How should Christians engage with the gods and goddesses of alternative religious movements? Obviously, since we affirm YHWH as the one true God and Jesus as the one true incarnation of God, the worship of other gods and goddesses is always going to be a problematic issue for us. But does that give Christians licence to slander them?
Here is what the New Testament has to say
1/ When the travelling companions of Paul were brought before an assembly in Ephesus by followers of the goddess Artemis, the town clerk observed “You have brought these men here, though they have neither robbed temples nor blasphemed our goddess.” (Acts 19:37)
2/ In speaking against the ways of Christian heretics, the Apostle Peter warned, “This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature and despise authority. Bold and arrogant, these men are not afraid to slander celestial beings; yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not bring slanderous accusations against such beings in the presence of the Lord.” (2 Peter 2:10-11)
3/ In a similar vein, the brother of Christ warned “In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings. But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’ Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals—these are the very things that destroy them.” (Jude 1:8-10)
So now what?
I don’t know about you but to me this suggests that, not only should we treat non-Christians with respect as I have argued elsewhere, but that we should also treat non-Christian gods and goddesses with respect – even though we deny them.
And given that last statement by Jude warns that even Satan, the father of lies, should not be slandered, I would suggest we need to be very, very careful in what we say about strange gods and goddesses amongst ourselves and amongst others, in our sermons and in our conversations.