Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Idolatry- Ancient Times and Today

The Adoration of the Golden Calf by Nicolas Poussin:

Have you ever stopped and wondered what the true meaning of idolatry was? Where it's origins came from or even why it is considered wrong to many people? This article will touch on various answers to those questions.


The meaning of idolatry has become diluted and sometimes lost in translation over the centuries. What once was considered idolatrous in one religion’s eyes has now become something now naturally accepted as normal. Many people say idolatry is an ancient practice and has no relevance this day in age, or does it?

According to the American Heritage Dictionary, idolatry is defined as “the worship of idols,” or “blind or excessive devotion to something.” In fact, the Catechism of Catholic Church states: Idolatry not only refers to false pagan worship. Man commits idolatry whenever he honors and reveres a creature in the place of God, whether this be gods or demons (for example Satanism), power, pleasure, race, ancestors, the state, money, etc. "  
Also another publication states this, “An idol is an image, a representation of anything, or a symbol that is an object of passionate devotion, whether material or imagined.”-Insight on the Scriptures.  

So with that being said, it isn’t far fetched to say that the world we live today is encompassed with idolatry all around them, and perhaps they don’t even know it!

Idols of Today

Think about it, besides religious idols, which I will mention, there are other forms of idols all around us. When you turn on the television you are constantly bombarded with television shows about who will be the next superstar that the masses will “idolize” over. What about commercials telling you to be a certain way or to buy certain things in order to be happy?  Our thinking is in a constant state of being molded to be selfish in every aspect of our lives. We strive our entire lives searching for happiness in material things, thus we become the victims of idolatry- we idolize material possessions.

Now some of us may keep our eye simple, but what of those who may be overly interested with a certain genre of books, music or movies to the point we form an unhealthy obsession of it? It does happen, many times to younger ones such as young self impressionable girls becoming obsessed with the latest pop sensation on the airwaves or the hot guy in the latest blockbuster.

And what of the obsessed sports fan?  Those who decorate their entire house in their favorite team, never miss a game and would get into a fist fight with anyone who makes fun of their team….yes, you guessed it, another form of idolatry.

You could be radically obsessed with politics or even just putting your career before your family, by which you then become to worship what you do. I watched a woman on t.v. who spoke of her daughter who won an Olympic Gold Medal in an interview recently. She stated that her daughter’s event became her religion and that she sent her away for months at a time to perfect her sport in order to win. What did she win? She won a gold medal, the medal became the object of her worship.

You see, many of us have to admit that we at one point or another have fell victim to this enticing and yet very invisible vice, while we may not even realize it at the time.

Religious Relics and Worshiping Aides

Most people know the scripture within the Ten Commandments given to Moses in Exodus 20:4 which reads, You must not make for yourself a carved image or a form like anything that is in the heavens above or that is on the earth underneath or that is in the waters under the earth.”  Another scripture in the Bible adamantly states that "idolaters would not enter into God's kingdom."

So, if Israelites and early Christians did not partake in idol worship or the aids of objects during worship, and the Bible adamantly states not to worship carved images, why then would idols be incorporated into everyday worship in mainstream religions such as Catholicism and Christianity?

Roman Papacy of the Catholic Church, wanting to convert pagans into their religion compromised the commandments within the Holy Scriptures and allowed pagan influence to creep in. 

The Cross was among the first of pagan relics that was adopted into the Catholic Church.

The same sign of the cross that Rome now worships was used in the Babylonian Mysteries, was applied by Paganism to the same magic purposes, was honoured with the same honours. That which is now called the Christian cross was originally no Christian emblem at all, but was the mystic Tau of the Chaldeans and Egyptians--the true original form of the letter T--the initial of the name of Tammuz--which, in Hebrew, radically the same as ancient Chaldee, was
found on coins. That mystic Tau was marked in baptism on the foreheads of those initiated in the
Mysteries,  and was used in every variety of way as a most sacred symbol.”- The Two Babylons.

The Rosary was also a pagan idol symbol from ancient Chaldea. In fact, the Chaldean word “Ro” means “thought”, and “Shareh” meant “director.” They were also known in early Roman society as “remembrancers” being that you had to remember how many prayers you had to repeat in order for God to hear you. That totally goes against the very scriptures in the Bible that state for people to speak from the heart and not being repetitively speaking without meaning.

Amulets, crosses, statues of various gods, even ones of Jesus or Virgin Mary and Virgen de Guadalupe are all pagan and go against the very commandments in the Bible. Remember Jesus stated for his people to worship his father, the only true God. He told the people not to worship anyone or anything other than God, not even himself.

Whether you are a believer in the Bible or Christianity the facts within the Scriptures prove that idol worship did not originate with God, but with various pagan cultures that have infiltrated nearly every mainstream religion.

History shows that various cultures such as the Egyptians, Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Sumerians and Chaldeans polytheistic beliefs and mythology all coincide with one another in their forms of idol worship and beliefs, based on their true origins dating back to Babylon. The Bible has always stood its ground that idolatry was not something to be practiced by a monotheistic believer. Various events and stories mentioned about acts of idolatry referred to in the Bible, were done by pagan groups who worshipped false gods,  and were revered as something detestable to God. Such practices of these pagan worshipers included ceremonial prostitution, child sacrifice, self- laceration to the point of blood flowing and even sexual orgies and drunkenness.

Recall a story in the Bible of when Moses came down the mountain with the Ten Commandments, and what did he find? The Israelites had fallen away from true worship of God and had melted down all their gold to worship a golden calf that had been cast.  It does not mention in that particular scripture the name of the god they were worshiping, although many scholars claim it could have been the lunar bull that was associated with the pagan Canaanite god, El.

In other stories of idol worship that was detestable in God’s eyes recorded in the Bible, names of the false god Ba’al (or Bel) was mentioned.  Ba’al or Bel was a god of the Babylonians, also referred to as Marduk, possibly Nimrod deified.  You see, many of these pagan gods we have learned about in mythology of various lands, could have quite possibly been your average human being who lived and died on this earth. It wasn’t until later on that others deified them to become ‘immortal.’
Where did this idol worship come from?

Idolatry of gods and goddesses

If you search through any culture you will find mythology of gods and goddesses to which civilization’s  performed idol worship. The Aztecs, Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Sumerians, Norse, Celts and even American Indians all believed in their individual gods and deities and worshipped them, also by carving amulets and even statues to honor them. They would make sacrifices in their gods name in order to appease them in hopes of being blessed. 

In these mythological stories you learn that most of them are actually very similar in stories besides the difference in names. Why is that?

It is because long before mankind spread throughout the earth making civilizations throughout the globe, they at one point were all from one place, thus the various stories all came from one place. Over the years and passed down from generation to generation embellishments and changes transformed one unified story into many individualized stories to which all the different cultures of the world have claimed as their own. Have you ever wondered why it was that every single culture has a story about the Deluge? That is because they all came from the descendants of the survivors of that Deluge.

Not merely Egyptians, Chaldeans, Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans, but also the Hindus, the Buddhists of China and of Tibet, the Goths, Anglo-Saxons, Druids, Mexicans and Peruvians, the Aborigines of Australia, and even the savages of the South Sea Islands,  must have all derived their religious ideas from a common source and common centre. Everywhere we find the most startling coincidences in the rites, ceremonies, customs, traditions, and in the names and relations of their respective gods and goddesses.”- The Worship of the Dead, London, 1904, p.3.

What Does History Say?

The Tower of Babel by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1563)

A man by the name of Nimrod (son of Cush, grandson of Ham, great-grandson of Noah) is the one who started post-deluvian idolatry. Nimrod (Hebrew: maradh’), meaning “rebel”, was the founder and king of the first empire to come into existence after the Deluge. Nimrod’s kingdom consisted of the cities of Babel, Erech, Accad and Calneh in the land of Shinar. Nimrod himself deified himself as a god above mankind. It has been suggested that the Babylonian god Marduk (Merodach), who was regarded as the founder of Babylon, was in fact Nimrod deified.

Why, then, was he called Nimrod? Because he stirred up the whole world to rebel (himrid) against his [God’s] sovereignty.”-Encyclopedia of Biblical Interpretation, by Menahem M. Kasher, Vol. II, 1955, p.79.

Under the direction of Nimrod, the building of the tower of Babel began.  Josephus wrote: “Nimrod little by little transformed the state of affairs into a tyranny, holding that the only way to detach men from the fear of God was by making them continuously dependent upon his own power. He threatened to have his revenge on God is he wished to inundate the earth again; for he would build a tower higher than the water could reach and avenge the destruction of their forefathers. The people were eager to follow this advice of Nimrod, deeming it slavery to submit to God; so they set out to build the tower…and it rose with a speed beyond all expectation.”-Jewish Antiquities, I, 114,115 (iv, 2, 3).

As the story goes, God was angered at Nimrod for the dishonor it brought him and the false worship to himself he was demanding of the people, so God frustrated the plans to complete the tower by confusing their language. In fact the word Babel means “confusion.” The scattered people then went throughout the earth and settled in various locations, taking with them not only their new language but also the the false religious beliefs and idolatry learned by Nimrod, with them. 

What about pre-deluvian times? Was there idolatry prior to the Deluge? Yes, by the time of Noah’s days nearly every person on the earth was considered to be full of badness, even to the point that God himself “felt regrets that he had made men in the earth, and he felt hurt at his heart.”- Genesis 6:6.  The earth had become so wicked and filled with corruption to the point that the earth needed to be wiped clean,  just as an eraser to a slate chalkboard. 

Where did the corruption start? Well, to be technical and accurate, we would have to go back even further in time to see that the true origin of idolatry did not come from earthly beings. No, it came from the spirit realm itself. If one is to believe the scriptures it was then when a spirit being (later known as Satan), developed a covetous desire to be worshipped like God, that his own idolatry caused the rebellion in the heavens. Then, Eve became the first human idolater by coveting the forbidden fruit of the Garden of Eden. Since then, only a small fraction of mankind have remained free from idolatry throughout the ages. 

 Are you part of that fraction of mankind?

 (Copyright- Origins-What Does History Say) 2012