I write these words on Sunday afternoon, Feb. 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.
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 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 any graven idol, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water below the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them” (Ex. 20:4-5a).
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.
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SOURCE: Charisma News