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Author Topic: All the gods of the pagans are demons  (Read 7431 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: March 19, 2009, 09:23:01 PM »

All the gods of the pagans are demons.
Psalm 95:5

Now, what does this mean exactly?

From once source:

"Demon"    1387, from L. dæmon "spirit," from Gk. daimon (gen. daimonos) "lesser god, guiding spirit, tutelary deity," (sometimes including souls of the dead), used (with daimonion) in Christian Gk. translations and Vulgate for "god of the heathen" and "unclean spirit." Jewish authors earlier had employed the Gk. word in this sense, using it to render shedim "lords, idols" in the Septuagint, and Matt. viii.31 has daimones, translated as deofol in O.E., feend or deuil in M.E. The original mythological sense is sometimes written dæmon for purposes of distinction. The Demon of Socrates (1387) was a daimonion, a "divine principle or inward oracle." His accusers, and later the Church Fathers, however, represented this otherwise. The Demon Star (1895) is Beta Persei (in Ar. Algol "the Demon") so called because it visibly varies in brightness every three days. Fem. form demoness first attested 1638. Demonic is from 1662; demonize is from 1821.

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« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2009, 10:13:02 PM »

From the Orthodox Study Bible notes on p. 746:

  "Ps 95 is a prophecy about the building of the house after the captivity (v. 1).  The house is the Church, which includes the Gentiles (vv. 3, 5, 7, 10,). The Gentiles were the captives of the demons (v. 5). The Lord (vv. 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 13) is the Lord Jesus Christ, who freed the captives.  These former captives now worship Him (v. 9),..."

 So this is saying (using the above notes and the notes you quoted) that any god other than Jesus Christ is either a demon or an idol. IME, trying to figure which god was/is a demon and which is merely an idol is an exercise in futility as both are a form of captivity that leads to death.


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« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2009, 10:48:09 PM »

All the gods of the pagans are demons.
Psalm 95:5

I think that there are two answers.

1.  In the context of Israel, surrounded by nations whose worship often included dirty sex and child sacrifice, they would certainly believe, and rightly, that the gods of the pagans are demons.

2.  But there is another side to it..... take, for example, Buddha.  The thing is that God has instilled in man a profound need to worship his Creator.  Man longs to do that.   And so, without the guidance of God's revelation,  men will create gods for themselves, whether it is Buddha or their ancestors or whatever.  The impulse to worship is too strong to be denied.  We must thank God for this innate impulse because it is what makes possible the work of the missionaries in bringing people to Christ.

Hey look!  Two Saint Patrick icons.   That reminds me of the old Irish saying which goes, roughly, 'There are in fact two St Patricks and no God'
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« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2009, 11:27:32 PM »

^^Father, can there be too many icons of Holy Father Patrick?  Cheesy

 Regarding Buddhsim, I like what Fr. Seraphim Rose had to say; "Buddhism is good, as far as it goes, but it doesn't go far enough."  This from man who truly understood the Buddha's teachings.
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« Reply #4 on: March 20, 2009, 12:04:19 AM »

^^Father, can there be too many icons of Holy Father Patrick?  Cheesy

 Regarding Buddhsim, I like what Fr. Seraphim Rose had to say; "Buddhism is good, as far as it goes, but it doesn't go far enough."  This from man who truly understood the Buddha's teachings.

When I was young I spent some time at Fr Sophrony's monastery in Essex testing my vocation.  As you know, Fr Sophrony had his own Buddhist period as a youngster back in the days when it was quite a serious thing to do and not just playing with incense and butter lamps.  Smiley

Fr Sophrony would say that the attraction of Buddhism is that it calls out to the human heart to return to the nothingness (nirvana) from which we are created.   A very strong pull, spiritually and psychologically.    But a Christian cannot return to the void of nothingness.  He is called by God to a great destiny, to grow ever closer and closer to God in the process of theosis which will go on through eternity. 
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« Reply #5 on: March 20, 2009, 01:54:02 AM »

I always thought nirvana was being absorbed into "the One."  I never knew it was "nothingness."  I may be mixing religions here I suppose.
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« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2009, 01:57:34 AM »

The idea of buddhist "nothingness" is incomplete and carries some incorrect connotations. Too many Buddhist texts were incorrectly/incompletely translated in the early part of the 20th century.
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« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2009, 06:56:48 AM »

The idea of buddhist "nothingness" is incomplete and carries some incorrect connotations. Too many Buddhist texts were incorrectly/incompletely translated in the early part of the 20th century.
Whatever it precisely means I am unsure but I did hear from a Tibetan Buddhist monk (in his tradition which I believe was different but in adherence to the Dalai Llama) that it is basically contingent upon achieving higher rebirth into which one contemplates emptiness & all else is illusion. I mean no aspersion to this but for an Orthodox Christian (or any Christian) this sounds like some form of spiritual sucide.
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« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2009, 09:13:10 AM »

I always thought nirvana was being absorbed into "the One."  I never knew it was "nothingness."  I may be mixing religions here I suppose.
This idea is particular mainly to most branches of Hinduism, though, some Buddhist sects might come close to this idea.  There are three schools of thought in Buddhism; Theravada, Mahayana (Zen and such), and Vajrayana (primarily Tibetan).  Mahayana has the most divisions of them all and therefore probably has a sect that might come close to this idea (I'm thinking of Pure Land but could be wrong).   
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« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2009, 10:19:50 AM »

The idea of buddhist "nothingness" is incomplete and carries some incorrect connotations. Too many Buddhist texts were incorrectly/incompletely translated in the early part of the 20th century.
Whatever it precisely means I am unsure but I did hear from a Tibetan Buddhist monk (in his tradition which I believe was different but in adherence to the Dalai Llama) that it is basically contingent upon achieving higher rebirth into which one contemplates emptiness & all else is illusion. I mean no aspersion to this but for an Orthodox Christian (or any Christian) this sounds like some form of spiritual sucide.


http://www.thebigview.com/buddhism/emptiness.html

What is emptiness?

The Buddhist notion of emptiness is often misunderstood as nihilism. Unfortunately, 19th century Western philosophy has contributed much to this misconstruction. Meanwhile Western scholars have acquired enough knowledge about Buddhism to realise that this view is far from accurate. The only thing that nihilism and the teaching of emptiness can be said to have in common is a sceptical outset. While nihilism concludes that reality is unknowable, that nothing exists, that nothing meaningful can be communicated about the world, the Buddhist notion of emptiness arrives at just the opposite, namely that ultimate reality is knowable, that there is a clear-cut ontological basis for phenomena, and that we can communicate and derive useful knowledge from it about the world. Emptiness (sunyata) must not be confused with nothingness. Emptiness is not non-existence and it is not non-reality.

What is emptiness then? To understand the philosophical meaning of this term, let's look at a simple solid object, such as a cup. How is a cup empty? We usually say that a cup is empty if it does not contain any liquid or solid. This is the ordinary meaning of emptiness. But, is the cup really empty? A cup empty of liquids or solids is still full of air. To be precise, we must therefore state what the cup is empty of. Can a cup be empty of all substance? A cup in a vacuum does not contain any air, but it still contains space, light, radiation, as well as its own substance. Hence, from a physical point of view, the cup is always full of something. Yet, from the Buddhist point of view, the cup is always empty. The Buddhist understanding of emptiness is different from the physical meaning. The cup being empty means that it is devoid of inherent existence.

What is meant with non-inherent existence? Is this to say that the cup does not ultimately exist? - Not quite. - The cup exists, but like everything in this world, its existence depends on other phenomena. There is nothing in a cup that is inherent to that specific cup or to cups in general. Properties such as being hollow, spherical, cylindrical, or leak-proof are not intrinsic to cups. Other objects which are not cups have similar properties, as for example vases and glasses. The cup's properties and components are neither cups themselves nor do they imply cupness on their own. The material is not the cup. The shape is not the cup. The function is not the cup. Only all these aspects together make up the cup. Hence, we can say that for an object to be a cup we require a collection of specific conditions to exist. It depends on the combination of function, use, shape, base material, and the cup's other aspects. Only if all these conditions exist simultaneously does the mind impute cupness to the object. If one condition ceases to exist, for instance, if the cup's shape is altered by breaking it, the cup forfeits some or all of its cupness, because the object's function, its shape, as well as the imputation of cupness through perception is disrupted. The cup's existence thus depends on external circumstances. Its physical essence remains elusive.

Those readers who are familiar with the theory of ideas of the Greek philosopher Plato will notice that this is pretty much the antithesis to Plato's idealism. Plato holds that there is an ideal essence of everything, e.g. cups, tables, houses, humans, and so on. Perhaps we can give Plato some credit by assuming that the essence of cups ultimately exists in the realm of mind. After all, it is the mind that perceives properties of an object and imputes cupness onto one object and tableness onto another. It is the mind that thinks "cup" and "table". Does it follow that the mind is responsible for the existence of these objects? - Apparently, the mind does not perceive cups and tables if there is no visual and tactile sensation. And, there cannot be visual and tactile sensation if there is no physical object. The perception thus depends on the presence of sensations, which in turn relies on the presence of the physical object. This is to say that the cup's essence is not in the mind. It is neither to be found in the physical object. Obviously, its essence is neither physical nor mental. It cannot be found in the world, not in the mind, and certainly not in any heavenly realm, as Plato imagined. We must conclude that the objects of perception have therefore no inherent existence.

If this is the case for a simple object, such as a cup, then it must also apply to compound things, such as cars, houses, machines, etc. A car, for example, needs a motor, wheels, axles, gears, and many other things to work. Perhaps we should consider the difference between man-made objects, such as cups, and natural phenomena, such as earth, plants, animals, and human beings. One may argue that lack of inherent existence of objects does not imply the same for natural phenomena and beings. In case of a human being, there is a body, a mind, a character, a history of actions, habits, behaviour, and other things we can draw upon to describe a person. We can even divide these characteristics further into more fundamental properties. For example, we can analyse the mind and see that there are sensations, cognition, feelings, ideas. Or, we can analyse the brain and find that there are neurons, axons, synapses, and neurotransmitters. However, none of these constituents describe the essence of the person, the mind, or the brain. Again, the essence remains elusive.
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« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2009, 10:35:03 AM »

From what I read and heard from experts in Eastern religions, the main accent at least in some branches of Buddhism is not on "the One" and not on the "nothingness"/"void." Rather, the whole point is that being is a "samsara" (or "sansara"), a dull, heart-breaking, painful circle, a revolving aronund certain incomprehensible entities which is entirely beyond any control of a human person. Normally, existence should be a "dharma" (smooth, linear, puposeless flow of miriads of infinitely small particles, not actually connected with each other and just flowing endlessly, with no purpose, no direction and no time as such - no future or present, only past really existing). Humans, in their stupidity, imagine that THEIR being is different - that it has certain purposes and should be driven by their needs, wants, desires. So, they deviate from the natural law of "dharma" and begin to live lives of wanting something, striving to something (pleasure, health, wealth, power, knowledge etc.). But because of this gross violation of most fundamental natural law of dharma, they fall under the influence of "karma" - which is somethig close to the Newtonian "action causes reaction." Completely contrary to their naive, silly expectations, the laws of karma make their existence "whirling," revolving around something, the "sansara," which cannot ever be broken as long as they do not abandon all of their desires and return to the "dharma" path. The latter is possible; it has been achieved by the Buddha (and also, according to some versions of Buddhism, by other human beings, "Bodhisatwas" (sp.?). We do not know about ourselves, can we also return to the "dharma" or not, but we should at least try, best of all in a monastery.
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« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2009, 11:53:43 AM »

The idea of buddhist "nothingness" is incomplete and carries some incorrect connotations. Too many Buddhist texts were incorrectly/incompletely translated in the early part of the 20th century.
Whatever it precisely means I am unsure but I did hear from a Tibetan Buddhist monk (in his tradition which I believe was different but in adherence to the Dalai Llama) that it is basically contingent upon achieving higher rebirth into which one contemplates emptiness & all else is illusion. I mean no aspersion to this but for an Orthodox Christian (or any Christian) this sounds like some form of spiritual sucide.


http://www.thebigview.com/buddhism/emptiness.html

What is emptiness?

The Buddhist notion of emptiness is often misunderstood as nihilism.

Which is why one Tibetan Buddhist teacher in America prefers to use the English word "openness" rather than "emptiness" as his translation of the Sanskrit "shunyata".

A cup is, then, "open", because it's existence is dependent upon a myriad other factors.

(The circle is a nice symbol for "shunyata": a circle is a line encircling an "empty" space, thus being "open" to being filled. An infinitely large circle is thus always empty, and always open.)
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« Reply #12 on: August 28, 2009, 07:40:43 PM »

Where do you get the translation "demons"? Most of the translations I can see say "For all the gods of the nations are idols".
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« Reply #13 on: August 28, 2009, 08:06:01 PM »

I don't think that Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha, is regarded as a god, but rather he is regarded as a great teacher.  I don;t know too much about Buddhism, except that some of its ideas are pretty good such as self-denial as practiced by the monks and a practice of moderation away from the extreme of self-indulgence and greed. I can also relate to some of the precepts such as to refrain from lying, killing, stealing, sensual misconduct, misuse of drugs and alcohol. As far as some of the other metaphysical teachings of Buddhism are concerned, for me they are hard to understand and I find it difficult to relate to them.
In any event, I am acquainted with some devout Buddhists who are wonderful people to have as friends and neighbors. What I have noticed is that they are not opposed to Christianity at all, but are willing to incorporate many Christian ideas and teachings  into their lives but without giving up their adherence to many of the teachings of Buddhism.
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« Reply #14 on: August 28, 2009, 08:40:03 PM »

Where do you get the translation "demons"? Most of the translations I can see say "For all the gods of the nations are idols".

then you aren't looking at the God inspired translation of the Septuagint.
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« Reply #15 on: August 28, 2009, 08:54:17 PM »

then you aren't looking at the God inspired translation of the Septuagint.

Do the Oriental churches or the Nestorian (Persian) church have any beliefs about the Septuagint being some kind of divine, inspired and "official" version of the Holy Scriptures?

I have always found this to be a kind of strange belief in the Orthodox Church.  Is this belief dogmatic?
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« Reply #16 on: August 28, 2009, 09:01:59 PM »

Where do you get the translation "demons"? Most of the translations I can see say "For all the gods of the nations are idols".

then you aren't looking at the God inspired translation of the Septuagint.

No, I wasn't. What does the Septuagint say?
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« Reply #17 on: August 28, 2009, 09:04:08 PM »

What does the Septuagint say?

ὅτι πάντες οἱ θεοὶ τῶν ἐθνῶν δαιμόνια
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« Reply #18 on: August 28, 2009, 09:16:42 PM »

then you aren't looking at the God inspired translation of the Septuagint.

Do the Oriental churches or the Nestorian (Persian) church have any beliefs about the Septuagint being some kind of divine, inspired and "official" version of the Holy Scriptures?

I have always found this to be a kind of strange belief in the Orthodox Church.  Is this belief dogmatic?

There have been a few threads on scripture in the OO Church:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,7886.0.html

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,301.0.html

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,11816.0.html
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« Reply #19 on: August 28, 2009, 09:25:49 PM »

What does the Septuagint say?

ὅτι πάντες οἱ θεοὶ τῶν ἐθνῶν δαιμόνια

Interesting. I suppose the Masoretic and Septuagint convey very different meanings in this passage.
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« Reply #20 on: February 03, 2010, 02:14:08 PM »

What does the Septuagint say?

ὅτι πάντες οἱ θεοὶ τῶν ἐθνῶν δαιμόνια
On the other hand, there is John, chapter 8, verses 42-47:

Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don't you believe me? He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God."


It seems that Jesus is saying here that, within Judaism, you have some people whose father is the devil (the greatest demon), and some people whose father is God.

If Jesus viewed this as the case even within Judaism, then the Old Testament statement about the gods of the nations being demons, can be interpreted to mean that some within the nations have demons as their gods, whereas others in those nations have God as their God. (Thus, this would account for the Jewish idea of "righteous gentiles", as well as Socrates and other Greek lovers of wisdom being accounted as honorary Christians, by some early Church Fathers.)

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« Reply #21 on: February 03, 2010, 02:21:47 PM »

If Jesus viewed this as the case even within Judaism, then the Old Testament statement about the gods of the nations being demons, can be interpreted to mean that some within the nations have demons as their gods, whereas others in those nations have God as their God. (Thus, this would account for the Jewish idea of "righteous gentiles", as well as Socrates and other Greek lovers of wisdom being accounted as honorary Christians, by some early Church Fathers.)

Thanks for that contribution.  I think you might be on to something.

Just so everyone is aware, in another thread I addressed this issue from a different angle, so some of the ideas expressed in that thread might be helpful:

Christianity as a Synthesis of Preceding Religions
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« Reply #22 on: February 03, 2010, 04:20:18 PM »

One thing to keep in mind is that God Himself has implanted deep within us a profound need to worship.

Without the guiding light of revelation this can be distorted.  People may create idols modelled on their own attraction to evil.  But they may also create and worship  ideas of God which are good and beneficial for them and reflect the true God.

And of course the demons can come in and take a role in distorting the worship which every man feels he must render to a divinity.

So before we call all the gods of the pagans demons, we should remember that the desire to worship is a need created within us by God Himself and it must find some expression.
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« Reply #23 on: February 03, 2010, 04:44:21 PM »

Indeed!  With reference to the veneration of icons, a Baptist who converted and was ordained an Orthodox priest said (in a sermon at Vespers of the Sunday of Orthodoxy), "Those who do not venerate the holy icons will, perforce, find unholy icons to venerate."
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« Reply #24 on: February 03, 2010, 05:00:27 PM »

And of course the demons can come in and take a role in distorting the worship which every man feels he must render to a divinity.
.
This is a litle bit off topic, but with reference to demons, do the Orthodox have a rite of exorcism and when would this be used?
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« Reply #25 on: February 03, 2010, 05:24:26 PM »

Indeed!  With reference to the veneration of icons, a Baptist who converted and was ordained an Orthodox priest said (in a sermon at Vespers of the Sunday of Orthodoxy), "Those who do not venerate the holy icons will, perforce, find unholy icons to venerate."

Nice! What's the name of this priest?
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« Reply #26 on: February 03, 2010, 05:28:46 PM »

And of course the demons can come in and take a role in distorting the worship which every man feels he must render to a divinity.
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This is a litle bit off topic, but with reference to demons, do the Orthodox have a rite of exorcism and when would this be used?

I think there are a bunch of ways of doing exorcism. An exorcism is performed at the beginning of every baptism. Any blessing of water or other objects has some exorcising capacity and a house-blessing is, in part, an exorcism. I'm not sure if the Orthodox Church has such a clearly defined practice as the RCC does for dealing with demoniacs, but certainly there are many prayers of exorcism that priests can use.
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« Reply #27 on: February 03, 2010, 07:21:58 PM »

And of course the demons can come in and take a role in distorting the worship which every man feels he must render to a divinity.
.
This is a litle bit off topic, but with reference to demons, do the Orthodox have a rite of exorcism and when would this be used?

I think there are a bunch of ways of doing exorcism. An exorcism is performed at the beginning of every baptism. Any blessing of water or other objects has some exorcising capacity and a house-blessing is, in part, an exorcism. I'm not sure if the Orthodox Church has such a clearly defined practice as the RCC does for dealing with demoniacs, but certainly there are many prayers of exorcism that priests can use.

When an icon here began to weep, when the bishop came to investigate, the first thing he did was a rite of exorcism, to make sure about who was behind the tears.
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« Reply #28 on: November 29, 2010, 12:56:16 AM »

Then again, the Bible doesn't always label as "demons" the gods of the non-Hebrews:

Micah 4:5 KJV: "For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever."
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