Idolatry originally referred to the worship of idols, images or other figures made of various physical materials, as if these were deities or entirely accurate and reliable representations of such, but the meaning has expanded to often include the embrace of false notions as true ones, the taking of something for that which it is not, or the deliberate promotion of such errors.
- You are fifty years old and would worship a day old statue!
- Therefore since we are God's offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by man's design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him [Jesus] from the dead.
- Acts 17:29-3 (NIV)
- The moment the idea is admitted into society, that property is not as sacred as the law of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If "Thou shall not covet," and "Thou shall not steal," are not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society, before it can be civilized or made free.
- John Adams, A Defence of the Constitutions of Government (1787), The Works of John Adams (1851), vol. 6, p. 9
- The 'I', the 'self' of the child of God, is born in the midst of the ruins of repented idolatry.
- James Alison, Faith Beyond Resentment (2001), p. 40
- Islam came out as the enemy of the 'But'. The word 'But' as everybody knows, is the Arabic word and means an idol. Thus the origin of the word indicates that in the Moslem mind idol worship had come to be identified with the Religion of the Buddha. To the Muslims, they were one and the same thing. The mission to break the idols thus became the mission to destroy Buddhism. Islam destroyed Buddhism not only in India but wherever it went.
- BR Ambedkar, "The Decline and Fall of Buddhism", in Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar: Writings and Speeches, Vol. III (1987), Government of Maharashtra, p. 229
- For Egypt, the greatest horror was the destruction or abduction of the cult images. In the eyes of the Israelites, the erection of images meant the destruction of divine presence; in the eyes of the Egyptians, this same effect was attained by the destruction of images. In Egypt, iconoclasm was the most terrible religious crime; in Israel, the most terrible religious crime was idolatry. In this respect Osarseph alias Akhenaten, the iconoclast, and the Golden Calf, the paragon of idolatry, correspond to each other inversely, and it is strange that Aaron could so easily avoid the role of the religious criminal. It is more than probable that these traditions evolved under mutual influence. In this respect, Moses and Akhenaten became, after all, closely related.
- Jan Assmann, From Akhenaten to Moses: Ancient Egypt and Religious Change, pg. 76, 2014, The American University in Cairo Press.
- To glorify man in his natural and unmodified self is no less surely, even if less obviously, idolatry than actually to bow down before a graven image.
- Irving Babbitt, "English and the Discipline of Ideas" (1920), Irving Babbitt: Representative Writings (1981), p. 67
- There is a great difference between the Idols of the human mind and the Ideas of the divine. That is to say, between certain empty dogmas, and the true signatures and marks set upon the works of creation as they are found in nature.
- Francis Bacon, in Novum Organum (The New Organon) (1620), Book I, Aphorism 23
- There are four classes of Idols which beset men's minds. To these for distinction's sake I have assigned names — calling the first class, Idols of the Tribe ; the second, Idols of the Cave; the third, Idols of the Market-Place; the fourth, Idols of the Theater.
- Francis Bacon, in Novum Organum (The New Organon) (1620), Book I, Aphorism 39
- The Idols of Tribe have their foundation in human nature itself, and in the tribe or race of men. For it is a false assertion that the sense of man is the measure of things. On the contrary, all perceptions as well of the sense as of the mind are according to the measure of the individual and not according to the measure of the universe. And the human understanding is like a false mirror, which, receiving rays irregularly, distorts and discolors the nature of things by mingling its own nature with it.
- Francis Bacon, in Novum Organum (The New Organon) (1620), Book I, Aphorism 41
- The Idols of the Cave are the idols of the individual man. For everyone (besides the errors common to human nature in general) has a cave or den of his own, which refracts and discolors the light of nature, owing either to his own proper and peculiar nature; or to his education and conversation with others; or to the reading of books, and the authority of those whom he esteems and admires; or to the differences of impressions, accordingly as they take place in a mind preoccupied and predisposed or in a mind indifferent and settled; or the like. So that the spirit of man (according as it is meted out to different individuals) is in fact a thing variable and full of perturbation, and governed as it were by chance. Whence it was well observed by Heraclitus that men look for sciences in their own lesser worlds, and not in the greater or common world.
- Francis Bacon, in Novum Organum (The New Organon) (1620), Book I, Aphorism 42
- There are also Idols formed by the intercourse and association of men with each other, which I call Idols of the Market Place, on account of the commerce and consort of men there. For it is by discourse that men associate, and words are imposed according to the apprehension of the vulgar. And therefore the ill and unfit choice of words wonderfully obstructs the understanding. Nor do the definitions or explanations wherewith in some things learned men are wont to guard and defend themselves, by any means set the matter right. But words plainly force and overrule the understanding, and throw all into confusion, and lead men away into numberless empty controversies and idle fancies.
- Francis Bacon, in Novum Organum (The New Organon) (1620), Book I, Aphorism 43
- Lastly, there are Idols which have immigrated into men's minds from the various dogmas of philosophies, and also from wrong laws of demonstration. These I call Idols of the Theater, because in my judgment all the received systems are but so many stage plays, representing worlds of their own creation after an unreal and scenic fashion.
- Francis Bacon, in Novum Organum (The New Organon) (1620), Book I, Aphorism 44
- Let men learn (as we have said above) the difference that exists between the idols of the human mind, and the ideas of the Divine mind. The former are mere arbitrary abstractions; the latter the true marks of the Creator on his creatures, as they are imprinted on, and defined in matter, by true and exquisite touches. Truth, therefore, and utility are here perfectly identical.
- Francis Bacon, in Novum Organum (The New Organon) (1620), Book I, Aphorism 124
- The exact meaning of the Arabic rendering of Indian terms is ambiguous, starting with the meaning of budh/budd/but. As the Buddhists had been the first big producers of ornate sculptures for veneration, viz. Buddha statues, the word but became the standard Persian term for "idol", so an idol-worshipper was called But-parast, and an idol-breaker But-shikan, even when the idol was not a Buddha statue. Al-Baladhuri says that "the Indians give in general the name of budd to anything considered with their worship or which forms the object of their veneration. So, an idol is called budd.' (...) In the circumstances, is it likely that the freshly arrived Arab chronicler could distinguish a category of "Buddhists" in the general population of Hindus?... At that stage, the Arab-Muslim newcomers simply couldn't distinguish between Brahmins and Buddhist monks, all But-parasts, "idol-worshippers".
- Al-Baladhuri, quoted from Elst, Koenraad (2002). Who is a Hindu?: Hindu revivalist views of Animism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and other offshoots of Hinduism. ISBN 978-8185990743, citing Elliot & Dowson: History of India, vol.1 and quoting Al-Baladhuri
- Seeing that this brutish stupidity has overspread the globe, men longing after visible forms of God, and so forming deities of wood and stone, silver and gold, or of any other dead and corruptible matter, we must hold it as a first principle, that as often as any form is assigned to God, his glory is corrupted by an impious lie.
- John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Chapter 11
- In one word, their theology was in substance this--There is one God who created all the world, and declared His will to us by Moses and the prophets, and finally by Jesus Christ and His apostles; and we have one sole Redeemer, who purchased us by His blood, and by whose grace we hope to be saved: All the idols of the world are curst, and deserve execration.
- John Calvin, Enduring Persecution for Christ in Kleiser, Grenville, The World’s Great Sermons, Volume 1, Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909, p. 209
- For just as soon as a visible form has been fashioned for God, his power is also bound to it. Men are so stupid that they fasten God wherever they fashion him; and hence they cannot but adore. And there is no difference whether they simply worship an idol, or God in the idol. It is always idolatry when divine honors are bestowed on an idol, under whatever pretext this is done. And because it does not please God to be worshiped superstitiously, whatever is conferred upon the idol is snatched from him.
- John Calvin, Institutes 1.11.9 as quoted in War Against the Idols: The Reformation of Worship from Erasmus to Calvin by Carlos, M. N. Eire p.217
- Just as a maistre Fifi mocks those who hold their noses [in his presence]. because he has handled filth for so long that he can no longer smell his own foulness; so likewise do idolaters make light of those who are offended by a stench they cannot themselves recognize. Hardened by habit, they sit in their own excrement, and yet believe they are surrounded by roses.
- John Calvin, Excuse, CR 6.595. as quoted in ibid, p.220
- We may also fitly remember that Satan has his miracles, which, though they are deceitful tricks rather than true powers, are such a sort as to mislead the simple-minded and untutored [Thes, 2:9-10] ... Idolatry has been nourished by wonderful miracles, yet these are not sufficient to sanction the superstition either of magicians or of idolators.
- John Calvin, Prefatory Address, McNeill (ed.), Institutes, p. 17; as quoted in ibid, p.222
- Scripture constantly recalls this rejection of "idols, [of] silver and gold, the work of men's hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see." These empty idols make their worshippers empty: "Those who make them are like them; so are all who trust in them."(Psalm 115:4-5, 8; see also Isaiah 44:9-20; Jeremiah 10:1-16; Daniel 14:1-30). God, however, is the "living God" (Joshua 3:10; Psalm 42:3; etc.) who gives life and intervenes in history.
- Catechism of the Catholic Church 2112
- To me, therefore, that Thracian Orpheus, that Theban, and that Methymnaean,--men, and yet unworthy of the name,--seem to have been deceivers, who, under the pretence of poetry corrupting human life, possessed by a spirit of artful sorcery for purposes of destruction, celebrating crimes in their orgies, and making human woes the materials of religious worship, were the first to entice men to idols; nay, to build up the stupidity of the nations with blocks of wood and stone,--that is, statues and images,--subjecting to the yoke of extremest bondage the truly noble freedom of those who lived as free citizens under heaven by their songs and incantations. But not such is my song, which has come to loose, and that speedily, the bitter bondage of tyrannizing demons; and leading us back to the mild and loving yoke of piety, recalls to heaven those that had been cast prostrate to the earth. It alone has tamed men, the most intractable of animals; the frivolous among them answering to the fowls of the air, deceivers to reptiles, the irascible to lions, the voluptuous to swine, the rapacious to wolves. The silly are stocks and stones, and still more senseless than stones is a man who is steeped in ignorance. As our witness, let us adduce the voice of prophecy accordant with truth, and bewailing those who are crushed in ignorance and folly: "For God is able of these stones to raise up children to Abraham;" and He, commiserating their great ignorance and hardness of heart who are petrified against the truth, has raised up a seed of piety, sensitive to virtue, of those stones--of the nations, that is, who trusted in stones. Again, therefore, some venomous and false hypocrites, who plotted against righteousness, He once called "a brood of vipers." But if one of those serpents even is willing to repent, and follows the Word, he becomes a man of God.
- Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry. I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say … Do I mean then that a sacrifice offered to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord's table and the table of demons. Are we trying to arouse the Lord's jealousy? Are we stronger than he?
- 1 Corinthians 10:14, 19-22 (NIV)
- It is not also taught you in Scripture, that you should desire St. Rock to preserve you from the pestilence, to pray to St. Barbarra to defend you from thunder or gun-shot, to offer St. Loy an horse of wax, a pig to St. Anthony, a candle to St, Sithine. But I should be too long, if I were to rehearse unto you all the superstitions that have grown out of the invocation and praying to saints departed, wherewith men have been seduced, and God's honour given to creatures.
This was also no small abuse that we called the images by the names of the things, whom they did represent. For we were won't to say, "This is St. Ann's altar ;"-"My father is gone a pilgrimage to our Lady of Walsingham;"-" In our church St. James standeth on the right hand of the high altar." These speeches we were wont to use, although they be not to be commended. For St. Austin in the exposition of the 113th Psalm affirmeth, that they who do call such images, as the carpenter hath made, do change the truth of God into a lie. It is not also taught you in all Scripture.
Thus, good children, I have declared how we were wont to abuse images, not that hereby I condemn your fathers, who were men of great devotion, and had an earnest love towards God, although their zeal in all points was not ruled and governed by true knowledge, but they were seduced and blinded partly by the common ignorance that reigned in their time, partly by the covetousness of their teachers, who abused the simplicity of the unlearned people to the maintenance of their own lucre and glory. But this be profitable, for if they had, either Christ would have taught it or the Holy Ghost would have revealed it unto the Apostles, which they did not. And if they did, the Apostles were very negligent that would not make some mention of it, and speak some good word for images, seeing that they speak so many against them. And by this means Anti-christ and his holy Papists had more knowledge or fervent zeal to give s godly things ad profitable for us, than had the very holy saints of Christ, yea more than Christ himself and the Holy Ghost. Now forasmuch, good children, as images be neither necessary nor profitable in our churches and temples, nor were not used at the beginning in Christ's nor the Apostles' time, nor many years after, and that at length they were brought in by bishops of Rome, maugre emperors' teeth; and seeing also, that they be very slanderous to Christ's religion, for by them the name of God is blasphemed among the infidels, Turks, and Jews, which because of our images do call Christian religion, idolatry and worshiping of images: and for as much also, as they have been so wonderfully abused within this realm to the high contumely and dishonor of God, and have been great cause of blindness and of much contention among the King's Majesty's loving subjects and are like so to be still, if they should remain: and chiefly seeing God's word speaketh so much against them, you may hereby right well consider what great causes and ground the King's Majesty had to take them away within his realm, following here in the example of the godly King Hezekias, who brake down the brazen serpent, when he saw it worshiped, and was therefore praised of God, notwithstanding at the first the same was made and set up by God's commandment, and was not only a remembrance of God's benefits, before received, but also a figure of Christ to come. And not only Hezekias, but also Manasses, and Jehosaphat, and Josias, the best kings that were of the Jews, did pull down images in the time of their reign.
- The Life, Martyrdom, and Selections from the Writings of Thomas Cranmer by Thomas Cranmer, p.139-142, (1809)
- Now the nature of man being ever prone to idolatry from the beginning of the world, and the Papists being ready by all means and policy to defend and extol the mass, for their estimation and profit; and the people being superstitiously enamored and doted upon the mass (because they take it for a present remedy against all manners of evils); and part of the princes being blinded by papistical doctrine part loving quietness, and loth to offend their clergy and subjects, and all being captives and subjects to the antichrist of Rome; the state of the world remaining in this case, it is no wonder that abuses grew and increased in the church, that superstition with idolatry were taken for godliness and true religion, and that many things were brought in without the authority of Christ as purgatory, the oblation and sacrificing of Christ by the priest alone; the application and appointing of the same to such persons as the priests would sing or say mass for, and to such abuses, as they could devise; to deliver some from purgatory, and some from hell (if they were not there finally by God determined to abide, as they termed the matter); to hallow and preserve them that went to Jerusalem, to Rome, to St. James in Compostella, and to other places in pilgrimage; for a preservative against tempest and thunder, against perils and dangers of the sea, fora remedy against murrain of cattle, against pensiveness of the heart, and against all manner of affliction and tribulation
- Ibid, pp. 517-518, (1809)
- The images of their gods you are to burn in the fire. Do not covet the silver and gold on them, and do not take it for yourselves, or you will be ensnared by it, for it is detestable to the LORD your God. Do not bring a detestable thing into your house or you, like it, will be set apart for destruction. Utterly abhor and detest it, for it is set apart for destruction.
- Deuteronomy 7:25-26 (NIV)
- Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness [of any thing] that [is] in heaven above, or that [is] in the earth beneath, or that [is] in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God [am] a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth [generation] of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
- Exodus 20:4-6 (KJV) as quoted in Catechism of the Catholic Church, Part III: Life in Christ, Chapter 1, Article 1
- When praying on behalf of Pharaoh to remove the plague of hail from him, Moses went out of the town to do so (Exod. 9. 20), because he would not pray in the midst of the idols and abominations that polluted the place and rendered it unfit for prayer to the throne of mercy. He went into the open, pure air of God to pray to God.
- For the purpose of effecting Israel's redemption God did not disdain to appear in a place where there were images of idols or other impurities.
- And He said unto me: 'Go in, and see the wicked abominations that they do here.' 10 So I went in and saw; and behold every detestable form of creeping things and beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, portrayed upon the wall round about. 11 And there stood before them seventy men of the elders of the house of Israel, and in the midst of them stood Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan, every man with his censer in his hand; and a thick cloud of incense went up. 12 Then said He unto me: 'Son of man, hast thou seen what the elders of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in his chambers of imagery? for they say: The LORD seeth us not, the LORD hath forsaken the land.' 13 He said also unto me: 'Thou shalt again see yet greater abominations which they do.' 14 Then He brought me to the door of the gate of the LORD'S house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat the women weeping for Tammuz. 15 Then said He unto me: 'Hast thou seen this, O son of man? thou shalt again see yet greater abominations than these.' 16 And He brought me into the inner court of the LORD'S house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of the LORD, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the LORD, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east.
- Ezekiel 8 9-16, JPS translation
- Nationalism is our form of incest, is our idolatry, is our insanity. "Patriotism” is its cult. It should hardly be necessary to say, that by "patriotism” I mean that attitude which puts the own nation above humanity, above the principles of truth and justice; not the loving interest in one’s own nation, which is the concern with the nation’s spiritual as much as with its material welfare — never with its power over other nations. Just as love for one individual which excludes the love for others is not love, love for one’s country which is not part of one’s love for humanity is not love, but idolatrous worship.
- It is time to cease to argue about God, and instead to unite in the unmasking of contemporary forms of idolatry.
- Oh ! what a frightful business is this modern society; the race for wealth — wealth. I am ashamed to write the word. Wealth means well-being, weal, the opposite of woe. And is that money? or can money buy it? We boast much of the purity of our faith, of the sins of idolatry among the Romanists, and we send missionaries to the poor unenlightened heathens, to bring them out of their darkness into our light, our glorious light; but oh! if you may measure the fearfulness of an idol by the blood which stains its sacrifice, by the multitude of its victims, where in all the world, in the fetish of the poor negro, in the hideous car of Indian Juggernaut, can you find a monster whose worship is polluted by such enormity as this English one of money!
- Every concept that comes from some comprehensible image, by an approximate understanding and by guessing at the Divine nature, constitutes a idol of God and does not proclaim God.
- Gregory of Nyssa The life of Moses; translation, introd. and notes by Abraham J. Malherbe and Everett Ferguson ; pref. by John Meyendorff Page 81
- Of what benefit is a carved image when its maker has carved it? Of what benefit is a metal statue and a teacher of lies, even though its maker trusts in it, making worthless gods that are speechless? Woe to the one who says to a piece of wood, “Awake!” Or to a speechless stone, “Wake up! Instruct us!” Look! It is overlaid in gold and silver, and there is no breath at all within it.
- Habakkuk 2:18, 19
- To Hosea, marriage is the image for the relationship of God and Israel. ... Idolatry is adultery. More than objective falsehood, it is a betrayal of God; more than stupidity, it is lewdness.
- Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Prophets (1962), pp. 50-51
- The early Christians would have looked with horror at the bare suggestion of placing images in the churches, and would have considered bowing down or praying before them as nothing less than idolatry.
- John Fletcher Hurst, History of the Christian Church (1900)
- What avails, then, the folly of the painter, who from sinful love of gain depicts that which should not be depicted—that is, with his polluted hands he tries to fashion that which should only be believed in the heart and confessed with the mouth? He makes an image and calls it Christ.
- Iconoclastic Conciliabulum, 754 AD, § 16, in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Second Series, Volume XIV, P. Schaff, ed. (1900), p. 543
- If anyone shall endeavor to represent the forms of the Saints in lifeless pictures with material colors which are of no value (for this notion is vain and introduced by the devil), and does not rather represent their virtues as living images in himself, let him be anathema!
- Iconoclastic Conciliabulum, 754 AD, § 16, in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Second Series, Volume XIV, P. Schaff, ed. (1900), p. 546
- When people say, "I know God forgives me, but I can't forgive myself," they mean that they have failed an idol, whose approval is more important than God's.
- When I went to Methodist youth fellowship, we were taught that the Catholics were all going to go to hell because they worship idols. So right there, I'm saying to myself, "Catholics are going to go to hell, but my aunt Molly married a Catholic and she converted and she's got 11 kids and they're all pretty nice and one of them's my good friend – they're all going to go to hell?" I'm thinking to myself, "This is bullshit." And if that's bullshit, how much of the rest of it is bullshit?
- The Mass is Idolatry. All worshipping, honouring, or service invented by the brain of man in the religion of God, without his own express commandment, is idolatry. The Mass is invented by the brain of man, without any commandment of God; therefore it is idolatry.
- John Knox, A Vindication of the Doctrine that the Sacrifice of the Mass is Idolatry, 1550; as quoted in Selected Writings of John Knox: Public Epistles, Treatises, and Expositions to the Year 1559
- Trouble me not; such an idol is accursed, and therefore I will not touch it.' The patron and the arguesyn (i.e. sergeant who commanded the forcasts) with two officers, having the chief charge of all such matters, said, 'Thou shalt handle it,' and so they violently thrust it to his face, and put it betwixt his hands, who seeing the extremity, taking the idol and advisedly looking about, he cast it into the river, and said, 'Let our lady now save herself; she is light enough; let her learn to swim.' After that was no Scotchman urged with that idolatry.
- John Knox, letter December 1559 as quoted in John Knox by William Mackergo Taylor, 1885, pp. 25-26
- You can safely assume you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.
- [Idolatry] consists not merely in erecting an image and worshiping it, but rather in the heart, which stands gaping at something else, and seeks help and consolation from creatures, saints, or devils, and neither cares for God, nor looks to Him for so much good as to believe that He is willing to help, neither believes that whatever good it experiences comes from God.
- Martin Luther, The Large Catechism III, Part First: The First Commandment, Translated by F. Bente and W.H.T. Dau Published in: Triglot Concordia: The Symbolical Books of the Ev. Lutheran Church, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, pp. 565-773
- The heathen really make their self-invented notions and dreams of God and idol. Ultimately, they put their trust in that which is nothing. So it is with all idolatry. For it happens not merely by erecting an image and worshipping it, but rather it happens in the heart. For the heart seeks help and consolation from creatures, saints, or devils. It neither cares for God, nor looks to Him for anything better than to believe that He is willing to help.
- Superstition, idolatry, and hypocrisy have ample wages, but truth goes a-begging.
- Martin Luther, Table Talk (1569), p.53
- It is distinctly said in the Law that everything which idolaters consider as service to their gods, and a means of approaching them, is rejected and despised by God... Thus all precepts cautioning against idolatry, or against that which is connected therewith, leads to it, or is related to it, are evidently useful.
- The custom which was in those days general among all men, and the general mode of worship in which the Israelites were brought up, consisted in sacrificing animals in those temples which contained certain images to bow down to those images, and to burn incense before them; religious and ascetic persons were in those days the persons that were devoted to the service in the temples erected to the stars... It was in accordance with the wisdom and plan of God, as displayed in the whole Creation, that He did not command us to give up and to discontinue all these manners of service, for to obey such a commandment it would have been contrary to the nature of man, who generally cleaves to that to which he is used... By this Divine plan it was effected that the traces of idolatry were blotted out, and the truly great principle of our faith, the existence and Unity of God, was firmly established; this result was thus obtained without deterring or confusing the minds of the people by the abolition of the service to which they were accustomed and which alone was familiar to them.
- After a long time the great and awful Name was forgotten and the people, men, women and children, only recognized an image of wood or stone and the temple of wood or stone which they had been brought up from infancy to serve by bowing down. ... Abraham ... knew that all were mistaken and that what caused them to err was worship of the images which drove the Truth out of their minds.
- Maimonides, Mishneh Torah (c. 1180), Treatise 4: “Idolatry,” H. Russell, trans. (1983), pp. 72-73
- I am alone in my monotonous country,
While all those around me live in the idolatry
Of a mirror reflecting in its depths serene
Herodiade, whose gaze is diamond keen ...
O final enchantment! yes, I sense it, I am alone.
- Stéphane Mallarmé, in Hérodiade (1898)
- The idol depends on the gaze that it satisfies, since if the gaze did not desire to satisfy itself in the idol, the idol would have no dignity for it.
- Jean-Luc Marion, God Without Being (1982), p. 10
- The gaze strains itself to see the divine, to see it by taking it up into the field of the gazeable. The more powerfully the aim is deployed, the longer it sustains itself, the richer, more extensive and more sumptuous will appear the idol on which it will stop its gaze. ... In this stop, the gaze ceases to overshoot and transpierce itself, hence it ceases to transpierce visible things, in order to pause in the splendor of one of them.
- Jean-Luc Marion, God Without Being (1982), p. 11
- Der Staat lügt in allen Zungen der Guten und Bösen; und was er auch redet, er lügt – und was er auch hat, gestohlen hat er's.
Falsch ist alles an ihm; mit gestohlenen Zähnen beißt er, der Bissige. Falsch sind selbst seine Eingeweide. Sprachverwirrung des Guten und Bösen: dieses Zeichen gebe ich euch als Zeichen des Staates. Wahrlich, den Willen zum Tode deutet dieses Zeichen! Wahrlich, es winkt den Predigern des Todes!
- The state lieth in all languages of good and evil; and whatever it saith it lieth; and whatever it hath it hath stolen.
False is everything in it; with stolen teeth it biteth, the biting one. False are even its bowels.
Confusion of language of good and evil; this sign I give unto you as the sign of the state. Verily, the will to death, indicateth this sign! Verily, it beckoneth unto the preachers of death!
- Friedrich Nietzsche, in Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1885) Part I, Chapter 11, "Vom neuen Götzen"/"The New Idol", as translated by Thomas Common
- Variant translation: Everything the State says is a lie, and everything it has it has stolen.
- The state lieth in all languages of good and evil; and whatever it saith it lieth; and whatever it hath it hath stolen.
- Watch them clamber, these swift monkeys! They clamber over one another and thus drag one another into the mud and the depth. They all want to get to the throne: that is their madness — as if happiness sat on the throne. Often, mud sits on the throne — and often the throne also on mud. Mad they all appear to me, clambering monkeys and overardent. Foul smells their idol, the cold monster: foul, they smell to me altogether, these idolators.
- There are more idols than realities in the world: that is my "evil eye" for this world, which is also my "evil ear."
- Friedrich Nietzsche, in Twilight of the Idols : or How to Philosophize with a Hammer (1888) as translated by Daniel Fidel Ferrer (February 2013)
- All that philosophers have handled for millennia, were conceptual mummies; there was nothing real to life from their hands. They kill, they fill out that these gentlemen term, idolaters, when they worship — they are all dangerous when they worship.
- Friedrich Nietzsche, in Twilight of the Idols : or How to Philosophize with a Hammer (1888) as translated by Daniel Fidel Ferrer (February 2013)
- Sociology has up to the present almost always seen only one aspect of the historical State. It has only seen the State as the guardian of peace and justice. Indeed it is commonly assumed that peace and justice did not exist until the State came into being. This is a great error; the community which preceded the State defended its territory and the lives and property of its members to the utmost, and was exceedingly energetic in maintaining internal equality of rights. The State merely took over from the community these two tasks, which must be carried out if any kind of society is to exist at all. This misconception cherished by previous sociology is the cause of its idolatry of the State, taking the form of State-worship. Peace and justice are great benefits to society, and consequently it is assumed, that the State, which is regarded not merely as the guardian of peace and justice, but as the only possible means by which they can be created, must be the greatest of all benefits. In reality however the State is nothing but one community living as a parasite upon another.
- If God should turn away from himself as the Source of infinite joy, he would cease to be God. He would deny the infinite worth of his own glory. He would imply that there is something more valuable outside himself. He would commit idolatry ... Where will we find a Rock of integrity in the universe when the heart of God has ceased to value supremely the supremely valuable?
- John Piper, in Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist (1986)
- The unity of God is a doctrine on which the greatest stress is laid in the whole system of revelation. To guard this most important article was the principal object of the Jewish religion; and, notwithstanding the proneness of the Jews to idolatry, at length it fully answered its purpose in reclaiming them, and in impressing the minds of many persons of other nations in favour of the same fundamental truth.
- As the greatest things often take their rise from the smallest beginnings, so the worst things sometimes proceed from good intentions. This was certainly the case with respect to the origin of Christian Idolatry. All the early heresies arose from men who wished well to the gospel, and who meant to recommend it to the Heathens, and especially to philosophers among them, whose prejudices they found great difficulty in conquering.
- Joseph Priestley, in An History of the Corruptions of Christianity (1782), Part I : The History of Opinions Relating to Jesus Christ, Introduction
- The reason why I entered into a religious order is this: first, the great misery of the world, the wickedness of men, the rapes, the adulteries, the thefts, the pride, the idolatry, the vile curses, for the world has come to such a state that one can no longer find anyone who does good; so much so that many times every day I would sing this verse with tears in my eyes: Alas, flee from cruel lands, flee from the shores of the greedy. I did this because I could not stand the great wickedness of the blind people of Italy, especially when I saw that virtue had been completely cast down and vice raised up.
- Girolamo Savonarola, in a letter to his father (25 April 1475), as quoted in A Guide to Righteous Living and Other Works (2003) as translated by Konrad Eisenbichler, p. 17
- Most often people think of idols as man-created statues that are worshipped as though they were G-d. This is a very narrow perspective of idolatry. The real meaning of idol worship is stated in the Book of Psalms, and it is the worship of maaseh bnai adam, objects and ideas that are of our own creation. When we create an object or an idea and endow it with transcendental qualities, we become idol worshippers.
- "Worship of Guns is Worship of Idols", Eugen Schoenfeld, Atlanta Jewish Times, July 20, 2016
- The art of government is the organization of idolatry.
- Revenge is the naked idol of the worship of a semi-barbarous age.
- Percy Bysshe Shelley, in A Defence of Poetry (1821)
- Tacitus says, that the Jews held God to be something eternal and supreme, neither subject to change nor to decay; therefore, they permit no statues in their cities or their temples. The universal Being can only be described or defined by negatives which deny his subjection to the laws of all inferior existences. Where indefiniteness ends, idolatry and anthropomorphism begin.
- Percy Bysshe Shelley, in Essay on Christianity (1859)
- Fame, power, and gold, are loved for their own sakes — are worshipped with a blind, habitual idolatry. The pageantry of empire, and the fame of irresistible might, are contemplated by the possessor with unmeaning complacency, without a retrospect to the properties which first made him consider them of value. It is from the cultivation of the most contemptible properties of human nature that discord and torpor and indifference, by which the moral universe is disordered, essentially depend. So long as these are the ties by which human society is connected, let it not be admitted that they are fragile.
- Percy Bysshe Shelley, in Essay on Christianity (1859)
- Whosoever recognizes idols has denied the entire Torah; and whosoever denies idols has recognized the entire Torah.
- Midrash Sifre, Deuteronomy 54
- Instantly you should awaken, walk in the right way, keep aloof from all abomination and idolatry, forsake false prophets, preachers and priests; and seek the true teachers, sacraments and divine service; for a true, sincere, Christian faith cannot be idle; but it changes, renews, purifies, sanctifies and justifies more and more; it makes joyous and glad, for by faith it knows that hell, devil, sin and death, are conquered through Christ, and that grace, mercy, and redemption from sin and eternal life, are acquired through him.
- Wherever public worship has been established and regularly aintained, idolatry has vanished from the face of the earth. There is not now a temple to a heathen god where the word of God is read.
- Matthew Simpson reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 34.
- Whosoever denies idols is called a Jew.
- Talmud Megilah 13
- If you uproot the idol and fail to plant the love of Christ in its place, the idol will grow back.
- The principal crime of the human race, the highest guilt charged upon the world, the whole procuring cause of judgment, is idolatry.
- Tertullian, On Idolatry, Chapter 1
- You who make [idols], that they may be able to be worshipped, do worship; and you worship, not with the spirit of some worthless perfume, but with your own; nor at the expense of a beast's soul, but of your own. To them you immolate your ingenuity; to them you make your sweat a libation; to them you kindle the torch of your forethought. More are you to them than a priest, since it is by your means they have a priest; your diligence is their divinity.
- Tertullian, On Idolatry, Chapter 6
- Maurras, with perfect logic, is an atheist. The Cardinal [Richelieu], in postulating something whose whole reality is confined to this world as an absolute value, committed the sin of idolatry. ... The real sin of idolatry is always committed on behalf of something similar to the State.
- Simone Weil, in Prelude to Politics (1943), p. 199
- Our patriotism comes straight from the Romans. This is why French children are encouraged to seek inspiration for it in Corneille. It is a pagan virtue, if these two words are compatible. The word pagan, when applied to Rome, really possesses the significance charged with horror which the early Christian controversialists gave it. The Romans really were an atheistic and idolatrous people; not idolatrous with regard to images made of stone or bronze, but idolatrous with regard to themselves. It is this idolatry of self which they have bequeathed to us in the form of patriotism.
- Simone Weil, in Prelude to Politics (1943), p. 220, also in The Need for Roots : prelude towards a declaration of duties towards mankind (1952)
- The Hebrews took for their idol, not something made of metal or wood, but a race, a nation, something just as earthly. Their religion is essentially inseparable from such idolatry, because of the notion of the "chosen people."
- Simone Weil, in Letter to a Priest (1951), section 2
- As there is no firm foundation for the love of our brethren, except the love of God, so there is no possibility of loving God, except we keep ourselves from idols.
- John Wesley, Sermon LXXXIII: On Spiritual Idolatry, in Wesley, John, Sermons on Several Occasions, Vol. 2, Jackson, T., ed., London: J. Kershaw, 1825, pp. 314-315
- It is clear that the images and other representations which we have in the houses of worship have caused the risk of idolatry. Therefore they should not be allowed to remain there, nor in your chambers, nor in the market-place, nor anywhere else where one does them honor. Chiefly they are not to be tolerated in the churches, for all that is in them should be worthy of our respect. If anyone desires to put historical representations on the outside of the churches that may be allowed, so long as they do not incite to their worship. But when one begins to bow before these images and to worship them, then they are not to be tolerated anywhere in the wide world; for that is the beginning of idolatry, nay, is idolatry itself.
- Huldrych Zwingli, Letter, Nov 17 1523, Huldreich Zwingli, the Reformer of German Switzerland, 1484-1531 by Samuel Macauley Jackson, John Martin Vincent, Frank Hugh Foster, p.208