The Problem with Modern Idolatry

The problem with modern idolatry is not that it’s wrong. The problem is that it doesn’t work. So what is idolatry anyway? It certainly involves or rather involved the worship of idols, but that’s only part of the problem. The real issues was how it was supposed to work. The idea was simply this, you make a sacrifice to the idol (a symbol of god) and then the god will (must) give you what you want. It’s an old idea, but we still do it. Whether in a spiritual or secular sense we still practice idolatry.

Modern secular idolatry involves accumulating stuff or doing stuff to become happy, secure, whole, or successful. The idea behind accumulating stuff goes something like this:

  • If I have the right stuff it will make me whole
  • If I have the right stuff people will like me
  • Doing stuff (perfectly) is idolatry based upon hard work and results. The idea behind it is this:

  • If I work hard, I will be rewarded
  • If I’m always right I will be rewarded
  • If I save enough I will be rewarded
  • Well maybe, for a while. Then again maybe not.

    Modern spiritual idolatry is not so different from the ancient form It involves doing “God’s will”. Once again the unstated premise is that if I do this for the gods and the gods must then make me or give me what I want. It’s either a rather shabby quid pro quo or it’s an appeal to a power higher than God. Any god that would/could get involved is not God. The thinking goes something like this:

  • If I do these good works I’ll be saved.
  • If I follow the law (and make sure everybody else does) I’ll be saved
  • If I believe the right things things I’ll be saved.
  • If I blow myself up defending my faith I’ll be saved.
  • Whether any of these is sinful is beside the point as far as I am concerned. The fact is, they won’t work. They won’t make you happy or whole or secure for any length of time. That cannot be accomplished by any action or possession whose purpose is to change the mind of the gods. The mind that must be changed is our own.

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