Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Idols or something else?

Jeremiah 10:5:

Their idols are like scarecrows in a cucumber field, and they cannot speak; they
have to be carried for they cannot walk.Do not be afraid of them, for they cannot
do evil, nor is it in them to do you good.

The language of idolatry is very popular still (and I'm not just thinking of 'pop idol' TV shows). In fact half the google searches that have picked up this blog have been to do with idolatry, which is interesting given that I dont believe I have dedicated much space to the idea. Now in my observation we (Christians) usually interpret idolatry as anything which we worship (give our 'worth' to) in place of God (the only one who truly has a right to our worship). This often then stands for career, or wealth, status, possesions or relationships that we put up as 'idols' in our own lives in place of God, e.g. instead of seeking to do God's will with our lives we seek what will bring us the most wealth.

But as I have been reading through the prophets I have noticed most of the polemic (attack in argument) against idolatry in scripture has been on the basis of the idols impotence to do anything at all (e.g. Isaiah 46:6-7), whereas career, wealth, status, possesions or relationships are all powerful tools for doing either harm or good.

  • Does that mean they are not 'idols' in the Biblical sense?
  • If not, then what are they?
  • And what are modern day idols?
  • Or don't we have any?

Let me know what you think :)


  1. You're right about the prophetic focus. Some of my favourite parts of the Bible are the satirical sections about the folly of representational idolatry.

    Perhaps the change of emphasis comes with the summing up of the law as "Love God with your whole being and love your neighbour as yourself".
    Anything that takes us away from giving God his glory is therefore an idol, a pathetic attempt to rob God.

    I think they therefore can be said to be "idols" from that point of view.
    Colossians 3.5 is about the best I can find on this:
    "Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry)."

    But - elsewhere Paul equates idolatry with actual idols of a pagan culture.
    Strictly speaking, then, idolatry is that which breaks the 1st and 2nd commandments - worshipping other gods and creating something that represents the invisible God.

    Throw your Buddhas and crucifixes on the fire!