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Author Topic:   Money Isn't a False God
purpledawn
Member (Idle past 2347 days)
Posts: 4453
From: Indiana
Joined: 04-25-2004


Message 1 of 150 (614229)
05-01-2011 10:16 AM


What is a false god?

This isn't about which gods are false, but what constitutes a false god. I have noticed many times Christians have made the comment that money and power are false gods. I assume it stems from the verses in Matthew 6:24 and Luke 16:13 that state one cannot serve two masters. One can't serve God and money.

I disagree that money or power are on the level with a deity.
I disagree that money or power are worshiped.

A false god is, in Abrahamic doctrines, a deity or object of worship that is either illegitimate or non-functioning in its professed authority or capability. The term is often used throughout the Bible to compare YHWH, interpreted as the one true God, infinite, body-less and transcendent as compared to anthropomorphic deities of competing religions.

The teaching means we shouldn't be stingy with material wealth.

Loving money or power isn't the same as worshiping them.
Love doesn't equal worship, just as serving doesn't equal love.

I feel that claiming that modern false gods are money and power waters down the meaning of deity and worship.

Has Christianity run out of competing gods and need to invent new false gods or is it just politically incorrect to bash other gods so a more universal villain is needed?

Either way, I don't feel money is a false god.

(Bible Study or Faith and Belief)


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purpledawn
Member (Idle past 2347 days)
Posts: 4453
From: Indiana
Joined: 04-25-2004


Message 4 of 150 (614255)
05-03-2011 7:34 AM
Reply to: Message 3 by nwr
05-03-2011 12:14 AM


Money Isn't a Deity
quote:
This is a somewhat strange topic, so I'm not sure what direction you expect the discussion to take.
It is strange and I feel it is a strange comment to make, but it has been made here at EvC.

GDR writes:

For example I contend that when the Israelites claim to be told by God to slaughter every man woman and child amongst their enemies we are to understand that we are to learn not to let other gods, (in modern terms I suggest that the other gods are money and power), become part of our lives as they had done. Message 14


iano writes:

Give up your false god: the love of money, comfort and luxury and influence - Message 67


riVeRrat writes:

My Pastor had a sermon on false Gods, and what they are these days. Some of the things were, sports, material things, RELIGION, your children, and a few more. I couldn't agree more. Too often people put church before God, and want to build up the church, instead of building up the kingdom. - Message 2

We can find several articles presenting money, among other things, as a false god. The False Gods of This World

Money has always been a false god that people chase after. Power and fame are also false gods of this post-modern era. There are now more CEOs, executives, and celebrities than there were at any time in history combined. Another false god of this information-age is materialism.

I expect those who consider money to be a false god will explain how they feel money can be presented as a deity, false or otherwise. How is money worshiped? Wanting something doesn't mean it is viewed as a deity or is a deity.

I realize that one religion is going to say that a competing religion's god is false, but people don't actually worship money. Money is necessary for survival in most places. Oddly enough, even churches require money to survive.

Everything that competes with the Christian God for our attention isn't automatically a false deity.

To be a false deity, wouldn't it need to be considered a deity by someone and actually worshiped?


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purpledawn
Member (Idle past 2347 days)
Posts: 4453
From: Indiana
Joined: 04-25-2004


Message 10 of 150 (614301)
05-03-2011 12:58 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by Coyote
05-03-2011 10:55 AM


Re: Francisco's 'Money' Speech from Atlas Shrugged
I like this line from Francisco's 'Money' Speech:

Run for your life from any man who tells you that money is evil. That sentence is the leper's bell of an approaching looter.

Don't blame the inanimate objects for our own poor choices.

Very nice article. Wonderful food for thought. I like it.


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purpledawn
Member (Idle past 2347 days)
Posts: 4453
From: Indiana
Joined: 04-25-2004


Message 11 of 150 (614310)
05-03-2011 1:35 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by kbertsche
05-03-2011 11:10 AM


Trust and Reliance
quote:
But I think the more common use of the term "false gods" is in the sense of trust or reliance. God is the one who is ultimately to be trusted and relied upon for our spiritual and physical well-being. Anything that takes His place in this has become a "false god."
But how does money take God's place in reality?

In the United States, we need money to buy food, clothing, housing, and utilities. These are all the basic things we need to survive. How does God provide for our physical well being without money?

The song in Psalm 20 you quoted doesn't portray the horses and chariots as gods or false gods though. Two teams playing basketball. One team relies on their skill and training to win the game. The other team relies only on God to win the game. Does that mean the team relying on God doesn't practice, learn the rules, work out, etc.? IMO, they will work just as hard as the other team to get in shape and prepare for the game, just as the armies in Psalm 20 did.

I don't see that people rely anymore on money than they do on food for their physical well being.


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purpledawn
Member (Idle past 2347 days)
Posts: 4453
From: Indiana
Joined: 04-25-2004


Message 12 of 150 (614314)
05-03-2011 1:50 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by Phat
05-03-2011 10:47 AM


Re: Money Isn't a Deity
quote:
In some respects, the phrase, "a false god" is a figure of speech. It would be similar to a man saying that his "woman" was his boat.
Except that it should make sense. If money is to be likened to a false god, then that means it is useless. Money isn't useless. It is necessary for survival.

It sounds like more of a ploy.

quote:
Have you ever had a rich Uncle? Funny how we always seem to be more concerned with how wealthier relatives and friends feel about us than we do the poorer ones.
You consider sucking up to be worship? That's what people do in church each Sunday???

In your scenario, the Uncle would be the object of worship, not the money; just as God is the object of worship, not whatever prize one feels he holds for them later.


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purpledawn
Member (Idle past 2347 days)
Posts: 4453
From: Indiana
Joined: 04-25-2004


Message 14 of 150 (614371)
05-03-2011 8:04 PM
Reply to: Message 13 by GDR
05-03-2011 6:54 PM


Re: Money Isn't a Deity
quote:
If we make the attainment of wealth and power one of the central features of our lives, I maintain that we are worshipping false gods in a less blood thirsty, but still similar way to the various cultures in the ancient world.
I disagree. Worshiping another god to attain wealth and power is worshiping a false god. Ignoring the Christian God and attaining wealth and power isn't worshiping a false god.

Money and power are not false gods. I don't see that it's similar.


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purpledawn
Member (Idle past 2347 days)
Posts: 4453
From: Indiana
Joined: 04-25-2004


Message 17 of 150 (614414)
05-04-2011 7:55 AM
Reply to: Message 15 by GDR
05-03-2011 8:35 PM


Where The Heart Is
quote:
I wasn't making this about the god of any particular religion. I'm just talking about where our heart is. If it's all wrapped in money and power then I still maintain that we are serving false gods. In this case the money is the road to the power.
It doesn't matter what religion we're dealing with.

IMO, serving and worshiping are not the same. We can't serve money or power. They aren't entities.

Our hearts are wrapped up in survival. That's what we do on a daily basis. Money is necessary for survival. How is being "wrapped up" in money any different than being wrapped up in hunting for food or growing food. We are wrapped up in survival and survival of our families.

Show me how someone worships or serves money today. Give me a real example.


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purpledawn
Member (Idle past 2347 days)
Posts: 4453
From: Indiana
Joined: 04-25-2004


Message 19 of 150 (614416)
05-04-2011 8:05 AM
Reply to: Message 16 by kbertsche
05-03-2011 8:37 PM


Re: Trust and Reliance
quote:
Psalm 20:7 presents horses and chariots as alternatives to God. Perhaps "substitutes for God" or "substitute gods" would be more accurate terms than "false gods." We can quibble about the semantics, but I believe this is what many people mean by "false gods."
I disagree. It's a song that emphasizes the Hebrews had a powerful god on their side besides their own strength. Like I said, the Hebrews would still have prepared mentally and physically for battle and part of that is attitude.

Money is not a substitute god. Show me how people today consider it a substitute god. We have to get past the catch phrases and the creative writing and look at reality.

One can love their god all they want, but they can't just sit on their bums and not do anything. They have to work at survival.


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purpledawn
Member (Idle past 2347 days)
Posts: 4453
From: Indiana
Joined: 04-25-2004


Message 22 of 150 (614538)
05-04-2011 7:01 PM
Reply to: Message 20 by GDR
05-04-2011 10:31 AM


Re: Where The Heart Is
quote:
I'm not talking money for "survival". I'm talking about accumulating money in order to gain power and influence, or accumulating money just for the point of seeing rich you can become.
It doesn't matter. Accumulating anything just for the sake of having it doesn't make that thing a false god. It doesn't mean that one's heart isn't with the god of their choice.

There is nothing wrong with having power and influence. A selfish person is selfish whether they have a ton of money or not.

Money cannot be accurately likened to a deity or false deity.

quote:
Money for survival, or money to help those that need help is a good thing.
Starting a business that creates jobs can help those in need. There are many ways to help those in need besides handing them money.

You haven't shown me that money is anything like a false god. There's no worship of it or serving it.


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purpledawn
Member (Idle past 2347 days)
Posts: 4453
From: Indiana
Joined: 04-25-2004


Message 23 of 150 (614553)
05-04-2011 7:31 PM
Reply to: Message 21 by kbertsche
05-04-2011 1:41 PM


Re: Trust and Reliance
quote:
Can you please clarify what you disagree with? Certainly you don't disagree that these are presented as two alternatives?
I disagree that the song presents the chariots and horses as substitute for a god. It's a song to inspire the Hebrews not provide facts.

quote:
Notice the wording. It doesn't say "and we also depend on the LORD our God." Rather, it says "but we depend on the LORD our God." The word "but" is functioning as an adversative, "implying opposition or contrast." The text says they were depending on God instead of chariots and horses.
Again, it's a song. Limited wording. Like I said in Message 11:

Two teams playing basketball. One team relies on their skill and training to win the game. The other team relies only on God to win the game. Does that mean the team relying on God doesn't practice, learn the rules, work out, etc.? IMO, they will work just as hard as the other team to get in shape and prepare for the game, just as the armies in Psalm 20 did.

The Hebrews would still have prepared mentally and physically for battle.

Even this commentary doesn't assume the Hebrews didn't prepare and doesn't imply the horses and chariots were substitutes for a god.

And some in horses - Some in cavalry, commonly a very material reliance in war. The use of horses in war was early known in the world, for we find mention of them in the earliest periods of history.

But we will remember the name of the Lord our God - That is, we will remember God - the name, as before remarked, often being used to denote the person. The meaning is, We will not forget that our reliance is not on armies, but on God, the living God. Whatever instrumentality we may employ, we will remember always that our hope is in God, and that he only can give success to our arms.


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purpledawn
Member (Idle past 2347 days)
Posts: 4453
From: Indiana
Joined: 04-25-2004


Message 25 of 150 (614585)
05-05-2011 7:45 AM
Reply to: Message 24 by kbertsche
05-05-2011 3:42 AM


Re: Trust and Reliance
quote:
Perhaps our disagreement is just semantic. I agree with your commentary; it means that "our reliance is not on armies, but on God." It's an issue of reliance or trust, and two possible objects of trust are contrasted.
It's semantics in the sense that you've changed the meaning of false god(s).

One's god of choice does not want his followers to put their trust and reliance in another god for support. That is what they are talking about in Jeremiah. Yahweh didn't want his people to worship (trust, rely) the gods of the surrounding nations.

Jeremiah
Such was the lust of the nation for false gods that after Josiah’s death, the nation would quickly return to the gods of the surrounding nations. Jeremiah was appointed to reveal the sins of the people and the coming consequences.

False Gods of the Bible and the Ancient World

Judg:2:11: And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim:

Judg:2:13: And they forsook the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth.

Judg:3:7: And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgat the LORD their God, and served Baalim and the groves.

Judg:8:33: And it came to pass, as soon as Gideon was dead, that the children of Israel turned again, and went a whoring after Baalim, and made Baal-berith their god.

Jer:2:23: How canst thou say, I am not polluted, I have not gone after Baalim? see thy way in the valley, know what thou hast done: thou art a swift dromedary traversing her ways;

From the Jewish perspective, false gods are the gods of other nations.

It isn't about relying or trusting on everyday items to do what they are intended, but worshiping or relying on the god of another nation to provide for you as one feels their own god does.

As mentioned in Jeremiah 14:22, the ancients relied on gods for rain and sunshine to provide food. They sacrificed and gave praise to the god of their choice.

We don't do this with money. The personification of money in the NT to make a point against not sharing doesn't mean that people actually worshiped money. There may have been a god of riches called Mammon, but info is sketchy.

Even a god of money doesn't make money a god/false god.


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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purpledawn
Member (Idle past 2347 days)
Posts: 4453
From: Indiana
Joined: 04-25-2004


Message 27 of 150 (614628)
05-05-2011 2:04 PM
Reply to: Message 26 by crashfrog
05-05-2011 10:53 AM


Mammon
quote:
But don't you think that's a pretty narrow way to construe it these days? There's not a lot of competition for Christianity anymore, at least not among polytheistic religions. That's the reason that the passage in Jeremiah is interpreted, in modern theology, to refer to not letting shallow material concerns, like wealth, power, prestige, or influence, supersede more important spiritual concerns.
I think it is an appropriate way to construe it.

There are plenty of teachings concerning spiritual concerns without turning money into a false god.

quote:
In that sense money - personified in Christian mythology as "Mammon" - very much is a false god. I just don't see how that can be denied except for very narrow interpretations of "god". And you wouldn't be trying to define or limit God from your narrow human perspective, now would you?
In that sense, the personification is a false god if worshiped, not actual money or having wealth. Having wealth doesn't mean one worships the god, Mammon. Having wealth doesn't mean it gets in the way of spiritual concerns.

I'm not limiting, I'm just not watering down the meaning of a deity.

Nature Deities
Artemis, goddess of the hunt, wild animals, wilderness, childbirth, virginity, fertility, young girls and health and plague in women

Artemis is the goddess or false god, not the things she represents.


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Replies to this message:
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purpledawn
Member (Idle past 2347 days)
Posts: 4453
From: Indiana
Joined: 04-25-2004


Message 29 of 150 (614653)
05-05-2011 4:36 PM
Reply to: Message 28 by crashfrog
05-05-2011 3:21 PM


Re: Mammon
quote:
"Worshipping Mammon" as a term doesn't refer to anything but letting the pursuit of wealth get in the way of spiritual concerns.
Exactly!

quote:
"Mammon" is precisely how money can be a "false god."
I still disagree that it makes money a false god. As you said, no one is worshiping anything, therefore money can't be a false god.

Mammon is more wealth personified, than just money.

quote:
No, that's exactly wrong. Artemis is the hunt. She is the young virgin. She is the wild woman. That's what it means to be the personification of those things - the deity of those things. It's not like she's some divine bureaucrat whose job it is to manage hunts, and virginal girls, and the fertility of women. Artemis is those things - what divinity is in hunting, or virginity, or a woman's power of lifegiving is Artemis's divinity, specifically. She is in and of those things, and they are in and of her.
Those are the things that are personified in the goddess called Artemis. People prayed to her for a good hunt or a healthy child. The child and the hunt are not the gods/false gods. The personification that became Artemis is the god/false god.

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purpledawn
Member (Idle past 2347 days)
Posts: 4453
From: Indiana
Joined: 04-25-2004


Message 31 of 150 (614677)
05-05-2011 7:38 PM
Reply to: Message 30 by crashfrog
05-05-2011 4:55 PM


Re: Mammon
quote:
You've already agreed, though, that that's not what "worshiping a false god" means. You've agreed that it doesn't mean temples and prostrate worship; you've agreed that it means "putting material concerns ahead of spiritual ones."
I have not agreed that worshiping a false god has no actual worship involved. I feel it must have actual worship involved. The party must be worshiping the false god as a god.

I agreed with your statement:

crashfrog writes:

Right, but the phrase "worshipping Mammon" means "letting the pursuit of wealth get in the way of spiritual concerns." Nobody actually worships Mammon - there's no Mammon cult, there are no temples to Mammon*, there's no traditional Mammon scriptures - the "god" Mammon has only ever existed as a negative example, as a metaphor.

Therefore by your own agreement putting money ahead of spiritual matters is "worshiping a false god", and the "false god" being worshiped in this instance is money.

I agree that the phrase "worshiping Mammon" does not include any actual worship. That's why I say that money is not a false god. There is no actual worship involved.

Putting money ahead of spiritual matters is not worshiping a false god. There is no worship taking place. As you said, the phrase is nothing more than a metaphor. (Message 28)

quote:
Right, because those are her domains. The young virgin is Artemis. The expecting mother is Artemis. The ebb and flow of seasons is Artemis. The hunt is Artemis. The wild place is Artemis. All of those things are Artemis and Artemis is all of those things. That's what it means to be the "god" of something. Artemis is the hunt, so she is manifest in the hunt.
No. They aren't worshiping the hunt, they are worshiping the goddess.

Nature Deity
Adherents may literally consider such deities to be divine beings that control particular natural phenomena. An objective view understands these to be mythological personifications of particular phenomena, such that attach personal qualities such as character and name to such phenomena, and conversely illustrate conceptual persons (archetypes) as owning particular and powerful traits.

ABE:

Acts 19:34-37
But when they realized he was a Jew, they all shouted in unison for about two hours: "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!"
The city clerk quieted the crowd and said: "Men of Ephesus, doesn't all the world know that the city of Ephesus is the guardian of the temple of the great Artemis and of her image, which fell from heaven?
Therefore, since these facts are undeniable, you ought to be quiet and not do anything rash.
You have brought these men here, though they have neither robbed temples nor blasphemed our goddess.

Edited by purpledawn, : ABE


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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purpledawn
Member (Idle past 2347 days)
Posts: 4453
From: Indiana
Joined: 04-25-2004


Message 33 of 150 (614724)
05-06-2011 9:24 AM
Reply to: Message 32 by kbertsche
05-06-2011 6:51 AM


Re: Trust and Reliance
quote:
If we can agree that "idolatry" is essentially synonymous with the worship of "false gods," it might be informative to look up "idolatry" in some Bible dictionaries. E.g. ISBE (the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia):
It's a synonym when it refers to actually worshiping the idol of a god who is considered to be false. When used metaphorically as Paul uses it in the NT, it is not synonymous with worshiping a god.

quote:
So it seems that both Jesus and Paul say that wealth or money can indeed be a false god.
Figurative language used to make a point doesn't mean they really considered these things to be false gods nor does it make them false gods.

They aren't saying that wealth or money can be false gods. They are drawing a verbal picture by comparing greed and idolatry or money as a master. They are trying to dissuade the people from being greedy and selfish.

Comparing greed with idolatry or money with a master doesn't make greed idolatry or money a master.

Generally stating that money and power are false gods is inaccurate. It is one's own behavior with wealth or power that goes against one's religion or not.


This message is a reply to:
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