Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing (epiphany) of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Titus 2:13
PAGANISTIC FALSE VIEWS OF GOD.
POLYTHEISM. TRITHEISM OR TRINITARIANISM. THE FATHER ALONE THE SUPREME GOD. THE SON NOT COEQUAL, NOT COETERNAL, NOT CONSUBSTANTIAL WITH THE FATHER. THE HOLY SPIRIT.
HITHERTO in our study of false views of God we have examined five of them: atheism, materialism, agnosticism, pantheism and deism. The next false view of God that presents itself for our study is polytheism, a part of which is creedal, as distinct from Biblical trinitarianism. Etymologically the word polytheism is derived from two Greek words, polys and theismos. Polys means much, and in some connections many; and theismos means the doctrine of God. The compound word polytheism, therefore, means the doctrine of many gods and is used to express the doctrine of a plurality of gods. In polytheism there is always a plurality of gods. And in practically all forms of polytheism there are three supreme gods that supposedly constitute one supreme god. Thus these three gods in one in India are Brahma, Vishna and Shiva, who are called the Trimurti (Indian for trinity). In Babylonia and Assyria they were Anos, Illinos and Aos. In Phoenicia they were Ulomus, Ulosuros and Eliun. In Egypt they were Kneph, Phthas and Osiris. In Greece they were Zeus, Poseidon and Aidoneus. In Rome they were Jupiter, Neptune and Pluto. Among Celtic nations they were called, Kriosan, Biosena and Siva. Among Germanic nations they were called, Thor, Wodan and Fricco. Passing over other heathen trinities without express mention, we remark that the ancient Mexicans worshiped the sun under three images, which they called, Father, Son and Brother
Sun. They called one of their great idols Tangalanga—One in Three and Three in One. Their three gods that emanated from the original god they called Trinamaaka—Trinity. Thus the very terminology, as well as thought, of heathenism on their god-head was by the apostasy early in the Gospel Age introduced among Christians to designate the false trinity of the creeds. And to make the counterfeit taken from heathenism complete, Satan palmed off Mary in the place of the highest of the goddesses of the heathen, who stood next below their trinities, and the canonized saints in the places of the lower gods and goddesses of heathenism. Thus Catholicism introduced heathen conceptions of the gods and goddesses under Christian names. Therefore it may rightly be classed among the polytheistic religions. While most Protestant sects have taken over the creedal trinity, as distinct from the Bible trinity, from Catholicism, they fortunately did not take over its Mariolatry and hagiolatry—worship of Mary and saints—avoiding Rome's main polytheism.
The contrasts between the expressions, atheism—the doctrine of no God, and monotheism—the doctrine of but one God, on the one hand, and of polytheism, on the other hand, help us better to grasp the meaning of polytheism. There are but three purely monotheistic religions: Judaism, non-creedal Christianity and Mohammedanism. All other forms of religions are more or less polytheistic. Thus it is rather singular that monotheism is more or less limited to Abraham's fleshly and spiritual descendants. Polytheism is also synonymous with paganism, a name that is associated with the Latin word paganus, an inhabitant of a country or village district, and that arose from the fact that country and village people rejected Christianity in the interests of their gods, long after the town and city people of the Roman Empire accepted it, and were therefore wont to be called pagini, in allusion to
their heathenism. Thus Augustine early in the fifth century said, "The worshipers of gods false and many we call pagans (paganos)." Similarly did the word heathen come to its present meaning; for it is derived from the word heath, which formerly meant a dweller in lonely or remote uncultivated districts. It probably arose from the translation of the Latin word pagani into the Germanic languages. Additionally, the Latin word gentes and the Greek word ethne, as the equivalents of the Hebrew word goyim, which means nations, in contrast with Israel as God's people, have given us the expressions, gentilism and ethnic religions, as synonyms of polytheism. Furthermore, not etymologically, but factually, polytheism and idolatry are practically synonymous, for they are almost universally associated; for almost every polytheistic religion has, as a part and parcel of it, idols which its votaries reverence and worship.
There are marked differences between monotheism and polytheism, apart from their basic difference of one God as against many gods. In monotheism absoluteness and supremacy are united in the thought of but one God, while these conceptions are absent from polytheism. This is due to the very nature of the two views. Since it unites in one being supreme perfection of attributes, monotheism in its very nature implies absoluteness and supremacy in the Divine attributes, while polytheism in its very nature must deny these, since it distributes the Divine qualities among many gods. Furthermore polytheism lacks these two qualities in what it attributes to the sum total of its gods, i.e., if we should unite in one God all the attributes that polytheism applies to all its gods, the result would not be a God who would be absolute and supreme; nor have their highest gods these two attributes, e.g., while Jupiter was considered very intelligent, powerful, and more or less benevolent, he was nevertheless limited in his powers, sometimes by the other gods,
and always by what the Romans and Greeks called fate. Then, too, the gods of the polytheists are far from being holy persons. The mythologies of the Greeks and Romans literally reek with stories of the unchastities, incests, rapes, thefts, quarrels, envies, jealousies, plunderings, murders, falsehoods, covetings and slanders of the gods. This is also true of the gods of India, Egypt, Babylon, etc. The distinctly lower plane on which the polytheistic gods stand as to attributes of being and of character than that occupied by the one God of the Bible is, therefore, manifest on all hands and in every detail. This fact puts the conception of the God of the Bible into a position that is unique and sublime and puts Him into a class by Himself, to the confounding of the gods of polytheism. The Christian finds nothing in his God that needs apology, while polytheism stands in such need of apology for the attributes of being and character of its gods as makes its defenders hang their heads in shame when they are brought face to face with Christian apologists in debate.
Originally the human family was monotheistic, believed in and worshiped but one God. Throughout the antediluvian period there is no trace of polytheism. Mythologies originating after the flood purport to tell of the activities of polytheistic gods in creation and after creation; but these myths are partly the inventions of a later age and partly the perversions of the activities of the sons of God, the angels who had charge of the race during the first dispensation, and who became the fathers of giant sons—the demi-gods of polytheism—by human mothers (Gen. 6: 2-4). To the claim of infidels, evolutionists and higher critics, who assert that mankind was first polytheistic and gradually evolved into the monotheistic faith, we answer that the bulk of mankind is still polytheistic, that but one nation, partly by tradition and partly by revelation, years after the flood was monotheistic, that
from this race others, not by evolution, but by adoption, received monotheism, and that the Bible shows that polytheism was a departure after the flood from the primeval revelation and subsequent reflection (Rom. 1: 1928). The Scripture just cited shows that subsequent to the flood polytheism had its start. Other Scriptural hints suggest it as first starting in Babylon, later developing in Egypt among Ham's descendants.
The originators of polytheism were Nimrod and his wife, Semiramis, who was his mother as well as his wife. A short account of Nimrod is given us in Gen. 10: 8-12. The word Nimrod means subduer by the leopard. As a hunter he made use of a leopard as his assistant, as archeological remains of Babylon and Egypt indicate, his wife joining him in the chase. Evidently the rapid increase of wild animal and reptile life made their reduction much desired by the people; and Nimrod's prowess as a hunter gave him such great prestige as to make him become the first king, and that ruling over Babylonia and Assyria, as the above Scripture shows. His being the first king of Ninevah (Gen. 10: 11) enables us by secular history to identify him with its first king Ninus, after whom Ninevah received its name, Ninevah, meaning habitation of Ninus. He was the son and afterward the husband of the Semiramis of secular history, the first queen of Ninevah, as his wife. His descent from the wicked Ham and Cush and his marrying his own mother imply for him a wicked character; and his wife was equally wicked. They attracted people away from a religion of trust in God to one of trust in Nimrod as their deliverer and king in worldliness, luxury, pleasure and debauchery. Thus Nimrod gave to Babylon's religion a bent away from God to himself and to his wife, more or less of Divine honors coming to them thereby. According to secular history and archeology they invented certain initiatory rites, called mysteries, by which they palmed off on certain select
Persons their false religion, in which myths of the gods (the angels who took human wives before the flood) and demigods (the giants born from these unions) were told, and by which they exalted themselves to Divine beings and honors.
While the Scriptures are silent on the subject, the ancient historians and archeological remains set forth the thought that Nimrod, under the name of Osiris, and Semiramis, under the name of Isis, went to Egypt and became the sovereigns of that country. But they became so wicked there that Egypt's 72 supreme judges, at the instigation of Melchizedek, the shepherd king then in control of Egypt, sentenced him to death; which was inflicted upon him. They caused his body to be cut into pieces and these to be sent to various cities of Egypt as a warning example of the fate of evil-doers. Grief stricken Isis and her son, Horus, gathered these parts of his body together for mummifying and then circulated the report that her husband and his father came to life again and ascended to heaven as a god. She worked out a ritual whose climax was the suffering and death of this god. About this ritual the Egyptian religion with its multiplicity of gods was developed. The death of Isis and of her and Osiris' son, Horus, became the occasion of their being deified. Other notables of Egypt who were initiated into these mysteries were on death also set forth as deified. Attaching itself to Gen. 3: 15, the myth grew that Isis was the mother of the promised seed, that her son and husband, Osiris, was that seed, and that by his defending humanity from the depredations of wild animals he proved himself to be their promised deliverer. The myth was further developed into setting forth that Osiris while killing a great and destructive serpent was himself killed. With variations of names, places and circumstances these general myths were spread everywhere throughout the heathen world and became the framework of almost
all polytheistic religions. In this way polytheism originated and developed and spread among mankind.
What lay back of this? St. Paul, David and Moses give us the clue that enables us to see the whole situation clearly. They say that the gods of polytheism are devils, demons (1 Cor. 10: 20; Ps. 106: 37; Lev. 17: 7; Deut. 32: 17). Jesus and St. Paul further tell us that Satan is the prince or god of this world (John 16: 11; Eph. 2: 2) and that in his rulership over the earth he has other fallen angels as his associates (Eph. 6: 11, 12). In a word, then, as ostensibly deified dead humans, Satan and two of his associates got themselves worshiped as the alleged supreme triune god. Another demon got himself worshiped under the name of a supreme goddess, and other demons got themselves worshiped under the names of other gods and goddesses. In other words, polytheism is demonism, the religion of devils as the gods and goddesses of the heathen. It was set up by Satan for a twofold purpose: to turn the minds and hearts of mankind away from the one true God and righteousness, and to turn and enslave their hearts and minds to him as their god and to unrighteousness; and he succeeded in these two purposes with the bulk of humans. From this viewpoint we can see why the Bible is so full of denunciations of heathen religions; and why they have had such a debasing physical, mental, moral and religious effect on mankind.
In these religions Satan has counterfeited as far as possible what he could gather from the few promises of the Messiah given up to the time of their development. In these counterfeits the true God was put in the place of the devil and the devil was put in God's place, and the actually wicked were palmed off as the good, while the righteous, who opposed the wicked were palmed off as the wicked. Up to the time of Nimrod's (Osiris') death only two promises had been made touching the Divinely-arranged deliverance: that
of the seed of the woman and of the serpent, their warfare, the former bruising the serpent's head and the serpent bruising his heel (Gen. 3: 15), and that of the chief blessing coming to those represented by Shem and the secondary blessing coming upon those represented by Japheth and the curse coming upon those represented by Ham (Gen. 9: 2527). As God gave later promises as to the true Deliverer and His delivering work, Satan worked these up into his counterfeits. Now, reverting to Nimrod (Osiris) and Semiramis (Isis) with these thoughts in mind, we can see how the counterfeit was worked up around them. She was counterfeited as the mother of the seed of the woman mentioned in Gen. 3: 15, while he was palmed off as her seed. Melchizedek, as the chief of the shepherd kings opposing Osiris, was the alleged seed of the serpent. The opposition that he righteously offered to the wicked course of Osiris was represented as the inimical course of the seed of the serpent toward the seed of the woman. The bruising of the serpent's head was represented as the death wrought by the counterfeit seed of the woman upon an alleged serpent, really God, and the death of Osiris was allegedly the bruising of the heel of the woman's seed, while the deifying of Osiris after his death is the alleged glorification of the seed of the woman. The blessing on those represented by Shem was counterfeited by the alleged bliss of those elect few who were initiated into the heathen "mysteries." The blessing on those represented by Japheth was counterfeited by the alleged bliss of the supporters of such initiated elect. And the curse of those represented by Ham is counterfeited in the evils suffered by the alleged seed of the serpent. Additions, as said above, were by Satan made to the counterfeits as additions to the Divine revelations on the coming Deliverer were given by God through the patriarchs, the lawgiver, the prophets, Christ and the Apostles. These additions to
the counterfeits reached their climax in the papacy, which is Satan's masterpiece in counterfeiting every feature of the true seed, and His work and reign.
In the myths of polytheism the hunting capacity of its delivering god (Nimrod) is manifest in the leopard skin in which he and his priests were represented as clothed, in the weapons that he bore and in his alleged fight with the serpent. These appear in the "mysteries" of the Egyptian Osiris, the Roman Bacchus, the Grecian Adonis and the Syrian Tamuz (Ezek. 8: 14). Melchizedek is represented in the wild boar that killed this counterfeit deliverer, who is one and the same person under these various national names. The grief of Semiramis is set forth under that of Isis over Osiris, Venus over Bacchus, Astarte over Adonis and Asteroth over Tamuz. Her being a huntress is represented by her appearing with the quiver full of arrows and the bow, as the Egyptian Isis, the Grecian Artimis, the Syrian Ashera and the Roman Diana. No matter what the varying names were that the different nations gave these characters, they were the same two individuals. Despite varying local colors bestowed upon them, they were the selfsame deified humans. And under the names of these and other alleged deified humans Satan and his demon associates secured the worship and service of the heathen for themselves. Thus there was a oneness in the heathen religions, whatever nonessential variations were found in them. These nonessential variations were the local drapery with which Satan sought to commend his religion to the heathens' affections; but on all essential points he succeeded in giving them everywhere and in all nations one religion. It was for this reason that heathen religions almost never persecuted one another. It was for this reason that under different names they all recognized their gods as the same beings. And it was for this reason that, e.g., the Romans always adopted
the religions of the nations that they conquered, except that of the Jews.
It is important that we remember that polytheism originated in Babylon and from there emigrated to other countries, notably to Egypt. If this fact is kept in mind, we will understand how in type (Jer. 51: 7) and antitype (Rev. 17: 5; 18: 2, 3) Babylon made the nations drunk with false doctrine. It is because false religion, polytheism, had its origin in, and largest influence in and through Babylon that God used Babylon as a type of Romanism, the mystic Babylon of prophecy. Not only so, but into mystic Babylon Satan brought over as much of the ritual of polytheism as possible, giving these rites Christian names, but retaining their heathen externals and internals as far as possible. We have already shown how it teaches creedal trinitarianism, which Romanism foisted on Churchianity from polytheism. The Christmas rites and date in Romanism are much akin to those associated with the birthday and date of polytheism's celebration of the birth of Nimrod. The madonna and son worship are counterparts of the worship of the heathen goddess mother and son. The Romish Lenten service partakes of much of the character of the polytheists' mourning period for the death of their deliverer god. The Romanist non-biblical emphasis on Mary mourning over Jesus' death is the counterpart of Semiramis' mourning over Nimrod's death. The fleshly resurrection of Jesus is Rome's counterpart to polytheism's deification of Osiris, etc. The heart-of-Jesus worship is the counterpart of polytheism's worship of the heart of Osiris, etc. The mass is the counterpart of polytheism's enactment of the death of its delivering god. So, too, are auricular confession, satisfaction, asceticism, monasticism, the priesthood and its celibacy, the hierarchy and the pope as its head, etc., etc., etc., counterparts to polytheism's pertinent features. These facts prove that Satan introduced
into Romanism various features that he introduced into polytheism. But he did more than that; he in that system counterfeited everything with reference to the true Christ, in doctrine, organization and work. It is because of Rome's essential heathenism, which originated in, and spread out from Babylon, that God designates Romanism, mystic Babylon.
From the above we are able to see very clearly the essentially wicked character of polytheism. Instead of its being, as evolutionists claim, a stage of man's progress from bestiality toward a religious life, which is one of the differences between man and brute, it is a stage of his degradation from a belief in, and service of the one God to a belief in, and a service of the devil and his underling demons. Its author is Satan; and, accordingly, its theories are devilish deceptions and also counterfeits of glimmerings of the slowly advancing Divine revelation. Instead of its uplifting man it has degraded him and turned him away from the true God and a godly life. It has always stood for Satan's original lies (Gen. 3: 4, 5), the unreality of death, the consciousness of the dead, the change of humans into spirits at death and the bliss or torture of the dead. Then, too, it has always stood for the other great Satanic error: three gods constituting one god—the trinity of polytheism and creedism. When looked upon according to the above description of it, we have a right focus upon it; we can see its nature, purpose and results from the right standpoint and can properly measure its real size. Accordingly we are able to sympathize with the Scriptural delineation of it. The prophets' descriptions of it become sober estimates of it; and their zeal as servants of God and as patriots in seeking to prevent its entrance into Israel, and in seeking to expel it when it found lodgment there, become transparent as fully appropriate and justified. Of course Satan's determined and persistent efforts to foist it upon Israel were intended
not only to advance his religion, but also to extirpate monotheism; for Israel was then the only monotheistic people, whose mission, among other things, was to keep alive the knowledge of the one true God. Accordingly Israel was the battle ground of monotheism and polytheism; and we thank God that monotheism survived the centuries-long attacks that Satan through polytheism made upon it.
But the battle did not end with the Jewish Age. When Christianity, as another monotheistic religion, came on the stage of human affairs, Satan made the subtlest attack on monotheism ever launched. For through the apostasy, which had its start in St. Paul's day (2 Thes. 2: 7), Satan made the attack of attacks upon it and for centuries foisted a real polytheism upon Christians, which in Romanism is a rather complete counterpart of the polytheism of the ancient heathen. While the reformation purged away much of this baptized polytheism, it for the most part left the chief feature of it intact; and even to this day this feature— creedal trinitarianism—has not been completely set aside, as we trust it will ere long. As Christians learn to think more logically and Scripturally they will free themselves from this intrusion, this poisonous graft upon Christianity. "In that day the Lord will be one and His name one" (Zech. 14: 9).
While the gods of polytheism are really Satan and the fallen angels, as alleged deified humans mainly, the more strongly to enlist human attention, which frequently falters at the contemplation and worship of invisible spirits, Satan has associated such gods with visible objects of nature, like the sun, the moon and the stars (Deut. 4: 19; 2 Kings 17: 16; 21: 3, 5; Jer. 7: 18; 8: 2; Acts 7: 42), the earth and separate objects in and about it, like trees, mountains, streams, stones, skies, the atmosphere, etc. In such cases the gods have been considered the spirits of such objects, which they allegedly inhabit and leave at will. The energies acting
in these objects have been supposed to be the manifestations of the resident god's activities. Thus the sun has been worshiped as Baal, etc., Satan, because he was supposed to dwell in it, as a spirit indwelling a body. The moon has been worshiped as Asteroth, etc., the goddess of love, who supposedly has indwelt it, as a spirit is supposed to indwell a body. Other demons, mainly as alleged deified humans, have been worshiped as various planets and stars. The earth has been supposed to be the mother and the heaven the father of the gods. These have been polytheism's chief gods and goddesses. This personifying and then worshiping of objects of nature, especially those great objects of nature set forth as created by God in Gen. 1, e.g., the heavens, earth, chaos, the land, the sea, the firmament (atmospheric expanse), the sun, the moon, the stars, were the original form of polytheism, as invented first by Nimrod and his wife. This can be seen from the Babylonian and Assyrian creation tablets discovered by George Smith, etc., during the last century. A little later Nimrod and Semiramis added to this much of polytheism the worship of the sons of God and their offspring giant sons—as gods and demigods. Still later, after Nimrod's death, the form of polytheism described previously as invented by Semiramis arose. To the three above-mentioned forms of polytheism the worship of heroes and ancestors was added after Semiramis' death. By the first three of the foregoing forms of polytheism Satan and his fallen angels especially secured for themselves the worship of the heathen. Then, there have been still other secondary gods and goddesses invented as the personifications of inferior objects of nature, like the nymphs of woods, fountains, mountains, seas, etc., through which other demons have been worshiped. Still others as attendants on the gods, as fauns, have likewise been worshiped. Even abstract qualities have been personified as certain demons and then have been worshiped
as gods, like law, justice, fear, memory, death, honor, virtue, peace, victory, etc. Even rulers as alleged descendants of the gods have been worshiped as divine in polytheism. Thus under a variety of objects of nature, persons and thought Satan and the fallen angels, mainly as alleged deified humans, secured the worship of humans. It is especially through the deifying of objects of nature that Satan has spread superstition and the spirit of fear.
Mythology has likewise been brought into the service of Satan to palm off the worship of himself and his underlings. After the flood myths were woven about the angels that sinned in marrying women (Gen. 6: 2-4) and their giant offspring produced by these unions. These sinning angels were made to appear blameless; and then great creative and providential acts were ascribed to them in these myths, resulting in their securing the worship of themselves by humans. They furthermore palmed off the unfallen angels in these myths as wicked and malicious spirits. The giant sons of the fallen angels that they represented in the myths, they suggested to the minds of men as great heroes and benefactors, and thus raised them up to the dignity of demigods. These myths gradually grew among men at demoniac suggestion and are practically alike in almost all polytheistic religions, despite the variations due to local coloring. Thus they are found in the archeological remains of Babylon, Egypt, Phoenicia, Assyria, Syria, Philistia, Moab, Ammon, etc., as well as in the literary remains of China, Japan, India, Persia, Greece, Rome and the Germanic and Slavic nations. These were through the doctrine of the transmigration of souls, possible of amalgamation with the accounts of alleged deified humans by the very nature of polytheism, which is capable of accepting all sorts of gods, whatever their alleged origin.
Idolatry, though not exactly synonymous with polytheism (as the religion of ancient Persia, in which
there were no idols, shows), usually is a by-product of polytheism. It is based upon the incapacity of the average uncultured human to worship an invisible spirit without a visible representation of him, wherein he is supposed to dwell. These idols have been of the greatest variety, some of them being simple fetishes, amulets and charms, largely of almost no value and of almost endless variety. Some of them have been sticks and stocks and stones, especially in the earlier polytheistic religions and in later African religions. Some of them have been the ugly figures of hideous gods and goddesses supposedly adorning the temples of India, China, Japan, etc. Some of them have been images of men's bodies with heads, etc., of various animals, birds, reptiles, etc., as in Egypt. Some of them have been the marvelous creations of Greek and Roman painters and sculptors. Some of them have been the images and paintings in Roman and Greek churches. The thought of the idolaters has been generally that these images and pictures were not the gods themselves, but such representations of them as they indwelt. Hence they are, even in our times in Roman and Greek churches, represented sometimes as winking, smiling, shedding tears, bleeding, speaking, etc., They are thus worshiped as related to, and connected with their indwelling gods. To such fetishes, amulets, charms and idols belong the relics of the saints, whose bones, etc., are usually claimed to sweat blood, to work miracles of healing and to prevent and ameliorate calamities. Thus in such idols, etc., Satan and the fallen angels succeeded in securing man's worship.
In practically all polytheistic religions there is a special order of officials, usually called priests, who are the representatives of Satan and his fallen angels to their devotees, and who are also the representatives of their devotees before such idol-indwelling gods. Their position is closely akin to that of mediators between the gods and their worshipers. It is through these
priests that these gods have palmed off various embellishments of the religion that Satan originally made known through Nimrod and Semiramis. They usually have given the responses of the gods to the questions put to the gods. They have kept the knowledge of their religious mythology, rites, beliefs, arts, sciences, literature and liturgy in custody, and have taught the people what they desired them to know, as well as have revealed the "mysteries" to the elect initiates. As a rule, they have offered the people's sacrifice, and have claimed to make peace and keep peace between the gods and them. They have degenerated into wizards, fortune tellers and necromancers, instilling the spirit of fear into the people. This has given them a vast amount of influence over the people and often has invested them with dictatorial powers in matters of state and family, as well as in religion. Their office, place, power, etc., is well illustrated in that of the priests of Rome. These polytheistic priests, like those of Rome, have been of various grades, ascending from the common priests through a well regulated and organized hierarchy of various ranks to a chief priest. In this respect the Roman priesthood has been graded by Satan after the polytheistic pattern. At the side and as assistants of such polytheistic priests, orders of monks and nuns of a lower grade than the priests have stood in practically all polytheistic religions, more or less devoted to celibacy, but not to chastity. Hordes of these monks have yielded themselves up, as parts of their religious rites, to the most debasing vices, and the nuns have been required to act as prostitutes in connection with the temple rites of the goddess of love, as a part of the religious worship. Even to this day there are thousands of temples in India that have attached to them these nuns, as adjuncts of the obscene rites of those temple services; for a part of the worship of the goddess of love from times immemorial has been the unchaste use of these nuns by the male
worshipers at those temples. Not only so, but where female worshipers did not bring along male companions to consort with them as a part of the worship of that goddess, the monks attached to such temples served this debasing purpose. And when Satan made monks and nuns a part of the Greek and Roman Church organizations, he had similar, but by far more attenuated purposes in mind, above which, we are glad to know, not a few monks and nuns have lived.
In practically all polytheistic religions Satan has caused temples to be an adjunct of them. These were not so much to accommodate worshipers as either to house the gods as invisible spirits or to house their images and to be convenient sacrificing places. The most important feature of such temples was their altars, where sacrifices were offered to appease or to please the gods. Usually the roofs above the altars were open so that the smoke and incense might ascend toward the sky. The worship of polytheism was both private, in the homes, and public, in the temples. In the former case the head of the house usually officiated; and in the latter case the priests always officiated. Sacrifices were a usual part of the public worship, which was as a rule carried out according to an elaborate ritual. These sacrifices were either unbloody, i.e., growths from the ground, or bloody; i.e., animal. These sacrifices were sometimes propitiatory, to make atonement between the gods and the sacrificers; sometimes they were non-propitiatory, as matters of thanks, worship and praise. In most polytheistic religions human sacrifices were made, as burning the children on the red hot hands and arms of Moloch, hurling the children into the Ganges River, burning living widows with the husbands' bodies in the funeral rites of India, and sacrificing people to appease the gods.
The effects of polytheism on character and society have been bad. Almost always the civilization of polytheistic nations has been on a low scale, and always
they have been cursed by the most degraded manners and ideals prevalent. It has directly depraved religious as well as moral character and has implanted the spirit of fear, superstition and servility toward the gods, thus stifling true faith, hope, love and obedience. It has developed selfishness and crushed duty-love and disinterested love toward one's fellows. It has pandered to the lower tendencies of the naturally depraved heart, leaving each successive generation worse than the preceding one. Instead of inculcating the brotherhood of man, it has formed castes whose contrasted acme is reached in the Brahman and the Pariah (the lowest of the untouchables) of India. The right of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness it has crushed. Everywhere has it made its votaries sensual and degraded, particularly along sex lines. Its papal form has fostered much of the evils just set forth. The worst indictment of polytheism still remains the section of the Bible from the pen of St. Paul in Rom. 1: 21-32. Well may we bless God that we are free from it! Well may we worship, praise and adore the God and Father of our Lord Jesus, the one and only true God, all whose ways praise Him and elevate us in character.
The final false view of God that we desire to consider is the trinity, which is a view held in most denominations. Because of the many details involved in this subject, our discussion of it must be terse and pointed, otherwise it would become entirely out of proportion with the rest of our subject. The word trinity is a compound of two Latin words, tres=three, and unitas=unity, the idea being three in unity or three in one. In the compounding of these words they have been made to amalgamate and assimilate into one another. Hence the words tres and unitas have in Latin been amalgamated by assimilation into the word trinitas; and it has been taken over into English with the change of the last syllable, tas, into ty, as is usually
done with the Latin nouns ending in tas, if taken over into English, e.g., libertas = liberty, amitas = amity, qualitas =quality, etc. The idea actually expressed by the word trinity is, three gods are one God, though, the proponents of the trinity doctrine would not so express it. Rather they put it as follows: three persons are one God. Yet as they say of each of their three persons that he is God, their doctrine actually implies that three Gods are one God. They further claim that these three persons are the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and these are by them meant by the term trinity. They admit that they can neither understand nor explain it, but claim that it must be believed on pain of eternal torment. The fact that it is ununderstandable and unexplainable, yea, self-contradictory, is, they claim, to be expected on the ground that it is a mystery, which is an expression that they use of the trinity and other teachings to mean an actually ununderstandable, unexplainable and self-contradicting idea, e.g., three are one and one are three. Of course in our arithmetic we learned better, i.e., that three are three times one, not one. But they claim that this is a Bible mystery; hence must be received with blank unquestioning minds. To this we reply that the word mystery as used in the Bible and profane Greek never means self-contradictory, unreasonable, ununderstandable and unexplainable things; but in the Bible it is used to mean a secret not understood by the uninitiated, but understood by the initiated.
The following are all the passages in which the Greek word mysterion occurs in the New Testament: Matt. 13: 11; Mark 4: 11; Luke 8: 10; Rom. 11: 25; 16: 25; 1 Cor. 2: 1, 7; 4: 1; 13: 2; 14: 2; 15: 51; Eph. 1: 9; 3: 3, 4, 9; 5: 32; 6: 19; Col. 1: 26, 27; 2: 2; 4: 3; 2 Thes. 2: 7; 1 Tim. 3: 9, 16; Rev. 1: 20; 10: 7; 17: 5, 7. Let the reader look up each of these references, and he will find in none of them the thought that Bible mysteries are unreasonable, ununderstandable, unexplainable or self-contradictory things. Every
where he will find our definition true, that Bible mysteries are secrets not understood by the uninitiated, but understood by the initiated. In proof we will comment on a few of the plainer of the cited passages. That Matt. 13: 11; Mark 4: 11; Luke 8: 10 use the word as we have defined it is evident from the contrast that Jesus makes between the disciples' being given to understand the mysteries and the multitude, who heard them, not being given to understand them. The secret that St. Paul tells in Rom. 11: 25—that Israel would be in blindness until the full number of the Elect would be completed and then would be recovered from that blindness—is certainly an understandable thing and by no means a self-contradictory or unreasonable thing. The secret that St. Paul explained in 1 Cor. 15: 51—that the last part of the Church, those alive at our Lord's Second Advent, would not sleep in death—is certainly not an ununderstandable thing; for we understand it. The secret that St. Paul told us—that Adam and Eve are a type of Jesus and the Church (Eph. 5: 32)—is certainly not an ununderstandable, unreasonable or self-contradicting thing; for we understand it. That God made clear the hidden mystery to the saints (Col. 1: 26, 27) proves that it is not an ununderstandable thing, since we understand it—that the Christ is not one person, but a company of persons. St. Paul directly tells us that he understood the mystery of God (Col. 2: 2); hence it is not an ununderstandable thing. We certainly understand the mystery of lawlessness (2 Thes. 2: 7); for it is the Papacy as the counterfeit of the mystery of God, Christ and the Church as the one new man consisting of many members (Eph. 2: 15; 1 Cor. 12: 12-14, 20, 27). So, too, do we understand the mystery of the seven stars (Rev. 1: 20) as representing the seven composite messengers that God has sent, one for each stage of the Church, even as we understand the mystery of seven candlesticks as representing the seven stages of the Church.