions. I am interested in relating Celtic Deities with other Religions and Gods/Goddesses, including Christ. So that is where my mind has been at in this discussion.

So, thanks for the offer to PM. I do not have much more to say about this other than what I have posted on this thread so far, but if I can think of anything, I will send you a message. I am also interested in your religious beliefs when you have posted about them on other threads, so I will maybe comment on other threads that you start also. I think that you have a lot of interesting ideas. Anyway, I appreciate your comments, and everyone else who responded also. Thanks!

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Re: "No Other Gods Before Me"
« Reply #21 on: August 20, 2019, 09:20:21 pm »
It is an interesting position. I still wonder if you might address why God created multiple other gods and what their purpose is in Creation from a Christian point of view.

Every knee will bow I am sure would apply to these deities. Anyway, I would like to know what a Christian thinks about say Athena. "Thou Shall Not Have Any Other Gods Before Me" implies that there are other gods (as I have said in the OP). Athena is one of them.

I just wonder how monotheist people feel about other deities. I use Athena as an example because she seems like a very good, powerful, wise and capable Deity. You would think that Yahweh would want her on His side. This versus other gods who might not be so compatible with Yahweh.

I thought it was interesting that you point out the different personalities of your Godhead- Jehovah, Jesus, the Holy Spirit. It sort of nods to polytheism, but maybe escapes that by pointing out that these are different aspects of One God. So what are other Gods? Athena, Thor, the Morrigan, etc. Surely they are not aspects of the Old Testament God. Can you reconcile these Pagan Deities with the Biblical God at all?

Seen your message, will respond at length when time permits. Just want to back up here and say that my answer is this Christian's take on the matter, not (by any means!) that of Christianity as a whole. Most other believers would (some have!) drop their jaw if they heard what all I have to say. But I've spent a lifetime not being comfortable with the pat/easy answers and wanting to dig into the Truth. And in more recent years I've started to get answers to those questions. I can't say the answers I've come to are definitive, by any means...but they make sense to me.
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Jainarayan

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Re: "No Other Gods Before Me"
« Reply #22 on: August 21, 2019, 10:02:06 am »
So the Commandment states that "Thou Shalt Have No Other Gods Before Me". This seems to admit that there ARE other Gods, just that the Israelites should not worship them by command of Yahweh ...

It seems to admit a polytheistic reality, but demands monotheistic worship. Since there are "other gods" in this view, then who are they and where do they come from? If One God created these beings, then what is their purpose? ...

The implication in the Old Testament is that there are, in fact, other Gods, but that they are at best subordinate to Yahweh.

There's something of a parallel in Vaishnava (devotees of Vishnu/Krishna/Rāma) Hinduism, though it is devoid of the demanding and threatening tone found in the Bible. While other sects largely hold the Bhagavad Gita (a conversation between Lord Krishna and his friend Arjuna on a battlefield) in high regard, not all are even familiar with it. In fact, no scripture is binding on us, except for the Vedas which are considered "infallible" and "inviolable" (apauruṣeya, "not made by man") and even then, they are not laws or commandments, but hymns, philosophy, theology, prayers, poetry.

That said, there are verses in the Bhagavad Gita in which Lord Krishna speaking as Supreme God tells Arjuna "Whatever celestial form a devotee seeks to worship with faith, I steady the faith of such a devotee in that form. Endowed with faith, the devotee worships a particular celestial god and obtains the objects of desire. But in reality I alone arrange these benefits. But the fruit gained by these people of small understanding is perishable. Those who worship the celestial gods go to the celestial abodes, while my devotees come to me." BG 7.21-23 So if I want to worship Thor, I can with no retribution from God. He will even help me have steady faith in Thor... as long as I realize my worship is ultimately going to Krishna. If I don't, there's still no harm to me, I just won't be making much spiritual progress:  "I am the enjoyer and the only Lord of all sacrifices [worship]. But those who fail to realize My divine nature must be reborn." 9.24

There is another verse, from the Srimad Bhagavatam, an important scripture that goes

ākashath pathitham thoyam yatha gatchathi sagaram
sarva deva nāmaskaram keshavam prathi gatchathi


"Just as all the water fallen from the sky goes to the sea,
prayers to all the gods reaches to the one Lord Vishnu (Keshava)".

I always took the "... no other gods before me..." as a more stern and demanding version of BG 7.21-23. There are other gods, but you best worship Yahweh before worshiping other gods. If you worship him first, and then worship Athena, Bastet, Thor, et al, fine and dandy. Whereas Lord Krishna is cool with it because he knows he's being worshiped and is the embodiment of all gods, Yahweh is jealous and admits it.

Just my take on it.
śivāya vishnu rūpaya śivaḥ rūpaya vishnave
śivasya hridayam viṣṇur viṣṇoscha hridayam śivaḥ
Vishnu's appearance is Shiva; Shiva's appearance is Vishnu
Vishnu is the heart of Shiva; Shiva is the heart of Vishnu - Skandopanishad
 

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Re: "No Other Gods Before Me"
« Reply #23 on: August 21, 2019, 01:52:23 pm »
Seen your message, will respond at length when time permits. Just want to back up here and say that my answer is this Christian's take on the matter, not (by any means!) that of Christianity as a whole. Most other believers would (some have!) drop their jaw if they heard what all I have to say. But I've spent a lifetime not being comfortable with the pat/easy answers and wanting to dig into the Truth. And in more recent years I've started to get answers to those questions. I can't say the answers I've come to are definitive, by any means...but they make sense to me.

I look forward to your comments!

Donal2018

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Re: "No Other Gods Before Me"
« Reply #24 on: August 21, 2019, 02:05:18 pm »
There's something of a parallel in Vaishnava (devotees of Vishnu/Krishna/Rāma) Hinduism, though it is devoid of the demanding and threatening tone found in the Bible. While other sects largely hold the Bhagavad Gita (a conversation between Lord Krishna and his friend Arjuna on a battlefield) in high regard, not all are even familiar with it. In fact, no scripture is binding on us, except for the Vedas which are considered "infallible" and "inviolable" (apauruṣeya, "not made by man") and even then, they are not laws or commandments, but hymns, philosophy, theology, prayers, poetry.

That said, there are verses in the Bhagavad Gita in which Lord Krishna speaking as Supreme God tells Arjuna "Whatever celestial form a devotee seeks to worship with faith, I steady the faith of such a devotee in that form. Endowed with faith, the devotee worships a particular celestial god and obtains the objects of desire. But in reality I alone arrange these benefits. But the fruit gained by these people of small understanding is perishable. Those who worship the celestial gods go to the celestial abodes, while my devotees come to me." BG 7.21-23 So if I want to worship Thor, I can with no retribution from God. He will even help me have steady faith in Thor... as long as I realize my worship is ultimately going to Krishna. If I don't, there's still no harm to me, I just won't be making much spiritual progress:  "I am the enjoyer and the only Lord of all sacrifices [worship]. But those who fail to realize My divine nature must be reborn." 9.24

There is another verse, from the Srimad Bhagavatam, an important scripture that goes

ākashath pathitham thoyam yatha gatchathi sagaram
sarva deva nāmaskaram keshavam prathi gatchathi


"Just as all the water fallen from the sky goes to the sea,
prayers to all the gods reaches to the one Lord Vishnu (Keshava)".

I always took the "... no other gods before me..." as a more stern and demanding version of BG 7.21-23. There are other gods, but you best worship Yahweh before worshiping other gods. If you worship him first, and then worship Athena, Bastet, Thor, et al, fine and dandy. Whereas Lord Krishna is cool with it because he knows he's being worshiped and is the embodiment of all gods, Yahweh is jealous and admits it.

Just my take on it.

I did not know that about Vishnu, the idea that worship of other gods leads ultimately to Krishna, the water leading to the sea. I think that is a great idea. It shows to me that study of comparative religion and comparative mythology can really illuminate one's own personal views. I would like to study the many types of Hinduism just to see what is out there, even though I am a sort of Christian Pagan.

I am also interested in syncreticism and how one God in one culture might correspond with another God in a different culture. I find the idea of avatars to be helpful. Sometimes I think that it is possible that a God or Goddess in one culture is an avatar of a God or Goddess in a different culture. I am also curious as the whether some Hindus believe in Deities outside of Hinduism. So, what do Hindus think of Christ, Athena, Thor, etc? Or is there no position of outsider Gods and Goddesses? Is there a place for Christ in Hinduism?

So this is a little off topic, but relates to the point I am trying to make, which is that there is some evidence of Polytheism in the Bible, and this might explain how Judeo-Christianity deals with ideas about other Deities. It seems that Hinduism has some interesting things to say about these sort of topics.

Donal2018

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Re: "No Other Gods Before Me"
« Reply #25 on: August 21, 2019, 02:33:56 pm »
There's something of a parallel in Vaishnava (devotees of Vishnu/Krishna/Rāma) Hinduism, though it is devoid of the demanding and threatening tone found in the Bible. While other sects largely hold the Bhagavad Gita (a conversation between Lord Krishna and his friend Arjuna on a battlefield) in high regard, not all are even familiar with it. In fact, no scripture is binding on us, except for the Vedas which are considered "infallible" and "inviolable" (apauruṣeya, "not made by man") and even then, they are not laws or commandments, but hymns, philosophy, theology, prayers, poetry.

That said, there are verses in the Bhagavad Gita in which Lord Krishna speaking as Supreme God tells Arjuna "Whatever celestial form a devotee seeks to worship with faith, I steady the faith of such a devotee in that form. Endowed with faith, the devotee worships a particular celestial god and obtains the objects of desire. But in reality I alone arrange these benefits. But the fruit gained by these people of small understanding is perishable. Those who worship the celestial gods go to the celestial abodes, while my devotees come to me." BG 7.21-23 So if I want to worship Thor, I can with no retribution from God. He will even help me have steady faith in Thor... as long as I realize my worship is ultimately going to Krishna. If I don't, there's still no harm to me, I just won't be making much spiritual progress:  "I am the enjoyer and the only Lord of all sacrifices [worship]. But those who fail to realize My divine nature must be reborn." 9.24

There is another verse, from the Srimad Bhagavatam, an important scripture that goes

ākashath pathitham thoyam yatha gatchathi sagaram
sarva deva nāmaskaram keshavam prathi gatchathi


"Just as all the water fallen from the sky goes to the sea,
prayers to all the gods reaches to the one Lord Vishnu (Keshava)".

I always took the "... no other gods before me..." as a more stern and demanding version of BG 7.21-23. There are other gods, but you best worship Yahweh before worshiping other gods. If you worship him first, and then worship Athena, Bastet, Thor, et al, fine and dandy. Whereas Lord Krishna is cool with it because he knows he's being worshiped and is the embodiment of all gods, Yahweh is jealous and admits it.

Just my take on it.

I just re-read this post and wanted to thank you for it. There is a lot there that interests me. For a while I have felt the need to look into Hinduism. I think that there are some ideas and concepts in Hinduism that are really compatible with some of my thinking. So, this may have inspired me to take some action and look more deeply into Hinduism, as I have intended for a while. So, again thanks for that.

Jainarayan

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Re: "No Other Gods Before Me"
« Reply #26 on: August 21, 2019, 03:39:38 pm »
I just re-read this post and wanted to thank you for it. There is a lot there that interests me. For a while I have felt the need to look into Hinduism. I think that there are some ideas and concepts in Hinduism that are really compatible with some of my thinking. So, this may have inspired me to take some action and look more deeply into Hinduism, as I have intended for a while. So, again thanks for that.

You're welcome... glad I helped.  ;)
śivāya vishnu rūpaya śivaḥ rūpaya vishnave
śivasya hridayam viṣṇur viṣṇoscha hridayam śivaḥ
Vishnu's appearance is Shiva; Shiva's appearance is Vishnu
Vishnu is the heart of Shiva; Shiva is the heart of Vishnu - Skandopanishad
 

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Re: "No Other Gods Before Me"
« Reply #27 on: August 23, 2019, 01:35:52 am »
So this is a little off topic, but relates to the point I am trying to make, which is that there is some evidence of Polytheism in the Bible, and this might explain how Judeo-Christianity deals with ideas about other Deities.

Modern Judaism's perspective has to do a great deal more with the Talmud and many generations of scholarship than it does with the words of the Bible itself. It's also hugely varied--different Jewish scholars will have different perspectives on God and plurality.

I cannot speak for modern Christianity's perspective, and I do not know what exactly "Judeo-Christianity" actually is.
"The peacock can show its whole tail at once, but I can only tell you a story."
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Re: "No Other Gods Before Me"
« Reply #28 on: August 23, 2019, 10:07:35 am »
I am also curious as the whether some Hindus believe in Deities outside of Hinduism. So, what do Hindus think of Christ, Athena, Thor, etc? Or is there no position of outsider Gods and Goddesses? Is there a place for Christ in Hinduism?

By and large Hinduism is universalist, i.e. all paths ultimately lead to one goal, call it God, the mountaintop, or whatever. Some paths are longer, some are shorter, but eventually they all get you there. Hinduism is also very accepting and acknowledging of other deities and the validity of those religions. I.e. Buddhism is right for a Buddhist, Christianity for a Christian, Islam for a Muslim, etc. There are Hindus who keep Jesus and/or Mary in their shrines. I myself have small separate shrines for Buddhist and Taoist deities, and for Thor.

Gandhi made a comment along these lines... "After long study and experience, I have come to the conclusion that [1] all religions are true; [2] all religions have some error in them; [3] all religions are almost as dear to me as my own Hinduism, in as much as all human beings should be as dear to one as one's own close relatives. My own veneration for other faiths is the same as that for my own faith; therefore no thought of conversion is possible." All Men Are Brothers: Life and Thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi as told in his own words, Paris, UNESCO 1958, p 60.
śivāya vishnu rūpaya śivaḥ rūpaya vishnave
śivasya hridayam viṣṇur viṣṇoscha hridayam śivaḥ
Vishnu's appearance is Shiva; Shiva's appearance is Vishnu
Vishnu is the heart of Shiva; Shiva is the heart of Vishnu - Skandopanishad
 

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Re: "No Other Gods Before Me"
« Reply #29 on: August 23, 2019, 11:28:44 am »
The main thing that I am trying to reconcile is the concept of One God versus Many Gods. So Judeo-Christian Monotheism versus Pagan Polytheism. I think that there might be some middle ground. I am personally sort of leaning towards a Christian Pagan Polytheism, with Christ as one amongst many gods, but sort of first amongst equals. A Prince amongst Gods and Goddesses.

Emanationist theologies; deistic clockmaker gods with minions; polymorphous theophanies of prime principles; polytheistic gods as equivalents of angelic beings; there are many options.

But there's also the question of why monotheism is a necessary thing for you to also drag along.  Plenty of syncretic and adaptive practices discard things that one of the source religion considers of core, fundamental importance, because it's not actually important to their practice. If it doesn't work for you, why take that part?  If it does work for you, what's the problem you're having?

(One can't say that it's about respecting the purity of a tradition or whatever when doing combinatorics in the first place.)
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

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