ImageToday there is a lot of talk about the fact that so many people are religious.  One listens carefully to many people and they would be glad to recite many religious patterns that they practice.  Many would also tell you that they are worshiping God.  Two stories demonstrate this. Shirley McLain, upon being asked if she believes in God, replied, "I do: I am one and so are you." Another woman when asked what religion she practiced answered, "It is Sheilaism.  I practice whatever Sheila thinks it is the right thing to do."

Many people, in their approach to be nice to their neighbor, state that all religions are the same.  This desirable quality is contradicted by the fact that Sikhs are persecuting the Muslims, and the Muslims are persecuting the Hindus, and the Hindus are persecuting the Buddhists, and the Buddhists are persecuting Christians and Christians are persecuting Jews, etc.  While there are moral guidelines in every religion, it is only the Bahai faith which is attempting to create a religious smorgasbord by saying that they are taking something good from every religion.

Billy Graham writes that often people wrote to him asking where in the Scripture is that verse, "God helps those who help themselves."  Such a verse does not exist in the Bible, but it demonstrates that people want to find a God who reflects their own actions.  The German theologian Pannenberg writes that many people prefer to have a God from below, created by themselves, rather than a God from above which they did not help manufacture.  There are times when I listen to people talk about Jesus and when I ask them where they found this information, they let me know that this is the imagined Jesus, not the Jesus that we find on the pages of the Scriptures.

Now as one who starts every Monday with an empty piece of paper and by the end of the week I have to deliver a sermon, I appreciate the power of imagination, the creativity that we have in our minds.  As one who usually delivers 2-3 lectures per week at the seminary level, I pray hard that I would be imaginative and creative in the way that I construct my lectures.

Yet the Old Testament and the New Testament do not allow me to create God.  God is so much above my best creative and imaginative processes that the only thing that I would be able to create would be an idol would be offensive to the true God.  That is the reason why God says: "I am the Lord, and there is no other; there is no God besides Me" (Isaiah 45:5a – KJV).  Because there is no other God except Jehovah, I have to be faithful that when I talk about God, that I talk about the God who exists and revealed Himself in the Bible, versus a God that is created.


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Therefore, when I listen to people talk about their religiosity, as pious as this sounds, I have to ask where the true God fits into their religion.  For if the one who said "I am the Lord, and there is no other; there is no God besides Me" is not worshipped in their lives, then they are deceiving themselves and their religion is idolatrous.


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George Hancock-Stefan

Pastor George Hancock-Stefan completed 30 years as the pastor of the great congregation at Central Baptist Church in Atlantic Highlands in 2020. Those 30 years have been a blessed time for him, his wife...