This was a religious doctrine that began to flourish in the first century A.D. which tolerated compromise with pagan cults, allowing participation in their sacred banquets, etc. It is thought by scholars to be the forerunner of the great Gnostic concepts that tried to hide God's word behind a mask of secret knowledge, not accurate, and offered for sale to the unwary in an endless series of lessons.
We can see elements of the Gnostic concept metaphorically repeated in the writings and religion of L. Ron Hubbard's Scientology, among others.
Nicolatian teaching combines and dilutes the Gospel with a variety of philosophies contrary to Christ's basic message. The intent, of course, is to create the illusion of Christ while scuttling the 'hard parts' of His Gospel.
A current label now in vogue is 'new age' religion. But there is nothing really new here. Simply a wide spectrum of compromises of the Gospel teaching.
Many churches have arisen whose entire function is structured in the sale of tapes and books detailing extraneous religious formulas for life enrichment. The Church of Religious Science, for instance, uses this approach to a large extent.
Paganistic religions are those which promote the secular gods of this world. They rarely present in the form of rock statues like those that dot Easter Island. Instead, they are seen most clearly by the love for worldly possessions and values exhibited by those who avariciously cling to them.
Gold and silver idols are simply the material elements themselves: money and all the luxurious trappings which the gold and silver buy. BMW's & Porche's for instance. Perhaps a Lexus or a swimming pool home with a sweeping city or ocean view. All the trappings and etiquette of a society antagonistic to the Gospel's tenants.
Metaphorically, the philosophy of Babylon is a type of food. A food sacrificed (dedicated) to idols. The idols are the baubles which acknowledge a successful embodiment of Babylon's philosophy.
They are the signet rings of a 'found life'. This is why Jesus said, "Those who find their lives will lose it, but those who lose their lives for the sake of the Gospel will find and inherit eternal life."
A purely pagan approach would be to ignore Christ and His Gospel completely, but in Nicolatian teaching, a compromise between the two is reached.
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E.C.S.Leavenworth III; Goodnews Christian Ministry.