About idolatry

idolatry

When you worship something instead of worshipping God.

We humans understand only a fragment of the world we are living in. Our ability to summarize and simplify the enormous data input streams coming from the outside world is a key feature of life itself. The recent progress in artificial intelligence can give us an idea of the amazing work done by our brains in seemingly trivial situations of everyday life.

Simplifying things is vital. You cannot operate successfully if you discuss and doubt about every aspect of life again and again. That’s why nations have a constitution, that’s why companies have a mission statement, that’s why Catholics have a creed.

mission statement

A concise textual description of a corporation’s fundamental purpose. It answers the question “Why does our corporation exist?” It formulates the corporation’s purpose for both its members and the public. – Adapted from thebalancesmb.com and Wikipedia

constitution

The mission statement of a nation.

creed

A statement of the shared beliefs of a community in the form of a fixed formula summarizing core tenets. – Adapted from Wikipedia

Only the top management board may review a company’s mission statement. Only the government may change a nation’s constitution. Only the pope may initiate changes in Church teachings.

For the common people these things are “holy”: you must learn them by heart, you must honour them, you must follow them, you must not touch (criticize) them. “Holy”, in this context, means “beyond any doubt” and “it makes no sense to discuss about this”.

Monotheistic religions say that only God is holy. (Yes, Christians have the concept of Trinity but that’s another topic, they still classify as monotheistic.)

And the one and only God is described as “jealous”.

Simone Weil defines idolatry as “the error that attributes a sacred character to what is not sacred” and describes it as “the crime that is most widespread in every time and every country.” (via [#VanceMorgan_])

“Idolatry has everything to do with thinking that you know God’s name.” (Stanley Hauerwas)

Examples of idolatry include nationalism, traditionalism, technologism, egoism, liberalism, communism, marketism, capitalism, …

Idolatry is one of the key topics of the Good News Jesus says “I am the way, the truth and the life” and “You cannot serve two masters”.

Note that Christians aren’t more immune against idolatry than other people. They have their own forms of it: Bible idolatry and Church idolatry. How true! “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 7:21)

nationalism

Over-stressing the importance of a national identity.

technologism

Over-stressing the importance of technology.

egoism

Over-stressing the importance of your own person.

liberalism

A political and moral philosophy focused on liberty, consent of the governed and equality before the law.

communism

An ideology whose ultimate goal is the establishment of a society based on the communistic ideal.

capitalism

An ideology whose ultimate goal is the establishment of a society based on the capitalistic ideal.

communistic ideal

The idea that the means of production should be owned in common by all members of a society and not by individual private actors.

capitalistic ideal

The idea that the means of production should be owned by individual private actors and not in common by all members of a society.

This includes the protection of private property, capital accumulation, wage labor, voluntary exchange, a price system and competitive markets. – adapted from Wikipedia

marketism

The idea that the free market should be the ultimate authority to regulate all human relationships.

“We human beings are incurable idolaters, more than happy to pattern ourselves after someone or something else rather than to take on responsibility for ourselves. Anything can be an idol–a person, an idea, a group, whatever is raised to such importance that all other matters, including even basic moral guidelines and principles, fade into the background.” 1

“The best cure for the disease of idolatry that I am aware of begins with embracing the complexity, ambiguity, uncertainty, and provisional nature of everything that we believe and think we know. Idolatry is always an attempt to establish certainty where it is both unwarranted and unearned.”1

Footnotes

1(1,2)

Idolatry and Abortion by Vance Morgan on Patheos, 2020-02-02).