The Monolatry of Pat Robertson

The Virginian-Pilot of Hampton Roads recently reported a religious rally featuring the Israeli Ambassador and several Protestant Evangelical ministers, including Pat Robertson.

I learned something I never heard in Sunday School. Robertson, apparently speaking for many so-called Christians, stated "The entire world is being convulsed by a religious struggle; the struggle is whether … the moon god of Mecca, known as Allah, is supreme, or whether the Judeo-Christian Jehovah God of the Bible is supreme.”

Well, well, well.

Now I understand the idiotic babblings of Lt General Jerry Boykin, in and out of uniform.

Now I understand the terrible fear among many Bush supporters that the Catholic John Kerry will win in November. Kerry and Edwards offer the identical imperialism and domestic socialism as Bush-Cheney, with only slightly more cheerfulness and good will.

Relax, Reverend Robertson, the state is safe.

But what Kerry and Edwards don’t offer is a vision of a Sun-God and Moon-God going at it in an overseas theater of modern war in order to prove which is bigger, badder, and more willing to tolerate civilian casualties.

It certainly puts the current destruction and defacement of Iraqi religious city of Najaf in a new light.

Robertson and his ilk of political-religious self-promoters have seized on something that apparently sells well to the religiously fearful. They are marketing the idea that God, one all-powerful God, can be challenged by an equally powerful competitor.

As I recall, there was something of a competitor, with many names, Legion even. Satan was first symbolized by a talking snake — no arms, no legs, a strange lisping ability to speak our language, an animal without a mate. Uniquely unlike anything created by the Maker. The power of suggestion was shown repeatedly in Old and New Testaments to be in fact powerless — unless a man or woman absorbs it, adopts it, believes it, embraces it, acts on it. Unless a man or woman fails to reject it.

A more modern 21st depiction of Satan is performed by Al Pacino in The Devil’s Advocate. The movie is worth a second viewing, because after the second time you realize that the entire story is one of the power of suggestion — not fact, not solidity, not even great worldly benefits — but simply the power of a whispered sweet lie in the ear of a man or woman, a lie accepted as truth.

Up until now, I thought one of the shared aims of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism was to help all God’s children resist the power of false suggestion, and follow a better, more wise, more honest path. To love their neighbor, whoever that neighbor might be, because we were really all brothers. To help the weak or the injured; to assist those to whom a wrong has been done, Samaritan-style.

But old Pat has shown me a new path. He tells me it is not an insult to the one, all-powerful and loving God, for us to suggest the existence of a similarly, possibly even more powerful competitor.

Pat Robertson also tells me that it isn’t crass and Philistine to inform our all powerful God that the great United States military machine is required and necessary to materially defeat this "other" challenger.

And Pat Robertson tells me that Christians who honor Jesus’ advice of rendering unto Caesar his, and to God His, or Christians who appreciate Augustine’s conception of the nature of the real City of God, are just out of touch these days.

Robertson tells us to confirm our faith by voting for Bush and Cheney in November.

Apparently, Robertson is into promoting lies, the lying liars who tell them, and the destructive results of such lies. Downright serpent-like, if I do say so myself.

I’m not buying it.

The Moon god storyline as a political motivator, as with all false suggestions, contains within it the seed of its own demise. What then of the Sun god? What of the ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten, who with wife Nefertiti instituted the first, short-lived monotheism embodied by the Sun god in Egypt in 1300 B.C.? What is the relation here to Moses leading the recently pagan Israelites out of Egypt, under the new ideology of one great God, less than 100 years later?

Most Christians believe in one God only, or monotheism. On the other hand, a great superior god with simultaneous recognition of god-like competitors, like the moon god, is called monolatry.

The root of monolatry, like idolatry or statolatry, is latreia, meaning worship.

My early religious training may be summed up as, "Monolatry, idolatry, statolatry? Don’t go there."

Americans ought to tell Pat Robertson, and all others who suggest war and killing as a path to individual, religious and national virtue what Eve should have said, and what Jesus did say. A little "Get thee hence" goes a long way!