The Appeal of Idolatry
by David Wells
"Idolatry, ancient and modern alike, consists in trusting some substitute for God to serve some uniquely divine function… Why do people choose the substitute over God himself? Probably the most important reason is that it obviates accountability to God. We can meet idols on our own terms because they are our own creations. They are safe, predictable, and controllable; they are, in Jeremiah’s colorful language, the “scarecrows in a cucumber field” (10:5). They are portable and completely under the user’s control. They offer nothing like the threat of a God who thunders from Sinai and whose providence in this world so often appears to us to be incomprehensible and dangerous. People who “remain in the center of their lives and loyalties, autonomous architects of their own futures,” Keyes argues, thereby avoid coming face to face with God and his truth. They need face only themselves. That is the appeal of idolatry."
- David Wells, God in the Wasteland (Eerdmans 1994)