The Godhead as an Aggregate Class

Most Christians will, at one time or another, find themselves in a situation where they will be forced to defend their belief in the Godhead or Trinity. Their defense will most likely go something like this, “God is one God who exists in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” I’ve used this approach in the past myself because it’s the defense we’ve all heard from the pulpit thousands of times. However, to most non-Christians especially Jews and Muslims, this explanation is inadequate and sounds too scripted—i.e., just another pat answer.

The universally accepted notion of the Christian Godhead existing as one God in three persons doesn’t adequately represent the special and unique relationship between God as Father and Jesus as Son. In addition, the Trinity doesn’t address the problem of Melchizedek who was the first of a priestly Order that bears His name.

The foundational theory for this writing was initially presented in my “GOD & the Gods” series inaugural blog entry, “One God”. However, in this writing, I propose to refine and expand on the ideas presented in that former blog post by demonstrating that the notion of the Godhead can be expressed as an aggregate class.

I concede that any attempt to explain spiritual or religious beliefs using concepts derived from computer science and object-oriented programming and design is ambitious to say the least. Nevertheless, I believe it works since it makes sense to model the abstract using tools and techniques designed for that purpose namely the Unified Modeling Language (UML) and the Object Modeling Technique (OMT) developed and published by Rumbaugh, et. al.1

This blog post models the Godhead using the following four fundamental object-oriented terms and concepts: class, object, inheritance, and instantiation. In the context of this writing, class is the abstraction whereas object is the actual thing or in this context, the actual person. In computer programming parlance, instantiation means to create an instance of an object, in other words, the creation or realization of the abstraction or class.

This discussion on object-oriented terminology may seem too techy for some readers but these basic concepts are necessary in order to understand the primary focus of this writing which is aggregation. It’s important to remember that for the remainder of this blog post, the terms “object” and “person” are synonymous because the term “object” in this discussion will always refer to persons specifically, not things in general.

The main problem which needs to be addressed before a meaningful model of the Godhead can be developed is how to deal with Melchizedek. In Genesis, Melchizedek appears to Abram and offers him bread and wine and a blessing. Abram responds by offering Melchizedek a “tenth of all” (Gen. 14:20 NASB) or tithe. The parallels that can be drawn between Jesus and Melchizedek because of the offering of bread and wine are unmistakable which led most writers and theologians to classify Melchizedek as a Christophany—the visible and bodily manifestation of Christ before His incarnation.

I believe the writer of Hebrews clearly teaches that Melchizedek, king of Salem, was a person of the Godhead when he wrote, “Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually.” (Heb. 6:20) I also believe the writer of Hebrews deliberately, under inspiration, made a point to mention Melchizedek’s lack of genealogy so as to draw a distinction between Melchizedek and Jesus whose genealogy was well documented by Matthew and Luke. In addition, the phrase “made like the Son of God” clearly indicates that Melchizedek took on human form as did Jesus but unlike Jesus, he came into being without having been born of a human mother.

The Christophany interpretation fits right in with those who hold to a Trinitarian view of the Godhead because if Melchizedek was a person of Divine origin and not simply a manifestation of Christ then that would upset their entire belief system. This Trinitarian bias is evident in the NASB translator’s Hebrews Chapter 7 heading which is, “Melchizedek’s Priesthood Like Christ’s” which implies Melchizedek’s priesthood proceeded Christ’s earthly ministry when in fact it preceded Christ’s earthly ministry as the writer of Hebrews states: “where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” (Heb. 6:20) The reader should be aware that chapter and verse divisions in our Bible translations were not in the original autographs and are therefore not inspired.

Finally, according to the writer of Hebrews, both Melchizedek and Jesus remain priests forever and that Jesus’ genealogy was not of the tribe of Levi but of Judah, a tribe which Moses never spoke concerning priests (Heb. 7:14) therefore Jesus was made a priest forever by prophetic decree:

The LORD has sworn and will not change His mind, ‘You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.’ (Ps. 110:4)

The special relationship that exists between the Father and the Son is documented in detail throughout the Gospel of John. The following are just a few examples that illustrate this special relationship:

Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me’ (John 8:42)

‘For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak.’ (John 12:49)

‘Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.’ (John 14:10)

The traditional Trinitarian view of the Son as being co-equal with the Father and the Comforter as separate persons of the Godhead neglects to consider the obvious reciprocal relationship that exists between Father and Son.

‘All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.’ (Matt. 11:27)

The UML (Unified Modeling Language) diagram for the Trinitarian view of the Godhead is presented in Figure 1.

Trinitarian Godhead Model
Figure 1. Trinitarian Godhead Model

As illustrated in Figure 1 above, the three subclasses: Father, Son, and Comforter all inherit attributes from the Godhead superclass. Only four attributes are shown in the Godhead symbol because a detailed discussion of Divine attributes are beyond the scope of this writing.

As the Trinitarian model demonstrates, any instantiation (actualization) of one of the subclasses is not dependent on any of the other subclasses. In other words, God the Father can exist without God the Son existing or without God the Comforter existing. The actual instantiations of the three subclasses are not shown in Figure 1, however the implication is YHVH is instantiated from Father, Jesus is instantiated from Son, and the Holy Spirit is instantiated from Comforter where all three instantiations make up the traditional view of the Trinity.

Note that Melchizedek could not be instantiated from any subclass shown in Figure 1 since a Priest class had not been taken into consideration.

The Trinitarian model, as defended by Christianity—one God in three persons—is easily attacked by Jews and Muslims as being polytheistic since it would appear to allow multiple individual Gods to be instantiated from the Godhead superclass.

The UML diagram for the improved aggregate view of the Godhead is presented in Figure 2.

Aggregate Godhead Model
Figure 2. Aggregate Godhead Model

Figure 2 presents a more biblical representation of the Godhead since a Priest subclass is included along with the expected Father, Son, and Comforter subclasses. The model shows that the Godhead superclass shown in the first level of the model is an aggregate of the subclasses in the second level of the model. Aggregation says that if multiple objects “are tightly bound by a part-whole relationship, it is an aggregation.”2 Another way aggregation can be tested is by applying the phrase, “part of”3 or “a-part-of”4 to a relationship. So, in our model in Figure 2 we can say Son is a-part-of Father, and Father, Priest, and Comforter are collectively a-part-of Godhead.

Rumbaugh, et. al. further defines aggregation as an “and-relationship”5 so that given the model in Figure 2 we can say that Godhead is made up of {Father and Son}, and Priest, and Comforter—a class trinity.

I chose to name the Holy Spirit’s subclass “Comforter” which is the rendering of “paraklêtos” in the King James Version of the Bible. I could have also used “Helper” as rendered from the Greek in the New American Standard Bible and other newer translations. However, I believe “Comforter” adds a compassionate dimension to “Helper.”

In addition, I’ve extended the UML notation by adding instantiation to the model. Instantiation is shown by dotted lines with open arrowheads pointing to each of the four person symbols labeled with each person’s actual name.

As demonstrated in this blog post, the notion of One God who exists in three persons is not as simple and straightforward a concept as many would have you believe. There is a reason the word “Trinity” doesn’t appear in the Bible.


  1. Rumbaugh, James, M. Blaha, W. Premerlani, F. Eddy, W. Lorensen, Object-Oriented Modeling and Design, (Englewood Cliffs, Prentice Hall, 1991), 16-17. 

  2. Ibid., 58. 

  3. Ibid. 

  4. Ibid., 59. 

  5. Ibid. 

The New Communism—Without Religion or God

Bob Avakian in all his talks and writings continues to promote the new communism as the emancipator of humanity. Without religion or God, Avakian attempts to persuade the masses to put their faith in the scientific method and dialectical materialism for their salvation, not in the hereafter but in the here and now.

In his book entitled, Away with All Gods! Avakian argues that God, as revealed in the Bible, doesn’t exist because how can a loving, all powerful god allow tragedies and suffering to afflict mankind? Avakian also states that if such a god existed, “it would be a cruel, vicious, sick, twisted, and truly monstrous god”1 [emphasis added] that no “sane and decent”2 person would want to follow or worship. This is the age-old argument that every atheist and agnostic has used to attack God and the People of the Book.

On the other hand, Christians of all denominations have struggled with the problem of how to reconcile the fact that God seems to allow human suffering while at the same time professing to love His creation. Apologetics, as a branch of theology, has attempted to reconcile these two apparent mutually exclusive aspects of God’s character. However, what most pundits fail to factor into the equation is the holiness of God. It’s not surprising since we, as the Church, have largely fallen away from realizing God’s holiness because we are too caught up by the world system; we are more of the world than we are in the world.

Even so, Avakian is clever enough to use an obscure incident from the Old Testament book of 2 Samuel 24 to convince his readers of how monstrous God really is.3 Avakian was obviously aware that most people, including Christians, wouldn’t be familiar with the particular verses in 2 Samuel which would make it easier for him to catch his readers off guard. The incident that Avakian is pointing out is where David was incited to conduct a census because of God’s anger against Israel in order to force God’s hand. The back reference for 2 Samuel 24 is in Exodus.

The LORD also spoke to Moses, saying,

When you take a census of the sons of Israel to number them, then each one of them shall give a ransom for himself to the LORD, when you number them, so that there will be no plague among them when you number them. (Exod. 30:11-12, NASB)

Everyone who is numbered, from twenty years old and over, shall give the contribution to the LORD.

The rich shall not pay more and the poor shall not pay less than the half shekel, when you give the contribution to the LORD to make atonement for yourselves. (Exod. 30:14-15)

David was fully aware that if he conducted the census without collecting the required ransom or contribution from the people as God commanded in Exodus, God would be forced to send a plague as a judgement upon Israel.

In 1966, John Lennon made the following remark concerning the Beatles, “We’re more popular than Jesus…” Lennon wasn’t being idealistic when he made that remark, he was basing it more on dialectical materialism. However, in today’s political climate, Hitler has replaced Jesus in popularity. In this respect, Avakian was ahead of the curve because in his book published in 2008, he wasted no time accusing Christian fundamentalists as being Christian fascists and associating them with Hitler.4

It’s interesting that whenever a left-wing extremist accuses someone or something as being fascist, they always bring up Hitler, not Mussolini—the father of fascism. I wonder why that is? Could it be that it would be embarrassing if people knew that Charles Lindbergh and Joseph Kennedy, among others were fascist sympathizers,5 and that Columbia University’s Casa Italiana was once controlled by Mussolini supporters?6 Fascism is statism, and communism is emancipation. Fascist economic systems are corporatist, but in communist society, there are no classes in that the proletariat owns everything which really means no one owns anything.

Avakian makes a valid point when he accuses hypocritical fundamentalist Christian fascists of insisting that people obey the Ten Commandments while otherwise ignoring other aspects of the Mosaic Law. Avakian labels this tendency as “Salad Bar”7 Christianity. Rightly so, since not only are the Ten Commandments still in effect, but the entire Law as given in the Old Testament of the Bible is still in effect—forever.

The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law. (Deut. 29:29) [emphasis added]

Jesus Himself affirms the Law, as given in the Old Testament, is still in effect.

Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.

For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. (Matt. 5:17-18)

As a “Salad Bar” Christian myself, I usually pass on the salad and go straight for the strong meat. (Heb. 5:12 GenevaBible)

Avakian deviates from his tactic of misinterpreting obscure Scripture verses such as 2 Samuel to attack God and Christianity directly using Darwin’s theory of evolution and the scientific method. Avakian repeats all the typical progressive talking points used to defend evolution such as, “evolution has for some time been a settled question.”8 Evolution is a settled question like the Big Bang theory is a settled question. Like it or not, organic evolution like the Big Bang theory are examples of historical science, not operational science.9

In his book, Away with All Gods! Avakian bases a significant portion of his objections to the Bible by presenting the viewpoints of Bart D. Ehrman, Chairman of the Religious Studies Department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.10 Avakian is quick to point out Ehrman’s authoritative credentials since Ehrman is himself a former evangelical fundamentalist.11

Ehrman zeroes in on many accusations and criticisms of the Bible but I’ve decided not to address each of those criticisms and accusations individually, but instead, I’ve provided excerpts from Tom V. Taylor’s class handouts from a Bible history course I took at Biblical Theological Seminary in 1991. The following excerpts provide answers, either directly or in some cases indirectly, for many of the questions people have concerning our English Bible.

None of the original manuscripts survive and if they did men would worship them instead of the Lord. We feel the Lord has been pleased to give us very good copies…it is a technical study, but very good copies.

The work of translation is hard work because no two languages have identical vocabularies…and few even have identical alphabets…In addition many languages did not have some of the word ideas that are in the Bible (like redemption) and translators had to assess what speech idiom in a language would make this meaningful to the people of that place.

(Note: we do not change the Bible we change the translation of it…the rendering of it…to meet new concepts and societies.)

That is the beauty of the Bible. God gave us a book of truth that retains its character and meaning for life in spite of the many translations…these helping to make the biblical message relevant and meaningful from age to age.

The Word of God is the inscripturated message, not the individual translation. We may apply the term to any translation in a general sense because it contains the inscripturated message but if someone says well…’Did God actually write these words?’ the answer is ‘No, these are the words into which the God breathed message has been put by men for the people of their language and culture.’ They should be careful, of course, but they were not working under inspiration (technical inspiration of 2 Timothy 3:16) and are simply doing the best they can to serve God and His people.

It is also true that some heretics have translated the Bible and changed its basic thrust at some points to support their teachings. Naturally we are not going to endorse any such works but it is surprising that even in some of these books the inscripturated message of salvation and grace can still be seen.

The bottom line is that only the original manuscripts were “inspired” or God breathed. But what about “inerrancy,” i.e., nothing contrary to fact and “infallibility,” i.e., incapable of teaching error. If there are any errors in a Bible translation, they are due to “translation or an insufficient current body of knowledge,”12 as Taylor’s class handouts have implied. And according to the Ligonier Ministries’ website, “We can have inerrancy without infallibility, but we cannot have infallibility without inerrancy.”13

Practically speaking, whether or not our current Bible translations are infallible or incapable of teaching error, is dependent on whether or not the translators were working from an agenda. That is, if the translators were faithful to the best available manuscripts then the results of their efforts would be infallible but still not technically inerrant, again, as Taylor seems to imply from his class handouts. Nevertheless, “through the process of textual criticism, we can recover the original wording of the manuscripts with a high degree of certainty.”14

Slavery was abolished in the United States on December 18, 1865, but if you listen to Avakian you would think that slavery is still being practiced in America and that God, the Bible, and Christianity are responsible. Contrary to the nonsense that Avakian is peddling, nowhere in the Bible is slavery encouraged or promoted. The Bible references slavery because the practice was widespread during the times in which the books of the Bible were written. As a matter of fact, the Bible gives strict guidance on how masters were to treat their slaves and how slaves where to behave towards their masters. Slaves were not without rights in the Scripture as revealed in the following verses: Exod. 21:2, 21:20, 21:27, 23:12; Deut. 23:15-16; and Prov. 30:10.

In Matt. 8:9, Jesus heals the centurion’s servant or slave.

And then there’s the story of the runaway slave Onesimus who was ministering to Paul in prison and whom Paul sent back to his master with a letter. In the letter, Paul writes:

For perhaps he was for this reason separated from you for a while, that you would have him back forever,

no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a beloved brother, especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.

If then you regard me a partner, accept him as you would me. (Philem. 1:15-17 NASB)

Jesus makes frequent use of the master/slave relationship in many of His parables as an analogy for the type of relationship He desires between Himself and His followers. (Matt. 24-25)

Since Avakian has irrefutably discredited God, the Bible, and Christianity, there is no reason to debate unchangeable human nature since it doesn’t exist according to Avakian.15 He further asserts that all the conflicts, tragedies, and injustices that have occurred in human history are all a result of the “system.”16 If you remove the spiritual dimension from human beings, then humans are no more than cogs in the machine. Okay, so were John Mauchly and Presper Eckert, the actual inventors of the world’s first digital electronic computer, cogs in the machine? Or how about William Shockley, John Bardeen, and Walter Houser Brattain, the inventors of the transistor, were they just cogs in a machine? I could go on but you see my point. The capitalist system, which communists hate so much, is responsible for bringing about all the major innovations that the world now takes for granted. Would these innovations been possible under a system that promotes a “do as you’re told” work ethic?

Avakian, along with all other good communists, would like you to believe that God, the Bible, and Christians are all against science. Well, I doubt that Avakian is familiar with Donald E. Knuth, computer scientist, mathematician, and professor emeritus at Stanford University who is most famous for his The Art of Computer Programming multi-volume book series. In addition to his computer science and mathematics writings, Knuth is also a student and teacher of the Scriptures. He has written a book, 3:16 Bible Texts Illuminated that is the result of his unique Bible study approach which he describes as “stratified sampling.”17 By using this mathematical principle, Knuth believed that “A large body of information can be comprehended reasonably well by studying more or less random portions of the data.”18

As a result, Knuth ‘randomly’ decided on Chapter 3, verse 16 from each book of the Bible given that John 3:16 is so well known and because he felt it would be easier for his class to remember.19 After allowing for books that don’t have 16 verses in Chapter 3 and for books that don’t even have a Chapter 3, Knuth arrived at 59 instances of the 3:16 rule.20 In addition, Knuth decided to provide his own translation for each of the selected verses even though he isn’t a Greek or Hebrew scholar.21 Considering the translations, commentary, and calligraphy, I think the results were impressive, particularly John 3:16 as follows (minus the calligraphic flourish):

Yes, God loved the world so much that He gave His only child, so that all people with faith in Him can escape destruction and live forever.22

 


  1. Bob Avakian, Away with All Gods!, (Insight Press, Chicago, 2008), 6. 

  2. Ibid., 6. 

  3. Ibid., 4-5. 

  4. Ibid., 16. 

  5. Gerard Sczepura, “American Fascism,” Theological Ruminations (blog), August 21, 2017,  https://gerardsczepura.com/myblog/american-fascism/

  6. Ibid. 

  7. Avakian, Away With all Gods!, 32. 

  8. Ibid., 44. 

  9. “’Evolution Is a Fact.’ Argument 1,” Answers In Genesis, October 17, 2017, https://answersingenesis.org/theory-of-evolution/evolution-is-a-fact/

  10. Avakian, Away With all Gods!, 61. 

  11. Ibid. 

  12. “Inerrancy vs Infallibility: A Theological Primer,” We Talk of Holy Things, accessed April 02, 2020, http://www.wetalkofholythings.com/2013/03/inerrancy-vs-infallibility-theological.html

  13. “Infallibility and Inerrancy,” Ligonier Ministries, accessed April 02, 2020, https://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/infallibility-and-inerrancy/

  14. Ibid. 

  15. Avakian, Away With all Gods!, 226. 

  16. Ibid. 

  17. Donald E. Knuth, 3:16 Bible Texts Illuminated, (Madison, Wisconsin, A-R Editions, Inc., 1991), 3. 

  18. Ibid. 

  19. Ibid., 5. 

  20. Ibid., 7. 

  21. Ibid., 8. 

  22. Ibid., 171. 

Marilyn Manson: Satan’s Disciple?

Satanic and occult influences can be found everywhere especially in contemporary music. Don’t believe it, then just try playing your favorite records backwards and you’ll hear all the occultic and satanic messages. Oh, I forgot…nobody buys records anymore, they just download MP3s.

I’ve been listening to music a long time from various sources including radio, 45 and 33 1/3 RPM vinyl records, cassette tape, reel-to-reel tape, and CDs. I never considered playing the songs backwards; I never even thought to try. That was back in the 1970s, now if you want to learn how to play your media backwards, all you need to do is watch a video on YouTube.

Of course, not even Mr. Ed was exempted from the 1980s Satanic Panic hysteria since the notion of a talking horse must be satanic after all. Since Satan is cunning and deceptive, his followers needed to find a clever covert way to get his messages across to the masses and that was through backward masking. A clear example is in the theme song to the Mr. Ed TV show played backwards includes the phrase, “the source is Satan.”1 Shocking! I watched the Mr. Ed show when I was a kid and I don’t remember the theme song ever being played backwards and I don’t remember hearing any satanic messages either.

I guess those folks who are determined to find Satan will find him wherever and whenever they choose.

Many of those folks were pastors and evangelists along with a few politicians, namely Tipper Gore, who along with other Senators’ wives, created the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC).2 I never realized there were so many pastors and evangelists who liked to play their heavy metal records backwards. On the other hand, most politicians naturally hear everything backwards anyway.

As a result of the PMRC getting its way with forcing the record industry to affix parental warning labels on album covers containing objectionable material, the sales of heavy metal records surged.3 If you want people to touch your freshly painted doorways or handrails, all you need to do is display “Wet Paint!” signs. It’s in our nature to want to do the things we are told not to do. Remember the biblical story of Adam and Eve? (I know there’s a heavy theological implication in that last question.)

So, heavy metal music that instigated the Satanic Panic which gripped the nation during the 1980s and threatened to destroy Western civilization is still alive and well today primarily due to the fact that most current heavy metal artists and those from the 1980s have become mainstream. And then there’s Marilyn Manson…

Brian Hugh Warner was born on January 5, 1969 in Canton, Ohio into a seemingly normal family and according to photos provided in his book, The Long Hard Road Out of Hell, he was someone who appeared to be your typical all-American, midwestern, innocent looking, clean-cut high-school student— the kind of guy who would have the prettiest girls lining up to sign his yearbook.

Brian’s parents insisted he attend Heritage Christian School instead of public school through his first year of high-school. Brian’s family was Episcopalian, not exactly a fundamentalist, evangelical faith. So, why did they insist on sending him there? Could it be that they were fully aware of the grandfather’s depraved behavior4 and wanted to prevent their son from following in his grandfather’s footsteps?

Based on Brian’s recollections, I’d say the Friday assemblies at Heritage Christian School resembled the alter call at Billy Graham crusades. The young Brian Warner knew he should have gone forward but the embarrassment was too much for him.5 Brian writes that he realized he was “morally, spiritually and religiously behind everyone else.”6 Again, this where most unbelievers get it wrong. You can’t compare yourself to other people because you will either feel unworthy or worse, superior to others as the Pharisee in Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and publican. (Luke 18:9-14 NASB).

So, did Brian’s first year of attendance at a Christian high-school contribute to his low self-esteem, feelings of isolation, frequent nightmares, and sexual frustrations as he strongly infers in his book?7 Probably so. But, contrary to what some may believe, Christianity doesn’t just rub off on you because you attend Christian school, have Christian friends, listen to Christian radio, or attend church. If Christianity actually spread that way, everyone in the United States would be a Christian.

Nevertheless, Brian found no “safe spaces” during his time at Heritage Christian School. For Brian, everything he was allegedly taught about Christianity concerned the antichrist, the beast rising from the ground, 666, and the rapture.8 These apocalyptic teachings can be terrifying to mature believers let alone to a troubled teenager who apparently didn’t have parents who could explain the doctrines he was being taught at school.

As it turned out, his Heritage Christian School teachers’ obsession with the imminent return of Christ and the end of the world had the opposite effect on Brian. Instead of driving him toward Christianity, it drove him away…permanently.9 Cry wolf too many times and after a while people won’t take you seriously.

In the end, Brian convinced his parents to transfer him to public school in his sophomore year, but the damage was already done.

During one of Marilyn Manson’s meetings with Anton Szandor LaVey, LaVey made Marilyn a minister in the Church of Satan.10 So, M. Manson became a card-carrying11 member of LaVey’s satanic church. This was quite an honor for Brian (LaVey never called him Marilyn),12 but was it deserved?

I’ve never even heard a Marilyn Manson (MM) song until I landed on a music video of him covering the Doors song “The End” while researching material for this writing. While I never particularly cared for the Doors song at first, I thought it was too long and boring, nevertheless I started to get into it again after I heard it in the movie Apocalypse Now. Quite to the contrary, MM’s cover is anything but boring; it is loud and aggressive while still retaining the dark feeling and imagery of the Doors original. This is not what I was expecting from MM.

Marilyn Manson’s music videos are not your usual MTV garden variety. I would describe MM’s videos as an amalgamation of images resembling those seen in movies like Saw, Insidious, and A Nightmare on Elm Street. Depraved and disturbing are also adjectives I’d use to describe MM’s videos but does that qualify them as satanic? Sometimes, the most satanic lyrics in music recordings and TV/movie dialog and situations are the ones that portray good as evil and evil as good.13

No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.

Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds. (2 Cor. 11:14-15)

Anton Szandor LaVey never believed in a literal Satan, so by extension he also didn’t believe in God. How is it possible for a person to so vehemently hate someone or something they don’t believe exists as LaVey had hated God and Christianity? This is a contradiction. As MM has said, “it’s a lot easier to hate someone you’ve cared about than someone you never have.”14

I like to tell people who are afraid to watch horror movies that you can’t be afraid of something you don’t believe is real. But maybe, just maybe…deep down inside they entertain the possibility that it could be real. And so, I believe it is with LaVey and Manson, particularly Manson.

Marilyn Manson’s song catalog is extensive which precluded me from being able to analyze most of the lyrics but one song in particular stood out to me and that was “Terrible Lie.” I’ve reproduced snippets of the song lyrics here from the AllTheLyrics.com website. (Since MM is male, I’ve decided to use masculine pronouns.)

Hey God, I really don’t know what you mean.
Seems like salvation comes only in our dreams.
I feel my hatred grow all the more extreme.
Hey God, can this world really be as sad as it seems?

In the preceding verse, the author claims ignorance of God’s plan of salvation and is angry that he can’t make it real for himself. The author again levels an accusation against God for allowing all the suffering in the world. I provided a somewhat terse explanation for why God allows suffering in my “GOD & the Gods: LaVeyan Satanism” blog post.

Don’t take it away from me.
I need someone to hold on to.
Don’t take it away from me.
I need you to hold on to.
Don’t take it away from me.
I need someone to hold on to.

This verse closely resembles the plea the biblical David directed to God in Psalm 51.

Hey God, there’s nothing left for me to hide.
I lost my ignorance, my security and pride.
I’m all alone in this f***king world you must despise.
Hey God, I believed your promises. Your promises were lies.

Again, this verse illustrates the reaction of someone trying to approach God on their own terms instead of on God’s terms and then blaming God for rejecting their overtures. Again, more accusations. Does God really owe anyone anything?

How many you betray.
You’ve taken everything.

These lines from a verse imply that because God has placed constraints on human behavior, the author’s life was ruined because he didn’t receive the reward he was expecting at the end.

I’m on my hands and knees.
I want so much to believe.

The author wants God to accept him but only if it’s on his (author’s) own terms as was the case with the biblical Esau. (Heb. 12)

As mentioned earlier, Anton bestowed Brian with a great honor by naming him a minister of LaVey’s Church of Satan. But what was the one thing that endeared Brian to Anton so strongly. I believe that one thing could have been the evocative quality of Brian’s music. As I wrote in a previous blog post, LaVey wasn’t a fan of rock music, he was a musician who played “The lyrical, romantic tunes of the ’30s and ’40s,”15 quite unlike any of the music being played by heavy metal groups at the time or now for that matter. According to LaVey, true “occult” music is music that is unique, forgotten, neglected.16 17 Hardly the type of music that could inspire the Satanic Panic of the 1980s.

And…I’m beginning to like Marilyn Manson’s music.

I think the Stones got it right in the song “Sympathy for the Devil” with the lyrics, “Please allow me to introduce myself I’m a man of wealth and taste.” Can these lyrics which describe some of the Devil’s characteristics be applied to either MM or LaVey considering the words, “wealth and taste” imply sophistication? Probably not.

It cracks me up that LaVey, an avowed atheist, was the technical advisor on the movie, The Devil’s Rain, a film about literal Devil worship.

In LaVeyan Satanism, the person of Satan is an archetype or an imitation and if it is an imitation, then what is it an imitation of? The archetype of Satan opposes God who also doesn’t exist so He must also be an archetype. So, in LaVeyan Satanism, we have an archetype in opposition to another archetype. The bottom line is that LaVeyan Satanism is guilty of the same error it accuses Christianity of and that is it is all man-made. Anton LaVey used his Devil shtick18 to attract attention to himself and to shock the Christian community, an angle which MM adopted with great success.

While researching Anton LaVey and his Church of Satan, I found myself in agreement with many of his so-called satanic positions. I consider myself to be fairly individualistic and out of the mainstream. I am also no fan of organized religion. I find myself to be “old-school” on a lot of things. I’m also somewhat of an introvert and I do prefer animals and things to people19 So, does all this make me a Satanist of the LaVeyan variety? Probably not, since I don’t harbor any hatred towards God. Yes, I believe Christians can legitimately question God’s motives and sometimes feel anger and disappointment towards God, but not the vehement hatred that LaVey expressed.

I’m sure many would argue that I’m hypocritical because I haven’t passed judgment on MM as other more “spiritual” Christians might have done given Manson’s membership in LaVey’s pseudo-church. Remember Jesus’ teaching on not trying to remove a splinter in someone else’s eye when you yourself have a log in your own eye. (Matt. 7:2-5) Oh yea…they also say the Bible is humorless.

M. Manson believes the Bible is outdated; a book written for a “culture long since defunct.”20 Is that really true? Can anyone argue that any society at any time in history wouldn’t have benefited from the stability provided by the Ten Commandments. Without them, chaos and lawlessness would prevail.

MM also claims to be the Antichrist.21 I would disagree since the Bible teaches there are many antichrists (1 John 2:18). In addition, the spirit of the antichrist was already in the world when the Apostle John wrote his gospel. (1 John 4:3) Was he (John) describing Marilyn Manson? I think not since MM can’t lay blame on a God whom he doesn’t believe exists and he certainly isn’t trying to deceive anyone either since his song lyrics speak for themselves.

In the Acknowledgements section of his Long Hard Road book, Marilyn Manson includes the dedication, “to the memory of Anton Szander [sic] LaVey”

When I visited the Marilyn Manson website, I watched the “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” music video and really liked it. I did some research and learned that Johnny Cash also recorded the song for his American V album. I like Cash’s rendition also, but Manson’s version is more urgent with the usual sonic overload placed in just the right spots that Manson is noted for. And you don’t even have to play it backwards to hear all the lyrics. I liked the song so much that I ordered the limited-edition vinyl picture disc from a link on Manson’s website.


  1. “SATAN TAKING MR. ED ALONG FOR THE RIDE?” Justin Mitchell, Chicago Tribune, May 8, 1986, https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-1986-05-08-8602020267-story.html

  2. “6.66 Hot Points Of The ’80s Heavy Metal Satanic Panic,” Mike McPadden, VH1 News, February 11, 2015, http://www.vh1.com/news/54726/remembering-the-80s-heavy-metal-satanic-panic/

  3. Ibid. 

  4. Marilyn Manson with Neil Strauss, The Long Hard Road Out of Hell, (Dey Street, New York, 1999), 15-16. 

  5. Ibid., 20. 

  6. Ibid. 

  7. Ibid., 19. 

  8. Ibid., 18-19. 

  9. Ibid., 22. 

  10. Ibid., 170. 

  11. Ibid. 

  12. Ibid., 168. 

  13. Gerard Sczepura, “GOD & the Gods: LaVeyan Satanism,” Theological Ruminations (blog), February 17, 2019, https://gerardsczepura.com/god-the-gods-laveyan-satanism/

  14. Manson, Long Hard Road, 126. 

  15. Barton, Blanche. The Secret Life of a Satanist: The Authorized Biography of Anton Szandor LaVey (p. 130). Feral House. Kindle Edition. 

  16. Ibid. 

  17. Sczepura, “LaVeyan Satanism.” 

  18. Ibid. 

  19. Barton, The Secret Life of a Satanist, 121. 

  20. Manson, Long Hard Road, 176. 

  21. Ibid., 213. 

GOD & the Gods: Catholicism

My previous entry in this series GOD & the Gods was on the topic of LaVeyan Satanism. I concluded that writing with the statement that LaVey had “appropriated the spiritual into an extreme atheistic and carnal belief system”1 because LaVey never believed in a literal Satan. In a way you could say that LaVey’s Church of Satan consisted primarily of philosophies espoused by its founder and not necessarily those of its namesake. In the same way, it can be argued that Catholicism appropriated spiritual concepts into an outward form of Christianity that embraces tradition and ritual over sound biblical teaching.

Not many readers will disagree with my observation concerning ritual, but my statement on tradition (human customs) is sure to ruffle some feathers. However, my intent is not to ruffle feathers, but to encourage the reader to re-examine their belief system.

Let’s set the record straight, I’m not someone who was always on the outside looking in; I was raised a Catholic and received my First Holy Communion at St. Mary of Czestochowa R.C. Church in Bound Brook, NJ. By the way, I’m the expressionless communicant highlighted in the photo in Figure 1. Most all my close relatives on both my father’s and mother’s side were Catholic—what would you expect from Polish-Americans and those of Polish descent? I am also a godparent to my niece.

St. Mary's Communion Class
Figure 1. St. Mary’s Communion Class

St. Mary’s Church uses the “R.C.” designation in its name indicating that it associates with the Roman or Latin rite in Catholicism. The designation also signifies that the church recognizes the authority of the Pope in Rome. In this writing however, the focus is primarily on doctrine not liturgy. Some readers may choose to split hairs over my use of the term Roman Catholic to describe the Catholic Church, but be that as it may. I understand the academic term for the Church and all its rites is simply Church of Rome.

For the practicing catholic who happens upon this blog post, there is no need to be overly concerned because you will not find the usual rantings that can be found on other protestant-oriented sites. My position is to confront not condemn by adhering to the charge given by Timothy in the following scripture:

…preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. (2 Tim. 4:2 NASB)

Nevertheless, why include an installment on Catholicism in a series GOD & the Gods which implies there are other gods other than the one God? Doesn’t the Catholic Church believe in the one true God just as other Christian churches believe? Well…that’s the whole point of this installment. The premise being put forth here is that the worship of other gods in the Catholic Church is shrouded in doctrine and tradition.

Unfortunately, Catholic doctrine is not derived from Scripture Alone (Sola Scriptura) but from Tradition, Scripture, and the Magisterium of the Church. The Catechism teaches that these sources of Revelation are co-dependent, meaning all three sources have equal authority.2 The Catechism goes on to teach that Sacred Scripture is inspired by God and is God’s Word3 which is all well and good. That being true then why has Catholic doctrine undermined God’s authority by elevating human tradition and church bureaucracy (office-holders) to the level of Deity. If God is God, wouldn’t His inspired Word as given in the Bible be sufficient, complete, and final?

The Catholic Church distinguishes between Holy Tradition with a capital “T” and human tradition. Tradition (capital “T”) is what the Catholic Church believes has been passed down from the apostles. If I remember correctly, there is an entire book in the Bible called Acts which records the Acts of the Apostles. The Tradition that Catholics hold in such high regard is redundant at best and irreverent at worst since God has already provided us with all the information we need in His written Word.

Before continuing on and in order to avoid confusion, a definition of the word “worship” needs to be established. Wikipedia defines worship as an “act of religious devotion usually directed towards a deity.” [emphasis added] Also, it’s important to remember the following synonyms: reverence, veneration, adoration, praise, devotion, and glorification.

So then, in the context of this discussion, who are the “other gods?” Certainly not the mythological gods: Zeus, Odin, Apollo, Thor, etc., as they would be too obvious. But what happens when a church officially sanctions the use of iconography in its liturgy, that is, its worship, even though the images are representations of biblical characters or even God himself? The answer is the religious icons used in worship have become idols in violation of God’s specific command:

You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.
You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God… (Exod. 20:4-5)

These two verses are taken directly from the Ten Commandments. What other interpretation of these two verses can be argued except that which is obvious. This is why Bible-based, evangelical protestant churches never display or possess statuary and images in their sanctuaries, only empty crosses.

Evangelical Christians have many issues with Catholic doctrine, but this writing is primarily focused on Marian Veneration with only a passing mention of Apostolic Succession and Sacramentalism.

Consider the words of the Hail Mary (Traditional) Catholic prayer:

Hail Mary, full of grace.
The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.
Amen.

The first four lines of the prayer are scriptural but the remaining lines of the prayer go off the rails. In Luke 1:35, Mary calls herself a bondslave and she goes on to declare what God has done for her and that “holy is His name.” Mary puts the focus rightly on God, yet somehow the Church of Rome elevated her with the title, Mother of God. Fact is, Mary is the mother of Jesus. Since Jesus is God, therefore Mary is the Mother of God. Does this line of reasoning make sense? Obviously, it does to the Church of Rome.4

As an adolescent, Jesus willingly submitted Himself to his parents until He entered His ministry.

Then His mother and His brothers *arrived, and standing outside they sent word to Him and called Him.
A crowd was sitting around Him, and they *said to Him, “Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are outside looking for You.”
Answering them, He *said, “Who are My mother and My brothers?”
Looking about at those who were sitting around Him, He *said, “Behold My mother and My brothers!
“For whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3:31-35)

The event described in these verses demonstrate that Jesus afforded no special privileges to His mother or to any of His brothers. If Mary didn’t get any special consideration while on earth, what evidence is there that she has special privileges in Heaven? Not even the angels in Heaven are worthy of our worship as John records in Revelation:

Then I [John] fell at his feet to worship him. But he *said to me, “Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God…” (Rev. 19:10)

Jesus had to be conceived without the intervention of any earthly father so that Adam’s sin wouldn’t be imputed to Him, therefore He was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Can the same be said of Mary? In order for Mary to have been conceived without original sin, as the Catechism teaches, she would have to have been conceived by the Holy Spirit just as Jesus had been. In order for Mary to be born without original sin, the same would also be true for Mary’s mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and so on, all the way back to Eve. Were all these women without original sin and were all these women eternal virgins? I think not since if it were true, then all women in Mary’s lineage would be placed on at least an equal plane as Jesus, guiltless and perfect.5 This doctrine is not derived from Scripture but from the Magisterium, that being the Pope and the bishops. The Catechism also teaches in no uncertain terms that Mary lived her entire life without sin,6 just as Jesus had done.

I remember during one of our vacations at Cape May, NJ while strolling through the Washington Street Mall, I noticed something interesting over the entrance to Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church which I had never noticed before during any of our previous visits to the area. What I noticed over the entrance to the church was an image of Mary surrounded by the Latin words, “Ad Jesum per Mariam” which is translated, “To Jesus through Mary.” So ingrained in Catholic theology is the worship of Mary!

Let us also not forget that the Church of Rome teaches that Mary precedes Jesus in the order of salvation. What else would the saying, “Ad Jesum per Mariam” infer? I wonder how many practicing Catholics realize that their Church teaches this error.

In addition, Catholic doctrine places Mary as the Mother of the Church7 and since she was without sin, she holds the office of advocate for sinners seeking forgiveness from Jesus as there is no salvation (forgiveness) outside of the Church.8 According to Catholic doctrine, one must receive the sacraments administered by the Church in order to be saved. Since the sacraments can only be administered by the Church, which is Christ’s instrument on earth, there can be no salvation outside of the Church.

Philip C. L. Gray, from a reprint of his Lay Witness article, puts an interesting spin on this no salvation outside of the Church doctrine claiming that this teaching doesn’t necessarily apply to those who through no fault of their own, were never offered the truth, that being the Gospel.9 For the most part, Gray quotes the appropriate Scripture verses to make his point along with examples of Old Testament saints who were not baptized yet were saved. He explains this situation with a quote from the Catechism, “God has bound salvation to the Sacrament of Baptism, but He Himself is not bound by His sacraments.”10 In other words, God has given, to the Church, unnecessary and non-binding commands. Of course, it is no surprise that the Church teaches that those who willingly reject the authority of the Church of Rome, the Pope, and the sacraments are lost.11

Getting back to my discussion on Mary, if, as the Church believes, Scripture, Tradition, and Magisterium are co-dependent and co-equal, you would expect that one wouldn’t contradict any of the others but that is not the case. How is it that both Tradition and Magisterium are in contradiction with Scripture concerning “Ad Jesum per Mariam” as illustrated by the following verse:

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; (1 John 2:1)

Let’s see how this would work; Mary advocates for sinners with Jesus, then Jesus advocates for Mary with the Father? Since Mary is the Mother of God and the Father is God, and Jesus is God, then Mary is really the one dispensing salvation to the Church. This may make sense in Rome but nowhere else. Interestingly, if Mary is as indispensable for the economy of salvation as the Church of Rome contends, then why is her name only mentioned once in the Book of Acts?

Coincidentally, or perhaps by design, the Church of Rome consists of an earthly trinity: Scripture, Tradition, and Magisterium. However, the notion of a trinity is not unique to Christianity. You can find many instances of trinitarianism in the belief system of Hinduism and the Celtics in particular. Alexander Hislop, in his book The Two Babylons, points out that the worship of the first person of the Hindu Trinity, Brahma, is almost never worshiped, even in India.12 He goes on to say that even in Europe, the worship of a Father God, first person of the Christian Trinity, has been replaced with the worship of the Mother and Child.13 Hislop’s contention is that the Catholic images of the Virgin Mary holding her child originated in ancient Babylon, “The Babylonians, in their popular religion, supremely worshipped a Goddess Mother and a Son, who was represented in pictures and in images as an infant or child in his mother’s arms.”14

Just as Hislop’s premise that the Mother and Son originated in Babylon, he also claims that the statues of Peter, who is claimed to be the first Pope, which are found in Rome are really statues of the Roman god Jupiter; and likewise, Peter’s keys15 are those of the Roman god and goddess Janus and Cybele.16

Hislop’s book, The Two Babylons, is probably one of or the most thoroughly researched book on the subject of the origins of the Catholic belief system. I challenge anyone to dispute Hislop’s academic rigor, though many will certainly dispute his findings, but not on the merits of his arguments.

This concludes my discussion on Catholicism as it relates to the GOD & the Gods series. I plan another writing on the Church of Rome by evaluating some books written by Catholic apologists which will hopefully provide the opportunity for me to expand on the Apostolic Succession doctrine and the Magisterium. In addition, I plan to examine the history and beliefs of the Polish National Catholic Church (PNCC) headquartered in Scranton, PA. I doubt many people have ever heard of this church but nevertheless I believe it deserves consideration.


  1. Gerard Sczepura, “GOD & the Gods: LaVeyan Satanism,” Theological Ruminations (blog), February 17, 2019, https://gerardsczepura.com/god-the-gods-laveyan-satanism/

  2. U. S. Catholic Church, Catechism of the Catholic Church, Complete and Updated, (Image, New York, 1995), 34. 

  3. Ibid., 36. 

  4. Ibid., 139. 

  5. Ibid., 138. 

  6. Ibid., 140. 

  7. Ibid., 273. 

  8. Ibid., 244. 

  9. “Without the Church There Is No Salvation,” Philip C. L. Gray, Catholic Education Resource Center, accessed April 1, 2019, https://www.catholiceducation.org/en/religion-and-philosophy/apologetics/without-the-church-there-is-no-salvation.html

  10. Ibid. 

  11. Ibid. 

  12. Hislop, Alexander. The Two Babylons or The Papal Worship Proved to be the Worship of Nimrod and his Wife (p. 18). Kindle Edition. 

  13. Ibid. 

  14. Ibid. 

  15. U. S. Catholic Church, Catechism, 178-179. 

  16. Hislop, The Two Babylons, 188. 

GOD & the Gods: LaVeyan Satanism


The decade of the ‘60s was a turbulent and transitional time particularly in the U.S. It was the decade when the culture in America was irreversibly changed, and I would argue…for the worse.

During this period, the attacks on America were unprecedented for the time: Cuban Missile Crisis, Assassinations, Tet Offensive, Race Riots, and Hippies along with the Haight-Ashbury Counterculture Movement. How is it that we survived all these assaults…or did we? Looking back from today’s perspective you could say that we are reaping what was sown back in the 1960s—what goes around, comes around.

Of course, there was some turbulence in the film industry as well since movies are an integral component of the culture. Notably, the untimely deaths of two of Hollywood’s most notorious sex symbols, Marilyn Monroe by overdose on August 5, 1962 and Jayne Mansfield by car accident on June 29, 1967.

While it may have been the worst of times in many respects, it was the best of times for music. The British Music Invasion gave us the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Animals and many others. It was also the decade when three of the best double albums ever recorded (or ever will be recorded) were released, Cream’s Wheels of Fire, Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland, and the Beatles’ White Album.

Alas, the decade did not go out quietly. On July 20, 1969, the United States landed a man on the Moon; on August 8–9, 1969 members of the Manson Family committed the Tate-LaBianca murders; and finally, on August 15–18, 1969, the Woodstock Music Festival was held on a farm in the New York Catskills which attracted an audience of over 400,000 to hear 32 outdoor acts perform.

Through all the turmoil of the 1960s, there was one event that occurred around mid-point of the decade that instigated a media frenzy but is mostly forgotten today, and that event was when Anton Szandor LaVey founded the Church of Satan on April 30, 1966 in San Francisco, CA. “Anton declared 1966 Year One, Anno Satanas—the first year of the reign of Satan.”1

For those who weren’t caught up in all of the Church of Satan’s outlandish occult symbolism, it was clear to them from the start that LaVey denied the existence of a literal Satan. It’s Interesting that the Church of Satan repudiates their own organization’s namesake. I wonder how Satan really feels about that. Oh, I forgot…he doesn’t exist, he’s just an archetype.2

LaVeyan Satanism is not your daddy’s Satanism notwithstanding all the occultic symbolism that is so stubbornly associated with the Church of Satan and its adherents, primarily a result of LaVey’s cartoonish devil shtick.

Legitimate Satanists, as LaVeyan Satanists like to be called, are atheists, that is, not believing in either God or the Devil. The Church of Satan is a purely secular religion that rejects the supernatural. On the other hand, for a religion that eschews the supernatural, LaVey and other Church of Satan members made liberal use of religious terms such as “unholy,” “infernal,” “devilish,” and “sinister” in their literature. LaVey complained that people accused his religion as Devil worship yet he used every trick in the book to appear as a literal Satan worshiper, at least on the surface.

People identify with labels, so what label can we put on this Legitimate Satanist doctrine? I believe the appropriate label is “cultural liberalism,” that is, the view that individuals are freed from cultural norms. In other words, “You can go your own way.”3 LaVey’s genius was in the way he codified the “Do your own thing” philosophy into a pseudo-religion.

LaVeyan Satanists take cultural liberalism even further by not only rejecting cultural norms, but by creating their own reality by rejecting concepts of good and evil which are derived from any particular moral code and by redefining concepts of right and wrong.4 And according to Nikolas Schreck, black magician and founder of the Werewolf Order of Satanism, who, along with Zeena, in their interview with Bob Larson, declared that “Humanism is not Satanism” and that Humanism and Christianity are the same thing—he calls both “evil.”5 It’s interesting that Schreck was quick to deny the existence of good and evil, but had no trouble calling Christianity evil, all in the same interview!

During the Bob Larson interview, the subject of revenge was discussed. Zeena gave a classic explanation of why Satanists don’t believe in turning the other cheek, she said it’s because “You keep turning the other cheek, you run out of cheeks.”6 I’m always amazed when unbelievers take a literal interpretation of Scripture instead of their usual figurative approach. If you read Luke 6:29 and the following verses in context, you can easily interpret the command to offer the other cheek as not being literal but figurative. I believe the verse in question is how Christians should respond when they are being taken advantage of by someone, which is not the same as self-defense. The verses clearly speak against the wronged person trying “to get even.” To illustrate, it was self-defense when the allies fought against the Germans in World War I, but the terms of the 11/11/1918 Armistice imposed upon Germany was revenge.

Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord. (Rom. 12:19 NASB)

I must have watched the nineteen eighty-nine Bob Larson interview with Zeena LaVey and Nikolas Schreck at least a half dozen times and I was a little disappointed that Larson was so slow to catch on to essence of LaVeyan Satanism. Both Zeena and Nikolas easily dodged every bullet that Larson fired at them. Larson was defending his position based on biblical absolutes whereas, Zeena and Nikolas defended the Church of Satan’s viewpoints based on relativism.

For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Cor. 1:18)

One of the last zingers that Nikolas Schreck fired at Bob Larson was his pronouncement that “Everything in the Bible drips with morbidity and death.”7 This is a common criticism that has influenced popular culture. For example, consider the sharp contrast between believers and non-believers, and between sinners and saints in the Billy Joel song “Only the Good Die Young” where Billy Joel proclaims in a line from the song, “The sinners are much more fun…”8 Undeniably, the lyrics of Joel’s song, whether intentional or unintentional, pay homage to LaVey’s brand of Satanism.

So, if you remove the supernatural element from Satanism, as LaVey had done, can LaVeyan Satanists continue to legitimately call themselves Satanists? Well, the answer is yes and no, depending on whether or not you believe it is legitimate to call upon someone’s name whose very existence you deny, that would be delusional, but that is exactly what LaVey and his followers have done.

On the other hand, you could say that Anton LaVey was the ultimate Satanist since he vehemently hated God as he so clearly and fearlessly stated in his book, Satan Speaks! I won’t repeat the worst of what he said in his book here, but he accuses God of being unjust and a rewarder of those who are “rotten.”9

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! (Isa. 5:20)

It’s well known that Anton LaVey was critical of Christians and Christianity since he believed Christians were for the most part hypocrites; a belief he held since the time he observed his friend’s Sunday School teacher frolicking at Sally Rand’s Nude Ranch one night, an incident which he referred to as his “Satanic epiphany.”10 LaVey reasoned that since the followers of Christ can be hypocritical then God is necessarily hypocritical as well. Doesn’t this sound exactly like the classic case of man projecting his own attributes on God?

Satan opposes God, Anton LaVey did the same. Satan accuses God’s people, Anton LaVey did the same. Satan hates God, Anton LaVey hated God also. So, was Anton LaVey accurate in calling himself a Satanist? Based on LaVey’s virulent opposition to God and Christianity, most reasonable people would have to say, “Yes!”

Anton LaVey, the man, in private life was not the monstrously evil denizen of San Francisco’s Black House as most people would think. In fact, according to descriptions of LaVey as presented in Barton’s biography, LaVey was what we would describe as merely being different or individualistic or as LaVey has said, “supernormal.”11 Contrary to his outrageous public image, LaVey was an introvert—a private person who preferred material things and animals over people,12 which kind of reminds me of the imagery found in the lyrics of the Pearl Jam song, “Jeremy.”

Anton had a nostalgic bent—an aversion to modernity if you will; he realized the value found in things lost and forgotten. As he said, “It’s our past that makes us unique.”13 He believed that magic was doing something in isolation or out of the mainstream—something unique. The power of exclusivity is where the power of magic resides.14 Obviously, Anton’s view on exclusivity was the basis for his belief that Satanism is a religion for the elites instead of for the masses.

While LaVey wouldn’t be considered in alignment with the today’s radical, leftist political views, he did believe in eugenics and natural selection15 or “thinning the herd.” Also, along those same lines, he opposed society’s rewarding of mediocrity, that is, society and its institutions appealing to the “lowest common denominator” instead of the highest.16

Anton LaVey was an enigma. He liked cars, guns,17 and rare red meat.18 He wasn’t a fan of rock music.19 Surprisingly, he was a lifelong “strict law-and-order man.”20 Anton was also against what we would call today, the “herd mentality”21 a doctrine totally embraced by Hollywood, academia and the media elites. You could almost ascribe many of his non-religious preferences to those of a traditional conservative rather than someone firmly on the Left-Hand Path (LHP).

Nevertheless, he embraced most of the tenants of the LHP such as individualism, relativism, and subjectivism. But his true claim to the LHP was his fierce opposition to conventional religious doctrines and beliefs. He didn’t achieve the title of High Priest of the Church of Satan for nothing.

Left-handed people have historically been considered inferior and evil since etymologically the words “left” and “sinister” are related.22 The left is evil and wrong whereas the right is moral and correct. I suppose that’s how Left-wing political parties acquired the label.

For the record, I’m left-handed and I experienced ill-treatment and prejudice regularly in elementary school and beyond while growing up in a predominantly Catholic town—old beliefs die hard. I remember when my parents, on one occasion, were told by my teacher(s) that I should be encouraged to switch handedness since it’s a well-known fact that left-handed people are “in league with the Devil” and no one wants to associate with that kind of person. Besides, being different is the worst thing that could happen to you in school—you just don’t fit in. I wonder if Anton was left-handed.

Anton LaVey fell prey to the one common objection to Christianity that atheists use to discredit God and that is, “How can a loving God allow suffering?” The atheists also expand their objection by substituting “suffering” with “evil,” “calamities” or “natural disasters.” In their view, the reason is that God is either incompetent, uncaring or both. What the atheists, and those in the social gospel camp, forget or refuse to acknowledge is that God is also holy. Man[kind] was placed in the Garden of Eden and commanded what and what not to eat. Adam, as the representative of the human race, decided to disobey God’s command so he incurred God’s judgement which is the curse. The curse was upon Adam and Eve, all their descendants, but also upon the natural world. Anton’s accusations against God were misinformed.

Anton believed he was getting a better deal with Satan, who he didn’t believe actually exists. But did his devotion to Satan provide the rewards he was expecting? I think not based on the following events:

  • Anton was only 67 years old when he died
  • Zeena and Diane (his longtime partner) betrayed him
  • He was forced to sell off his prized collections
  • He was forced into bankruptcy
  • His will was contested
  • Zeena and Karla (older daughter) ransacked the Black House
  • The Black House was eventually torn down

The Church of Satan’s administrative office has since moved from San Francisco to Poughkeepsie, NY at POB 666. Peter H. Gilmore is the High Priest. The church has a website resembling the convergence of the opening credits to an old Hollywood movie and the LaVeyan devil shtick.

Lastly, there is a danger in invoking the name or names of spiritual beings, even if it is done in ignorance. Satan exists and it is possible that Anton was truly beset by an evil spirit along with those closest to him. Refer to 1 Sam. 18:10 where God sends an evil spirit to torment Saul. Dabbling in magic and satanic rituals as Anton LaVey had done may have resulted in some unintended consequences:

Was it just coincidence that both Marilyn Monroe and Jane Mansfield, who were involved with LaVey to varying degrees, died tragically?

Or was it a coincidence that Susan Atkins, who once worked as one of the girls at LaVey’s nightspot in San Francisco would later go on to become one of the Manson Family members who committed the Tate-LaBianca murders?

Again, was it just coincidence that Sharon Tate, at the time of her death, was married to film director Roman Polanski who directed and wrote the screenplay for Rosemary’s Baby, a film about the occult, real Satanism, and witchcraft? The movie was filmed on location at the Dakota apartment building in New York City where John Lennon lived and was shot.

Finally, was it merely coincidence that in the Rosemary’s Baby film the character Roman Castevet, the warlock/coven-leader, exclaims, “Nineteen sixty-six, the Year One!” during a New Year’s Eve gathering in his apartment, echoing almost verbatim what LaVey declared when he founded the Church of Satan.

Theologically speaking, Anton LaVey was the ultimate natural man (1 Cor. 2:14) who lived what he preached apparently right up until his death. He was a man who possessed many worldly talents and was ingenious enough to appropriate the spiritual into an extreme atheistic and carnal belief system.


  1. Barton, Blanche, The Secret Life of a Satanist: The Authorized Biography of Anton Szandor LaVey (p. 76), Feral House, Kindle Edition. 

  2. Bob Larson. Satanism, “Interview with the Daughter of Anton LaVey,” Filmed 1989(?), YouTube video, 1:26:02, Accessed December 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=didlhvI-9yY

  3. Fleetwood Mac, “Go Your Own Way,” Rumors, 1977, Accessed December 30, 2018, https://genius.com/albums/Fleetwood-mac/Rumours

  4. Larson, Interview with the Daughter of Anton LaVey

  5. Ibid. 

  6. Ibid. 

  7. Ibid. 

  8. Billy Joel, “Only the Good Die Young,” The Stranger, 1977, Accessed January 13, 2019, https://genius.com/Billy-joel-only-the-good-die-young-lyrics

  9. LaVey, Anton Szandor, Satan Speaks!, (Port Townsend, Feral House, 1998), 1. 

  10. Barton, Secret Life of a Satanist, 23. 

  11. LaVey, Satan Speaks!, 33. 

  12. Barton, Secret Life of a Satanist, 120-122. 

  13. Ibid., 121-123. 

  14. Ibid., 120. 

  15. Ibid., 160. 

  16. Ibid., 231. 

  17. Ibid., 253. 

  18. Ibid., 129. 

  19. Ibid., 133. 

  20. Ibid., 117. 

  21. Ibid., 232. 

  22. “What are ‘Left Hand Path’ Religions?,” Vexen Crabtree, The Human Truth Foundation, November 28, 2016, http://www.dpjs.co.uk/lefthandpath.html

GOD & the Gods: Hinduism

Swami Achuthananda in his book, Many Many Many Gods of Hinduism, writes that in order to understand or appreciate Hinduism, an individual must necessarily also understand Indian culture.

In India, the religion is the culture and the culture is the religion. You cannot learn one without understanding the other.1

In the 1960s, the Beatles brought an awareness of Indian culture to those in the West through their involvement with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and Transcendental Meditation. Naturally, the mode by which the Beatles expressed their exposure to Indian culture was through their music, specifically through George Harrison’s sitar playing, notably on the song, “Norwegian Wood” and others. At the time, George Harrison took a few lessons from the classical sitar master, Ravi Shankar, but would later abandon the instrument. In today’s culture, Harrison probably would have been accused of “cultural appropriation” because of his blending of Indian music with Western pop music and without having taken the “proper” approach to his studies.

As it happens, Indian music was the topic of my high school senior essay. I wanted a topic that was different, and it was. Probably too different since, if I recall correctly, my English teacher dissed it.

Unless one has had the opportunity to actually travel to India, most of us in the U.S. tend to get our exposure to Indian culture, and other far away cultures, through the media, namely movies. Accordingly, I’ve provided a short list of movies that I believe provide a glimpse into Indian culture:

  • The Rains Came, 1939
  • Gunga Din, 1939
  • The Man Who Would be King, 1975
  • Gandhi, 1982
  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, 1984
  • The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, 2011

The Rains Came is a story that takes place in 1938 Ranchipur, India during the time of British rule. As most would expect, in the opening sequence there are monkeys surrounding a group of men playing instruments (a sitar is being played in another scene) near the grounds of an English family’s home. There are also many scenes of cows roaming the streets unencumbered. The Western view is that cows are sacred in India. Also, nearby an English residence is a statue of Queen Victoria symbolizing British rule. Considering the movie was released in 1939, you never saw anyone sweat even though many characters were complaining of the heat. There was only one scene near the end where Myrna Loy’s character was seen sweating. Throughout the film, there is an undercurrent of British arrogance and contempt towards the Indians and an understated sense of Indian resentment towards the British. In today’s culture we would say the British were guilty of “white privilege.” The film also portrays a high-ranking Indian welcoming his guests with the Namaste—the Indian equivalent of a handshake. In another scene, an apparent Hindu is chanting the word OM while the floods were raging in an attempt to appease a deity or deities since tradition held that catastrophes were caused by God.

Gunga Din is a story set in 1880 British controlled India. The film opens in Tantrapur where members of a Thuggee Cult are cutting telegraph lines leading into the village in preparation for their attack. The landscape including and surrounding the town is mountainous, desolate, and generally inhospitable. Members of the Thuggee Cult, a Hindu sect, are seen calling upon their goddess Kali for help when they are captured by a British patrol who arrived at the village. The Thuggee method of killing is by ritualistic strangulation. Towards the end of the film, two British soldiers and Gunga Din are captured in the Thuggee temple while trying to rescue one of their fellow soldiers who was previously taken. The leader of the cult or Guru as he is referred to in the film, encourages his followers to “Kill! Kill! Kill!” for the love of Kali. As everyone is probably familiar with the story, in the end it was the water boy, Gunga Din—a wannabe soldier, who saves the regiment from certain annihilation by the cult.

The Man Who Would be King is a story taking place in and around Marwar Junction, India. In the opening scenes we see a crowded, hectic marketplace. Camels are ubiquitous. Snake charmers and scorpion tempters are performing in the streets, very occultic. The countryside as viewed from the train scenes travelling from Lahore to Jaipur appears hot, dusty, desolate, and foreboding. The film very explicitly attempts to tie in the Masonic Order with the history and culture of India. References to the theoretical origins of Freemasonry with the builders of Solomon’s Temple are made early on in the film. Our two protagonists in the film attempt to dupe the inhabitants of Kafiristan by one of them pretending to be an incarnation of the Great Architect of the Universe. Initially, the Kafiristan inhabitants fall for this deception due to their recognition of the Square and Compass Masonic symbol. However, our protagonists’ deception is short-lived—the story doesn’t end well for them.

Gandhi begins by showing his assassination by Nathuram Vinayak Godse, a Hindu nationalist, in Delhi. Interestingly, the film doesn’t provide an insight into the motives of Godse, it only shows the assassin’s apparent hatred of Gandhi. After Gandhi returns to India from South Africa, he begins his transformation into the non-violent, Indian Independence leader he is remembered as today. Gandhi’s British resistance movement is best described as civil disobedience. Along the way we see squalor in Bombay, overcrowded train cars, and the occasional camel. The film portrays the British in the worst possible way. At one point, the importation of British clothing into India is blamed for the poverty in the country. Sitar music is played throughout the film along with everyone greeting one another with the Namaste gesture. The issue of the adherence to Indian Untouchable caste is seen when Gandhi’s wife refuses to perform duties that are normally assigned to an Untouchable. The film frequently exposes the underlying current of mistrust between different religious groups in India, particularly between Hindus and Muslims. Gandhi’s philosophy isn’t portrayed as specifically Hindu, because at one point he declares that he is a Hindu, Muslim, Christian and Jew—Gandhi is in favor of Hindu-Muslim unity. The film points out that both the ‘Gitas’ and the Koran were used during worship in Gandhi’s temple. Nevertheless, when India is granted independence from Britain, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is established.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom primarily takes place in the fictitious Pankot Palace but most likely takes place in Rajasthan, India in 1935. Everyone knows the story, Indiana Jones arrives at a remote village where the inhabitants claim that the Hindu god Shiva brought him and his companions to their village so that he [Indiana] could retrieve a Shankara stone that was removed from the village by an evil cult residing in nearby Pankot Palace. As it turns out, the evil cult is none other than anti-British Thuggee worshippers of the Hindu goddess Kali who were thought to have been eradicated long ago. Many strange un-Indian practices are portrayed in the film including the eating of snakes, beetles, and monkey brains. In addition, the worship of Kali consisted of some very occultic practices including “voodoo” inferences. In the final scenes, after saving the village from the “evil” Thugee cult, the characters Indiana Jones, Willie Scott, and Short Round greet the village chieftain with an authentic Hindu Namaste.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a story about a group of retired dysfunctional British citizens who decide to spend their retirement in India at the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. The film explores and, for the most part, normalizes the outsourcing of jobs to India. The movie opens with the character Evelyn talking on the phone with a support center obviously located in India. The theme of British racism is portrayed by the character Muriel who is advised by her British doctor of Indian descent that she could have her hip replacement surgery done sooner and cheaper if she decided to have it done at a hospital in Jaipur. After the group leaves the airport in India, they are overwhelmed by the apparent chaos, noise, and crowds of people. Camels and elephants are seen roaming the streets while buses made by Tata weave in and out of traffic. The buses are overcrowded and the heat seemingly intolerable. Muriel eventually befriends a hotel maid who is an Untouchable, a person of the lowest caste in India. The character Graham is gay. He confesses to Evelyn that long ago he disgraced Manoj, his former gay partner, and Manoj’s entire family when their relationship was discovered. When Graham dies, Manoj gives him a proper Hindu funeral by cremation and then spreading his ashes in a nearby lake. At one point in the film, Evelyn experiences the infamous Indian headshake. Also, prominently displayed near the hotel’s reception desk is a large photograph of the hotel’s owner, Sonny Kapoor, in a Namaste pose.

Krishna
Figure 1. Moti Jhula (Krishna)

Unlike most other installments in this GOD & the Gods series, Hinduism is not considered to be a mythological belief system as is the case with the Norse and Celts. Hinduism is also not believed to be a polytheistic religion as is commonly perceived by those in the West or those outside the religion, but it is believed to be henotheistic. Hinduism, like the three other major mainstream religions, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, all believe in a supreme deity. Hinduism is also recognized as the oldest religion in the world, possibly older than Zoroastrianism.2

However, unlike Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Hinduism embraces other significant distinctions in that it has no known founder, no single scripture, and was never under any obligation to a particular dogma.3 Nevertheless, Hindus do believe in three specific doctrines: Karma, Predestination, and Reincarnation.

Along with Swami Achuthananda, Swami Bhaskarananda also believes that Hinduism is henotheistic, that is, a belief in one god without denying the existence of others.4 On the other hand, viewed from a Christian point of view, Swami Achuthananda appears to be in error when he says in one place that “the learned ones call Hinduism a henotheistic religion” and later on implies that Hinduism accepts many paths to God.5 Is he confusing many paths with many gods? Probably not since the Hindu understanding of the term “gods” is different from what is believed in Christianity or in the West. It’s also reasonable to question how Hinduism can be considered monotheistic if the belief in many gods exist? Again, it all boils down to how you define the term “gods.”

I concede that Hinduism accepts that there can be many approaches or paths to understanding God, but the final destination is the one true God, not the many gods. And for Hindus, that “One and Only God”6 is Brahman.

Contrary to what is understood in Christianity, Brahman is not a person but a “single primordial and extremely abstract principle designated THAT.”7 This principle is beyond human comprehension and unknowable by ordinary humans and has evolved into what is now known as Brahman.

The concept of Brahman or the One has always existed, even before anything was created!8 If Brahman is an abstract principle beyond human comprehension, then how is it that this concept has come to be known? The answer is by divine revelation recorded in the Vedic texts.9

Before creation, God (Brahman) existed. The Hindus refer to God in this pre-creation transcendental state of existence as Nirguna Brahman. Nirguna Brahman is not a person and does not possess attributes such as being male or female which explains why the neuter pronoun “That” is used.10 Nevertheless, Nirguna Brahman does possess the non-personal attributes of being infinite, changeless, unfathomable, and indescribable, as well as transcending time and space.11

How is it then that Hindus worship something that is unknowable and impersonal as Nirguna Brahman? Well the answer is simple, yet somewhat difficult to arrive at, and that is by human characteristics being projected on the impersonal infinite Nirguna Brahman by its finite votaries. Through this process, the impersonal becomes personal, Nirguna Brahman becomes Personal Brahman or Personal God.12

Hindus refer to this Personal God as Saguna Brahman or Ishvara. If Ishvara is the one personal God, why so many other gods? Well, the other gods aren’t other gods at all, they are merely different aspects or facets of the one God. Surprisingly, Hinduism has its own version of the Trinity13 which comprise the three fundamental aspects: creator, preserver, and destroyer and are given the names: Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva respectively.

Ganesha
Figure 2. Ganesha

Anyone trying to understand the Hindu concept of God who has just a passing interest in Christianity will be immediately struck by the apparent similarities between the two religions. However, despite the similarities, there are many significant differences that seekers of God should be aware of.

The first difference is that the God of the Bible is personal…very personal. While the Hindu concept of Brahman and its derivative Nirguna Brahman is an abstract principle being neither male nor female and referred to as “That,” GOD declares his name in Exodus as “I AM WHO I AM.” (For a more detailed discussion on the name of God, see my “One God” blog post.) GOD is a person possessing personal attributes: goodness, benevolence, mercy, love, holiness, righteousness, and justice along with some other controversial attributes:

Yet I have loved Jacob; but I have hated Esau… (Mal. 1:2-3 NASB)

For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God. (Deut. 4:24)

Note that the Hindu Trinity is economical (create, preserve, destroy) as is the biblical Trinity. However, in the biblical Trinity, the Father, Son, and Spirit are all persons but are economically subordinate meaning they each operate distinctly yet are all equally GOD. The Father initiates, the Son accomplishes, and the Spirit applies.

The second difference is that Christianity, unlike Hinduism, is dogmatic. In order to be considered a Christian, a person must believe that: The Bible is the living Word of GOD; Jesus is GOD incarnate being both GOD and man; and GOD exists in three persons. As I’ve said in another place, “The Bible is the living Word of God, but it isn’t a living document.”

The third major difference is that all paths don’t lead to GOD. Since Hinduism is non-dogmatic, all religions are basically equivalent in that the votaries of each religion can create God in their own image. As expected, the Bible says otherwise:

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.
For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Matt. 7:13-14)

I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, Nor My praise to graven images. (Isa. 42:8)

In Genesis, it says “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Gen. 1:27) In Hinduism, God is created in man’s image.

Now, how do the three Hindu doctrines compare to biblical doctrines? To partially answer that question, I refer the reader to my blog post on “Free Will or Destiny.” That blog post takes care of karma and predestination, so that leaves us with the doctrine of reincarnation.

Swami Bhaskarananda writes that there are two reasons for a soul to be reincarnated, one is to satisfy unfulfilled desires, and the second is to achieve a higher-level of spirituality; and interestingly he writes that the departed soul is the one who initiates the reincarnation, not God!14 Sounds like a similar doctrine espoused in verses from a famously arrogant and rebellious poem, “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.”15

Hinduism is also no stranger to the belief in the evolution of species and the transmigration of souls. Swami Bhaskarananda notes that it is also possible in exceptional circumstances for a soul to be reincarnated in some sub-human species.16 I suppose this aspect of the doctrine is the reason why the character Dr. Vijay Alezais in the film Wolf tells the character Will Randall that his being bitten by a wolf at a time when the moon was closest to the earth in 100 years was auspicious,17 meaning a sign of future success. Dr. Alezais believes Will Randall’s condition to be a gift to be desired and not evil or something to be despised. Dr. Alezais also confesses that damnation is not part of his belief system18 which is consistent with Hinduism.

I’ll close the discussion with two biblical references concerning the impossibility of reincarnation and the certainty of judgement and damnation.

And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment… (Heb. 9:27)

‘And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us. (Luke 16:26)

 


  1. Swami Achuthananda, Many Many Many Gods of Hinduism, (North Charleston, SC: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013), 1. 

  2. Swami Bhaskarananda, The Essentials of Hinduism: A Comprehensive Overview of the World’s Oldest Religion, (Seattle, Viking Press, 2002), 1. 

  3. Achuthananda, Many Many Many Gods of Hinduism, 98. 

  4. Bhaskarananda, The Essentials of Hinduism, 65. 

  5. Achuthananda, Many Many Many Gods of Hinduism, 61. 

  6. Bhaskarananda, The Essentials of Hinduism, 65. 

  7. Ibid. 

  8. Ibid., 66. 

  9. Ibid., 65. 

  10. Ibid., 68. 

  11. Ibid., 66. 

  12. Ibid., 69. 

  13. Swami Harshananda, Hindu Gods and Goddesses, 2nd ed., (Mylapore, Sri Ramakrishna Math, 1982), 4. 

  14. Bhaskarananda, The Essentials of Hinduism, 94. 

  15. “Invictus,” William Ernest Henley, Poetry Foundation, accessed December 02, 2018, https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/51642/invictus

  16. Bhaskarananda, The Essentials of Hinduism, 95. 

  17. Harrison, Jim, Wesley Strick. Wolf. Blu-ray. Directed by: Mike Nichols. Culver City: Columbia, 1994. 

  18. Ibid. 

GOD & the Gods: Norse Mythology

This is the fourth installment in my series on GOD & the Gods. In this series, the one Christian GOD is compared and contrasted with various non-Christian or pagan gods who comprise diverse belief systems held by cultures worldwide throughout history.

The concepts of death and immortality as related to the various pagan gods can be troublesome for someone from a Christian background. The Celtic gods and goddesses, for the most part, are considered immortal yet there was a belief in a new kind of hybrid being who were immortal and could still be killed as noted in my installment on the Celts.1 The Norse gods, on the other hand, are not considered immortal, but that depends on whether or not you attribute immortality to just the soul or to the physical body as well.

If a person or a being, like a god for instance, can be killed, then that being or person is not immortal in the physical sense. If the Norse gods and goddesses were physical beings like us, then it would make sense to say they are not immortal and can die or be killed. If they were truly immortal, as a spirit being would be, then they would exist in their current state, unchangeable, forever. Yet, Norse mythology describes many gods who married, had offspring, and died or were killed, so I believe it is safe to assume that the Norse gods were mortal physical beings—howbeit supernatural beings.

Then there’s the problem of how to explain the various realms of the dead such as Helheim, Niflheim, and Valhalla. If the dead are to inhabit these realms then some aspect of the various beings in Norse mythology are in fact immortal. After all, wouldn’t it be the souls of those dead Norsemen being assigned to the realms of the dead? Then again, if it were true that the Norsemen really believed the physical body would spend its afterlife in Valhalla, for example, then why would they bury or burn their dead? I suggest that the belief in these afterlife realms implies that the concept of the soul was assumed if not explicitly stated.

While Norse mythological stories are normally associated with the Scandinavian countries of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, it was Snorri Sturluson, an Icelandic poet, historian, and politician, who composed the Prose Edda, which contains the authoritative written history of Norse mythology.2

The Viking Period lasted from 800 until 1050 A.D. and its stories, poems, mythology, and religion are of the oral tradition. Snorri Sturluson’s Prose Edda, the most extensive written source on Norse mythology, was written in the early 13th century (1201-1300), approximately 200 years after the end of the Viking Period. By the way, no one today knows what the word Edda means.3

McCoy in his book, The Viking Spirit, asserts that Sturluson deliberately tried to Christianize aspects of Norse Mythology in order to make the stories more palatable to his audience at the time.4 In order to evaluate McCoy’s claims of Christianization, two historical events need to be considered. First, Luther posted his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle church in 1517, some 250 years after the Edda was written. Second, In the 13th century, all Catholic church services were in Latin so if Snorri truly was influenced by Catholicism he would have needed to learn Latin in order to read the Vulgate, the Latin Bible. If Snorri Sturluson was in fact unduly influenced by Christianity during his writing of the Edda, as McCoy states,5 how did he come to learn about Christianity? McCoy doesn’t provide any details concerning this aspect of Snorri’s background—maybe it’s because it’s not known.

Of course, there is another possible explanation as to how and why some aspects of Norse religion seem to resemble certain Bible stories based on the following Scripture:

The whole He hath made beautiful in its season; also, that knowledge He hath put in their heart without which man findeth not out the work that God hath done from the beginning even unto the end. (Eccles. 3:11 YLT)

Unlike the Celtic gods and goddesses who inhabit the natural world, the primary Norse gods and goddesses find their dwelling in the “celestial fortress” Asgard.6 The Norse mythological universe consists of “nine worlds”7 of which only three (although technically four) will be considered in this GOD & the Gods series installment.

The Christian view of the universe consists of three worlds, one is the familiar Heaven, the second is Earth or the natural realm, and the third is Hell or Hades, i.e., the underworld. In Norse mythology the three primary worlds are Asgard (Heaven), Midgard (natural realm), and Hel or Helheim (underworld). There is also another realm related to Helheim and that is Niflheim which could correspond functionally to the Christian lake of fire. Likewise, in Christian theology there is a temporary place for dead believers that is referred to as “Abraham’s bosom” that appears to loosely correspond with the Norse realm of fallen warriors called Valhalla.

In Celtic tradition, the “Threefold One” or earth goddess is highly revered, but in Norse mythology, Odin, the King of the Norse Gods, is also known as the “all-father” which is more closely aligned with Christian teachings on GOD as Abba Father.8 More seemingly interesting parallels between Norse mythology and Christianity are provided in the following sections.

All of the following Norse mythology references are taken from The Norse Gods website (with minor typo corrections in the text) unless otherwise indicated.

Creation

In Norse mythology, the world is described in the beginning as follows:

All this was in the beginning, before there were waves of sand, the sea’s cool waves, waving grass. There was no earth and no heaven above; only Muspell and Niflheim and, between them, Ginnungagap.

This description seems to closely resemble the Earth’s barren condition in the beginning as laid out in Genesis:

The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep… (Gen. 1:2 NASB)

Then there is the creation of the heavenly bodies from Norse mythology:

Then Odin and Vili and Ve seized on the sparks and glowing embers from Muspell and called them sun and moon and stars; they put them high in Ginnungagap to light heaven above and earth below. In this way the brothers gave each star its proper place; some were fixed in the sky, others were free to follow the paths appointed for them.

And again, the parallel verses from Genesis:

Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years;

and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so.

God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night; He made the stars also.

God placed them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth,

and to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:14-18)

The Norse first man and woman creation narrative:

One day, Odin and Vili and Ve were striding along the frayed edge of the land, where the earth meets the sea. They came across two fallen trees with their roots ripped out of the ground; one was an ash, the other an elm. Then the sons of Bor raised them and made from them the first man and woman. Odin breathed into them the spirit of life; (emphasis mine) Vili offered them sharp wits and feeling hearts; and Ve gave them the gifts of hearing and sight. The man was called Ask and the women Embla and races of men are descended from them.

Was Snorri Sturluson attempting to convey the notion of a Norse trinity using Odin, Vili, and Ve being a type of biblical Father, Son, and Holy Spirit whom Christians believe comprise the “Our” and “Us” in Genesis 1:28? If so, then Snorri was very clever indeed.

The biblical creation story is remarkably similar in that the first man was created from the “dust of the ground” whereas in Norse mythology man was created from a fallen tree:

Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. (Genesis 2:7)

However, the two creation narratives diverge strikingly so when it comes to the creation of woman:

The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. (Genesis 2:22)

Many sermons have been preached on this verse so I won’t try to repeat them here. However, I believe that because the woman was created from the man’s rib, both the man and the woman are coequal and codependent. Whereas in Norse mythology, man and woman are created separately from two different, albeit similar, sources. No doubt that in the Christian view, the woman is naturally more inclined to be attached to the man since she has “skin in the game.” Nevertheless, I’m sure the separate but equal Norse view of the man and the woman is observably more popular with the current generation.

Yggdrasil

In the biblical creation story, we find the tree of life planted in the Garden of Eden:

Out of the ground the LORD God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst [emphasis added] of the garden… (Gen. 2:9)

In the Norse mythological cosmos, there is a tree called Yggdrasil which is located in the “geographical center” [emphasis added]9 of the cosmos whose essence appears to be life giver as written, “the well-being of the cosmos depends on the well-being of Yggdrasil.”10

Also, according to a Norse poem, Yggdrasil has three main roots11—three being a recurring theme in Celtic mythology as well as traditional Christianity.

Valkyries

The Valkyries are warrior maidens who are responsible for escorting slain warriors to Valhalla. Again, not unlike the Norse warriors, Christians are engaged in spiritual battle continually as written in the Bible Book of Ephesians. But in the Bible, it’s the angels who escort fallen believers to paradise not the feminine Valkyries:

And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores…Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom… (Luke 16:20,22)

While Norse mythology has its Brunhilde, the biblical belief system has its archangel Michael. Unlike the Valkyries, biblical angels are asexual but definitely masculine:

For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. (Matt. 22:30)

Loki

In every belief system, whether mythological or otherwise, there is a primal antagonist and for the Norsemen, that antagonist is Loki. On the other hand, for the “People of the Book” the antagonist is Satan.

I submit that Loki’s attributes are comparable to Satan’s attributes as follows:

LOKI SATAN
Trickster
Cheater
Evil
Handsome & Fair of Face
Shapeshifter
Accuser
Agent of Destruction
Deceiver
Liar and Father of Lies
Evil One
Beautiful
Disguiser
Accuser
Dragon

Mythology has it that the gods eventually became so tired of Loki’s machinations that they decided to constrain him, hence “The Binding of Loki” tale. Since Loki was by no means innocent of the charges laid against him, along with him being “unrepentant”12 of causing the god Balder’s death, the gods’ punishment of Loki was brutal to say the least.

Likewise, the Bible also records a time when an angel (Michael?) will bound Satan for a thousand years:

Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand.

And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years;

and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time. (Rev. 20:1-3)

As Satan’s binding is time constrained, so will Loki’s binding remain until Ragnarok.

Ragnarok

Ragnarok is the Norse version of the Apocalypse or what Christians commonly refer to as Armageddon—the final battle. The biblical end times are described throughout Scripture but primarily in the Gospels and the Book of Revelation.

According to conventional wisdom, the Great Tribulation will last seven years, with the first three and a half years being peaceful but the second three and a half years being times of trouble or tribulation.

Coincidentally, in Norse mythology the natural world will be troubled for three winters:

First of all, Midgard will be wrenched and racked by wars for three winters.

This will also be a time when families will turn on each other.

Norse mythology:

Fathers will slaughter sons; brothers will be drenched in one another’s blood. Mothers will desert their menfolk and seduce their own sons; brothers will bed with sisters.

Brothers will fight brothers, fathers will kill sons. Mothers and daughters will be set against each other. Sisters will fall in battle with sisters, and will watch their children murder each other in their turn.13

According to Scripture:

Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. (Matt. 10:21)

The stars and the sun won’t be spared either.

Norse mythology:

The stars will vanish from the sky.

The sun will be dark and there will be no stars in the sky.

According to Scripture:

But in those days, after that tribulation, THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT,

AND THE STARS WILL BE FALLING from heaven, and the powers that are in the heavens will be shaken. (Mark 13:24-25)

and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. (Rev. 6:13)

At the end, the Earth will be destroyed by fire along with the Norse gods.

There will be a sound like a thousand forests turning to flame, and the air itself will begin to burn.14

Then Surt will fling fire in every direction. Asgard and Midgard and Jotunheim and Niflheim will become furnaces – places of raging flame, swirling smoke, ashes, only ashes. The nine worlds will burn and the gods will die.

Similarly, the heavens and the Earth will be burned up but GOD will not and cannot die as is the fate of the Norse gods.

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. (2 Pet. 3:10)

Conclusion

Unlike the Christian GOD, the Norse gods and goddesses are mortal. In addition, according to McCoy in his book The Viking Spirit, none of the gods are “all-powerful” nor is there a notion of a supreme being.15 Even Odin, who is the chief of the gods and who created human beings is neither immortal or “all-powerful.”

Whereas GOD has no beginning and no end, and is above all His creation, the Norse gods and goddesses came into being when the cosmos came into being and are therefore an integral part of the cosmos they inhabit.16

While I believe it is possible that Snorri Sturluson may have embellished portions of his Edda based on his limited understanding of Christian teaching and beliefs, it appears that his narrow embellishments were literarily not doctrinally inspired.


  1. Gerard Sczepura, “GOD & the Gods: The Celts,” Theological Ruminations (blog), June, 06, 2018, https://gerardsczepura.com/god-the-gods-the-celts/

  2. “The Norse Gods,” accessed August 15, 2018, https://thenorsegods.com/norse-gods/#norse-myths

  3. Daniel McCoy, The Viking Spirit: An Introduction to Norse Mythology and Religion, (Createspace Independent Publishing Platform, 2016), 20. 

  4. Ibid., 21. 

  5. Ibid. 

  6. “Gods and Creatures,” Norse Mythology for Smart People, accessed August 15, 2018, https://norse-mythology.org/gods-and-creatures/

  7. Ibid. 

  8. Sczepura, “GOD & the Gods: The Celts.” 

  9. “Yggdrasil, Norse Mythology for Smart People. 

  10. Ibid. 

  11. Ibid. 

  12. Neil Gaiman, Norse Mythology, (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2017), 251. 

  13. Gaiman, 270. 

  14. Gaiman, 279. 

  15. Daniel McCoy, The Viking Spirit: An Introduction to Norse Mythology and Religion, (Createspace Independent Publishing Platform, 2016), 25. 

  16. Ibid., 26. 

GOD & the Gods: The Celts

Today, the terms Celt and Celtic are primarily associated with Ireland, but the Celtic speaking peoples originated in the Caucasus, the area between the Caspian Sea and Black Sea. The Celts and Italic speaking people derived from these Indo-European (IE) tribes who migrated westward from the Caucasus into central Europe. It’s also noteworthy that the Caucasus is located relatively close to northern Iraq where tradition holds was the site of the Garden of Eden, the Tower of Babel, and Abraham’s original homeland.

Any study of the Celts or Celtic religion is impossible without encountering numerous references to Indo-Europeans, Aryans, Indo-Aryans, Greeks, Romans, Gaul, Caesar, Pythagoras, and the Druids.

Interestingly, the Celts are related to the Indo-Aryan peoples who migrated from northern India and Iran.

It is not the intent of this writing to cover any of the goddesses or gods in any depth, that has already been accomplished by other writers. I would recommend Sarah Owen’s excellent book, Celtic Spirituality: A Beginners Guide for a concise list of the names of Celtic gods and goddesses along with a brief description of each.

The GOD of the Bible is always referenced in masculine terms such as “Abba! Father!” (Mark 14:36, Rom. 8:15, Gal. 4:6 NASB) In addition, Jesus opens His well-known prayer delivered during the Sermon on the Mount with: “Our Father who is in Heaven…” (Matt. 6:9) On the other hand, the Celts regarded the feminine nature Goddess over any masculine counterpart.1

In Christianity, believers worship or communicate with GOD “in spirit and truth,” (John 4:23) but in Celtic religion communion with the Goddess is through being one with nature.2

Edward Anwyl, a Welsh academic who specialized in Celtic languages, points out that the Celtic religion held that spirits (deities) inhabited natural objects such as trees, rivers, lakes, and mountains. He also goes on to explain that certain deities also took on the form of certain animals such as the bear, horse, and surprisingly, swine.3

Sarah Owen takes Anwyl’s animism discussion a step further when she claims that the Celtic deities were able to take on various animal forms at will, i.e., shapeshifting,4 a concept confirmed by MacCulloch.5

The Celtic priests, i.e., the Druids, especially revered trees—the oak tree in particular. Druids believed the oak tree represented death and re-birth and that “oak to be the tree of life at the centre of the earth,” and that the “oak tree was a doorway to other worlds.”6

For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. (Rom. 1:25)

The Greek philosopher Pythagoras, well known for the mathematical theory (a2 + b2 = c2) that bears his name, also believed in the immortality of the soul and in reincarnation. Given the apparent resemblance of Pythagoreanism with the druidic beliefs concerning the soul, the Druids have come to be regarded as philosophers by some.7

GOD and the Celtic gods and goddesses all share the attribute of being invisible.8

The Celtic gods and goddesses also possess the attribute of immortality9 however, by no means do any of them claim to possess the “omni” attributes, which are: omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience, these three attributes are exclusively reserved for GOD. Furthermore, none of the Celtic gods or goddesses claimed to have always existed, that is, having no beginning and no end, as the GOD of the Bible has claimed. (Heb. 7:3)

The Celtic gods and goddesses were by no means chaste; they frequently mated with mortals. Goddesses preferred to mate with heroes and the gods with mortal women.10 The Tuatha Dé Dannan, a divine race of people, were believed to have descended from the Goddess Danu.11 This divine race of people possessed all the attributes discussed earlier; they were skilled warriors and magicians; they were also some new kind of hybrid beings who were immortal and yet could still be killed; they were shapeshifters and could become invisible at will.12

Owen goes on to write that the Tuatha Dé Dannan “deified” their people who had become adept scientists and engineers. These engineers are believed to be the ones most likely responsible for the design and construction of the stone circles that can be found throughout Britain today.13

Stonehenge
Figure 1. Stonehenge

Many Celtic beliefs and traditions have been adopted by the Church for example: the Christmas tree, the Yule Log, and mistletoe. These are traditions, but what about Church teachings? Maybe the Celts had more influence on Christian doctrine than we have been led to believe. Marie-Louise Sjoestedt in her short but dense book, Celtic Gods and Heroes, writes that “the number three plays a large part in Celtic tradition.”14 The number three is important in Christian theology as well given the “notion of one God existing in multiple persons”15 is referred to as the “Trinity.” Sjoestedt goes on to write: “…the ‘triad’, a formula which combines three facts or three precepts, is a genre which dominates the gnomic literature of both Wales and Ireland, and triple personages or trios are prominent in the epic tradition of the two peoples.”16

Celtic tradition uses the terms “Threefold One” and “Triple Goddess” when referring to the nature or earth Goddess.17 The term “Threefold One” can also be understood as “Three in One.” Were the Celts influenced by Christian doctrine or was it the other way around? The doctrine of the “Trinity” is a derived teaching based on interpretation since the word itself doesn’t appear in the Bible.

Celtic beliefs and influences have not been lost on today’s pop culture either as evidenced by the following examples:

Fleetwood Mac’s hit song “Rhiannon” is named after a Celtic goddess whose name is “a corruption of Rigantona, ‘great queen’.”18

Enya (Eithne Pádraigín Ní Bhraonáin), an Irish singer, songwriter, musician and producer famous for her New-age music notably her record albums entitled The Celts and Memory of Trees.

Celtic Women, an all-female (emphasis added) Irish musical ensemble.

Earth, Wind & Fire, a popular 1970s music group. Does their name include a possible reference to “Druidic Wind?”19

Or how about The Twilight Zone episode “Mirror Image” where a woman waiting in a bus terminal has an encounter with her “doppelganger,” according to IMDb. However, it could also be that the woman had an encounter with the Faery world. Owen writes that “[t]he Faery world mirrors our ordinary world. Whatever is found in one world has a reflection or polar partner in the other.”20 Was Rod Serling, the episode writer, influenced by Celtic mythology?

Celtic themes have also appeared in more recent films including: Merlin, the warrior-magician, and the legend of Excalibur in The Last Legion; and the Picts in Centurion.

Lastly, I believe many current political and social movements are rooted in the Celtic and Druidic belief system, namely globalism, feminism, and environmentalism. The relationship between feminism and environmentalism with Celtic beliefs should be obvious from the arguments cited earlier in this writing. But what about globalism? Again, Owen writes that in Celtic spirituality all are one with the elements, e.g., “oneness.”21 Even though the concept of “oneness” is primarily described as being in tune with nature, it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to apply the concept to all people and geographical locations.


  1. Sarah Owen, Celtic Spirituality: A Beginners Guide, (Printed by CreateSpace, 2018), 33. 

  2. Ibid. 

  3. Edward Anwyl, Celtic Religion in Pre-Christian Times, (Boston, Adamant Media Corporation, 2005), 39-41. 

  4. Owen, Celtic Spirituality, 39-40. 

  5. J. A. MacCulloch, The Religion of the Ancient Celts (p. 216). Kindle Edition. 

  6. “Nine Sacred Trees of the Druids,” Maureen McGhee, posted April, 03, 2014, https://www.maureenmcghee.com/news/2/

  7. Anwyl, Celtic Religion, 58-59. 

  8. MacCulloch, The Religion of the Ancient Celts, 216. 

  9. Ibid. 

  10. Ibid. 

  11. Owen, Celtic Spirituality, 35. 

  12. Ibid., 36. 

  13. Ibid. 

  14. Marie-Louise Sjoestedt, Celtic Gods and Heroes, (Mineola, NY, Dover Publications, Inc., 2000), 17. 

  15. Gerard Sczepura, “GOD & the Gods: One God,” Theological Ruminations (blog), October 22, 2017, http://gerardsczepura.com/god-the-gods-one-god/

  16. Sjoestedt, Celtic Gods and Heroes, 17. 

  17. Owen, Celtic Spirituality, 33. 

  18. MacCulloch, The Religion of the Ancient Celts, 182. 

  19. Sjoestedt, Celtic Gods and Heroes, 11. 

  20. Owen, Celtic Spirituality, 54. 

  21. Ibid., 60-61. 

GOD & the Gods: Buddhism

Up until recently, I’ve always held that Buddhism was a religion and that Buddha was a god. Or, at least I believed he was worshiped or adored as a god. However, now I’ve come to the understanding that Buddhism can also be viewed as a philosophy and not just a religion—contrary to Buddhists’ outward expressions of worship that I’ve had opportunity to witness on several occasions. In theory, Buddhism may be a philosophy and/or psychology but in practice it has all the appearances of a religion.

Bulguksa Temple Buddha
Figure 1. Bulguksa Temple Buddha

I’ve also come to the realization that the word “Buddha” is actually a title meaning “awakened one” or “the enlightened one.” In most Buddhist traditions the first awakened one was Siddhartha Gautama who was born in 623 B.C. in the sacred area of Lumbini located in the plains of southern Nepal, according to most scholars. Today, when people refer to the Buddha, they are actually referring to Siddhartha Gautama, the Supreme Buddha.

Interestingly, Siddhartha Gautama never claimed to be a prophet or a god (deity). This is the argument adherents use to excuse their beliefs as not being pertaining to a religion because Buddhists don’t believe in a supreme being. Since Buddhists don’t believe in a supreme or higher being, it follows that when Buddha spoke, he spoke of himself and not of any other person or deity.

While the Buddha ‘preached’ doctrine to his followers (disciples) he wasn’t dogmatic concerning his teachings. Buddhism isn’t truth, to the contrary, it is the search for truth. Buddhists are required to come to the truth (enlightenment) through their own efforts in order to arrive at what they themselves understand to be the truth.

As it stands, the ultimate goal of all Buddhists is to achieve enlightenment which is arriving at the truth that frees one from suffering. According to Ian Tuhovsky in his Kindle book, Buddhism Beginner’s Guide: Bringing Peace and Happiness to Your Everyday Life, we are the cause of our own suffering1 and that suffering can be overcome by simply having the right view or right perspective of reality.2 This is an integral part of Dharma. But what is Dharma?

Permit me to define Dharma using an analogy with Christianity. If Dharma is considered to be the “right way” then Dharma is “the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6 NASB) for Buddhists.

It doesn’t take a whole lot of research to learn that Siddhartha Gautama is credited with achieving “full realization”3 of reality or truth which elevated him to the status or title of Buddha. Most sites that discuss this achieving “full realization” concept do so in esoteric terms. That is, they tend to imply that in order for the traveler on the Path to Enlightenment to reach Nirvana, the traveler must first have reached Nirvana. Or, put simply, “You’ll know it when you get there.”

But what is truth? The ancient world was preoccupied with its search for truth; we know this was true in biblical times because Jesus, during His trial, claimed that He came into this world “to testify to the truth.” Pilate’s response to Jesus was “What is truth?” (John 18:37-38). Of course, Jesus was referring to the truth that is GOD. For the Christian, the only path to enlightenment is to know GOD.

While it may be true that Buddhists don’t believe in a supreme being, their philosophy does allow for belief in some minor deities. For example, the story of the demon Mara who tempted Siddhartha Guatama before he attained enlightenment.4 And then there are the Four Heavenly Kings.

If you happen to visit Bulguksa Temple in Gyeongju, South Korea, you will have an opportunity to meet these Four Heavenly Kings as you pass through the Gate of the Heavenly Kings on your way to the temple. since they are considered to be protectors of the temple, the monks, the worshippers, and Buddhism itself.5 First time visitors may be taken aback by their somewhat fierce countenance but upon closer examination they seem to take on a more softer appearance as shown below.

Figure 2. Kings of the West & North
Figure 2. Kings of the West & North
Figure 3. Kings of the East & South
Figure 3. Kings of the East & South

In Korean Buddhism, the Four Heavenly Kings are named as follows:

  • Gwangmok-cheonwang – King of the West
  • Damun-cheonwang – King of the North
  • Jigook-cheonwang – King of the East
  • Jeungjang-cheonwang – King of the South

Damun is the protector of the north and the ruler of rain (or wealth); Jeungjang is the ruler of the wind and protector of the Dharma; Jigook uses music to convert people to Buddhism; Gwangmok is one who sees all and who converts unbelievers to Buddhism.6

Even though the Four Heavenly Kings have specific powers over the natural world they are still subservient to the Buddha, even Gwangmok who is attributed with the attribute of being omnipresent.

Since these deities or supernatural beings were not the creators of Dharma, they can’t be considered supreme in the spirit world—that title is reserved for the Buddha.

In contrast, Christians believe that GOD is the supreme being who created all things and Who is sovereign over all His creation. In Christianity, all beings are subservient to GOD; GOD is subservient to no one.

Buddhists don’t believe in a supreme being, yet the minor deities are protectors of Buddhism. If the Four Heavenly Kings are protecting Buddhism they are indirectly protecting the “enlightened one.” That is, the Four Heavenly Kings are serving the Buddha not the other way around. How then is Buddha not considered a supreme deity?

In my opinion, if a belief system includes supernatural beings who dwell in the spirit world, then that belief system is considered a religion. If one practices Buddhism as either philosophy or psychology, it follows that by identification, that person also subscribes to all of the Buddhist practices and beliefs. As in Christianity, a person who follows Christ’s teachings is thereby identified with all of Christ’s teachings. Otherwise, that person’s belief system is ambiguous.


  1. Ian Tuhovsky. Buddhism: Beginner’s Guide: Bring Peace and Happiness To Your Everyday Life (Positive Psychology Coaching Series Book 5) (p. 25). Kindle Edition. 

  2. Ibid., pp. 28-29 

  3. Reginald Ray, “What is Dharma?,” December 26, 2017, https://www.lionsroar.com/in-a-word-dharma/

  4. Prof. Geller, “Mara,” accessed April 2, 2018, https://mythology.net/demons/mara/

  5. Khan Academy, “Guardian King of the West (Gwangmok cheonwang),” accessed April 03, 2018, https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/art-asia/korea-japan/korean-art/a/guardian-king-of-the-west-gwangmok-cheonwang

  6. Wikipedia, “Four Heavenly Kings,” accessed April, 04, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Heavenly_Kings

GOD & the Gods: One God

Christianity is unique compared to all other religions of the world. There isn’t any other religion that declares that God took on human form in order to reconcile the world to Himself through Jesus’ substitutionary dead or sacrifice; that is to say, Christianity is what God has done for Man[kind]. This belief is fundamentally rejected by Jews and Muslims based primarily on the claims made by Jesus that he was, in fact, God. They can accept Him as a prophet or messenger but not as the one true Deity. Therefore, Christianity is accused of being polytheistic. As it turns out, the entire foundation of Christian belief is rejected by two of the world’s major religions.

The most fundamental objection to Christianity by both Jews and Muslims is the notion of the Trinity. The Trinity, according to Christian belief, is the concept of God consisting of three persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit collectively referred to as the Godhead. Hence, Christianity is rejected by both Jews and Muslims as being a polytheistic belief system, that is, a belief in multiple gods.

Nevertheless, it is somewhat ironic that Christianity began as a Jewish belief system; as Jesus Himself said: “’I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’” (Matt. 15:24 NASB) Yet the Jews rejected and continue to reject Him as their Messiah as was prophesied: “I permitted Myself to be sought by those who did not ask for Me; I permitted Myself to be found by those who did not seek Me. I said, ‘Here am I, here am I,’ To a nation which did not call on My name.” (Isa. 65:1)

This post will look at these objections and offer explanations from Scripture as well as some alternative and hopefully novel and interesting ways of looking at the concept of God. Future entries in the series will also examine some of the major differences between Christianity and some of the other major polytheistic religions from Greek Mythology to Buddhism. The intent here is not to be exhaustive, but there are some fundamental differences that are common to all other world religions.

Jews believe that there is only one true God. Both Christians and Jews know Him by many names including Yahweh or Jehovah, and the Muslims as Allah. Judaism and Islam are both recognized as being monotheistic religions, that is, their followers believe in only one true God. In the same way, Christians also believe that Christianity is a monotheistic religion in spite of their acceptance of God in three persons. So, are the accusations that Christianity is polytheistic valid? Does the Bible give us any indication that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three separate gods all acting according to their own individual will and desires? In addition to those arguments found in the Scriptures, this post proposes that Christianity is, in fact, monotheistic using concepts borrowed from object-oriented programming.

In Exodus 3:14 when Moses asks God for His name, God answers with the self-referential phrase YHVH, better known as “I AM WHO I AM.” On the surface, God’s answer seems dismissive or matter-of-fact. His answer really says nothing about who He is, yet at the same time it says everything; I am God, what more do I need to say? From God’s point of view, He is and that’s all Moses needed to know. And by this one attribute alone, the God of Israel sets Himself apart from all the other so-called gods—as we shall see in detail later in this series.

However, before attempting to defend Christianity as a monotheistic belief system, a unique and proper name for the God of Israel; the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—who is also the God of Christianity needs to be settled upon. I prefer the name Yehovah, a transliteration of the name YHVH from the Tanakh or Jewish scriptures. YHVH, which is known as the Tetragrammaton meaning “the four letters,” is not pronounced by observant Jews; instead, they substitute Adonai when reading the Torah or the name Hashem, “the Name,” at other times.1

I refuse to yield to the temptation of substituting any of the proper names of God with “G-d” which is another common practice among observant Jews. In my way of thinking, substitutions are more offensive than unintentionally but reverentially mispronouncing any of His names as revealed in Scripture. In the same way, I find the substitution “Xmas” for “Christmas,” irreverent and offensive.

In this series, because I’ll be discussing many gods, I’ve decided to use either a qualifier with the name God when referring to the Hebrew / Christian Deity or simply GOD (all uppercase) as necessary to avoid ambiguity. For example, I may use: Yehovah God, God of Israel, Godhead, or GOD. Of course, the name Allah will be used when referring to God as revealed in the Quran.

My first argument, in a series of arguments, will be to compare Yehovah’s attributes with the attributes of some of the major polytheistic gods from around the world. If Christianity were to be seriously classified as polytheistic, then God as represented in the Christian Trinity would, out of necessity, be expected to possess the same or similar attributes as the gods of commonly recognized polytheistic world religions. I propose to show that Yehovah God is unique among the many gods of popular polytheistic world religions that I’ll be discussing in this series “GOD & the Gods.”

Also In this series, I’ll attempt to answer some objections that Jews and Muslims have leveled against the Christian Trinity. I’ll also argue that the objections are really leveled against Jesus and not the notion of the Trinity specifically.

Before this series attempts to examine and compare the attributes of GOD with the attributes of the gods of polytheistic religions, the attributes of Yehovah God must first be identified. The first attribute considered is His origin or genesis, if you will. The Scriptures say that He is eternal, without beginning and without end. Finite man cannot fathom the concept of an infinite being—the mind just collapses in on itself. Without a doubt, this is the hardest concept for humankind to comprehend but nevertheless, this is exactly what the Scriptures teach as illustrated in the following verses:

The eternal God is a dwelling place… (Deut. 33:27)

Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, From everlasting even to everlasting… (1 Chron. 16:36)

…Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God. (Ps. 90:2)
Your throne is established from of old; You are from everlasting. (Ps. 93:2)

From everlasting I was established, From the beginning, from the earliest times of the earth. (Prov. 8:23)

As illustrated in the Scripture verses listed above, it can be seen that God is infinite as inferred by the word “everlasting” which is a translation of the word olam (Hebrew NASB Number: 5769). The word olam has also been translated into other English words such as: “eternal,” “continual,” and “perpetual.” Psalm 90:2 clearly says that God is not only eternal but that He is eternally God—a subtle point which will be examined later in this series “GOD & the Gods.” In addition, God not only existed before all Creation as stated in Psalm 90:2, Proverbs 8:23, and Isaiah 40:28, but He is the author of all Creation.

In Exodus 3:14 when Moses asks God for His name, God answers with the self-referential phrase “I AM WHO I AM.” On the surface, God’s answer seems dismissive or matter-of-fact. His answer really says nothing about who He is, yet at the same time it says everything; I am God, what more do I need to say? From God’s point of view, He is and that’s all Moses needed to know. By this one attribute alone, the God of Israel sets Himself apart from all the other so-called gods—as we shall see in detail later in this series.

The second attribute considered is God’s power or authority. Yehovah God is sovereign over all creation. He exercises His authority over nations, kings, nature, life and death, and the angelic world which includes demons. His position of power and authority is unchallenged and absolute in both the spirit world and in the natural physical world. Consider the following verses:

While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, And cold and heat, And summer and winter, And day and night Shall not cease. (Gen. 8:22)

For this time I will send all My plagues on you and your servants and your people, so that you may know that there is no one like Me in all the earth. For if by now I had put forth My hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, you would then have been cut off from the earth. But, indeed, for this reason I have allowed you to remain, in order to show you My power and in order to proclaim My name through all the earth. (Exod. 9:14-16)

Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the highest heavens, the earth and all that is in it. (Deut. 10:14)

The LORD commanded the angel, and he put his sword back in its sheath. (1 Chron. 21:27)

Then Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD before the new court, and he said, ’O LORD, the God of our fathers, are You not God in the heavens? And are You not ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in Your hand so that no one can stand against You.’ (2 Chron. 20:5-6)

And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. (Rev. 20:10)

In Genesis 1:28, God commands Adam and Eve to multiply, subdue the earth and rule over all living things. Man was given the authority to use the earth and its resources in order for Man to survive and prosper. Then in Genesis 2:15, God balances authority with responsibility when He commands Adam to be a good steward of the garden where he was placed. I am convinced the earth’s resources will last as long as they are intended to last. Contrary to popular opinion, Man wasn’t created for the earth, but the earth was created for Man, even though Man was created later.

Later on, in Genesis 8:21, God, speaking to Himself after bringing the flood upon the earth, promised that He would never again destroy every living thing as He had done with the flood. The interesting statement is in the next verse where God promises that as long as the earth exists, hot and cold, summer and winter, and day and night will not cease. God establishes and preserves the natural order of things, not politicians or so-called environmental activists. If there are, in fact, any variations in the earth’s temperature, God is allowing it to happen. God knows how to keep the earth in balance—after all, He created it.

I believe the third and final attribute that separates God from all the other gods is the one attribute that causes most other religions to stumble and that is the notion of one God existing in multiple persons. (Notice I didn’t say Trinity, but that’s a topic for another time.)

So, how can the concept of One God in three persons be reconciled? Is the Trinity polytheistic? The answer being proposed is to consider God as an instantiation of a One GOD superclass or base class. The Trinity consists of objects instantiated from three subclasses such as Father, Son, Comforter. The three persons that are identified as composing the Trinity are: YHVH, Jesus, and The Spirit respectively. If the Trinity is in fact a composition of all three instantiations of the three subclasses, then you could say that One GOD has a Father; One GOD has a Son; and One GOD has a Comforter. All three persons would have to exist in order for God to exist as One GOD.

I think there is a biblical basis for this theory since God established the notion of classes or kind in creation.

God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good. (Gen. 1:25)

Unlike creation, God was self-instantiated.

As it stands, I’ll leave this theory of God, as derived from object-oriented programming, here for now. I plan to elaborate on this in a future post.

I’ll close this writing with one final thought. Isn’t the belief in an all-powerful, all-knowing, eternally existent Deity just as hard to believe as the concept of one God composed of three entities? Just the idea of a being without a beginning or end is enough to make your head explode. Probably the best analogy for this can be found in the Star Trek episode “The Changeling” where the character Captain Kirk confounds the probe Nomad with his accusation that it is imperfect.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Greek-Hebrew dictionary references are from The New American Standard Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible.


  1. “The Hebrew Name for God – YHVH,” John J. Parsons, accessed October 08, 2017, http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Names_of_G-d/YHVH/yhvh.html