Idolatry

Image via RNS/Reuters/Luca Zennaro/Pool

Pope Francis leaves on Monday, Oct. 31 for an overnight trip to Sweden, a historically Protestant country that today is one of the most secular in the world.

The visit is to mark the start of observances of next year’s 500th anniversary of the Reformation, which traditionally dates from Oct. 31, 1517, when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of a German cathedral.

Elizabeth M. Edman 06-21-2016

Image via REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage/RNS

As our country asks how to protect itself from the terror of more mass shootings, elected leaders who call themselves Christian might look to the LGBTQ community for inspiration. Queer people have a weapon in our arsenal that no gun will ever defeat.

We dance.

Rob Schenck 03-22-2016
Andy Dean Photography / Shutterstock

Andy Dean Photography / Shutterstock

SITTING AT A DINING-ROOM TABLE full of fellow evangelical pastors, I asked how many were “carrying” (a euphemism for being armed with a concealed handgun). They all raised their hands. Then I asked, “What determines when you draw your gun and prepare to shoot another human being?” There was awkward body language and mumbling. After a few seconds passed, one older man said, “I’ll tell you what determines whether I draw the gun or not. It’s the man’s skin color.”

I was left speechless by the pastor’s jarring, blatant racism. Still, as respectfully as possible, I asked him to please clarify what he meant.

“Well, we got a big city nearby, and, you know, the black people there are always killin’ people. Now, if a colored man comes into this county, I know he means trouble because he knows he doesn’t belong here. That makes him more dangerous than a white man. That’s why I’d pull my gun.”

The man who was speaking, and the others nodding their heads in agreement, are my colleagues. I am one of them when it comes to a statement of faith—but not when it comes to race and guns.

‘Surrendering my life to Christ’

When I speak of evangelicals, I am speaking of my own. I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ as my lord and savior 42 years ago. I attended an evangelical Bible college and seminary and was ordained as an evangelical minister. I poured myself into evangelism and disciple-making. Today I’m a missionary to top government officials in Washington, D.C., and I chair one of the oldest associations of evangelical clergy in the country. I love my Lord, I love his people, and I love doing God’s work.

Min-Ah Cho 07-09-2014

Reflections on the Revised Common Lectionary, Cycle A

Adam Ericksen 12-24-2013
TV poster for 'Duck Dynasty,' at the center of controversy.

TV poster for 'Duck Dynasty,' at the center of controversy.

I know. We’re all a little fatigued about the Duck Dynasty and freedom of speech controversy. As many have pointed out, everyone has been free during this controversy. Phil Robertson was free to make his statement to GQ. GQ was free to publish it. A&E was free to suspend Robertson for making comments that it thought hurt its image. And, despite that justification, A&E is free to air Duck Dynasty marathons on Dec. 24 and 25. (Yes, on Christmas Day you can watch 12 1/2 hours of Duck Dynasty. A&E is taking this controversy straight to the bank!) We are free to watch, or to not watch, future episodes of Duck Dynasty. We are all free to take sides. And bloggers are freely adding to our Duck Dynasty fatigue by writing endless blog posts.

This blogger asks for your forgiveness in writing yet another post that adds to our fatigue. So I’ll keep this brief.

There is something about freedom that we are missing in this debate, especially from a Christian point of view. When it comes to freedom, we want to fight for the freedom to do or say whatever we want. This is the highest point of freedom in the United States. It’s a freedom that is based on freedom for individual rights. It’s a freedom that says that I should have the right to say whatever I want without any negative consequences. 

James E. Atwood 11-27-2012

The U.S. should repent of seeing guns as sacred; sane laws would be a start.

Brian E. Konkol 08-09-2012
Basketball image, Yuri Arcurs / Shutterstock.com

Basketball image, Yuri Arcurs / Shutterstock.com

While I strongly believe that physical activity and participation within sports can offer excellent avenues for education and wellness on an individual and community level, my role as a fan of sports has been significantly tested over recent years. In other words, I have come to wonder whether or not something inherently good, such as sports, has reached excessive levels to the point of having far too many negative consequences in society. For example, in the U.S. we experience massive inequality and outcry surrounding government budget shortfalls, yet we seem to have more than enough funds for stadiums, tickets, TV packages, and team-related memorabilia. While our public servants receive salary cuts and loss of jobs, millionaire professional athletes argue with billionaire owners over income distribution and so-called “fairness." And of course, while I hear countless people complain about how busy they are and how financial times are tough, those same individuals seem to have plenty of time to watch a few hours of sports on TV each night, and more than enough resources to support their favorite teams. With all of this in mind — and one could list countless more examples — we have to wonder whether our priorities have been distorted, as our collective love for sports may have crossed the line from entertainment to idolatry. Or in other words, how we went from being spectators and participators to devout worshippers.

 
Jim Wallis 07-01-2012

The lion helped inspire my hope to write a biblical and theological defense of the common good, something that has been almost lost in our age of selfishness.

Jim Wallis 05-03-2012
Jim Wallis

Jim Wallis

Politics is a true American idol, and the 2012 presidential election will be a dramatic demonstration of that reality.

Simply put, we create an idol when we ascribe attributes or place hope in persons or things that should belong only to God. People of faith may be tempted to worship at the altar of politics, but make no mistake: The kingdom of God and the kingdoms of politics are never one and the same.

Our worship of God rightly should shape our engagement with politics, but when politics shapes our religion it distorts our service (and worship) of the One True God.

Timothy King 12-24-2011
Illustration from Dickens' "Christmas Carol." Photo by Tim King.

Illustration from Dickens' "Christmas Carol." Photo by Tim King.

The specter of Jacob Marley entered Scrooge’s room. It had been seven years to the day since Marley died.

Before he sees them, Scrooge hears the clanking of the heavy chains his old business partner now carries with him.

Scrooge asks how it is that Marley became thus fettered.

“I wear the chain I forge in life,” replied the Ghost. “I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free-will, and of my own free-will I wore it.”

Marley did not realize in life that he was a slave. He assumed that his wealth and the absence of external restraints meant he was free, when in fact his miserly and selfish ways were forging the means of his own bondage.

Debra Dean Murphy 10-10-2011


In our own time the "jobs" rhetoric from both the right and the left ignores the power grabs and power differentials that led to the hemorrhaging of American jobs in the first place. The simple truth is that multinational corporations could make more money for their shareholders by outsourcing jobs to third-world countries so that is what they did.

This was not a moral dilemma for CEOs; it was a "sound business decision." And the gospel according to free-market capitalism (the USA's true religion) preaches that what is good for American business is good for America.

Alex Awad 04-05-2011

People can take a certain amount of oppression. However, when it gets beyond their ability to tolerate, they rebel.

Jim Wallis 03-31-2011
Since our fast began this past Monday, I've been re-reading one of the classic books on spirituality by my friend Richard Foster, http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0060628391?ie=UTF8&am
Jim Wallis 03-09-2011

[Editors' note: During the season of Lent we will be posting excerpts from the Rediscovering Values Lenten Study Guide. We invite you to study God's word with us through these posts.]

Timothy King 10-11-2010

This meditation is part of a dialog on Patheos.com about the question, "So, when does patriotism pass over into idolatry?"

When the nation is the object of one's highest concern; when national documents are considered holy scripture; when the nation's founders and historical figures are lifted to the status of demi-god
Nadia Bolz-Weber 06-16-2010
There has been a fair amount of conversation at House for All Sinners and Saints recently about the use of inclusive language for God.
Jim Wallis 04-09-2010
The decades-long struggle to first reduce and then abolish nuclear weapons achieved two major goals this week that we can celebrate.
Aaron Taylor 01-18-2010
When I was a student at Christ for the Nations School of Missions, I learned about the so-called "pact with the devil" that the African slaves of Haiti made to free themselves from the French.

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