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What Makes A "Heathen"?

Heathens (the original Biblical word is also translated as pagans or gentiles) are generally defined as those who worship false gods. Throughout the Holy Bible, heathens were viewed with utter contempt, not because of who they were, since anyone who truly repents and turns to and obeys God is accepted, but because of what they do: "lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries" (1 Peter 4:3 RSV). Heathens aren't just those who haven't found or accepted the Truth however. The term also applies to Christians who become apostate. In Christ's own words, "if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man" (Matthew 18:17 KJV)

Pagan god Idolatry

"Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. Ye know that ye were Gentiles [heathen in RSV], carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led." (1 Corinthians 12:1-2 KJV) (see The Second Commandment)


"What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? But I say, that the things which the Gentiles [pagans in RSV] sacrifice, they sacrifice to Devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. Ye cannot drink the cup of The Lord [see also YHVH, Adonai, Jehovah, LORD], and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of The Lord's table, and of the table of devils." (1 Corinthians 10:19-21 KJV)

Heathenism In Israel

"And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, and the priests [see Levites] of the second order, and the keepers of the door, to bring forth out of the temple of The Lord all the vessels that were made for Baal, and for the grove, and for all the host of heaven: and he burned them without Jerusalem in the fields of Kidron [see The Kidron Valley], and carried the ashes of them unto Bethel. And he put down the idolatrous priests, whom the kings of Judah [see Kings of Israel and Judah] had ordained to burn incense in the high places in the cities of Judah, and in the places round about Jerusalem; them also that burned incense unto Baal, to the sun, and to the moon, and to the planets, and to all the host of heaven. And he brought out the grove from the house of The Lord, without Jerusalem, unto the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron, and stamped it small to powder, and cast the powder thereof upon the graves of the children of the people. And he brake down the houses of the sodomites, that were by the house of The Lord, where the women wove hangings for the grove." (2 Kings 23:4-7 KJV)

What Did Jesus Christ Say About Heathens?

"Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? For after all these things do the Gentiles seek: for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:31-33 KJV)

"But thou, when thou prayest [see also Prayer and Proof Of Answered Prayer, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him." (Matthew 6:6-8 KJV)

"Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican" (Matthew 18:15-17 KJV)

Fact Finder: What is the origin of the English word heathen?
See Heath Of The Wilderness

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