Jews and Muslims have for a long time accused Christians of being polytheists. Christians have always denied this. But as an insider to Christianity myself, in this exposé I am going to reveal that Christians may in due time become polytheists and worship idols.
While Christians are often wrongly thought to worship three gods by Jews and Muslims, this polytheist pantheon to which some Christians are drawn is actually legion in its number of deities. It is more akin to the Hindu pantheon, where not all gods are worshipped equally everywhere and some may appear in different forms based on location. I shall be highlighting on a few of the most common gods which can be readily found.
Like Bacchus of the Roman pantheon, Humour is the fun god that always promises a good time. Fun and laughter should be had at all cost; even when it comes dangerously close to being blasphemous. The only thing about humour which is not funny, is when someone speaks out against it or raises objections: then it is a serious matter which should be defended to death. Humour often manifests as satire, but its most potent form is sarcasm.
But like a joke told in an inappropriate context, Humour is often awkward. The reason for this is because the Bible is not a funny book. To legitimise itself, two approached are typically taken. The first is that Humour is used to lessen the seriousness and solemnity of the Bible. The other approach is that Humour becomes a groupie of another god, such as Culture (see below). But despite almost being a black sheep in the pantheon, for some people Humour plays a critical role by make Jesus more relatable and lovable than the killjoy He is presented as in the Bible.
Christians suffered persecution for hundreds of years. This was not an ideal state of affairs, to be sure. When Christians became the top dogs, though, it was time to kick back and relax. Instead of looking out to the threats, the focus could be turned inward and be reflective. It was a time of establishing traditions, accumulating wealth and syncretising belief in Christ with the mundanity of everyday life: from climbing career ladders, to hobbies, to investing money, to ruling governments. This is where the cult of Comfort originated.
The cult of Comfort is a manic-depressive one. It is one of passive enjoyment of what has been establish and what is familiar, but also a violent reaction to anything which threatens it. Worship practices are wide and varied. Adherents may feel that the empowerment of anger is preferable over the vulnerability of reconciliation. Or the plight of the poor and dirty is delegated to the next person to pass by. When among friends, the hit of oxytocin gained from their approval may be worth compromising a principle. A person who opposes anyone in this cult will witness an amazing display of creativity in reasoning and theology which justifies the cult's activities; or they will simply be branded as an enemy.
Culture is perhaps the main deity of the Christian pantheon. Culture is often treated more sacred than the Israelites treated the Holiest of Holies in the Temple in Jerusalem. The cult of Culture is founded on the principle of imagining Jesus living in one's own context and sharing one's own values and ideals. The worship of Culture often takes the form of a vehement defence of What is Established and Right, or what is in vogue (counterculturalism is, of course, itself a kind of culture, especially when one just wants to be part of the "cool" gang). Practically speaking—to name but one example—this can lead to actions and incantations opposing immigration and being critical of refugees1. Culture often is worshipped through idols such as flags, laws and constitutions.
Culture can also be found on a small scale. For example, in a small town church (how dare that young new pastor suggest a change in the order of the church service, which is an ancient tradition dating back all of 35 years!).
Bonus: The god of Apologetics, "Intellectual Elitism"
A certain subsection of Christians call themselves apologists. They often tend to gravitate to the god of intellectual elitism. The gospel, they declare, is for everyone; provided that you are intelligent enough, have never said or done anything to contradict yourself, and hold exactly the same worldview as them. Those who are outside of this elite group may be snared and sacrificed in the holy fires of snide and ridicule.
There are many other gods which can be found within the Christian pantheon. For example, there is the cult of "Seeker Sensitivity"2, "Money", "Political Ideology", etc. This bouquet was only intended as a sampler. Addressing all in this article would not be possible. But it is more fun anyway to teach yourself by observing Christians closely and critically, and thereby discovering what other gods they worship.
Many people may wonder, what about Jesus? Jesus is indeed an important figure in Christianity, but in the pantheistic cult only so far as a gateway to getting into the Christian club. Only once one has been admitted into the religion can a seeker be inducted with the gnosis (thinly veiled from the outside world) which truly brings salvation.
Here ends the sarcasm.
Jesus told Pilate that His "Kingdom is not of this world" (John 8:36). Indeed, the follower of Jesus Christ—the Christian—absolutely needs to realise that their minds should be set on exactly what it was that was on Jesus's mind, namely the Kingdom of God (Matthew 4:17, Matthew 13). Seeing the world as a collection of individuals who need God's love and mercy (and ourselves as servants, but not as servants who get certain days off to be snide on social media) is the main way to battle the temptation to proselytise to this insidious pantheon. We should not be pursuing and valuing as the world does. Instead, we should allow the Holy Spirit to lead us away from what is familiar towards what is precious in the eyes of Christ. And if that is at odds with what we value, then we need to make a decision of real consequence: to serve Him, or our little idols.
- 1. It may appear as if Christians act this way to defend jobs, out of a concern for the economy, et cetera. However, often the main reason is that people not of the same culture will affect change to the current culture: they bring with them new holidays, new languages and new habits. If enough of them come, the current culture may start to change and morph into something different. This cannot be allowed, and worshippers of the cult of Culture can become militant in defending their perceptions.
- 2. It should again be noted that there is no fixed, universal pantheon for Christians. This particular cult sometimes manifests as "Inoffensive Gospel".