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Meaning of Idolatry

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by John of Japan, Jan 26, 2006.

  1. Johnv

    Johnv New Member

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    I believe that the NT writers were referring to idolatry as analogy. BY all means, covetousness is analogous to idolatry. But there are two separate commandments for coveting and idolatry. So if covetousness is literally idolatry, it doesn't make sense to have two commandments on the topic.

    Just my $.02
     
  2. HankD

    HankD Well-Known Member
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    In the Hebrew environment, perhaps because the end product of coveteousness - image making and worship (bowing) - was/is an indication of a ripening of this coveteousness into an act of rebellion against God Himself on the part of an enlightened Hebrew, a supposed believer in the unseen God (not the product of a man's hands).

    What are the essentials of coveteousness?

    We see something that is not ours and desire it.
    What do we do next? Question God as to why it's not ours but so-and-so's and then criticize Him in our hearts, - or acknowledge the desire, let it pass and be thankful yet for what we do have?

    In our 20-21st century environment coveteousness ripens into other manifestations of rebellion.

    Proverbs 4:23 Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

    My opinion of course (apart from the Scripture cited).

    HankD
     
  3. Craigbythesea

    Craigbythesea Active Member

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    John of Japan wrote,

    :D

    I guess you win this debate; the Apostle Paul was mistaken and that is all that there is to it. Thank you for bringing the Apostle Paul’s false teaching to our attention. :D

    Oh! You don’t believe that the Apostle Paul’s teaching was false? :confused: Then, according to your post, the word of God in the Bible doesn’t make sense because we have two commandments on the topic. :eek:

    And, of course, Moses wasted a lot of time and energy writing the Ten Commandments using a lot of redundant language when he could have simply written,

    1. YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.'
    2. YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF. [​IMG]

    Indeed, the Ten Commandments are so redundant than even the Apostle Paul could not remember them all and wrote,

    Rom. 13:9. For this, "YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, YOU SHALL NOT STEAL, YOU SHALL NOT COVET," and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF."

    Bottom line,

    Col 3:5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

    Eph 5:5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

    [​IMG]
     
  4. Johnv

    Johnv New Member

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    John of Japan didn't write that. I wrote that.

    That's not only an arrogant and belittling statement, it's not remotely the context of what was said by me. There's no way, outside of twisting what I said, that you could attribute your view of those comments to me.
     
  5. Craigbythesea

    Craigbythesea Active Member

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    Johnv,

    I apologize for confusing your post with those of John of Japan. My reply to that post was based upon the mistaken impression that what was written in that post was part of the context of the other posts by John of Japan, and was said in humor. I am sorry that we misunderstood each other.

    [​IMG]
     
  6. Johnv

    Johnv New Member

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    No harm done, CBS. Thanks for clearing that up [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  7. Paul33

    Paul33 New Member

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    I believe that idoloatres (transliterated idolatry) would better be understood today as hedonism. The context in which idolatry is used is always in connection with immorality. A person who practices idoloatres is a hedonist - he loves pleasure and self more than God. He has one goal - to indulge in pleasure, primarily sexual pleasure, thus the close connection between idoloatres and porneia.

    What do you think?
     
  8. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    This is passing strange. If I get you right you are saying that an act is never a sin, but only what occurs in the heart can be a sin. I've never heard of this view before. I can't find anything in my library that agrees with you.

    "Sin is any evil action or evil motive that is in opposition to God." (Christian Theology, Millard Erickson, 579)

    "As it is readily admitted that the outward act of transgression is properly denominated sin, we here attempt to show only that lack of conformity to the law of God in disposition or state is also and equally to be so denominated." (Systematic Theology, A. H. Strong, 552)

    I could add Berkhof, Thiessen and a few others before I ran out of library and had to hit the Internet. So, John of Japan agrees with the finest and most learned scholars and theologians as referenced and quoted above, who all agree that sin is both an attitude and an act. Craigofthesea disagrees with all of them! [​IMG]

    But hey, we're Baptists, so lets go to the Bible as the final authority. Physical acts of idolatry are clearly referred to as sin.

    (1) "And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold." (Ex 32:31)
    (2) "That they teach you not to do after all their abominations, which they have done unto their gods; so should ye sin against the LORD your God." (De 20:18) [​IMG]
     
  9. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    Hi, Paul33. I trust you are doing well.

    I dunno, can you give some lexical support here?

    Actually, in many cases a Japanese idolator tries to keep a strict set of moral rules. (Of course they don't succeed.) Some Buddhist sects have celibate priests like the Catholics (may have gotten this teaching from the missionaries of Francis Xavier in the 16th cent.).

    Now Shinto, on the other hand, does have a lot of immorality connected with it. And Hindu idolatry can be quite immoral. Even the facade of many Hindu temples is pornographic.
     
  10. Craigbythesea

    Craigbythesea Active Member

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    There is nothing at all strange about what I have said. Outward acts, in and of themselves, are never seen in the Bible to be sin. And, of course, the Greek word for repentance in the New Testament is μετάνοια, which does NOT mean to changes one outward behavior, but to change ones mind. Of course a change in ones outward behavior is always expected, and that is always a consequence of repentance, the changing of ones mind.

    [​IMG]
     
  11. Craigbythesea

    Craigbythesea Active Member

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    A. H. Strong’s comment that you quoted above is very unfortunate, and of course there are also others who do not understand the difference between an outward, physical act and disobedience to God. The physical body is absolutely incapable of disobeying God, and hence it is absolutely incapable of sinning. The sin is always and exclusively in the mind, never in the members of the body.

    Let’s consider for a moment the Sixth Commandment, Exod. 20:13. You shall not murder. (NASB, 1995) The word translated here ‘murder’ is the Hebrew word רצח, and although it is not the usual word for taking a life in the Old Testament, it does not imply intentionality as can be seen by its use in Deut. 4:41f, Josh. 20:3, etc. where one kills unintentionally. Quite obviously the Sixth Commandment does not forbid the physical act of taking a human life unintentionally, and yet the physical act of taking a human life is exactly the same whether it is intentional or unintentional. The sin of murder is only in the heart; it is not in the physical act.

    Staying with the subject of the murder, consider the following from the first chapter of Romans,

    28. And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,
    29. being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips,
    30. slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,
    31. without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful;
    32. and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them. (NASB, 1995)

    In this passage the focus is on murder in the mind (“being filled with all unrighteousness . . . murder . . . .”), and as verse 32 so very clearly says, that murder is just as much murder as if it is carried out by oneself or found only in ones consent to the physical act of another.

    And, of course, we have testimony of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount,

    Matt. 5:21. "You have heard that the ancients were told, 'YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER' and 'Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.'
    22. "But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, 'You good-for-nothing,' shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, 'You fool,' shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.

    Whether or not the physical act was carried out is incidental to the fact that a murder has taken place. (Of course it is not incidental to the family and friends of the victim, but that is a whole different matter). The physical act could not have been the sin, because there was no physical act in Matt. 5:22.

    And we find the same sort of teaching regarding adultery just a few verses later,

    27. "You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY';
    28. but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

    The words of Jesus here could not be more explicit—the sin of adultery was committed, NOT physically, but “in his heart.” If the physical act was also the sin of adultery, every time a man or woman commits the act of adultery they would be committing adultery twice—once in their heart and once in the physical act. Quite obviously A. H. Strong had not adequately thought this through, and, as you pointed out, he is not alone in his error.

    [​IMG]
     
  12. Craigbythesea

    Craigbythesea Active Member

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    This passage says very clearly the people had sinned a great sin and that they had made them gods of gold.

    The grandmother of a friend of mine recently died and he inherited many of her things, including about 75 figurines made out of brass that she had collected in the Orient. He didn’t want the figurines and he gave them to me. I don’t know what was in the heart of the people who made the figurines, but the making of the figurines, in and of itself, could not have been more innocent. If in their hearts, however, they were making gods, then they sinned in their heart. The figurines, however, are not gods but simply brass figurines.

    The making of the golden calf would have been perfectly innocent in and of itself, but they sinned in the intent of their heart. The calf itself was nothing but a gold figurine and the physical task of making it was absolutely innocent, in and of itself. That is, unless you believe I would be committing idolatry if I made a gold figurine identical to the one that they made. And, of course, I don’t believe that gold is any more sinful than brass. And one of my newly acquired brass figurines is a large water buffalo—and that is pretty close to a calf, after all, it is a bovine.

    [​IMG]
     
  13. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    Can you point me to any well-known theologians who agree with you, any at all?
     
  14. Paul33

    Paul33 New Member

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    J of J,

    It's a working theory for me. I may be wrong. It just seems like the idoloatres, porneia, and pharmakon spoken of in Revelation is reflective of our day, thus, hedonism. Maybe, I would be more correct if I said the religion of idolatry in America is hedonism, much as the religion of hinduism is idolatry for others.
     
  15. Paul33

    Paul33 New Member

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    We are dead in our trespasses and sins.

    Are we not dead because of our acts and our motives?

    Are we capable of separating our body, soul, and spirit?

    I am one person, and if my mind leads me to outward acts of sin, I am guilty. First before God, and then before humanity.

    I would suggest that the sins spoken of by Jesus are "acts" of sin committed in the heart. For example, I have decided before hand (an act) that I will commit adultery with my neighbor's wife if I get the opportunity. I've already committed the sin of adultery in my heart by the act of deciding to do so when the opportunity arises!

    Therefore, the sin is an ACT of behavior as well as an act in the mind. I have performed the behavior of deciding or choosing something. In this case, a course of action that hopefully leads to adultery.
     
  16. RayMarshall19

    RayMarshall19 New Member

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    I find your use of the quotation marks in the above sentence to be highly insulting, not only of me, but of every scholar of the New Testament. And I find your use of the expression, 'your "facts" to be particularly insulting and intellectually dishonest. They are not 'my' facts, but facts, indisputable and objective facts. You may disagree if you choose with my interpretation of the significance of the facts, but the facts remain factual, and in order for ANY interpretation to the correct interpretation, it is NECESSARY that the interpretation be in harmony with ALL of the facts. Unless you can demonstrate that your interpretation is in harmony with ALL of the facts, it must be discarded. Simply posting, 'your "facts," proves nothing at all.

    [​IMG]
    </font>[/QUOTE]I regret your concern about my punctuation.

    I have read many of your posts and they seem to me to have a very judgmental tone. (Please note I am commenting about the tone of your posts and not you, personally, because I don't know you.)

    It appears to me that you are confusing your "interpretation" with the "facts" themselves. (That's just my opinion but I suspect their are others who share it.) I think you should at least acknowledge that other folks have a right to their own interpretations of the "facts", even if you strongly disagree with them.
     
  17. Craigbythesea

    Craigbythesea Active Member

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    RayMarshall19 wrote,

    There is a fundamental difference between data and the interpretation of the data. I have posted data (facts) that prove that your interpretation as posted is faulty. Any interpretation, in order to be true, MUST be in harmony with all of the data. Rather than amending your interpretation to bring it into harmony with the facts, you have falsely claimed that the objective facts that I have posted are merely my interpretation. If you were to post data that is out of harmony with my interpretation of idolatry, I would most certainly amend my interpretation to bring it into harmony with that data.

    [​IMG]
     
  18. Craigbythesea

    Craigbythesea Active Member

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    John of Japan wrote,

    Yes, of course. You quoted one of them yourself,

    "Sin is any evil action or evil motive that is in opposition to God." (Christian Theology, Millard Erickson, 579)

    Since it is absolutely impossible for any physical action to be, in and of itself, evil, it necessarily follows from Erickson’s definition that no physical action, in and of itself, is sin.

    And I have rethought Strong’s definition,

    "As it is readily admitted that the outward act of transgression is properly denominated sin, we here attempt to show only that lack of conformity to the law of God in disposition or state is also and equally to be so denominated." (Systematic Theology, A. H. Strong, 552)

    I believe that he meant to say, “It is readily admitted that the disposition or state of the mind and the accompanying outward act of transgression is properly denominated sin, we here attempt to show only that the lack of conformity to the law of God in disposition or state of the mind, even when the outward act is absent, is also and equally to be so denominated.”

    If that is really what he meant to say, his definition agrees with mine.

    There are nearly as many definitions of sin as there are theologians. Orton Wiley, in his Christian Theology, vol. 2, pages 86-88, summarizes the definition given by a number of prominent theologians, and I do not find any of them to be out of harmony with my point of view.

    Have you been able to find even one theologian who has expressly written that any physical act, in and of itself, completely severed from the disposition or state of the mind, is sin? If you have, I would suggest that his disposition and state of mind is somewhere in the far reaches of the Twilight Zone. :D [​IMG] :( :eek: [​IMG]

    More importantly, have you been able to find even one passage in the Bible that expressly says that any physical act, in and of itself, completely severed from the disposition or state of the mind, is sin?

    John, it is a pleasure to fellowship with you on the BB, and it is my prayer that God will richly bless you and your family. [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  19. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    Thanks for the kind words and prayers.

    Hey, I never said that a physical act, in and of itself, is sin. I agree totally that there must be the sin of the heart, or the physical act is not sin. I just don't agree that sin is not physical and only inward. And your effort to make my quotes from Strong and Erickson agree with you don't make sense to me. How can Erickson's "evil act" mean anything but physical sin?

    Perhaps another thread would help explore the whole issue on its own. This has been a fascinating thread, but perhaps our interaction has worked its way through.
     
  20. Paul33

    Paul33 New Member

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    Come on boys,

    Is not the act of choosing an act of behavior? If I choose to lust, desiring in my heart to commit the sin of adultery if I get the chance, have I not acted behaviorally?
     
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