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I have a noble god in my world that is answering prayers, guiding his believers and bestowing divine powers onto selected priests.

Now his church is fragmented into several factions on ideological and political grounds to the extent of sporadic armed warfare between factions. Still, each faction is somehow aligned with the god's dogma and receives its share of divine grace and miracles.

Many of the priests are politicians, managers or simply shepherds to the flock and are not especially connected to the divine nor receiving any spiritual powers while still holding significant material power.

How to explain how such a structure could tolerate the presence and elevation of an impostor that follows and gets his powers from another divine being dedicated to duplicity?

As such an infiltrator moves up in the hierarchy he would encounter more and more political enemies and gifted individuals who would like to unmask him. If somebody becomes suspicious he could (or have someone who can) use a divine hotline to pick apart the impostor's cover.

The Noble god would know that the individual in question is tapping into divine power that does not come from the god. So it is hard to explain how the god would not put two and two together.

I'm looking for an explanation how the impostor could remain unnoticed - or what would motivate the "host" god to let it slide and not alert his priests?

The duplicity god is not against observing "host" god rites but demands to regularly cause some mischief to remain in his graces.

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    $\begingroup$ Have you read the Lies of Locke Lamora? There's a similar conundrum. Basically, the twelve have a younger brother whom they will tolerate without smiting his followers, despite deception. $\endgroup$ – Piomicron Apr 8 '18 at 13:00
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    $\begingroup$ Is the existence of your god proven? because in our history we have examples of faith leaders who were far from being "good" but still tolerated by the god he was worshipping... $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Apr 8 '18 at 15:04
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    $\begingroup$ Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer. $\endgroup$ – Sentinel Apr 8 '18 at 18:58
  • $\begingroup$ @Piomicron the difference being that in Lies there is no evidence that the Gods have any agency in the world, while in this case they do. $\endgroup$ – Arcanist Lupus Apr 9 '18 at 0:24
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    $\begingroup$ This seems like a variation on the theme: how can an omnipotent god tolerate evil $\endgroup$ – Francesco Apr 9 '18 at 4:15

27 Answers 27

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You know what happens when you start answering questions like 'how holy is my neighbour?' You get witch hunts, that's what.

Bad enough they're picking fights with each other, encouraging it by answering questions about how holy their rivals are is only going to make matters worse. One priest gets it into his head that because the local wise woman isn't blessed he should burn her at the stake and then the whole village is worse off.

Nasty stuff. You can't stop them from going out and doing it anyway, but you can refuse to be a party to it. How much power you bestow on anyone is your business and nobody else's. Sometimes that means you can't say that the new pontiff is actually a follower of the god of duplicity, but it beats giving your real followers excuses to attack each other.

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    $\begingroup$ People really don't need a lot of an excuse to start up with the witch hunts, so this works really well. $\endgroup$ – Leliel Apr 9 '18 at 4:40
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    $\begingroup$ +1. "Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord" (Romans 12:19, quoting Deuteronomy 32:35). $\endgroup$ – ruakh Apr 10 '18 at 3:34
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    $\begingroup$ There is a lot of great answers but I'm accepting because it fits my specific situation (which I probably could explain better) the best. Basically a lot of movers and shakers in the church have their own buried bodies - and somehow still advance in hierarchy. While the god allow his priests to clash openly - he would not help them in scheming and spying against each other - as it would risk destroying the church from inside. $\endgroup$ – AGrzes Apr 14 '18 at 20:54
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This is actually a rather similar dilemma to the problem of evil in Christian philosophy. The problem of evil is the question why an omni-benevolent, omniscient, and omnipotent God would permit bad things to happen. There's a lot of literature on this, and you could take cues from how the Christian God is able to get around this conundrum.

The easiest way for you (not available for most Christian philosophers) is to simply knock out one of the three legs of the tripod. If your god isn't omniscient, then you arrange (with the help of the duplicity god) to always fall into the noble god's blindspots. If they're not omnipotent, you arrange things so that the noble god is either powerless or constrained in reacting. (For example, if there's some sort of rules of engagement between the noble god and the duplicity god, where the impostor can walk a fine line in actions which prevent the noble god from responding.) "Omni-benevolent" isn't applicable in this case, but the equivalent here is omni-caring. If, for some reason, the noble god doesn't really care about the impostor, then the impostor's rivals may find it difficult to get the noble god's help.

Even if these approaches don't work, there are other possibilities. One is the "greater good" invocation. The noble god deliberately allows the impostor to function because the small amount of deception now will allow a much larger (and better) amount of nobility later. For example, if the church is fossilized and most worshipers are apathetic, having an impostor rise through the ranks and eventually cause a great upheaval might revitalize the church. As far as the noble god is concerned, the impostor will get his comeuppance, but can be used as a valuable tool before then - to the extent the noble god may actively cover for the impostor.

There's also the "free will" argument. With the problem of evil, it can be argued that it can't really be "free" will if people don't have the ability to choose evil. (Or that actively rejecting evil is an important process in the development of souls.) In your case, since the duplicity god isn't necessarily rejecting worship of the noble god, the noble god could see the impostor as a means of "separating the wheat from the chaff". The antagonism of the impostor provides a means for testing believers and either strengthening their beliefs, or to figure out who actually believes and who's just going through the motions.

The key issue is deciding how you wish to limit your noble god. An "all powerful" god is a bit of a story killer (there's a reason for "deus" in deus ex machina). Your god needs to have limits, and those limits are what your impostor would exploit. These can be limits fundamental to the god's existence (like not being omnipotent or omniscient), or they can be self-imposed limits (like a divine contract with the the duplicity god, or allowing A to happen now to enable B to happen later).

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    $\begingroup$ I would highly recommend to read a literary analysis of “La Profession de foi du vicaire savoyard” from Jean-Jacques Rousseau (French philosopher from the Age of Enlightenment) to anybody interested in the « free will » theory as it is his response to the question: why does evil exists in a world ruled by a good omnipotent god? $\endgroup$ – Freedomjail Apr 9 '18 at 11:52
  • $\begingroup$ "As far as the noble god is concerned, the impostor will get his comeuppance, but can be used as a valuable tool before then - to the extent the noble god may actively cover for the impostor." You think that qualifies as "noble"? $\endgroup$ – Thaylon Apr 10 '18 at 16:13
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    $\begingroup$ A possible cue could be taken from Mormon theology: the Noble god considers individual sovereignty to be of utmost importance even to non-believers, so people are allowed to make mistakes and even commit atrocities. Guidance is given where needed, but it must be actively sought; no one is forced to receive it, and many aren't sensitive to, open to, or aware of it. i.e. Priest A, a devout follower, has some reason to not inform on Priest B that closes him off to contact with the Noble god because such contact would result in counsel he is unwilling to follow. $\endgroup$ – Adam Apr 10 '18 at 20:33
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For the same reasons that our bodies tolerate bacteria: They haven't done anything that the immune system considers harmful. Your impostor makes sure that any mischief he causes does not cause long term harm to the church and is at times beneficial in controlling fanatics and demagogues within the church. He doesn't want to get smited either.

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  • $\begingroup$ It is an good answer why the noble good does not make proactive measures against impostor. But what will happens when impostor become notable and priests would ask their god direct question? The god would have to at least lie by omission to not unmask impostor. $\endgroup$ – AGrzes Apr 8 '18 at 12:24
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    $\begingroup$ @AGrzes There are a few things you can do in such a situation. One is to make it a teaching that "Not all who dwell among my ranks are worthy, many are duplicitous and wicked. But do not hunt out the liar, the imposter, for I have allowed them respite. If they become as a cancer upon my flesh, I shall remove them from my body. Do not concern yourselves, children." $\endgroup$ – Piomicron Apr 8 '18 at 13:02
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    $\begingroup$ @Piomicron Or perhaps "No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest." $\endgroup$ – chrylis Apr 9 '18 at 0:03
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    $\begingroup$ @chrylis Matthew 13:30, for those who need to be evangelized. $\endgroup$ – kingledion Apr 11 '18 at 12:41
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A divine double agent

Since your impostor has the boon of the god of duplicity, it may be possible that it's not just the noble god's followers that are being fooled, but the god themselves. A mortal fooling a god may be unlikely, but another god doing it through a mortal sounds rather appropriate.

As far as the noble god knows, the impostor is just one of his many followers, and not necessarily one of particular note. The impostor could well be using the noble god's divine powers too.

Pride

If the noble god does eventually, but not immediately, realize what is going on (perhaps by happening to notice the impostor tapping into another god's power), the reason for not exposing the impostor could be pride. Your god may be noble, but are they willing to admit to being fallible just like a mortal? In exposing someone who they had previously legitimized, the god would admit that they can be fooled and that they're subject to mistakes. If the god of duplicity was dupliticious enough and managed to hide that the impostor was using their powers, it might look like the noble god was fooled by a mere mortal, making it even worse. Depending on the tenets of the faith, it could be catastropic to reveal it. In this case, if the noble god wants to act against the impostor, they're going to have to do it through subtler means.

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    $\begingroup$ Good point: This is not just a duplicitous god. It's the God of Duplicity. Perhaps his most significant power is that he can even circumvent the omniscience of other gods! $\endgroup$ – Shawn V. Wilson Apr 12 '18 at 0:42
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The word you chose is "tolerate" which implies your god sees the issue as not worth interfering.

You further have an issue with indirect interference when priests simply ask the god for relevant information and he doesn't provide it. This implies that the god thinks he followers should also "tolerate" the situation to the point where helping them interfere is itself a bigger issue than the original impostors.

A logical assumption would be that the reason for the tolerance comes from the shared "noble" values the god embodies and the priest commit to receive their divine magic including the magic for asking their god for information. The god would be unable to act against those values and the magic would simply fail automatically when the priest tries to ask such a question.

So why would removing the impostors from the church be bad?

I'll ask another question: Why is the church fragmented despite being backed by an active god and priests with divine power in communication with him?

Wouldn't it be an easy answer to say that the church is not backed by the god? That he is not tolerating the impostors but the church itself? And that his tolerance does not extend to active support of the church in form of intervention or information. That would answer both your original question and my added question at the same time.

And this would be fairly simple to explain.

A church is a political organization for organizing religious matters. Nobility and politics do not mix that well. Nobility also implies taking personal responsibility for your beliefs and actions which does not mix well with organized religion with its pre-canned one size fits all answers and dogmatism.

And conversely since humans are inherently social animals the god would have a simple and obvious reason to tolerate humans forming groups and organizations to belong to. And of course being organized and pooling resources does have non-negligible practical benefits.

So the god would tolerate the church and provide power to priest belonging to it but he would not support it in any way. He would not care if it fragments, gets corrupted, or is filled with impostors. He would not provide magic or information for the purpose of "playing politics", and that would mean almost anything involving the church, and people would not expect him to. So lying by omission would not be necessary.

This would also explain why the church is fragmented. Since the god does not expect anything of the church and does not value it, people would feel free to form their own splinter groups whenever convenient and never make an effort to reunite the faith.

This lack of weight would also explain why efforts to keep the church clean of corruption and impostors would fail. It just would not be that high on the priority list of things to do. You have limited time and resources and there are people in real distress and need all around you.

Given time believers might even come to see the corruption of the church in positive light. Finding your true personal faith and belief and living it fully would be your central goal. Having the church corrupted would make it more meaningful by adding contrast. The state of the church would also more or less force all true believers to make their own personal choices and decisions. Just going with the flock would not be viable option.

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You haven't explained why your benevolent god is doing what he does.

And without knowing his divine purpose, we're left with the paradox of how an omnipotent, omnipresent god can allow something to transpire that he obviously wouldn't want to happen.

So, let's give your god a purpose, a reason for his association with the people that transends protecting them like babies throughout the eons.

  1. Judgement is very real and only based on actions taken, not actions that might have been or could have been (no Minority Report pre-crime judgements here). People must be allowed to be good or evil throughout their lives because they have the privilege of repentance throughout their lives and very few transgressions of divine law are unforgivable and unrepentable.

  2. And this is the case because the freedom to choose is the greatest gift the god has given to his people. He will not interfere with that freedom. He will warn the people through whatever mechanism he has selected for that purpose, but in the end, the people must choose. He will allow them to be deceived because he respects the choice to turn away from him more than his own desire for the good welfare of the people.

  3. And this is the case because the people are expected to mature in their self-discipline and devotion for the sake of a promised reward that requires maturity, sobriety, and education. Perhaps he has offered his people to share godhood with him, which is no trivial thing. You wouldn't want to give the keys to your car to someone who wasn't old enough, mature enough, and trained enough to use it and protect it, right?

And because people have the right to choose, they have the right to be deceived — to the disappointment of a loving god who cannot pursuade them anymore without interfering with the gift of choice.

In this scenario, your god wouldn't interefere with the interloper/heretic/impostor unless that interference reached a point that it threatened his own plan and purposes for the people beyond their own ability to choose to change it — because to do so would subvert the goal of the people learning through their own experience and maturity to treasure the privilege of choice and be judged worthy of obtaining the promised reward.

Of course, this is usually where the word "armageddon" kicks in. And we all know what Hollywood thinks will happen then....

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    $\begingroup$ And because people have the right to choose, they have the right to be deceived I was going to answer similarly, but no point duplicating yours(!). I'd add that a combination a couple of the free will arguments leads to something subtler: the benevolent god may be trying to alert his followers, but they are afraid to act. They develop doubts that they're hearing the truth; lose confidence about confronting (impostor) without "solid" evidence; and maybe fear for their position if (impostor) has attained a position of political power either within the "church" or in the wider milieu. $\endgroup$ – Will Crawford Apr 9 '18 at 11:20
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First, reasons why the god might tolerate this--

1- The rules of the pantheon mean that no god can directly strike down or interfere with another follower of another god. The god can answer questions from their followers but are bound by rules.

2- The church is political, and not of real interest to the god.

3- The god hasn't noticed. Most pantheon-based gods are not seen as omnipotent or omniscient.

4- The god sees the whole picture and knows that the imposter will ultimately lead to a better church, or a clean out of those that aren't fully on board with the god's way of thinking.

Second:

how such a structure could tolerate the presence and elevation of an impostor that follows and gets his powers from another divine begin dedicated to duplicity?

I believe you have already answered that question:

his church is fragmented in several factions on ideological and political grounds to the extent of sporadic armed warfare between factions. Still each faction is somehow aligned with the god's dogma and receives its share of divine grace and miracles.

A follower of a trickster god would surely use that to their advantage.

As such an infiltrator moves up in the hierarchy he would encounter more and more political enemies and gifted individuals who would like to unmask him. If somebody becomes suspicious he could (or have someone who can) use a divine hotline to pick apart the impostor's cover.

Yes, this person would encounter more and more political enemies. But many of them will not be divinely connected, but would instead be political and managerial types. They might not even think to ask their god if this person is an imposter, even IF they are connected. The highest people in the hierarchy might not have any connection with the god at all.

Even if they do think to ask, such a person would be very very good at politics. So everything from blackmail to favors done would protect them.

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  • $\begingroup$ To your point #3, would it even be possible to have omnipotence in a pantheon? $\endgroup$ – Joffan Apr 10 '18 at 19:24
  • $\begingroup$ @Joffan That's only possible if you are an uber-god that doesn't have a particular area. Like a creator god. But most of those lose interest and become part of the earth, or the sky or just let their kids handle whatever. But yes, in a pantheon, most gods have power in their particular area. Some folks might miss that, and assume that they can still do ANYTHING that comes to mind. Some of the answers here touch on omnipotence and omniscience, which is more in line with a single god system. $\endgroup$ – Erin Thursby Apr 10 '18 at 20:16
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Your noble god is a god of love. Its a family affair.

In the words of Sly and the Family Stone:

It's a family affair, it's a family affair

It's a family affair, it's a family affair

One child grows up to be

Somebody that just loves to learn

And another child grows up to be

Somebody you'd just love to burn

Mom loves the both of them

You see it's in the blood

Both kids are good to Mom

"Blood's thicker than mud"

Maybe even more relevant is the parable of the Prodigal Son, one of the greatest parables. I was going to paste the entirety of the text, but it seemed too long. If you are unfamiliar, read it. You do not need to be Christian or even religious to see the value in it.

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+15%3A11-32&version=KJV

The last 4 verses - starting with the oldest son's complaint.

29 And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:

30 But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.

31 And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.

32 It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

Why does the father tolerate the dissolute ways of his younger son, this "imposter"? Because he is his son.

Your church is competitive, with factions. Why does the god tolerate that? Why might a parent tolerate rivalries among siblings? This aspect of the religion is also the reason your god tolerates the ways of this "impostor". But is he really an impostor? Your imposter is (or started out as) a follower of the noble god - a child. The imposter sees opportunity to advance his god and his faction by tapping the powers of the enemy. I am reminded of Boromir's exclamation when he learns of the existence of the Ring of power. Boromir wants to use the power of the enemy against him.

"Wielding it the Free Lords of the Free may surely defeat the Enemy. That is what he most fears, I deem. The Men of Gondor are valiant, and they will never submit; but they may be beaten down. Valour needs first strength, and then a weapon. Let the Ring be your weapon, if it has such power as you say. Take it and go forth to victory!" https://scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/105108/since-boromir-wanted-the-one-ring-so-badly-why-didnt-he-volunteer-to-take-it-d/105244#105244

So too your "impostor". The noble god loves him even as he smokes the crack of evil. Children must find their own way and the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Love is not conditional on the child finding his way back into the light.

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The Noble god would know that the individual in question is tapping into divine power and that the power does not come from the god. So it is hard to explain how the god would not put two and two together.

Perhaps he is tapping into the gods power. Stolen power.

The god of Duplicity is not powerful in a direct conflict, that would be against his nature, but his speciality is turning an enemies strenght against himself.

So, years ago, a paladin of the Noble god was captured by cultists of Duplicity.

Paladin

Through a dark ritual the paladins connection to his patron god was stolen.

Sacrifice

It's not perfect, if the god inspects deeply enough he'll realise that the feelings of faith and goodness are just a mirage also stolen from the real paladin.

But until then the agent of Duplicity is hidden, the god seeing him as one of his own noble paladins.

Thus Duplicity turns his enemies strength against himself and expends minimal divine power himself.

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Time. Gods live forever, mortals not so much.

These bad actors are blips on the radar, and ultimately they never gain enough influeunce, prestige, or do enough damage to the overall plan(s) of the god(s) that it's worth taking special notice of them. Imagine a fishing line that goes on towards infinity in both directions. The worst of the worst bad person really only affects their time in their life, and may be considered a simple knot on the line. Only by feeling the line would one even notice there's something that happened, and the line would continue unperturbed in the grand scheme of things.

Alternately, the God(s) are interfering, but, of course, no one notices the interference, and it's only preventing particularly long-term harmful things from happening. The minor things they do allow to happen aren't, again, going to affect the God(s) plans.

That said, as others have pointed out, adding either of the above to the concept that everyone has free will specifically for the purposes of finding out whether they'll obey or not requires bad actors so people actually have a choice.

If every church leader is forced to be good in every way, then the followers have no wrong choices, and the "test" results cannot be useful.

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If this god is omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent, you've rediscovered the Problem of Evil. Some classic explanations for it: it's a test, he doesn't want to take away the free will of his people, it's all part of some mysterious plan.

If he's merely potent, he might not be able to intervene. If he's merely smart, he might not know. If he's merely good, he might be too aloof.

He might be constrained by an agreement he made, or the opinions of other divinities.

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Noninterference clause

The gods are bound by a set of complex and mostly unknown god-rules. One of the primary rules is that a god cannot directly interfere with the chosen of other gods.

The noble god interprets this rule much more strictly than the duplicitous god does.

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The Noble God likes a good joke, too -- especially if it is done in a Noble way, or with Noble results.

The impostor has found a way to worship both gods, and keep both of them happy with what he does.

On a Dungeons & Dragons / Pathfinder character sheet, the impostor would be listed as "chaotic good".

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This solution is borrowed from the famous author Virginia Hamilton's Justice Trilogy:

The imposter is an aspect or an avatar of the main deity, that has somehow split off and gained its own volition and separate identity. Because of this unique relationship, the main deity is supernaturally unable to perceive the imposter at all, or even know of its existence, experiencing it only as an extension of itself. In other words --split personalities.

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A few reasons:

  • Removing the impostor might be more trouble than it's worth.

  • The god wants to maintain a clean self image, so doesn't let on that it's an impostor.

  • The god is focusing on a holy war in some other part of the world and doesn't care.

  • The god just doesn't care anymore and is lazy.

  • The impostor might even be spreading the god's word, so it's beneficial/symbiotic. I doubt that Jesus Christ was really God, but he sure was effective at spreading word.

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It may be an extension of free will, and part of the maturing of a society. God might have initiated life, but chooses not to interfere with the results directly. The idea is - the society will have to learn to deal with issues like this if it is to move forward.

It's up to the people to recognize the imposter and take action, or so God thinks. I gave you a brain... use it. Stop leaning on me so much, and learn to live your own life.

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Why would God tolerate an imposter? Why wouldn't he?

We're either given free will or not.

If not given free will, then it's a rather boring show for God. He is watching a play unfold as written. In this scenario he put the impostor in church. You can't commit sin because you can't commit anything, God makes you do everything. You're just a mindless robot without decisions.

If we're given free will, then we're given free will. Why would a God that gave free will to its creations want to micro manage everything? The church members have a brain, it should be used. Switch your church, get a new priest, confront the impostor, etc. Talk, think, debate.

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There is a Prophesy that must be fulfilled.

The original poster can use his (or her) creativity to decide what the prophesy is, and whether it is related to this particular infiltrator, or to the idea of a meddler sent by another god.

The fulfillment of the prophesy might be necessary before some other event can occur, such as the arrival of an avatar, the founding of a kingdom, or the rebuilding of a Great Temple.

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There are a lot of answers and I tried to look for this idea, but I didn't find it, so.

The god is testing his followers. He wonders about his followers.

How long until they find out?

Who will find out? A lowly monk or a high priest? Are the leaders of the church able to notice? If not are they still worthy of their position?

What will be the reason for noticing the impostor? Will somebody be jealous of how quickly is the impostor rising in ranks? Or will they find flaws in his teachings and expose him?

What if the impostor exposes the evils within the hearts of the god's followers?

It could be just a lesson for the followers, so when something like a succubus tries to enter, they will know.

Or the other god is trying to prove that noble god's followers are blind with pride or that some are evil. The god is truly noble, so he will not interfere and let the truth be revealed.

Then there is the possibility that the real world could be radically changed if the god would interfere directly, so he asked other gods for help.

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I came up with two reasons that this could be allowable:

The Imposter's Flock Still Believe in the host god

Presumably, the Imposter would use his power, derived from another god, to trick the followers of the host god into believing he is a divine representative of the host god. These people are not bad people, just following in earnest someone who does not follow earnestly... His trick is still leading people to the host god's worship. Should the trick be revealed, the followers would still be faithful to the host. Should the other clergy reveal the trick, they further fraction the faith, and by inflicting "True-Believer Syndrome" onto the imposter's flock, they hurt their own ministries. In fact, if the imposter is not a cleric of another god, but rather someone who can duplicate divine abilities using technology and trickery to feign actual holy feats, perhaps that is actually his own divine gift... the host god could be allowing him to make these farces because at the end of the day, people are still worshiping him in earnest, even if their clerical inspiration is not faithful.

The Host God is testing his faithful.

This scenario is designed so that that the imposter can bring people into the faith and be allowed to rise until he attracts the notice of a political adversary who is wise to his trickery. In the short term the Imposter may lose some of his flock when his tricks are revealed by a pious cleric, but in the long term, it would be the religious equivalent of a vaccination against further infiltration. The wise cleric who sees the deception will be remembered and the tricks will be recorded so no self-serving or devious god serving cleric can invade the ministries of this god's church and further turn the faithful away from him. This cannot be done by the god himself as it would leave the people without a good understanding of how the false cleric was deceiving them. This is a mortal matter and the mortal inquisition of the flock must solve it. If the god wants to protect the faithful deceived, he may include instructions to drive away the bad faith leader, but not those who allowed their love of the god to follow the bad actor.

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Probably adding to what ha already been said, but there are a number of reasons.

  1. Not that big a deal, tricky little stuff isn't worth upsetting the balance
  2. Balance issue with another deity, perhaps it's allowed because you don't want to start a war
  3. Not that big a deal to the deity even though it is to the people, could be a for several reasons, time based or because deity sees it at a grander scale
  4. Perhaps they are, but it's on a deity level, not on a human level
  5. Perhaps the other deity giving divine power to impostor is blocking deity from seeing it
  6. Perhaps the impostor while improving their own situation is still actually helping the church.
  7. Perhaps the deity is testing those in the church and plans to stop it before it gets too bad, but wants to know who truly follows them.
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The God only wants followers who accept His teachings. He doesn't want false followers.

People whose hearts aren't in it are always looking for excuses to bail. The impostor provides them with a ready-made excuse.

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"Many of the priests are politicians, managers or simply shepherds to the flock and are not especially connected to the divine nor receiving any spiritual powers while still holding significant material power."

"Now his church is fragmented into several factions on ideological and political grounds to the extent of sporadic armed warfare between factions."

Provided your god exists, then your god isnt noble and doesnt care.

A noble god would provide guidance and the means to guide in turn so that situation could never happen.

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Because your god is... the Duplicity god!

He may suffers from double personality and not even know what he's doing.

Or maybe it's just a way to get ALL people to follow him, the goods and the bads.

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It might be interesting to engage with a theologian's mindset. For fun you can dial the piety up or down as the circumstances require. There is a strong tradition of rationalizing a god's tolerance of evil.

  • Gods plan is unfathomable, as is it just, and noble.

  • God confronts deception not by unveiling it but by offering up opportunities for redemption (both on the part of the deceiver and the deceived)

  • God allows the un-righteous as contrast to and a test for the righteous.

If we have no ability to choose the wrong path (or if the wrong path is not appealing) there is no glory in the choice of the right path. Or put another way if the only available option is the right one, we are simply vapid automatons acting out an insipid morality play.

The greater the power of evil, the greater the deception, the more opportunity for the righteous to attain glory in following the right path.

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Busy and/or Complacent

There are any number of reasons for exactly why (probably it's a mix) but your Noble God has mostly gotten in the habit of basically hitting "reply all" to any properly formatted prayers. This could be a combination of laziness, business, volume of prayers, boredom and ineffableness. If the God looked closely they would probably noticed the infiltrators, but mostly as long as the Impostors say the right words they aren't noticed.

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A Pantheon is a Family

A lot of the answers assume that god of nobility would be opposed to the god of deception.

There are family trees for the well known pantheons such as the Norse, Roman and Greek gods. The pantheons aren't necessarily happy families, but they generally accept they are all gods and all have a some kind of right to do their god thing.

So you have your Noble god, lets call him Thor. He has his religion and an appropriate amount of infighting so that his followers can earn their place in Valhalla by being killed by each other in honorable battle.

So his blood brother Loki arranges some of is own followers to infiltrate his church and plays some amusing and usually not fatal pranks on Thor's loyal followers. Prior to the murder of Baldr, I can imagine Thor just roaring with laughter and telling Loki that this was almost as funny as the tale of how Sleipnir was conceived.

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