Idols in Our Midst

Idols in Our Midst

Written by Dr. Jeffery J. Ventrella |
Wednesday, July 10, 2024

In their desperation, beleaguered people often yearn for a “strong man” or a King or a Christian Prince to order and redeem the public square—yet there is always buyer’s regret—and death—when the State is seen as Savior, not Servant.


Truthxchange exists to Inform the public, Equip the Church, and Protect the Future. Last week, we explained the origins of pagan Political Idolatry and concluded by noting that in many cases, the Church itself has acted as a change agent by unintentionally producing an idol-generating reductionism. To better confront and overcome this trend, we Christians need to first look in the mirror. Since judgment begins “at the household of God,”[1] the Church needs to understand how this idolatry incubates and impacts our culture. And, the church needs to humbly and honestly understand how we may tolerate, or even embrace it, in our thinking. We must learn to think Christianly about the public square, including law and policy. Only in this way can we equip the broader Church to effectively repel pagan political idolatry at its roots. This begins by understanding Biblical Cosmology, the structure of real reality. Let’s get to the gist.

Paul’s Cosmological Structure of Law: The Law above the Law

A fundamental issue lurks underneath all political idolatry: who or what operates as “god” in the culture. That is, what is the transcendent or ultimate authority functioning in the culture and therefore affecting that culture’s legal and political system. The Church must be clear on this. If an evangelical Christian is abstractly asked, “What’s your ultimate authority?” they would no doubt quickly profess, “the Bible.” However, the real question is not so much what they profess, but how they function day to day in real time; what is their actual authority, how do they actually assess and make political decisions, particularly when it comes to considering matters of law and policy. We may be surprised to see that inclinations to and elements of idolatry have crept into our thinking.

Why is this the case? This often occurs by failing to connect Christ’s Lordship with law and policy. How so? The Church rightly confesses “Christ is Lord!” We need to also see that law expresses lordship. The operational law of a culture or system is functionally driven by the “lord” or dominant transcendental (authority) of that culture or system. We must both say and act consistently with our Lordship commitments.

When the Church confesses “Christ is Lord,” it in effect means He reigns over all things, including political entities whether “thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.”[2]This means, among other things, that Christ’s standards, His Law, applies to all reality it may not be confined, truncated, compartmentalized, or ignoredincluding with respect to policy and law. To depart from Christ’s Lordship in this area is to functionally invite idolatrous thinking into our public life no matter what we profess on Sunday morning with our lips.

So, why would this then be the case? From Paul’s perspective, “real reality” is “Twoist,” meaning that there exists a Creator-creation distinction, a fundamental binary: Romans 1:25. In the apostle’s mind, the Creator is holy, not only morally, but metaphysically; He is holy and wholly other.[3]

Consequently, the Creator alone is independent, and Paul elsewhere makes this point in addressing the philosophers in Athens. He emphasizes that the true God is the Creator God:

The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place…[4]

Paul emphasizes the Creator-ness of the true God as well as His aseity, or self-existent independence of the created order. Note carefully: He makes this point as he addresses the public square.

Correlatively, the creation, including by implication its positive law,[5] is therefore necessarily dependent and derivative. This means that its function, purpose, and meaning can be ultimately understand only in relation to God and his transcendent authority. Paul likewise alludes to this as well in the same Athenian discourse:

for “‘In him we live and move and have our being;
as even some of your own poets have said,
“‘For we are indeed his offspring.’”[6]

Paul is saying we best and most fully understand the created things in relation to the Creator God. From this flows some key things. First, because the Creator alone is truly transcendent, His law will necessarily and properly be transcendent: the law above the law, sometimes called the natural law.[7] And, therefore, second, all law and policy must be dependent on and derivative from this ultimate unimpeachable standard.

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