Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Idols Are Bad

There it was again today -- somebody saying that pretty churches and statues are bad.  "You shall make no graven images."  Interesting timing, based on what I heard in chapel this morning.

Our Bible story was Exodus 32, the Israelites worshiping the golden calf.  Pastor was asking the kids questions about idols and false gods.  He explained that an idol shows something about God that isn't true.  In this story, it wasn't a golden calf that brought the Israelites out of Egypt and saved them from Pharaoh's armies.

But that little explanation, just a smidge of what he was telling the children, summed up so much for me.  I remember when my friend, Pastor Wiest, was accused by someone of worshiping idols.  Because he wore a crucifix! The person told Pr Wiest, "You aren't supposed to worship idols."  He responded, "But this isn't an idol.  This is the true God."  (Now, I suppose the person could've responded, "That is NOT the true God."  But obviously Pastor Wiest did not think that little piece of metal, on a chain around his neck, really was, in itself, God.  It was a representation of what God in His gracious love did to save us; it showed something true about God.)

An idol shows something about God that isn't true.  That's why it's bad to use a cross necklace simply as a good-luck charm.  That would also be why icons are idols for those who believe those saints merited God's favor because of their superb level of good works, but icons are not idols for those who see them as pictures of God's mercy to sinners.

Also, it really confuses me why a certain group of Christians call a crucifix an "idol" but are perfectly okay with empty crosses.  Wouldn't a cross be a graven image just as much as a crucifix?  Maybe it boils down to their thinking the crucifix shows something about God that isn't true.


  1. It is so funny how worked people get about things like statues when, really, the most insidious idols are those that don't look like idols.

  2. I really appreciate it when you share these gems from Pr. Bender. Thanks!!