The Idolatry of Security (Part 2)

By Soong-Chan Rah 10-01-2008

[Continued from part 1] More reflections from the North Park Theological Seminary's Scripture Symposium on "The Idolatry of Security."

One of my favorite papers was presented by theologian and ethicist, Scott Bader-Saye. In his paper, Bader-Saye contrasts the perception of security in two different gardens found in the Bible: the Garden of Eden and the Garden of Gethsemane. In the Garden of Eden, Adam responds to the possibility of insecurity with fear and an attempt to trap and control God's blessing. In contrast, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus responds to the possibility of insecurity with faithful obedience, yielding his blessed position for the sake of the cross.

A common thread in the two gardens is that there is an imminent state of emergency. In a state of emergency, the temptation is to change the rules that we live by. Fear of the unknown, fear of loss, and fear of insecurity can lead to the shutting down of the "ordinary processes of deliberation, reflection, and conversation in favor of quick and decisive measures." In some sense, the idolatry of security leads to the loss of freedom and democracy. National crisis leads to national panic and insecurity, which can yield unprecedented power to the government without civilian/citizen oversight. Case in point: the suspension of many democratic principles in order to fight the war on terror. In a state of emergency, those who idolize security will do everything possible to preserve their way of life. Concessions will be given and drastic measures will be taken to help our nation out of the crisis.

The stark difference in the two gardens is in the response of Adam versus the response of Jesus. Adam responds in crisis mode seeking to preserve his own life and preserve his own assets

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