“Another pervasive idol masquerading as true faith is religion or spirituality. This idol, found in two popular forms within the Church today, has just enough in common with biblical Christianity to convince many that it is the real thing. It is in fact, in both instances, syncretism—a mixing together of the unholy with the holy. Combining different and contrary beliefs with Christianity erodes its integrity. In religion’s first form the main focus is social justice, certainly a Scriptural value. But many who practice this theology have little respect for God’s comparable values of holiness and righteousness. In fact the followers of this idol have a cavalier approach to scripture revelation picking and choosing what they want to believe and practice and then adding what is convenient and cultural. The birth child of Marxist driven Liberation Theology social justice draws its power and influence from a misguided understanding of compassion and the pseudo-philosophies of multi-culturalism and political correctness. Since they have similar agendas and goals the followers of this idol find common cause with those who follow the god of secularism. Each claims superior knowledge as to what is best for the church and world. Each is at odds with biblical revelation. Each is prepared if necessary to crush dissent. Today we see this idol exemplified in North America in the Episcopal Church and other liberal denominations.
A second form of the idol of religion, equally cavalier in its approach to Scripture, widespread and not less dangerous, is found in the more conservative ranks of the Christian Church. In his 2009, Year-in-Review Perspective, George Barna, says that “Faith remains a hot topic in America these days”, but “many of our basic assumptions are no longer firm or predictable”. Citing our culture as one “where people are busy, distracted, confused and trying to keep it all together”, he says, “there is less loyalty to a faith brand than to self. The purpose of faith, for most Americans, is not so much to discover truth or to relate to a loving praiseworthy Deity as it is to become happy, successful, comfortable and secure”—all idols that become addictions and eventually lead to bondage. “For a growing percentage of citizens, they sense of spirituality, more than Christianity, facilitates those outcomes.” Barna sums up this growing, dangerous trend saying, “…we become our own unchallenged spiritual authorities, defining truth and reality as we see fit…where nothing is deemed right or wrong and all ideas, beliefs and practices are assigned equal validity… Pragmatism and relativism, rather than any sort of absolutism, has gained momentum.” When self is elevated as god rather than Jesus, and the truth of the unchanging Word of God is compromised, the idols of pragmatism and relativism always gain ascendancy. This lawlessness under the guise of religion and spirituality, unchecked by the Word of God and the accountability of a spirit-filled congregation, portends great danger for the church and our nation.”
From Restoring Cultural Foundations: A Wake Up Call To American, by R. James Tasker, Westbow Press, 2011, p. 64-64.