Idolatry

I often encounter Christians whose understanding of the truth is heavily influenced by extra-Biblical sources. We could say they have the wrong paradigm, yet that wouldn’t be totally accurate. We could say they have the wrong world-view, and that also wouldn’t be entirely accurate, but we can say they have idols in their life, and that would be accurate.

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Any force or power shaping a Christian’s understanding OTHER than the Holy Spirit and Scripture is an idol, in some form or another. We can say that their “terms of reference” is something other than the truth of God’s word. Something other than God’s word has taken the preeminence, the dominance, in their thinking, and God’s word has taken second place, or lower. Their thinking is dominated, influenced, shaped and directed by something other than the truth of God’s word, something other than the Holy Spirit.

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I have a friend who cannot have any discussion without referencing Catholic mystics from the dark ages, and a few other famous names of history. No matter what the subject, he always tends to refer to a list of these “saints”, as he calls them, his thinking cannot be independent of this, it dominates his thoughts and thinking to the exclusion of the truth of Scripture: this pantheon of  “saints” becomes the medium by which he understands, and in a sense they become mediators, mediating his relationship to God, but in a cloaked manner, for this would never be admitted. These “saints” become his reference points – his points of reference in his thinking, his mind always refers to these reference points, and we know this bcos he cannot discuss anything without referencing these “saints” – there is more reference to these “saints” than to Scripture. (And this is very much a Roman Catholic way of thinking, for Rome unashamedly admits that “saints” and “popes” carry greater authority than Scripture.)

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This brother has become obsessed with things the Holy Spirit has no interest or part in, and yet is convinced it is the Holy Spirit.

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For example, one of these “saints” said that people get a second chance at salvation after they die, and now, just at this one word from this “saint”, this brother is willing to trade all of Scripture. The issue for him has become the “honor” of the name of this “saint”. The possibility that this saint was wrong on this matter, and deceived about it, cannot be countenanced, for then his “honor” is at stake, and this reveals that this particular brother finds his identity more in these “saints” than in Jesus Christ: as if, if they were found to be wrong then his world would fall apart, he has invested so heavily in them being right. This reveals that the roots of idolatry are found in identity – what one identifies with.

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And i regularly encounter Christians of many shades who are trapped in such idolatry, whether it be any of the famous “Isms” which tend to dominate Christian’s thinking.

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It’s of such John warns us: “Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.” (I John 5:21)

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There was scant danger John’s disciples would go after pagan idols again, the danger was a surreptitious danger, a disguised danger, where something would deceitfully take the place of Jesus in their lives and thinking, which is no less idolatry than a pagan idol.

 

 

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