Thursday, November 11, 2004

No other gods?

This is going to start with a bit of a ramble, so if you want to the meat, skip the first couple of paragraphs.

One of the guys in the office here is a muslim. He's just finished Ramadan, and that got me thinking about things they're not supposed to eat and therefore what I'm not supposed to eat. I think meat sacrificed to idols is about the only thing in the New Testament.

As my former room-mate used to say: "'Canape, mister Bowie?' 'No thanks.' 'Canape, mister Barker?' 'No, sorry, I don't eat food offered to idols.'"

This line reminded me that God really does take idols and false gods very seriously. We are to have nothing to do with them, including not eating food sacrificed to them.

In the Old Testament in particular, the seriousness of dabbling with false religeons is made clear. In the book of Joshua, God orders genocide against the inhabitants of the promised land, illustrating the attitude we are to take towards other religeons. (Incidentally, I don't believe God demands or condones genocide in that area or elsewhere now).

Now I live in a reasonably multicultural society, so this does have ramifications. God is one, and all other gods are false. However close other religions' understandings of God might be to the real thing, if they don't recognize Jesus as God and Saviour then they are still no different from idol worshippers. While it's really important for Christians to be in contact with these people in order to show them the Real Thing - Jesus, that closeness will have limits which prevent us being involved in any of their forms of religeous devotion. Does that mean no to visiting mosques or attending Sikh weddings, for example? I don't know where to draw the line.

Most of my peers are atheistic or agnostic materialists. The gods they worship are money, family, sex, drink, self, celebrity, and posessions. These are not (all) bad things in themselves, in context. But the big question is: to what extent in my relationships with them am I guilty in "eating" the "meat" they sacrifice to their idols?


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