Eating the Apple

Eve did it. Adam did it. Now it's my turn to take a bite. Why not? Hey! It's delicious.

Saturday, December 31, 2005

What is Idolatry?

What is idolatry? Idolatry is usually defined as the worship of man-made objects as if they were gods. This definition is proclaimed in the Scriptures:
Leviticus 26:1 Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I am the LORD your God. (KJV)
Isaiah 2:8 Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made: 2:9 And the mean man boweth down, and the great man humbleth himself: therefore forgive them not. (KJV)

Again and again the priest and prophets of the Primary Scriptures condemn the religious practices of foreign peoples. Even the greatest of kings is astigated for idolatry:
2 Kings 23:13 And the high places that were before Jerusalem, which were on the right hand of the mount of corruption, which Solomon the king of Israel had builded for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Zidonians, and for Chemosh the abomination of the Moabites, and for Milcom the abomination of the children of Ammon, did the king defile. (KJV)

It seems to be generally assumed that all pagans are idol worshippers. It is said by commentators that Terah, the father of Abram (Abraham) was an idol worshipper. However, an important factor in a rabbinical story is that Terah recognizes that idols are not gods.

In any case, I am not willing to accept the idea that all ancient polytheists are idol worwshippers. The evidence is not convincing. The Scriptures exhibit a brutal hatred of non-Yahwist worship. The scribes and copyists were not above spinning the facts and rewriting passages in order to suit their theological purposes. The diatribes against non-Yahwist worship appear to be an expression of hatred, not historical facts.

I cannot imagine that a pagan with half a brain would mistake an image for a god. How could anyone believe that an object made by human hands could be a god that existed before mankind was created? In many cultures stars and planets were considered to be gods. How could an image be considered to be a star or planet? That doesn't make sense.

Instead, I think that pagans considered images of gods to be spiritual portals through which they communicated with their gods.

Of course, many people will continue to maintain that those ancient peoples who knelt and prayed before a statue of Aphrodite were worshipping an idol. And if I didn't know better, I would think that those who kneel and pray before a statue of the Virgin Mary were also idol worshippers.


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