The Graven Image of Apostasy

Jim Allen

Not too long ago, in a discussion with a person about the Second Coming, I was told they preferred to pick and choose what to believe about God. They did not want just one religious viewpoint since all religions, in their view, have good teachings. The discussion continued with a twist when the person said, "I like to choose the best from each religion and then put them all together to form my own belief about God." The discussion ended. There was no further opportunity to present the biblical perspective about this person's inclusive, smorgasbord approach to God.

The "choose what you like to believe" approach to defining one's religion is logical and insightful if you accept the false notion that all roads lead to God. Of course, this is an error held by many. Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). The words of Jesus push back hard against the "all roads lead to God" notion and especially the smorgasbord approach, which perhaps explains why the conversation ended when it did. After all, why should this person allow me to chisel away at the foundation holding up their graven image?

As you know, "a graven image is an image carved out of stone, wood, or metal. It could be a statue of a person or animal, or a relief carving in a wall or pole. It is differentiated from a molten image which is melted metal poured into a cast." [1] More importantly, a graven image can also be carved out in the mind of a person from lies that distort the true image of the God. We've all seen enough lies lately and what dishonesty is doing to promote hidden agendas.

Selecting one teaching from Christianity, another from Hinduism and still another from Islam to define God is just another way to carve a graven image and break the second commandment: "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image."

As foreseen long ago, Jesus inspired the author of Hebrews to combat this possibility by writing, "For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God" (Acts 20:27). Simply put, faithful servants of the Gospel preach the whole counsel of God including the "hard to swallow truths" about man's depravity (Romans 3:23). A gospel that will not deal this truth about man's sinfulness apart from Christ is a gospel that no longer needs a Savior and herein the greatest of all hidden agendas.

To skirt around fundamental Christian truths because some of the truths might appear problematic is to compromise truth. To compromise means to partly uphold, which is not to believe at all. The Apostle Paul said, "For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths" (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

Although compromise is not always a bad thing, what a person chooses to compromise can be, and herein the quandary. The Bible warns about compromising the redemptive message of Jesus Christ. The church is doing it with increasing regularity. In Colossians 2:8, the apostle Paul writes, "Beware lest anyone deceive you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ."

An older gentleman wrote to GotQuestions after his conversion from a godless life awashed in self-indulgence to faith in Jesus Christ. He said he grew up in a Christian home and lived in sin with no fear of God. The church told him he was going to heaven because he believed in Jesus—which he did. However, after reading the answers to questions about saving faith, the marks of a true Christian, and the dangers of a sinful lifestyle on GotQuestions, he realized he was a false convert—he was lost. [2]

The difference between the smorgasbord person and the older gentleman with a corrected worldview is significant when you recognize the former was defining what would be truth and the latter was accepting what was truth. Selecting one teaching from Christianity, another from Hinduism, and still another from Islam to define God is pride, a haughty spirit of ascendency leading to the fashioning of an imaginary golden calf that cannot save.

Not so for the older gentleman. He was humbled by the truth (John 14:6). He allowed the truth to define him and not he the truth. The older gentleman humbled himself before the Lord and, like the tax collector who would not so much as look heavenward, was justified by Jesus (Luke 18:10-14).


Image: Golden calf, Egyptian bull god Apis; source unknown

TagsBiblical-Salvation  |  False-Teaching

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Published 11-18-13