Girl Praying

Christian Idolatry

The title above may seem like an oxymoron, but please stick with me and I think you’ll see it’s appropriate.

There is an email going around the Christian Forwarders Network (I just made that up) which relates “a true story and the author, Rick Mathes, is a well-known leader in prison ministry.” In a conversation with a Muslim imam, Mathes asked, “Let me ask you a question: Would you rather have your Allah, who tells you to kill me in order for you to go to heaven, or my Jesus who tells me to love you because I am going to heaven and He wants you to be there with me?”

Mathes’ question above reads like a powerful challenge, but actually it is rather trivial. It doesn’t matter who I would rather have. What matters is Who actually exists and Who is actually the Creator, Judge, and Redeemer.

There is a strain of idolatry in Christianity where we feel free to decide what qualities a god should have, and then we attribute those qualities to the God of Heaven, whether or not we have any Scriptural basis for them. As an example, there is the oft-repeated claim that if I were the only person on earth, Christ would have still come and died for me. That sentiment seems very nice and godlike, but there is little, if any, support for it in God’s Word.

Even more commonly, we praise our Heavenly Father for all his omni‘s: omnipresence, omnipotence, omniscience… did I leave any out? And then there are the alls: all-loving, all-merciful, etc. Well, I suppose our Calvinist brothers wouldn’t include all-loving, because there is that matter of the non-elect. There is more or less Scriptural evidence for each of these, but we often do not allow ourselves to be limited by what Scripture teaches.

The essential point is that God is real, and He has real characteristics, whether or not they are all exactly as we think a god should be. All we know about God is what He has chosen to reveal to us, and we should be humble enough to worship Him for what He has told us about Himself and not make a “golden image” in our minds of what we would prefer.