Michael Brown on This is What Idolatry Looks Like

Sculptor Tommy Zegan polishes his statue of former president Donald Trump on display at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday, Feb. 26, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. Zegan said he had to wipe fingerprints off the statue every hour or so. John Raoux, Associated Press

I write these words on Sunday afternoon, February 28. This is just hours before former President Trump is scheduled to address CPAC, where he will likely receive a hero’s welcome and be recognized as the de facto face of the Republican Party.

Is This the Idolatry We’ve Been Warning of?

Earlier in the week, attendees were stunned to see a 200 pound, golden Trump statue wheeled into the CPAC convention, sparking a flurry of stories and headlines, including this one, today, from the New York Times: “At CPAC, a Golden Image, a Magic Wand and Reverence for Trump.”

Many others were quick to compare the golden statue of Trump with the golden calf that the Israelites worshiped. (Ironically, in synagogues around the world this week, religious Jews will read that very account of Israel worshiping the golden calf.)

As described by AP News, “The [CPAC] event so far at a Hyatt hotel in Orlando, Florida, has been a tribute to Trump and Trumpism, complete with a golden statue in his likeness.”

But is this what idolatry really looks like — adoring supporters of Trump taking selfies next to his golden image? And when I and others warn about people idolizing Trump, is that what we mean?

According to Tommy Zegan, the creator of the statue and a former youth pastor, “I know the biblical definition of an idol. This is not an idol. This is a sculpture.”

Of course, in the Bible, idols were sculptures, as stated explicitly in the Ten Commandments: “You shall not make for yourself a sculptured image, or any likeness of what is in the heavens above, or on the earth below, or in the waters under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them” (Exodus 20:4-5a).

Idolatry is Generally Much Subtler Than a Golden Statue

Generally speaking, however, idolatry is much more subtle. As Jerome said 1,600 years ago, “Idolatry is not confined to casting incense upon an altar with finger and thumb or to pouring libations of wine out of a cup into a bowl.”

To this day, I’ve never met anyone with a shrine to Trump in their house. Nor do I know of anyone who offers sacrifices and incense to an image of Trump. Or who worships him as God or mistakes him for Jesus. Obviously not.

To repeat: idolatry is much more subtle.

That’s why Paul wrote that “greed” is idolatry, and he didn’t mean bowing down to piles of gold and silver (see Colossians 3:5). Instead, he was referring to the way that greed divides over hearts and vies for our loyalty.

As an online Bible study explains, “Whatever we treasure more than God, whatever drives our thoughts and actions, becomes an idol, and these idols dull our spiritual hearing and harden our hearts to things of God.”

Click here to read more.

SOURCE: Stream.org, Michael Brown

Dr. Michael Brown (www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is Evangelicals at the Crossroads: Will We Pass the Trump Test? Connect with him on FacebookTwitter or YouTube.

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