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May 28, 2013

Comments

JWW,

Great post! The concept of idolatry is not a new one, but it's often a bit of a shock to a modern American (even more so a modern American Christian) to hear that it's still around--let alone a problem.

But it is every bit as much a problem for the modern American Christian as it is for anyone else.

My pastor just preached on this last week and gave a whole list of questions we can ask to begin to diagnose our idols.

As a Christian in vocational ministry, I have found that my deepest heart idol is still human approval, the same idol that I've had as a kid. As I told a friend recently, human approval and Christian ministry make terrible gods. They will either crush you Sunday afternoon after you have a poor service, or they will crush you Monday morning after you have a great service...and then realize you have to do it all over again this week.

Keep up the great work!
Jared

It's simply not true that all of us engage in some form of worship. There's a big difference between respect and worship. I agree that worship means "extravagant respect or admiration for or devotion to an object of esteem." Did you ignore that word "extravagant" at the start?

I'm surprised that a Christian would write "Whatever ... gives your life meaning, or foundationally shapes your identity, this is your God." You can't change the definition of the word "God" so flippantly. At the least you must write it with a lower-case "g."

This post seems full of weasel words.

John Moore is correct. It's absurd to say that everyone worships something unless you're just changing the word worship to mean "really really like something a lot". This is a standard tactic used by theists to make it appear that everyone has a deep-seated desire to exhibit a slavish devotion to someone or something the way Christians do to the Judeo-Christian god - that we are all "created to worship" and non-theists are directing their "god-given" need to worship towards something that doesn't deserve it.

Here's a good example of why this doesn't work. I like baseball and have season tickets. In fact I like baseball a whole lot more than god or any religion. I spend more time at baseball games than I do at church or praying or prostrating myself before god. But I'm not worshipping baseball. I enjoy it and it gives me a great amount of pleasure; however, according to the theist, baseball is my idol because it is taking precedence before god, ergo, I am worshipping baseball. It does a disservice to both believers and non-believers when you use the word worship in such a way. Rather, just say that some people worship and others feel no need to do so. That is more accurate.

It's simply not true that all of us engage in some form of worship.

It absolutely is true. In fact, you can even simplify it into distinct, concrete terms. You either worship the one true God, the creator of the universe, or you worship yourself.

So, when AJG says "some people worship and others feel no need to do so," it's actually more accurate to say that those who "feel no need to do so" have actually opted for worship of themselves in an effort to assert self above the God of the universe.

I'm sorry that those who make statements like that haven't grasped the true meaning of worship. Not surprising, though, since only God can bring someone to a correct understanding of worship. I pray that they will be brought to repentance of their idolatry and turn to Christ and worship Him in spirit and truth.

The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, Acts 17:30
So, when AJG says "some people worship and others feel no need to do so," it's actually more accurate to say that those who "feel no need to do so" have actually opted for worship of themselves in an effort to assert self above the God of the universe.

As one who feels no need to worship, I can tell you first hand that you're wrong in my case. Actually, worshiping never even occurs to me.

In the case of someone else, I'd suggest you ask them what is more accurate to say about them rather than simply making unsupported pronouncements.

As one who feels no need to worship, I can tell you first hand that you're wrong in my case. Actually, worshipping never even occurs to me.

Then you have opted to worship yourself, and the Bible makes it clear that you don't even have the ability to realize that unless God grants that to you, regenerating you and bringing you to repentance and new life in Christ.

John Moore and AJG,

It’s understandable that you shudder at the word. But look up the various meanings of “worship”. Are you threatened?

If I were an atheist, I might say, “Sure, if you want to define worship like that I’m fine with it, whatever. At least I get to choose what I get to worship and it’s real to boot”. Something like that.

John,

If you did worship baseball, would that be a problem? You act as if it would. Why on earth would it be? Perhaps you just think it would be in bad taste. Maybe kooky? Or is it just impossible to worship something other than God? Maybe because there’s no praying, or singing, or kneeling, etc?

If it’s just impossible in your view, then using the terms “really really like” would serve the same purpose here. We’d just be talking definitions. And the message in the OP stays the same.

RonH,

As one who feels no need to worship, I can tell you first hand that you're wrong in my case. Actually, worshiping never even occurs to me.

I believe you. But you still “really really like” some things. We all do.

The OP is talking about neglecting or rejecting God, while still having the capabilities and desire to focus on things we “really really like” (instead). This is very uncontroversial stuff. The real resonance here is for the Christian struggling with priorities, not the atheist with likes and dislikes.

If you did worship baseball, would that be a problem? You act as if it would. Why on earth would it be? Perhaps you just think it would be in bad taste. Maybe kooky? Or is it just impossible to worship something other than God? Maybe because there’s no praying, or singing, or kneeling, etc?

The word worship is this context means flattering adoration and slavish devotion. I could say "I worship Bach's music" but nobody seriously thinks I am falling prostrate before my mp3 player as St. Matthew's Passion plays. One can certainly worship men (Mao, Kim Jong Il, et.al.) instead of a god but most people do not. The type of worship being described here is reserved primarily for religion.

And despite what g says, atheists are not worshipping themselves although when you compare it to the theology of someone like Jonathan Edwards where we should all view ourselves as worms, it can certainly seem like self-worship. But that's what religion tends to do; it causes people who should be viewing themselves as good and worthy to instead view themselves as depraved and wicked and in need of someone better than themselves to pull them out of the muck. That's poison for the mind and for one's self-image.

I could say "I worship Bach's music" but nobody seriously thinks I am falling prostrate before my mp3 player as St. Matthew's Passion plays.

Of course, “worship” means something different for the atheist. That’s the point. I could say I worship Bach as well, it’s very tempting. But when a Christian refers to worship as it relates to atheists, they don’t mean that “they’re falling prostrate” before their mirror in the morning or their bank account or their addictions either. You don’t think they mean that, do you?

No.

They mean you find fulfillment in things of this world (i.e. the things you “really really like a lot”). A world void of the belief in God. A world that rejects God. That’s what they mean.

They mean you find fulfillment in things of this world (i.e. the things you “really really like a lot”). A world void of the belief in God. A world that rejects God. That’s what they mean.

Of course I know that. I'm a former evangelical myself, having used the "there's a god-shaped hole in everyone" argument many times myself. What I reject is that there IS a god-shaped hole that atheists are filling it with something in place of god. Just because you enjoy something, even enjoy it a whole lot, you are not necessarily worshipping it.

Everyone finds fulfillment in the things of this world as this world is the world in which we live, including Christians. Although they claim to find fulfillment in a god who is not of this world, they still must interact with that god through the material world. A person born without any of their five senses would never be able to experience and subsequently worship any god. Only through the information taken in through the natural world are we able to make decisions and take action. So I'd argue that everyone finds fulfillment in the things of this world. In fact, there is no other way to find fulfillment. Fulfillment is still not worship, though.

I wonder if atheists will visit the new monument to atheism in Florida. It may be silly to some, not so silly to others. Bordering on some sort of weirdish worship to some, worthy of respect to others. Who knows? We shall see.


And despite what g says, atheists are not worshipping themselves although when you compare it to the theology of someone like Jonathan Edwards where we should all view ourselves as worms, it can certainly seem like self-worship. But that's what religion tends to do; it causes people who should be viewing themselves as good and worthy to instead view themselves as depraved and wicked and in need of someone better than themselves to pull them out of the muck. That's poison for the mind and for one's self-image.

This is utter garbage, and illustrates exactly what I said. The problem is exactly what is claimed here: people view themselves too much as good and worthy. It's exactly the opposite. People are totally, utterly, and radically depraved. It's not a matter of we have sinned a few times and have a debt to pay; it's a matter of we have done nothing but exist in a totally fallen and sinful state from the first moment of our existence.

And we can't realize that truth until we get a glimpse of how holy, just, righteous, merciful, loving, and all-powerful the God who created the universe and everything in it is. He's so holy and so righteous that all creation MUST adore Him and Him alone in worship and adoration; anything different is by definition idolatry, and is the grossest of sins.

In fact, God is so holy that not only are we required to bow the knee to Him in worship, we don't even possess the capability to do so until we are acceptable in His sight to be able to worship. This is the great dilemma. It pleases God that mankind should worship Him, but mankind is incapable and unworthy of worshipping Him due to our fallen state.

The answer: God sent Himself, through the saving work of His Son, the fully God, fully Man, Jesus Christ as the only acceptable, perfect, eternal atoning sacrifice for our sins and expelled upon Him the wrath that by all rights we should have undergone.

It's only by exercising God's free gift of faith in Jesus' saving work, by confessing that Jesus is Lord and that God raised Him from the dead, that we can be saved and worship as we are intended to worship and commanded to worship.

AJG, that includes you. Verses such as the one I quoted are as applicable to you today as they were when Paul uttered them to the Athenians. God commands you to repent and turn to Christ, the King over all, and I pray that God gives you grace to be able to do so.

Oh, to realize this truth and have God work in your life in this manner is the polar opposite of "poison" for your self-image! It's wonderful to think that in all fairness and justice, I should be condemned instantly to eternal death and punishment for my rebellion and war against the holy God, but glory of glories He loved me and rescued me and changed me from being His enemy and made me His friend and heir! That does wonders for my "self-image", because it is no longer I who live, but Christ in me!

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