George E Mendenhall
Martin Luther once observed that your “god” is that which you most fear to lose. More recently, Paul Tillich defined a “god” as an “Ultimate Concern.” For the influential citizens and decision makers of the Late Bronze Age, the “Ultimate Concerns” they most feared losing were power and prosperity, and the political apparatus that was believed to guarantee both. For the elite, these concerns took precedence over almost every other consideration. Like many modern folk, they found it impossible to conceive of the reality of the divine apart from some social system of coercion and force. To worship Baal and Asherah was to affirm the supreme value that power and wealth played in making all human life and experience meaningful.
This sort of pagan religious ideology almost inevitably sows the seeds of its own demise. Where power and wealth are the predominant concerns and sacred ends, society dissolves into a self-destructive struggle to obtain them. And the more widely held such a religious ideology, the more widespread the violence will likely be, destroying especially those who most faithfully embrace it.
Politicians and Politics