Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert attended séances as early as 1846. In 1861, the year when Prince Albert died, a thirteen-year-old medium, Robert Lees delivered a message from Albert to the Queen in which he called her by a pet name known only to her and her dead husband. Victoria was delighted and she sent her trusted servants to investigate the young medium. After impressing the royal officials with impossible-to-know details of Albert’s personal life, Lees was invited to visit the queen at Buckingham Palace.
Picture it. Your name is Vladimir and you are working in a Soviet chemical factory in the 1930's. Suddenly the workers stop working and they start to sing a hymn. Not to God but to ‘electricity’. They sing as follows:
Electricity can do anything. It can dispel darkness
and gloom. One push of a button and clickety-click
out comes a new man.
There are people on the island of Tanna in the South Pacific Ocean who worship Prince Philip, the gaffe-prone husband of Queen Elizabeth as a god. The duke once shocked a student during a visit to China by saying: "If you stay here much longer, you will go home with slitty eyes." Tragically many of the islanders living on Tanna used to worship Jesus but they have exchanged the Prince of Peace for Phil the Greek. Do you think that the Duke of Edinburgh can forgive your sins, grant you eternal life and save you from the perils of hell. It's worth thinking about.
- Follow me Sobek, the crocodile god. I am a fertility god and far more powerful than Heqet, the ugly frog god. I am virile beyond belief…
- Follow me Baal! I am a Canaanite fertility god and I promise to bless your harvests if you will only give me your children…
- Follow me Artemis, the goddess of hunting. I love my gladiator servants who kill wild animals in the Colisseum. I sponsor temple prostitutes and a tidy silver shrine business.
Bob Goudzwaard, a Dutch Christian economist, wrote a brilliant, short book Idols of our Time back in the 1980s. It really is a superb resource for any thinking Christian.
He begins the book with these words:
We live in a world possessed and we know it.
Let's focus for a moment upon a key idea – ideology. Ideology is the way in which idolatry affects people today and this includes the soldiers and supporters of IS.
A key text for understanding idolatry in the New Testament is a passage in the book of Romans.
They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator.
Romans 1:25, NIV
Here we should notice that idolatry does not merely refer to the worship of idols and images in the sense of the giant bull statue in 'Molech' worship.
In the light of the recent gruesome activities of the Islamic State (IS) it is timely to re-examine biblical teaching about idolatry and connect this to ideologies, secularism and IS. In this first post we will look at idolatry in the Old Testament.
Idol worship is something which no follower of Jesus wants. Christians know deep down that serving idols violates God's covenant (Exodus 20:1-3).
So how did ancient people worship their idols?