Atheism is the New Idolatry
A friend recently relayed a story of talking to a self-professed atheist. As the conversation continued the ‘atheist’ admitted to believing in the concept of a god, just not the Christian God. His notion of God was his own… a potpourri of personal preferences. Apparently, the only God he can worship is the one made in his own image–something agreeing with his tastes. He might call it Atheism but it is really just repackaged old-fashioned Idolatry. Let’s call it the ‘New Idolatry.’
The point to be made is Atheism is a convenient cover for worshipping my own image of God. It is purely and simply another form of idolatry!Atheism is a convenient cover for worshipping my own image of God. Click To Tweet
Most know that idol worship is expressly forbidden in scripture and is throughout Israel’s history their Achilles heel. Among their sins it stands conspicuously as the nemesis of true worship. Devotion to another is spiritual adultery and destructive in ways we are incapable of understanding. As such, it ranks as one of the key challenges facing God’s people. Even today it remains a critical hurdle for Christians.
Why? Because there is more to idolatry than simply bowing to idols. Which means we need to understand exactly what ‘it’ is.
What it is!
While largely understood to be worshipping crafted figures made of stone or wood, often overlaid with silver or gold, the core of idolatry is something more primal in nature. The prophet Isaiah clearly identifies it.
“Their land is also full of idols; They worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made.” – Isaiah 2:8
The heart of idolatry is a regard for what we ourselves create–that ‘which our own fingers have made’. At its core, idolatry is fuelled by the attraction we have for ourselves. Like our aforementioned atheist who, while he does not produce wooden figures or fetishes, fancies a conceptual god. Like the traditional idolaters the Atheist prefers a god made according to his own imagination. One oddly resembling himself and his personal interpretation of ‘good’.The heart of idolatry is a regard for what we ourselves create–that 'which our own fingers have made'. Click To Tweet
The objection of many who have rejected God begins with, ‘I cannot believe in a god that…(fill in the blank)’. Theirs is not really an absence of faith entirely but a pursuit of a god who thinks like they do. This is the heart of idolatry. They are essentially saying ‘I have a better idea’. In other words my thoughts and ways are more godlike than this ‘ Christian God’.
Rejection of Truth
Hiding behind the facade of Atheism is Idolatry. It rejects the God who is the Ancient of Days in lieu of something more like himself. They want a god they can understand, so who better to serve as the model than themselves. The arrogance of this posture is shocking, yet, this is why God resists the proud and explains His contempt for idolatry. While differing from traditional idolatry it is rooted in the same kind of pride. It is a steadfast refusal to acknowledge something other than what we can conceive. The Atheist may not be saying they are God, but they may as well be. This is the essence of idolatry!