Is Judaism different from Paganism?

Time for an Old Testament theology lesson. Some believe that Judaism is just another pagan religion like all the others. They can match up different things that happened in the Old Testament to things that occurred in the writings of pagan religions and claim that Judaism sprang from or borrowed from many of the pagan religions to formulate their story. I, however, believe that Judaism differed from all other forms of religion and paganism in almost every aspect of its nature. From their gods, temples, and priests to their sacrifices and spiritual behavior pagan religions differed in every way.

The basic idea of Israelite religion is that God is supreme over all. There is nothing around Him our outside of him that has authority or sovereignty over Him. Unlike man and the pagan gods, the God of Judaism is not subject to laws, physical dependences nor time. He is non-mythological in all that He is and does.

God has no ancestry and fathers no generations of other gods. The God of Judaism does not inherit authority nor does He pass it on to other generations. He does not die, He does not have any sexual qualities, and He does not depend upon other powers or things outside of himself. God is completely independent. Unlike most pagan religions who’s gods sound and act like everyday humans with super powers.

The one true God of Judaism has no companions and his opponents are lifeless idols made out of wood, metal, or other created materials. The God of Judaism is jealous and battles with other gods throughout the Old Testament, which are not really gods at all, but figments of humans imagination and need for something to worship.

Another thing that sets Judaism apart is the doctrine of creation. God is the one, and only one who creates everything. There was nothing before he created it, and He created it all out of nothing, ex-nihilio. Creation did not occur by some sexual process, nor did it come from the seed, blood, spit, tears of God. Most of the pagan religions have a common mythological event such as divine births, deaths, wars, banquets, and amusements that mark what creation was all about.

The gods of paganism always derive their power from something outside of themselves. You have gods of water, sky, earth, wind, and so on. However, God does not draw from any source outside of Himself, nor is He dependent upon the things that he himself created. He existed before the earth and everything in it did, and He will exist long after those things fade away. God’s destiny is determined by God alone and not the lives of other pagan gods.

The Israelites God is far above the laws of the universe and fate, which most pagan gods are subject to. There are really no fights between gods, battles for heaven, and God certainly does not use sorcery like some pagan gods were known to do. God does not sin, He does not mess up, and He is not subject to anyone’s will but His own. These things sets Judaism apart from all other religions.

Though some writings and stories may have similarities, there are no other religions nor pagan gods that could ever live up to the one true God. He is far greater than anything man could conceive. His word is more powerful than any other text or material ever written, because it contains life. The bible is packed with the power of God, filled with the love of God, drips with the blood of Christ that cleanses us from all unrighteousness, and leads us to the truth. No other book can claim it… The God of the Israelites, the God who has revealed Himself throughout history, He is the one true God who deserves our worship and praise.

Pressed

4 thoughts on “Is Judaism different from Paganism?

  1. Pressed:One point you made in your arguement was that the G-D of the Israelites is not another pagan deity because He does not have have petty and weak human-like qualities. You say pagan gods are clearly created by man because they have these characteristics and they have a history that includes wars btwn good/evil and bearing children who are gods just like their parents. So I ask, isn’t our G-D, the HOLY ONE of Israel, a jealous G-D? and angry at times? Getting angry at something that is below you and jealous at what it has created (as possible competition for you) seems truly like a person whom we would refer to as an idiot. My beliefs are very similar to yours Pressed and to say the least I am impressed with your site so I am asking for your opinion as to how could our G-D, the single perfect existance our minds can barely grasp, even for a second appear in such a different light?

    Any opinions/ideas from any or all are appreciated
    Ty.

  2. Ty,

    Our God is a jealous God not because He fears possible competition but because He desires and demands obedience from His people. When we do things (or do not do things) which excite His jealousy we envoke His wrath and anger. This is a good thing for it reveals His holy righteousness and power over sin. Who would not want to serve a jealous God? Oprah? I find comfort in a God who desires and demands my ALL. I find comfort in a God who is angered to wrath over sin. I find comfort in a God who provides atonement in the death of His very Son for my sins so that I might even have the possiblility of of not making Him jealous and angry–something I am unable to do of my own accord–for I daily, even with my salvation, offend a righteous and holy God.

    K

  3. K,
    You say our G-D desires and demands obediance from us and; you say that in fact He demands our all. Knowing this, you admit you are still not perfect and have daily transgressions, which is pefectly understandable since you are only human. But with that said, my previous statement implies that we will always mess up and it is such a casual occurance that we can expect such a behavior from our fellow neighbors. My point is perhaps the bar was set too high and if this is a known fact why would such behavior anger the All-Knowing G-D, especially since He was going to provide atonement anyways Himself. This resembles a “there is no hero without the villain” scenario. We would not need a Saviour if He was not a jealous G-D who is angered by our slip ups. I wanted to avoid the Saviour in this discussion because my questions concerning Him and His nature are numerous and I just want to clear up my previous question of how can our perfect G-D get angry at us and threaten to severely punish us when He Himself knows we cannot live up to His expectations. His wrath scares us into obedience, it just seems like a characteristic we would see in a bad parent who then later glorifies themselves claiming they are so good because they put food on the table or did something else that they are supposed to do in the first place. We, as His children, cannot be held responsible for not being perfect and so I think His anger cannot be justified, and His anger leading to His wrath is further unjustified. Who would get angry and beat a child who didn’t know any better? not a perfect parent but rather an average human parent who just lost their temper and regretted it later. So once again I’m lost as to how can our G-D, the single perfect existance our minds can barely grasp, get jealous, angry, and even wrathful?

  4. Ty,

    You have hit on the quintessential dichotomy of Christianity. Yet you are not the first. The beloved apostle in his first epistle desires us to wrangle with this very aspect of Christianity. If we sin we are not in Christ…If we are in Christ we will not sin…yet we sin…and he writes this why? So that we may have complete joy, so that we may not sin, so that we might have eternal life.

    Here is my take. We are commanded to Love God but it impossible to love God. We are commanded to not sin–being in Christ. Yet we sin (at least I do; even in my Bible bubble in Seminary). The end game is that I draw closer to him daily, needing Him daily, praising Him daily. His wrath does not scare me for there is now therefore no condemnation… But my lack of love for Him shames me. Why do I sin? Because I love my sin more than I love Him.

    Even the apostles ran in the sight of danger. They physically walked with the Lord. I run at even less. Oh that He would pour divine wrath on my to keep me close to His side should be my prayer.

    Lastly, sin have a divine purpose. I trust you do not think that sin is just an irritation that annoys God and one day He will do away with it. He hates sin of course. But He allows it to draw us closer to Him.

    The dichotomies are real. Learn to live with them. Learn to embrace them.

    The answer to many of your complex questions above is simply YES (with a great big grin) :)

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