It has been suggested, in a thread called "Resurrection and Deuteronomy 13", that Jesus preached a message teaching people to follow unknown gods, to treat Christ as God, to practice idolatry, and therefore He was a false prophet, based on:

Deuteronomy 13:1(NASB)“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, 2and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,’ 3you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the LORD your God is testing you to find out if you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4“You shall follow the LORD your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him. 5“But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has counseled rebellion against the LORD your God who brought you from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, to seduce you from the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from among you.

Paul calls greed as idolatry:

Colossians 3:5 (NASB)Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.

There seems to be confusion about what idolatry, "serving strange gods", (whom you have not known) is. Images of worshiping images or statues come to mind, when idolatry is mentioned. These are mere acts of idolatry, not comprehensive and coherent explanations or descriptions of the phenomena. If we go by Paul's view, idolatry happens even when no worshiping of images or statues takes place.

In order to understand what is involved in idolatry, let's identify the results desired, trace the steps taken to achieve those results and describe the outcome, what someone observes has happened.

Most thinkers categorise the results desired as falling under one of the following labels: need for money, sex or power. A more coherent labeling would be: resources, favor or control. People strive for food and shelter, and when they have filled their stomachs, start thinking about satisfying their desire for acceptance, and when that is satisfied as well, they start thinking about how they can manipulate situations, in order to continue to be comfortable.

So the intent is to acquire, and the steps taken to achieve that result starts with acquiring acts. Working, stealing, manoeuvring, so as to ensure resources reach the acquirer. Finally, after using all natural means to achieve the goal, some may even believe supernatural help can be reached out for, and act on that belief. Through time, people have decided not to leave out supernatural means to acquire, and systems and tools have been discovered that show what those means were. Systems of rituals and festivals, and various paraphernalia, like images and altars, were set up to gods of harvest or profit, if the acquirer wanted to gather resources, or to gods of fertility and love, if the acquirer was looking for favour from a target of their desires. And we know that environments serving gods of war and power were also created, to take care of all other eventualities.

To Paul, the desire to acquire, greed, was all that was necessary to label a situation as idolatry. The use of rituals and images were just actions taken as insurance: if there were spiritual forces that helped the acquiring, the steps taken were supposed to take care of their existence and requirements. The steps were arbitrary and could be improved upon. If sacrificing a goat didn't work, the value was raised by sacrificing a human. If one victim failed, you could increase the number. The sky was the limit.

Jesus described idolatry as serving mammon, living selfishly. The opposite was serving God, who being righteous, desired selflessness, and was Himself a selfless being, not withholding even life, the Lamb being slain, from the foundation of the world. Theologians recognise the God of the Torah as kenotic, self giving.

We know that when someone preached a message of serving strange gods to the Jews, he was preaching a message that was opposite to Torah, and the fruit they bore, the proselytes they produced, were twice the sons of hell as they themselves (Matthew 23:14, 15).

Who preached such a message, of following strange gods, to the Jews?

  1. Old Testament Prophets
  2. John the Baptist
  3. Christ

See Matthew 21:34 and Leviticus 19:18, 34 for help.

  • Are you talking in any sense about the shrine “to an unknown god” Paul mentioned? Also, I can follow that worshipping “strange gods” would be idolatrous, but I can’t follow the line of reasoning between the initial question and the discussion of what constitutes idolatry. Also, when you list people at the end of the description, there’s no punctuation on the names, so I can’t tell is you’re asking if these people preached it or stating they did, or asking us to pick one out of the list. Sep 12, 2019 at 3:56
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    Thanks for taking time to read and comment. I have edited the post to fix the problems you mentioned. Please check if it is okay now.
    – Seeker
    Sep 12, 2019 at 5:19
  • When conversing with Big Mouth, the poster of the referenced question, Orthodox Judaism (which claimed to be the true inheritor of the much older Jewish teaching going back to Moses himself) regards holding the view of Jesus is God is tantamount to violating the Torah (specifically Deut 13:1-5) punishable by death. So obviously since the apostles including St. Paul taught that Jesus is God fall under the category of "preaching a message to follow strange gods", because the true Israel God would never condone such message. Sep 13, 2019 at 18:28
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    Quote, "Rabbis of Jesus' time had no difficulty in personifying separate aspects of God's personality i.e., His Wisdom, His Law (Torah), His Presence (Shekinah) and His Word (Memra)" Unquote.tektonics.org/jesusclaims/trinitydefense.php
    – Seeker
    Sep 13, 2019 at 18:54
  • @Seeker Yes, most Christians are aware how John conceives of Jesus as Word, not so much YET as Wisdom, which could yield deeper insight to passages such as Matt 11:25-30 which some commentators say has oblique reference to Jesus as Wisdom. BUT don't you think conceiving Jesus as God incarnate in Body form crosses a threshold? Probably that's why Orthodox Judaism calls Christians idolatrous. We need to find points of continuity between 2nd temple and early rabbinic periods so it's natural for St. Paul to teach Jesus to the Jews of his time to accept Jesus as God incarnate bodily. Sep 13, 2019 at 20:06


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