A Few Thoughts on Video Worship...
Long-suffering readers of this blog know that a recurring theme of this page has been my emphasis on idolatry as a modern reality. I've kept quiet on this theme for over a year now, not because I feel my concern was mistaken, but because I preached on idolatry last summer at Christ the Word. Doing so exorcised a portion of my personal anxieties on this account. CTW is, after all, my beloved church home and it's there that my shepherding concerns are most directly attached.
But as I've watched the debate on this page over two issues--the truthfulness of Rome's gospel and the use of video preaching in Reformed churches--I find myself wondering if anyone anywhere really thinks objective, image-based idolatry exists in the western world?
Brothers and sisters, an idolatrous gospel can never be true. A gospel which accepts the veneration of images can never point to the One True God. It is not monotheistic. It has gods beyond God--and even its God is a god. Please, think about Rome's idols. Think about the statues of Mary, of the saints, the prayers, the elevation of their status theologically and then remember that even Nehushtan became a snare and a path to wrath for the people of God.
Certain things are undeniable about idolatry:
First, idolaters, at first blush, never think they are substituting their image for God. The image points to God, it's a road sign to God, not God in itself. The Northern Kingdom's initial idols under Jeroboam only pointed to God in the mind of Jeroboam. They were subsitutes for the temple in Jerusalem, not for the God of the temple. Yet there was NO Gospel in the Northern Kingdom.
Second, idols remove idolaters from the immediacy of God. They are essentially mediatorial. The calf at the foot of Sinai was a means of avoiding the immediate God of smoke and thunder and shaking mountains on top of Mt. Sinai.
Third, even the most iconophilic of professing Christians will admit that images placed at the center of worship are more clearly idolatrous than images employed outside worship.
Is there no sense in which video sermons by remote preachers who do not know us--indeed cannot know us--might be recognizably idolatrous even in an image-loving age? Is there no similarity to the people's preference for Aaron and the calf rather than Moses and the fire? Can't we at least see that one of the great advantages of such worship is that it leaves us alone rather than confronting us with a messenger of God who know us and might be preaching TO US rather than simply mouthing the wonders of God?