I once had a chat with a pastor from Africa. I asked him what he thought of Australia? His answer floored me. He said “I can’t believe how much Idolatry you have in Australia! Everyone has their own God!” I found this hard to take as the cafe we were sitting in was in Newtown a suburb where the census data says that so many people have no religion. So it seems that there is very little idolatry in Australia. But my Pastor friend showed me that we Aussies worship things not Gods. We may not bow down to a statue but we give our lives to our job so we can get more money and therefore we are worshiping money. We may not pray to a God but we do chase sex like we need it to survive and therefore sex becomes our God. We find things to worship. Many theologians have noted this phenomenon. Calvin for example says this:
Bright, however, as is the manifestation which God gives both of himself and his immortal kingdom in the mirror of his works, so great is our stupidity, so dull are we in regard to these bright manifestations, that we derive no benefit from them…..but we are all alike in this, that we substitute monstrous fictions for the one living and true God….almost every man has had his own god. To the darkness of ignorance have been added presumption and wantonness, and hence there is scarcely an individual to be found without some idol or phantom as a substitute for Deity. Like water gushing forth from a large and copious spring, immense crowds of gods have issued from the human mind, every man giving himself full license, and devising some peculiar form of divinity, to meet his own views. Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, (1.5.11-12)
Calvin is really just echoing Paul who writes:
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. Romans 1:20-23
We are living in a very religious age.
The question is we have to ask is how do we preach the gospel in an age where there is a smorgasbord of God’s and gospels around?
You may also like: