That societies are pursuing their own vision of the divine is proof positive that paganism is emerging once again. On a global scale, we are seeing how nature is venerated and how diversity and pluralism are shaped and accepted. Monotheists are exclusive in their worship of one Supreme Being while henotheisms are not opposed to the idea of the existence of other gods besides their own. A monotheist acknowledges that only one true deity can exist and recognizes all others to be false. In our modern world, what some have termed neo-paganism is on the increase. In Europe especially, many seek a return to ancestral influences that originated in Greece and even Iceland in search of numerous deities. Let us consider what God said in Isaiah 45:5 “I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God.”
As to the Christian’s response to henotheistic philosophy, the narrative in chapter 17 of Acts should be of some help. Paul was greatly distressed by the many idols he saw when he entered Athens. Instead of going on a city wide tour and take in the culture, he chose to reason in their synagogues and later in the Council building to demonstrate to them how futile their philosophy really was, and teach them about the one true God. From his philosophical exchange, we would do well to learn more about the different strands of thought undergirding today’s religions. Paul was able to discuss matters intelligently due to his understanding of their position and knew something about their culture as well. Paul made mention about their altar dedicated to the “unknown god”. It was erected to offset the possibility of any deities that they may have failed to acknowledge. Pagans nurture open acceptance of other deities and practises, with little or no hesitation. The exception is where moral absolutes are insisted upon. Then, God’s Truth becomes an issue for the pagan.
Since Christians insist on moral absolutes it is not surprising then that they have come under attack. Recently, the law association wished to prevent a Christian law University from accreditation, not because its academia came under question, for it met the province’s standards, but because it expects its students to abstain from immoral conduct while in school. It is because of this that they are threatened with being shut down. I guess the idea is for students to become sexually active and morally irresponsible which might be less of an issue for the law society of Upper Canada. While this is outright discrimination, it is hypocritical how pagans voice no objection regarding those who operate within their own circle, no matter what they may think or do.
Plurality, the refusal to judge other ways of life as wrong because they are different from one’s own, is not something new at all. Pagans accepted all forms of deities as legitimate. Today, a similar notion is held. No matter how different beliefs are to each other all are seen as equally true. Yet, monotheists recognize true and false expressions of faith, and what beliefs are based on does matter! Paul does not attempt to interface pagan deities with Christianity but sets God apart from their stone idols. He describes God as personal and sovereign over all of life. Certainly no one pagan deity could claim this for themselves! Paul called the gathering to believe and repent, and he does so in light of Christ’s resurrection. Typically, this is not something that would go over well in today’s Religion 101 class where the goal is to find agreement within the various sects. Since dogmatism is forbidden, lines of thought about God are blurred by the insistence that even though each is to pursue their own vision about the supernatural none are seen as wrong. So at best God is understood in the abstract. Nowadays, traditional monotheism once dominant in the West is surrendering ground to neo-paganism. This is probably due to the fact that many traditional non-pagan religions have either capitulated to polytheism (many gods) or have simply not voiced their opposition strong enough. On the other hand, Paul did and the crowd around him either believed, sneered, or wanted to hear more at a later time.
Today, ask yourself what you really believe? You may think that it matters little what you believe since all faiths are thought to lead toward a common supreme being, no matter how jumbled and inconsistent each religion may appear from the other. This way of thinking has found wide appeal among the masses. In this sense, men fashion the divine being after their own way of thinking. We are told in Romans that once men squelch the knowledge of God from their minds, than indeed their thoughts become futile and their foolish hearts darkened wherein they exchanged the Glory of God for deities of their own making (see Romans 1:21-22).
It would be unwise to attach your hopes to something that does not exist. Idols are a poor substitute for the Living God. He is unchanging and powerful. He is Creator and there is none like Him. He can deliver us from the judgment to come. Jesus Christ was raised from the dead to demonstrate that we too will be raised bodily in the last day, either to damnation or to eternal life. Christ died on Calvary for our sins. Will you trust in Him alone today?
In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30).