Uniqueness, Worldview, and Idolatry

I thought I was teaching tonight’s Bible study at my church but my pastor is doing something on Ash Wednesday so I’ll be teaching next week. We’ve been talking about idolatry for the last couple of weeks so I was going to continue with that theme, especially since it coalesces with my daily Bible reading (in Deuteronomy) at the moment. He’s been taking for granted that idolatry is wrong/bad but I wanted to tease out why that is by looking at the LORD’s uniqueness, which is exhibited in his acts of creation, election, and redemption, and how this serves as the foundation for the Christian worldview.

Bahnsen (or is it Demar?) defines a worldview as “a network of presuppositions (which are not verified by the procedures of natural science) regarding reality (metaphysics), knowing (epistemology), and conduct (ethics) in terms of which every element of human experience is related and interpreted” (Pushing the Antithesis, 42-43). Deuteronomy 4-7 outlines Christian presuppositions regarding reality (the LORD alone over and against idols), knowing (the LORD’s revelation through his mighty acts), and conduct (love and serve the LORD with all your mind, soul, and strength).

Here’s what the outline I planned to follow looks like (I had to insert a png since the table wouldn’t display correctly; click to enlarge):

By virtue of the LORD’s uniqueness, revealed in his acts of creation, election, and redemption—acts that impotent idols can’t perform—he is the only one worthy of our love, devotion, and obedience. The reason that idolatry is intrinsically wrong/bad, and subsequently forbidden, is because no one and no thing other than God has done/can do what God has done/does. No creature, no matter how highly exalted, deserves what the LORD does. This is why Moses’ question in Deuteronomy 3:24 (cf. Exod. 15:11) is so poignant. It expects a negative answer, which of course, is the foundation for why we reject idols.

Consequently, Jesus creates, elects, and redeems, which is why he is worthy of our devotion. To use Bauckham’s language, Jesus is “intrinsic to the unique divine identity.” In 1 Corinthians 8-10 Paul relies heavily on Deuteronomy in his polemic against idolatry and his apology for exclusive devotion to God and Christ. But that would have been a topic I addressed in the next class. Hopefully I’ll get the opportunity to do so.

B”H

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