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5 Idols that God’s Followers Allow to Get in the Way of Their Relationship with Him

Even with the best of intentions, Christians and Jews tend to place their attitudes, agendas, and acts of worship before the God they follow.

by
Chris Queen

Bio

August 24, 2014 - 8:00 am
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These days we don’t really talk much about idols, at least not in the literal sense. We talk about American Idol and teen idols and that sort of thing, but the idols that represent serious sin go unmentioned.

Throughout the Bible, we see the evidence of the damage that idol worship does. After the Exodus, when Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments from God, the impatient Israelites made a golden calf to worship. For the people of Israel, it was just downhill from there, as idol worship and the unfaithfulness toward God that such worship represented led to a world of trouble for them, including the exile to Babylon.

In the New Testament book of Acts, Jesus’ apostles encountered idol worshipers when they went about spreading the Good News of the Messiah. These worshipers of other gods — and even some of the craftsmen who made the physical idols — stirred up all sorts of strife for the followers of the one true God.

So what relevance does idol worship have for us today? These days, the idols that Jews and Christians follow aren’t graven images per se, but followers of God do allow certain ideas, preferences, and opinions to become idols that get in the way of their relationship with Him. Many of these idols come with the best of intentions, yet they impede the ability to truly follow God.

In the following pages, through an inter-faith dialogue with one of my favorite colleagues here at PJ Lifestyle, Susan L.M. Goldberg, we’re going to look at five idols that God’s followers allow to get in the way of their relationship with Him. Hopefully naming these idols will get some Christians and Jews to think about how they may affect their own relationship with God.

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Top Rated Comments   
To go by much of history, it has always been so. I figure Obama's altar has a mirror. I'd just better make sure mine doesn't.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
In our hedonistic, narcissistic society, where facebook and twitter are everything, The number 1 idol is Self.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (28)
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"A benign example can be found in those who don’t drink coffee during Passover. Coffee is a bean, and in the 14th century, French Rabbis didn’t think folks were smart enough to tell the difference between beans and grains that would rise, like rice …so they banned coffee to be on the safe side. Not kidding. There is nothing yeasty about coffee, but that’s why certain folks don’t drink it during Passover – because of the guilt-induced paranoia of medieval rabbis."

I'm going to be charitable and assume that the ellipsis skips over some relevant information, because if not, Susan Goldberg is claiming that French Rabbis accomplished the remarkable feat of banning coffee back in the 14th century. In return for my charitable interpretation, I challenge her to point to any contemporary Jewish source that bans coffee due to the bean/grain issue.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
This was post was very interesting to me, and requires more thought on my part. I did want to share one point.
Some of the women at Mass wear head coverings, and I wanted to as well. My husband, correctly, said no. He knew it could become an idol to me, and worse, a point of pride. Smart man.
The women who do cover their heads seem to do so with all humility, but that wouldn't be me.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Someone tell 'Susie' to stick to political commentary, Please. Or
A subject she understands.
Obviously everything she thinks she knows about Judaism came
From her transgender reform rabbi !
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Coupla thing that might have been left out: money, things, sex, children, country, country club, power, sports
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Maybe Susan should consider that some of the things she idolizes(individuality) are the problem and not traditions that are passed down in our Oral Law.
A Jew can never separate him/herself from the Klal(community), we are bound together, as history has proven.
Chodesh Elul Tov!
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Is it fair to say that idols can be values and values can be idols but that neither need be the other? If Ms. Goldberg values individuality, does that mean that all other values are subsumed by it?

Is it possible that a Jew or Christian may put more emphasis, a higher value on Judaism or Christianity---or Jewish or Christian heritage--- rather than on God?
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Judaism is not really a religion, like Christianity is.
Our "traditions"(really a popular word, which I used to express myself in this forum but not really accurate to describe the depth of what the particular example Ms. Goldberg described about the minyan, but would describe the custom/"tradition" about the coffee beans on Passover) are practical rules that we have given to us by G-d. Those rules are the way we get close to Him. We do not assume, as other religions might, that we can "know" G-d, we only know those rules/"traditions" that He has given help us to begin to approach Him. A life of following those rules is guaranteed to bring us closer to Him.
We have adequate opportunities to emphasize different aspects of our lives or our prayers without breaching those rules that He has prescribed for us.
I hope this clarifies this point.
Ms. Goldberg is the one who brought up the idea that a particular Jewish observance is "idolatry", it would be for her to answer if that attitude is so important that she would fail to acknowledge the primacy of observance over an attitude she considers important. I'm not one to speak for her.

Thanks.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
This is from The Jewish Week mag of 8/30/11

"The idea was most recently given voice in the international bestseller “The Invention of the Jewish People,” by the Israeli historian and anti-Zionist Shlomo Sand, in which he argued that the idea of Jewish peoplehood was a modern invention in the service of the Zionist cause. Or as Tom Segev succinctly summarized Sand’s argument: “There was never a Jewish people, only a Jewish religion.”
The strange thing is that this has it exactly backwards: the very idea that Judaism is a religion is a distinctly modern invention. Prior to Jewish modernity — most clearly defined as the acquisition of citizenship rights for Jews, a long process that began in Europe in the late-18th century — Judaism was neither solely a religion, nor simply a matter of culture or nationality. Rather, Judaism and Jewishness were all of these at once: religion, culture and nationality."

And this: What Is "Jewish?"
Is Judaism a race, a religion or a nationality? By Ariela Pelaia

"Judaism is not a race because Jews do not share one common ancestry. For instance, Ashkenazi Jews and Sephardic Jews are both "Jewish." However, whereas Ashkenazi Jews often hail from Europe, Sephardic Jews often hail from the Middle East. People of many different races have become Jewish over the centuries.

Judaism is not a nationality

Although today Israel is often called the Jewish homeland, being Jewish is not a nationality because Jews have been dispersed throughout the world for almost two thousand years. Hence, Jews come from countries all over the world.

Judaism is both a cultural and religious identity

Being Jewish means that you are part of the Jewish people, whether because you were born into a Jewish home and culturally identify as Jewish or because you practice the Jewish religion (or both).

Cultural Judaism includes things such as Jewish foods, customs and rituals. For instance, many people are born into Jewish homes and are raised eating blintzes and lighting shabbat candles, but never step foot inside a synagogue. A Jewish identity is automatically bestowed on babies of Jewish mothers (according to Orthodox and Conservative Judaism) and of Jewish mothers or fathers (according to Reform Judaism). This Jewish identity stays with them throughout life even if they don't actively practice Judaism.

Religious Judaism includes the beliefs of the Jewish religion. The way a person practices the Jewish religion can take many forms and partially for this reason there are different movements of Judaism. The main denominations are Reform, Conservative, Orthodox and Reconstructionist Judaism. Many people who are born into Jewish homes affiliate with one of these branches, but there are also those who do not.

If a person is not born Jewish, s/he can convert to Judaism by studying with a rabbi and undergoing the process of conversion. Merely believing in the precepts of Judaism is not enough to make someone a Jew. They must complete the conversion process in order to be considered Jewish. Though the different branches of Judaism have varying requirements for conversion, it is safe to say that the conversion process is very meaningful for whomever decides to undertake it."

You speak with such certainty that it fairly begs me to consider that your
thoughts on the subject are not definitive. No less that loving the institutions of Catholicism or Orthodox Christianity, Judaism's strictures can be misapplied if the heart of the individual is not---how can I say this---
LOOK TO WHERE THE FINGER IS POINTING, NOT AT THE FINGER. You seem to be saying that by following Jewish observation you are inherently proscribed from the sin of idolatry.

I think you are very wrong, but I wish you no ill.

16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Judaism is not really a religion? That would come as a surprise to a lot of Jews.
Certainly Judaism is a different religion than Christianity and the Hebrew nation was a religious-political-social entity. It remains a system for understanding God's will and worshipping God.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yep, you're right, it is a "religious-political-social entity"...if that is a "religion"...not sure..that's what I meant.One mistake you made is you used the word, "was" rather than "is." We ARE HaAm Yisrael, the people of Israel, a "religious-political-social entity".
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
As someone who considers himself a Christian (in some manner, and late at that) it took me a while to fill in the gap between the void of atheism and the faith of Christian belief, both abstract, both real. Oddly, it was Ayn Rand who facilitated that movement, and I say that with nothing but compliments and deep gratitude to her. Seriously, not in reaction to her, but in appreciation of her heartfelt desire to move minds to a higher place. I picked up the ball and ran with it. Obviously, I didn't wind up at the anticipated destination. But more on that another day.

Even the Lutheran tradition, of which I became a congregant in my earlier years, fell prey to the notion that actions rather than motives would garner
our "place in heaven," completely antagonistic to Luther's teaching.

When our mind reaches toward the true God, we allow ourselves--- the part of ourselves which is wedded to reality, goodness, intelligence, purpose---
no barrier to truth.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Pharisees won.

When the early Church took shape in the second century there was a political battle between what became the Orthodox Church and those who held to Gnosticism. One of the major differences was that the Gnostics believed that each person, including and especially women, had an equal standing in the eyes of God. They would rotate the leadership of the congregation with each meeting, including the women.

The Orthodox, led by Bishop Irenaeus, established a hierarchy from Bishop to Priest to laity and specifically excluded women from any role - silence, woman!

Elaine Pagels' "The Gnostic Gospels" is a cogent exposition of this political struggle.

http://www.amazon.com/Gnostic-Gospels-Elaine-Pagels-ebook/dp/B000RH0DSU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1409123310&sr=8-1&keywords=gnostic+gospels

16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Actually the Pharisees lost out in Acts 15.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Actually, Gnosticism is more complicated than you seem to think. Gnosticism had three kinds of individuals. Those who could never be saved, those who could be saved, and those people of light who would do the saving. So, there was not an equality, at least in theory. Also, Gnostics had a very dim view of the God of the Bible. According to them, he was not the true god, rather an accident of Sophia or her daughter. Moreover, they viewed the God of the Bible as demiurge (craftsman) who crafted this world but did not know why.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Jack, I am well aware of the complications. I was speaking to only one issue - the close similarity of the political structure of the Orthodox Church to the Pharisees, who were mentioned in the article.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
I recommend that you consult with an orthodox rabbi regarding Judaism's outlook on traditions, legalities, worship, etc.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Agreed. Susan Goldberg may be a good conservative, but from your statements about what she told you, she hardly understands Judaism. A better person to talk with is PJMedia's own David Goldman. Although not a rabbi, he has much better layman's understanding of Judaism than Ms. Goldber.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Your potential idols are all valid to me. I will say that my faith informs my voting as I hope it informs all of my life.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
And you know what they say about opinions...
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
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