Chapter 7: Secure Your Identity Part 15
Abraham was raised in ancient Sumeria, a world where the dominant culture was pagan. Gods were everywhere, from Anu the sky god, to regional gods, to small amulets and magic charms that were a big part of everyday life. Abraham’s cause was not simply a matter of a single divinity- it was a completely different way of life. And if we look at the number of followers as a scorecard, I think he was onto something. According to the Big Religion Comparison Chart, there are 14 Million Jews, 2 Billion Christians and 1.3 billion Muslims on the planet, all of whom look at Abraham as the father of monotheism. For those of us looking to bust our modern idols, there is a lot we can learn from Abraham.
For Abraham, monotheism was not an abstract, metaphysical question about the number of deities. Abraham was the CEO of a start up religion, and he was looking to change the world. He had an unshakable identity and powerful personality that attracted followers. And like any good startup CEO, he could lay out a vision and make others believe. By intellectual reasoning, Abraham showed that something created by man should not become the object of worship. For Abraham, there was one creator who put forth rules of right and wrong that did not change. This was very different than the pagan world, where right and wrong changed depending on the deity, and is also different than the corporate world, where right and wrong behavior is defined by corporate culture.
As I argued in Chapter 2, the universal values are The Golden Rule tempered by The Rule of Self Preservation. In the next post, we’ll look at the limitations of Abraham’s identity-based approach to change.