I have read of claims that the early Israelites were heavily influenced by their neighbors (Canaanite religion), and were in a sense polytheistic. They believed in the supremacy of YAHVEH over other gods, yet did not necessarily deny the existence of these other gods. "Have no other gods before me" (Exodus 20:3) comes to mind. What is your take? -- Johnny

Good question. We have to be careful to separate the teaching of a religion from the beliefs of its adherents. Unfortunately, even today what traditional Christianity teaches is a far cry from what most Christians believe. The Israelites came out of a polytheistic society and settled in a land of polytheistic neighbors. It should not surprise us to learn that they struggled for generations to shed those tendencies. I am not sure what percentage were polytheistic over the first millennium of their history, but it was enough to have been a major theme in scripture, as godly men were continually calling the Israelites back to the one true God. That being said, the Jews' beliefs do not automatically match reality. There is an objective reality in which there exists one creator God, as is taught by both Judaism and Christiantiy. This reality does not change, no matter what additional gods anyone has ever believed in. One excellent witness to the truth of monotheism is Jesus. He believed there was one God, so I will also (Mark 12:29). -- IBTM Research Team