The churches of Christ Greet You (Romans 16:16)

Though often characterized as a Christian nation, America is really filled with idolatry. Furthermore, millions of religious souls unwittingly practice this idolatry. Proportionately, there is as much idolatry in our esteemed and beloved country as the apostle Paul found in Athens (Acts 17:16-23). Since God views idolatry as spiritual adultery (Jer. 3:6-9; Jud. 2:17; Ez. 6:9), these equate to highly serious charges.

Upon entering Athens, Paul became acutely aware of rampant idolatry in that city. Consequently, the apostle proceeded to contrast powerless idols with the powerful God of creation and judgment (Acts 17:22-31). Paul chided his audience for being "too religious" or "too superstitious" regarding their idolatry (Acts 17:22, ASV) and "ignorant" (Acts 17:23) about our Creator and Judge. Paul knew that idolatry robs God of the devotion due him. He also knew that idolatry robs its adherents of the blessings otherwise available to them were they to worship and serve the true God. Therefore, Paul's ". . . spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry" (Acts 17:16). Likewise, it is time for Christians to become stirred in our spirits to lead idolatrous America to the true God, our Creator and Judge.

The type of idolatry against which the apostle spoke still lives today. This idolatry includes statues of gods that mortals have crafted from lifeless wood, gold, silver, or stone (Acts 17:29; Isa. 44:9-20; Hab. 2:18-19). However, it also includes much more. As it has been from the beginning of time, the substance from which today’s most popular idols are molded is the human imagination (cf. Matt. 7:15; Acts 20:29; 2 Peter 2:1-2). The shrines for these idols are the minds of their adherents. The power and hold of these idol gods emanates from the creeds that councils, conventions, and synods have adopted. The result of this idolatry is DENOMINATIONALISM. 

The suggestion that denominationalism is comparable to idolatry is deemed offensive by many religious people. That's understandable since myriads sincerely but mistakenly engage this type of idolatry. Forasmuch as they boast of and urge others to attend the “Church of their Choice,” they also worship the “god of their choice.” So, there are thousands of denominational gods competing among themselves and with the God of heaven for the hearts and souls of men. The facts are not altered the least by denominational claims to membership in Christendom. After carefully scrutinizing the religious community, an objective unbiased observer could only conclude that idolatry is the true portrait of religion in America.

Denominational idolatry is strikingly similar to the idolatry with which the heathen and the children of God have been beset throughout human history. Each idol god was attributed with different qualities. Likewise, denominationalism presents a medley of doctrines about worship, redemption, Christian living, and eternity. These doctrines differ from and often contradict the teaching of the Bible. Thus, most American communities host a religious shopping center in which the religious consumer can shop for whatever his heart desires. The same process allows him to shop for the salvation of his choice and the heaven of his choice. To complement all this, he frequently also shops for the Bible or creed of his choice. A flood of modern mistranslations of the Bible have been produced in addition to denominational creeds, disciplines, manuals, catechisms or doctrines.

Though denominational peoples purportedly believe in and worship Almighty God, such simply is not the case! Essentially, men devise their own gods with its unique character and creeds, and ignore the true God of the Bible. A sampling of the idol gods worshipped in America includes the god of Catholicism, the god of Adventists, the god of Pentecostals, the god of Mormonism, the god of Methodists, the god of Lutherans, and the god of Mennonites. Books such as Handbook of Denominations in the United States by Mr. Frank S. Mead indicate that there are hundreds of different denominations and thousands of divisions within those denominations, all claiming membership in Christendom. So, there are really at least 27 differing Baptist gods, four differing Adventist gods, eleven differing Lutheran gods, 22 differing Methodist gods, over 19 differing Pentecostal gods, 10 differing Presbyterian gods and so on the list goes. Amazingly, however, the followers of these several gods have the audacity to claim they are all really worshipping only one God, the God of the Bible.

How do they differ, you ask? The god of Baptists possesses a different notion about salvation from the god of Presbyterians. The former attributes salvation to faith only whereas the latter declares that salvation is the product of unconditional election. The god of Universalists disagrees with them both and declares that his character will not allow any souls to be lost. The god of Mormonism has three heavens, but the god of Jehovah's Witnesses instructs his followers that at the commencement of eternity He will annihilate the wicked and assign most of His followers to a made-over earth. The God of Heaven, however, has vowed to destroy the earth (2 Pet. 3:10), punish the wicked in hell (2 Thess. 1:7-9; Matt. 5:22) and reward all His faithful followers with eternity in heaven (Matt. 25:46; 1 Thess. 4:13-18).

The God of the Bible is not the god of denominationalism! Neither will He remain the God of Christians who adopt denominational gods or fashion new ones. Those who would be the faithful children of God must recognize the distinctiveness of the God of the Bible (Eph. 4:4-6) and the church that Jesus purchased in His death IHis de(Acts 20:28). Neither dare we allow ourselves to deter from distinguishing between primitive Christianity and idolatry or denominationalism.

Before closing, we must mention another idol that is trying to take the Christian captive. This idol god is most often worshipped in the world's prosperous nations; thus, dominating much of the western civilization of which Americans are major stockholders. The idolatry we refer to is materialism. There is no question that the world in which we live is becoming increasingly more materialistic. The many blessings and relative prosperity with which Christians have been endowed also pull them toward the worship of the idol god of materialism. Therefore, materialism poses a threat even to the Lord's church. BEWARE!

Loved ones, the apostle Paul warned first century Christians about establishing relationships with idolaters (2 Cor. 6:14-18). Remember, God will not walk with them who refuse to walk with Him (Amos 3:3). He will no more walk with modern day idolaters than He would with Israel and Judah in their idolatry. There is only one God by whom "we live, and move, and have our being" and who "will judge the world in righteousness" (Acts 17:28, 31). As Paul with great boldness declared the True and Living God to the Athenians, let us with the same boldness declare the same Almighty God to the world...and "Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen" (1 John 5:21).

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