About idolatry

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 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 companies have a mission statement, that’s why nations have a constitution, that’s why Catholics have a pope.

mission statement

A concise 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


The mission statement of a nation.

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 pronounce a dogma. For the common people these things are “holy”: you must know them by heart, you must honor them, you must follow them, and you must not touch them.

“Holy” means “beyond any doubt” or “it makes no sense to discuss about this”.

Christian faith says that only God is holy.


When you worship something instead of worshiping God.

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, technologism, Bible idolatry, traditionalism, egoism, liberalism, communism, capitalism, …


Over-stressing the importance of a national identity.


Over-stressing the importance of technology.


Over-stressing the importance of your own person.


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


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


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

Note that all these examples

“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



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