One More Word about Idolatry (. . . and Then We Move On)  

Posted by Benjie

Before closing the discussion about idols, I thought I’d turn my soapbox on its end once more to address to areas of idolatry that are popular in our society today.

The first, I’ll call angel-olatry. This is the fascination that we have developed for the super-natural that has evidenced itself in a preoccupation with angels and angelic beings. Certainly, I do not deny the existence nor do I deny the activity of angels in our world today. However, today’s fascination with all things angel to the point that we exalt the angels over the One who made the angels is at issue here. The only angels who revel in our worship are those minions of Satan that bought into his lies about being as powerful as the Almighty.

So we elevate angels to the status of gods or demigods, creating for them a place “on my shoulder” so that we can have a little angel with us always, developing entire television programs extolling the power and majesty of angels. Even our stores are filled with miniature angel images for us to buy and place on our mantelpieces so that they can “watch over us” daily in our homes. I find it interesting in this day of angel worship, that one program ran its entire life (and now finds syndicated after-life) expressing the sentiment, “God loves you.” On the other hand, a new Saturday morning kids show which was developed as a video series teaching biblical values (those based on the Bible and using biblical stories and principles) has been required to change the tag-line from the shows end (“God made you special, and He loves you very much”) has been adapted to “Hope you come back to my house really soon” for the sake of keeping God’s name out of the ears of American children.

Aside from worshiping angels to the point of idolatry, historically the church has been plagued with another idolatry that keeps us from fully serving and worshiping God as we ought. This one I will call Bible-olatry. This is the worship of the written word above the One who spoke the word. This worship manifests itself in diverse ways:

  • Some are afraid to lay their book on the ground for fear of contamination.
  • Others are certain that a single translation of the Scripture is more sacred than any other.
  • We make it a practice to revere the Bible by buying a large ornate copy to enshrine in our homes, and neglecting to read it.
  • We are admonished to turn gently the pages of the Bible for they are holy.

The difficulty with all of these practices is that they ascribe to the book a holiness that should be reserved first for the Speaker of the word, and then for the content of the word, and not the physical copy of the book.

I grew up in a tradition that prides itself on being a “People of the Book.” I am proud of that heritage. I praise God that He saw fit to plant me into that kind of a lifestyle. At the same time, it is not the leather-bound copy of the Scriptures that I hold sacred. Instead it is the message within those bindings that points me to God and entices me to worship Him alone that is of importance in my spiritual life. Should I treat the book itself with a certain amount of respect? Of course! The more care I take of my copy of the Scriptures, the longer I will be able to read that copy and allow it to guide my steps—toward God. Does the translation I use to study matter? Without a doubt! Two things are of importance as I seek the translation which I use to read, study, and even preach from: (1) How accurate, judging from the best available scholarship, is this translation in reference to the original manuscripts? I believe that there is a reason that the actual original manuscripts of the books collected in our Bible are not available to us—it would turn into Bible-olatry in the first degree—people would begin to travel around the world to bow before the brittle pages preserved under glass and on display like a shrine. Instead we trust translation experts to rightly translate the best manuscripts for the purpose of studying the word of God in our own language. (2) How well can I understand what has been translated? Having studied and taught Shakespeare, I enjoy all the beauty of the English of that era. I also understand that language changes. English has changed noticeably even in my short life-span. I believe that the King James Authorized Version is a wonder to read, but a boulder to understand. Therefore, I urge you, dear reader, find the version of the Bible which speaks best to your heart, and read it. Read to find the Speaker of the word and not to elevate the word above the speaker.

This entry was posted on 02 October 2006 at 9:23 AM . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

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