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Thread: What constitutes 'idolatry' to you and in the Abrahamic faiths?

  1. #1

    Question What constitutes 'idolatry' to you and in the Abrahamic faiths?

    Personal background: My Pentecostal Christian grandmother reproved what she viewed as the Catholic sin of 'idolatry' due to the ornate cathedrals, the flashy clergy dress, the saintly statues, the visage of the Virgin Mary everywhere etc. My Catholic relations felt that this was hypocritical logic on account of the numerous and colossal-sized crosses they see adorning non-Catholic Christian homes and churches, images of Jesus, and illustrated children's bibles.

    I have had Muslim friends call foul on of all versions of Christianity and what they deem as its repeated use of imagery in their liturgy, and they maintain that Islam strictly forbids this idolatrous aspect of faith, which is why their art is so focused on nature, symmetry, and interconnectedness. (This jives with what I learned in my Islamic Art in Asian Culture course in college. Much of their motifs are circuitous in some fashion to symbolize eternity and the connection of all living things, but nowhere is the visage of God or their Prophet depicted.) But, then what of the hajj pilgrimage towards Mecca to go round the Kaaba?

    I have few Jewish perspectives at my disposal on this, but I know that it is forbidden in their faith as well despite their love of the Star of David and other symbols to identify their belief.

    Per Wikipedia:
    In all the Abrahamic religions idolatry is strongly forbidden, although views as to what constitutes idolatry may differ within and between them. In other religions the use of cult images is accepted, although the term "idolatry" is unlikely to be used within the religion, being inherently disapproving. Which images, ideas, and objects constitute idolatry is often a matter of considerable contention, and within all the Abrahamic religions the term may be used in a very wide sense, with no implication that the behaviour objected to actually consists of the religious worship of a physical object.
    It appears to me that all of these individual's personal definitions of what constitutes idolatry qualifies themselves as idolaters, but they refuse to acknowledge it. So perhaps their definitions are in error? This is a commandment that seems to get less airtime than the others although it's clearly disagreed upon. What are your opinions, or that of academia on what constitutes idolatry? I am particularly interested in those who practice or are familiar with Abrahamic faiths, but all opinions are welcome.
    "There is no god; there is only us. Savage and fragile."

  2. #2


    Idolatry is a manifestation of the original lie, which is that what is not God can be God.

    Idolatry is the belief that a person or object is God, and putting the trust that only God deserves in that person or thing. That what is dead can be your source of life. That what does not love you is entitled to be loved by you.

    The reason is this, God made our hearts to worship God, our minds to consider God, our bodies to serve God, and our souls to be filled by God's spirit in reverent reflection. Having this nature separated from God by the original sin, a lie (thus, separation from the eternal life of God, causing death), means we make other things to become the focal point of our nature, this is idolatry, and includes everything that is created rather than Creator.

    Correctly stated by one pastor, the opposite of Christianity is not Athiesm, the opposite of Christianity is idolatry. Although, Athiesm is a delusion nonetheless.

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