Idolatry: a Definition
I was pondering how to take the next step in my project of showing that “progressivism” is idolatry. So I brought it up in family discussion as we were all sitting round this morning with a very pleasant late autumn sun pouring in the windows, dogs asleep at our feet, reading and sipping our tea / coffee.
The first reaction I got was: “Define your terms! What is idolatry.” This was embarrassingly basic. Every school debater is taught to first define their terms, or dispute the opposition’s definition. So I really should have worked out a definition at the start – but better late than never as they say!
I brought up some of the things I had written which bordered on defining what I meant. This lead to a “Google-off” of those with i-pad or phone checking the internet for definitions, and a general discussion of the relative merits of these.
There was, as one might guess, a range of ideas. Certainly most had an area of overlap, but some cast their net so wide that we thought they had included many things – like covetousness, self-centredness, and lust for possessions that seemed to be better put into the category of “vices”. ('though I haven't overlooked the scripture that says “… that greed which is idolatry”)
One of the most erudite websites put idolatry as that internally generated set of thoughts and ways of thinking which shaped a society. Others took the line that an idol was a thing venerated or worshiped. (this led to the question “what does 'worshiped'” mean - which led to the elimination of this word because we thought it had lost its meaning for many people). Some sites also said it was putting anything in the place of God.
A definition one of us came up with was that an idol was a thing (other than God naturally) in which you put your hope. Particularly with the idea that this “hope” was in a utopia you longed for and believed achievable. A utopia brought about by human wisdom and endeavor. A utopia you were prepared to commit your energies and lifestyle to bringing to fruition.
Drawing on these I decided on a definition for this project, where we are looking at current Western society:
Idolatry is: Committing one's hope, trust and obedience to human ideas and ideals rather than the person and revealed purposes of God.