Posts Tagged ‘idolatry’

“Innumerable things, all things in a way, have the power of becoming holy in a mediate sense. They can point to something beyond themselves. But, if their holiness comes to be considered inherent, it becomes demonic. This happens continually in the actual life of most religions. The representations of man’s ultimate concern–holy objects–tend to become his ultimate concern. They are transformed into idols. Holiness provokes idolatry.” p. 216 Systematic Theology Volume 1

I can think of quite a few instances of this, can you? The idea that something good, the holy, could produce something demonic, the idol, is interesting. I think it fits the theme of Barth’s view of the Church too, in that the church, being a sign pointing to what is beyond the church, can become too involved in itself instead of God. Now, whether this applies to actual churches like Catholic, Lutheran, Orthodox etc, or the actual body of Christ as Church, I’m not sure and I’d have to go back and re-read that part of the text.

Tillich goes on to talk about the original meaning of holiness and how it has been distorted over the centuries. I don’t remember if he actual gives a clear meaning of it as it originally was used however. So that’s something I’d like to find out…what did holiness mean thousands of years ago when written in the Hebrew bible?


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