Does reason show the First Cause to be one or plural? If one: whence the strong tendency to polytheism? This may be explained in part by the craving of the common mind for concrete ideas. We may add the causes stated by Turretin: That man’s sense of weakness and exposure prompts him to lean upon superior strength: That gratitude and admiration persuade him to deify human heroes and benefactors at their deaths: And that the copiousness and variety of God’s agencies have suggested to the incautious a plurality of agents. Hodge (Theol. P. I. Ch. 3.) seems to regard Pantheism as the chief source of polytheism. He believes that pantheistic conceptions of the universe have been more persistent and prevalent in all ages than any other. “Polytheism has its origin in nature worship: . . . . and nature worships rests on the assumption that nature is God.”
But I am persuaded a more powerful impulse to polytheism arises from the co-action of two natural principles in the absence of a knowledge of God in Christ. One is the sense of weakness and dependence, craving a superior power on whom to lean. The other is the shrinking of conscious guilt from infinite holiness and power. The creature needs a God: the sinner fears a God. The expedient which results is, the invention of intermediate and mediating divinities, more able than man to succor, yet less awful than the infinite God. Such is notably the account of the invention of saint-worship, in that system of baptized polytheism known as Romanism.
– R.L. Dabney
1820 – 1898
I had never thought of it that way, but it does make sense.
A good example of reasoning according to the truth revealed in the Scriptures. Logic would dictate such results. We might say the intermediaries of our invention or choice we think of as not only more able to succor, but more “user friendly” in that we attach to them our affection as “helpers”, and in so doing, develop an emotional attachment, which is a stronger tie than mere reason would form. Once so attached, man defends his intermediary champion with ruthless, energized vigor which reason alone is unable to separate. Thus it is extremely hard to reason with those who are so attached, be it to “saint”, priest, pastor, revered author, etc.
BINGO! I wondered who the first reader/commenter to make that connection would be when I first posted this Dabney quote. You win the DefCon Golden “Comments-meta Astute Reader Prize” (a.k.a. Gold CARP)!
Wow! The Golden Carp!!! Thanks, CD.