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"Idolatry"

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Postby frrostedman » Tue Feb 25, 2014 1:01 am

You hear the word used a lot in Christian circles; in sermons; and articles. Words of warning... "Don't do this, or you will be guilty of breaking the Commandment not to commit idolatry."

I think the leaders in the Christian Church are taking it a little too far. For example, in a monthly periodical I receive from the ministry I belong to, there was an article. The author spoke about the Church being afraid to give people the unmitigated truth regarding the Word of God. As the article relates, the Word of God makes it quite clear that certain acts are considered immoral... but the Church today for the most part, avoids talking about that and preaches an all-accepting, fluffy, loving God who welcomes all people to the Church, despite their beliefs, opinions, and behaviors.

While I don't disagree with what the article said up to that point, here is where we our opinions differ: The article accuses such Church ministries--the ones that water down the truth and avoid any messages that might offend someone--of committing idolatry. The article says that these Churches are exchanging the true God, for a God that doesn't exist, and worshiping that false God. Therefore, idolatry.

I don't think so. In fact, I have a problem with another common argument from the leaders in the Christian Church -- the argument that anyone who desires wealth, is putting money before God and therefore committing "idolatry."

Let's take a look at the actual Commandment that everyone is so commonly accused of breaking.

Exodus 20:4
"You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth."


Ok. So. In what way is someone creating a "carved image or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above" by watering down Scripture, or by having an appreciation for wealth?

Now, I can see that OTHER Commandments might be broken. For example, watering down the messages in Scripture does break the Commandment not to bear false witness. And the act of withholding information for the purpose of manipulation and deceit, is no better than straight up lying. And, having an inordinate amount of desire for wealth--which in my opinion is not "idolatry"--does break a command God gave in Leviticus that we should give to the Church as we can. Withholding money for yourself and falsely claiming that you can't afford to give more, is a sin. In fact, it was an act punishable by death (see the story of Ananias and Sapphira).


And finally, what I do believe official idolatry is... is exactly what it says. Worshiping a carved or manmade image as a God. That may seem like a silly Commandment, especially present day. But I can tell you, through first hand knowledge... there are still countless people putting manmade objects on altars, and praying to them as Gods. My brother does it and so does his wife. So do everyone in their community. It's way more common than you think. But I think the Commandment is specific to that act. I don't think it is proper for the Church to stretch the meaning of idolatry to encompass pretty much any act of having love for something or someone other than God, or leaving out leaving provocative truths out of a Church sermon or article. That's not idolatry. To say it is, is to claim something that the bible does not say. And I have a problem with that.
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Postby greeney2 » Tue Feb 25, 2014 6:53 pm

Common sense is what the question is about. Are you worshiping money if you ask for a raise and deserve one because you have done a good job? If I carved a whale out of wood, am I worshiping a fish over God, or doing What God commanded, which was to care for all living things on this earth? If you hope your 401K plan does well, is that idolatry worshiping?
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Postby qmark » Fri Feb 28, 2014 6:27 pm

Can the warning of idolatry actually “be taken a little too far”? It is indeed serious business.

I agree with you that the word “idolatry” may get over used by some ministries and in some circles, but my issue isn’t that it is being misused, my issue is that our spiritual senses may become less sensitive to it because of over use. I also agree that Exodus 20:4 means exactly what it says, but when read it in context with verse 3 and 5, I think it becomes so much more.

i•dol•a•try
noun, plural i•dol•a•tries.
1. the religious worship of idols.
2. excessive or blind adoration, reverence, devotion, etc.

Number 2 does not require a carved image or likeness of anything to be true.

Exodus 20:3-5 NASB
"You shall have no other gods before Me.
"You shall not make for yourself an idol,
( KJV says graven image ) or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.
"You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me”


It is easy to see where a man can serve money to the point that it becomes like worship. The same could be said for sex, or sports, or anything. When anything consumes our time, thoughts, and devotion more than our Lord, then we have an “other” god before Him. This is idolatry.

Verse 4 was relatable for the people of Israel because all the peoples around them had these graven images that they worshiped. God wanted them to be separate from all those other people. But when taken together it becomes all encompassing. It is kind of like when Jesus explained there was a whole lot more to “Thou shall not kill”.
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Postby frrostedman » Sat Mar 01, 2014 9:20 pm

Was looking forward to your response, brother. Thanks for taking the time.

i•dol•a•try
noun, plural i•dol•a•tries.
1. the religious worship of idols.
2. excessive or blind adoration, reverence, devotion, etc.

Yes! #2 is precisely what the Christian Church uses as its definition in its myriad accusations of idolatry. But, where in the bible does it suggest this definition? You helped me understand where the Church is coming from, but, the dictionary definition doesn't help me understand where the Word of God was coming from. I didn't even think about looking up the dictionary definition. I'm astonished that it says this and I really wonder where they got #2 from. I don't think they are using a biblical reference in that definition.

Exodus 20:3-5 NASB
"You shall have no other gods before Me.
"You shall not make for yourself an idol, ( KJV says graven image ) or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.
"You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me”

This still does not sway me in believing that the Commandment not to worship idols relates to anything more than worshiping physical idols or worshiping/praying to Pagan gods.

Exchanging the truth for a lie (as in the case of today's typical Christian church that avoids the controversial and provocative teachings of the bible) is not idolatry, is it?
Last edited by frrostedman on Sat Mar 01, 2014 9:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby frrostedman » Sat Mar 01, 2014 9:21 pm

xx
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Postby qmark » Tue Mar 04, 2014 6:51 pm

frrostedman wrote:Exchanging the truth for a lie (as in the case of today's typical Christian church that avoids the controversial and provocative teachings of the bible) is not idolatry, is it?


In my opinion, not necessarily, but it can be. If they are teaching grave error out of sheer ignorance, then probably not. If they are teaching a lie when knowing the truth, then they have elevated their version of the gospel above God’s, and by extension, themselves.

In the gospels the word “door” is used 17 times.
door: noun
1. a movable, usually solid, barrier for opening and closing an entranceway, cupboard, cabinet, or the like, commonly turning on hinges or sliding in grooves.
2. a doorway: to go through the door.
3. the building, house, etc., to which a door belongs: My friend lives two doors down the street.
4. any means of approach, admittance, or access: the doors to learning.

15 of those times the definition is clearly #1. Jesus called Himself a door twice in John and the definition was clearly #4. It needs to fit, as long as it agrees with the whole of scripture, as the above does.

Luke 18:22-23:
When Jesus heard this, He said to him, "One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me. "But when he had heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich.

Clearly, this ruler worshiped wealth more than God. This was his idol. Wealth was the object of his deepest devotion. It doesn’t have to be a carved image.

Every week thousands of people vote on “American Idol” for the person who they feel deserves their adoration. They are voting for a new “pop” idol or “teen” idol, depending on their age. They’re not worshiping a carved image. This isn’t exactly the same but the idea is similar.
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Postby qmark » Tue Mar 04, 2014 7:05 pm

frrostedman wrote:...(as in the case of today's typical Christian church that avoids the controversial and provocative teachings of the bible)


By the way, I absolutely agree. I believe some wolves might have slipped in wearing sheep's clothing.

Also, glad to see you around brother, I miss these type of conversations.
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Postby greeney2 » Wed Mar 05, 2014 10:22 am

When and where is this premise just carried off too far, and is it usually connected to some guilt instilled tactic, coming from churches to the flocks? In other words are you just being guilt tripped into the appearance of something that is not, as a tactic to control you?

Where do you draw the line, when some people pretend living life in anything but the plainest life possible, is the only way to avoid the "appearance" of Idolatry worshiping? Is anything past the most basic needs of life fit into this, or is the idea just taking it to the extreme? I think we all would know when we are really worshiping a false idol, one of the biggest misconceptions is when Catholics pray at the statue the Virgin Mary as idolatry. this is what nearly every fundamentalist other Christian religions think apparently. They think the statue itself is an Idol.

Taking it to the level of thinking just about anything can be seen as Idolatry, one has to take a close look at how a person is really living with these so called idols. If a woman wears a nice dress and Jewelry some would see that as her idols, so the extreme is to expect her to wear a burlap bag everyday. We all need a car in this world, is getting one with a few options a sin? You can't even get a hand crank window car anymore, they all have electric windows, so is that my Idol knowing I have the power in one finger--lets not take to to levels of stupidity, or will will all be in buggys like the Amish.

More often than not are those who tell everyone else what they perceive as Idol worshiping, and its usually the case from people with an agenda, and that agenda may be just guilt tripping you into giving to them. What a greater example can you find than JIm and Tammy Faye Baker. How many times did they make people think they were unworthy, and gave millions to Gods mission they blew on lavish living. They just deceived people in the Name of God and filled their pockets to a point they were blinded by their own sins. Or maybe someone like Oral Roberts with his stunt to starve himself in the tower of Oral Roberts University for donations. Where is the line when building a Chrystal Cathedral or a Southern Megachurch standing like an Idol. How should the Vatican be viewed to those who are raised to fell guilty about everything, thinking you do not deserve a few nice things in life, without feeling you are worshiping a false idol?

I'm sorry but I think I know if I am kneeling to a false God in my own heart, and some hypocrite telling me to be ashamed for having anything over bar bones necessities of life. Those that do usually are lining their pockets somehow. Notice these messages are directed to to average working honest church going people , and not to the scurge of the earth out selling drugs, stealing, and doing crime. They aren't going to fall for it.

So how is this Idolatry premise misused, and by whom to who else?
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Postby qmark » Wed Mar 05, 2014 5:30 pm

greeney, I'm not sure what you were really trying to get at.

First, let me say this, if one worships Mary more than, or over, Jesus, then yes Mary has become an idol to them. But in my opinion, probably not frrostedmans, anybody or anything becomes an idol if it/they are elevated above God in their heart of hearts. How that does not constitute an idol is beyond me.

As for those who play the idolatry card, I'm sure some do that out of genuine concern, and I'm sure others use it as a tool for manipulation. I don't care if you are listening to Billy Grahm, the Pope, or any huckster in between, we are exhorted to search the scriptures ourselves and see if these things are so, just as the Bereans did. If everyone did this, it would be impossible to guilt trip anybody.

I don't think anybody said we need to be ashamed for having anything over the "bare bones necessities". The Bible says, seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you, and John said that he prayed that we prosper in all things just as our soul prospers. The question is, does that prosperity hold a more prominent place in your heart than God. If the answer is yes, then one may need to stick to bare bones.

All of that being said, I believe frrostedman was just pointing out that an idol, in the Bible, is a carved image. I think the whole of scripture leads us to believe it is deeper than that, just as Jesus showed us there was more to some of the other ten commandments.
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Postby greeney2 » Thu Mar 06, 2014 1:10 am

qmark wrote:anybody or anything becomes an idol if it/they are elevated above God in their heart of hearts.


I think I said exactly those words, "we all know if we are worshiping a false idol in our hearts". I imagine there are many who are so lost in their priority's of life, they forget about God in their life, obsessed with material things, fame, fortune, its a long list.

qmark wrote:As for those who play the idolatry card, I'm sure some do that out of genuine concern


Maybe, but i also think its misused by misguided people as I gave examples of.

qmark wrote:greeney, I'm not sure what you were really trying to get at.


Regarding the Virgin Mary in the Catholic religion, many other Christian religions regard it as Idolatry and have the wrong impression about it.
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