Define Idolatry

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by JarJo, Feb 9, 2012.

  1. JarJo

    JarJo
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    A lot of the disagreements in threads seem to hinge on the definition of idolatry. The dictionary defines idolatry as:

    "excessive or blind adoration, reverence, devotion, etc. "

    So how do we define idolatry? How much reverence is too much? How much trust is a person is too much and crosses the line? To what extent can we 'run with our hopes and problems' to a person before this becomes idolatry? To what extent can we speak to a spirit before this becomes idolatry?

    Some examples to keep in mind when writing your definition:

    a. a child honoring their parent and turning to them with their hopes and fears
    b. respecting an elder in your church
    c. relying on the prayers of a brother or sister in Christ
    d. commanding a demon to leave yourself or another person
    e. telling a ghost haunting your house to go away
    f. asking a brother or sister in Christ, who has died and gone to heaven, for their prayers

    When do these things cross the line and become idolatry? Can you come up with a definition that covers these cases and is consistent? Or do you accuse people of idolatry for doing things that you do yourself, out of prejudice?
     
  2. JarJo

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    I'll start by presenting my definition:

    Idolatry occurs when something other than God is given praise or honor that gives to a subject a power, worth or authority apart from God. True worship recognizes that all created things derive their power and authority only from God.
     
  3. mont974x4

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    I like your definition. This is the one I have been using for several years now.

    Idolatry is allowing anything in your life to take the place of God.

    He alone is our source of life and He alone is our provider of all things. Therefore, when we allow money, sex, drugs, alcohol, TV, jobs, hobbies, chocolate, shopping, etc. to set our schedule, direct our spending, calm us, encourage us, drive our thoughts and actions we have allowed them to become an idol in our lives and usurp God's rightful place.
     
  4. JarJo

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    Wow, by this definition my life is full of idolatry:

    my job sets my schedule,
    i have a hobby that I find calming,
    I find my wife encouraging (sometimes),
    I read articles that prompt thoughts and actions,

    ... if these things are all idolatry then idolatry seems to be unavoidable.
     
    #4 JarJo, Feb 9, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 9, 2012
  5. WestminsterMan

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    I agree with that definition. I think the argument comes from a strictly legalistic and wrong position that bowing or kneeling "before" anything or anyone is by definition worship. Those who hold to that idea are the outliers of Christendom, but they are not dissuaded by that in the least.

    WM
     
  6. The Biblicist

    The Biblicist
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    Idolatry has its root in the heart and mind in two senses.

    Rom. 1:21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

    1 Cor. 10:31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.


    First, idolatry is the mental usurpation of God by denying Him proper recognition (preeminence) in any aspect of your heart and then by consequence in your life (Rom. 1:21). Whatever replaces God as preeminent in your heart and life becomes your god and therefore idolatry is revealed by the motive behind everything you do because if everthing you do is not for the glory of God it is glorifying another god which is anything that replaces God as the object of your service.



    Rom. 1:22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
    23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.....
    25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen
    .


    Secondly, idoltry involves a wrong mental concept of God. The reason people make images and bow down to them is because their mental concept of God permits them to give that kind of visible expression to God. Hence, idolatry begins in the mind with a wrong concept of God which in turn gives visble expression that represents their mental concept of God. Hence, those who deny the Biblical revelation of the true God are idolaters.
     
  7. mont974x4

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    That is kind of the point, isn't it? We have allowed good things to have a wrong level of influence in our life. We are not talking about reading articles that provoke thought, but allowing them to rule us.

    Some examples:
    Instead of reading the Bible to see what God says about sex and marriage we rely on Cosmo.

    Instead of recognizing our bride is a gift from God that He has blessed us with and He uses to encourage us to be the men He called us to be we rely on them to validate our manhood.

    Instead of prayer and seeking the Lord in times of stress we grab a beer(cup of coffee, candy bar, ice cream, insert your crutch here). We are all guilty here and my conviction on this led me to stop smoking and back off on the coffee.



    We are not to be ruled by anything. To do so is to fall into idolatry, and most often this is a very subtle thing.
     
  8. JarJo

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    But isn't this taking it too far? By this definition exercising when stressed out would be idolatry, because we should pray instead. But exercise is good for us. It seems to me that your definition needs a more clear definition of when we cross that line between healthy non-religious activities and idolatry.
     
  9. JarJo

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    Every single one of us has an imperfect mental concept of God. It's impossible for a human being to have a perfect concept of God. By your definition then, it is impossible to not commit idolatry. Reductio ad absurdum.

    Or perhaps you mean that an incomplete mental concept is acceptable, as long as it isn't an incorrect mental concept. But practically speaking, every one of us has a mental image of God that has some kind of error. When we imagine Christ our imagination has to fill in some details, which will almost certainly be wrong in some ways. When we imagine God the Father again we have to fill in a lot of details and we can't possibly be correct on every detail. Even basic attributes of God like omniscience are impossible for humans to imagine correctly. This definition of idolatry doesn't just rule out physical images of God, it rules out the understanding of God in every Christian's mind. It makes it impossible to worship God without sinning.
     
    #9 JarJo, Feb 9, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 9, 2012
  10. The Biblicist

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    You are failing to read carefuly what I said. I said it "involves a wrong mental concept of God" and that it is a DENIAL of the true revelation of God in the scriptures. I never said it was failure to have a comprehensive understanding of God.
     
  11. webdog

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    In a nut shell, it is worshiping anything other than God. This includes us. Oh...and praying is worshiping, so when you pray to Mary you are committing idolatry.
     
  12. JarJo

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    By this definition, it is okay to give honor to Mary as long as that honor also glorifies God. And since Mary is God's creation, honoring her automatically honors her creator.
     
  13. mont974x4

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    I can't be more clear because at the core is the heart of the individual.

    Eating is good. When we are ruled by food it has taken an unhealthy place in our life. We eat to live, we should not live to eat.

    Exercise is good for us on many levels. When we seek it alone for a stress relief then we may have an issue. If we pray while we run we're probably in good shape physically, mentally, and spiritually.

    Jobs do set our schedules to a point, but we can choose to work someplace that allows us the time for corporate worship and fellowship. We can also allow our jobs to be more important than the God ordained roles of husband and father, which is also an issue for many of us.

    Water is good for us, but when we are not careful it can kill us. We may drowned or we can drink so much that it flushes needed minerals etc from our body and our system shuts down.


    Good things can become bad very quickly. So we must be always vigilante in this area.
     
  14. The Biblicist

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    The Temple is called "the house of God" and it is recongized as the house "of worship" and thus called "the house of prayer." Prayer is the most personal form of worship as it begins with recognition and adoration and praise, all of which are worship.

    Isa 56:7 Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.

    Mt 21:13 And said to them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but you have made it a den of thieves.

    Mr 11:17 And he taught, saying to them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but you have made it a den of thieves.

    Lu 19:46 Saying to them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but you have made it a den of thieves.

    To say that "prayer" is not worship is to deny the very character attributed to God's house which emphasizes prayer as the most intimate form of worship that characterizes the house of God.
     
  15. mont974x4

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    Absolutely!
     
  16. WestminsterMan

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    Praying is NOT always worship.

    Definition of PRAY

    transitive verb
    1: entreat, implore —often used as a function word in introducing a question, request, or plea <pray be careful>
    2: to get or bring by praying

    intransitive verb
    1: to make a request in a humble manner
    2: to address God or a god with adoration, confession, supplication, or thanksgiving

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pray

    Notice that only one of the four above is used to address God. As I've said before, its all about intent.

    WM
     
  17. The Biblicist

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    You are God's creation as much as Mary. Even while Mary was living we have no evidence that anyone sought her to intervene in their behalf to Christ or to God. There is no Mary emphasis in the book of Acts or in any epistle of the Apostles. John most likely outlived Mary but even if he didn't there is no indication in any of this letters that special emphasis was to be given to Mary by the saints.

    The Bible does not give any examples of any of the churches emphasizing Mary over any other saint or giving any kind of veneration toward her.
     
  18. JarJo

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    By this definition, where speaking to a spirit is automatically idolatry, then casting out a demon is also idolatry. Reductio ad absurdum. If you differentiate between different types of speaking to a demon, you need to also differentiate between different types of speaking to the souls of Christians who have gone to heaven. One can speak to a spirit without worshiping the spirit. Therefore one can speak to a saint in heaven without worshiping them.
     
  19. JarJo

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    The bible doesn't give any example of eating pizza. By your logic, pizza is therefore idolatry. Reductio ad absurdum again.
     
  20. webdog

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    I will raise your dictionary with my Bible. Prayer in the Bible is speaking to God or a false god. Period.
     

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