Spirituality & Postmodernism
The biblical teaching about idolatry is particularly helpful for evangelism in a postmodern context. The typical way that Christians define sin is to say that it is breaking God’s law. Properly explained, of course, that is a good and sufficient definition. But the law of God includes both sins of omission and of commission, and it includes the attitudes of the heart as well as behavior. Those wrong attitudes and motivations are usually inordinate desires—forms of idolatry. However, when most listeners hear us define sin as “breaking God’s law” all the emphasis in their minds falls on the negative (sins of commission) and on the external (behaviors rather than attitudes.) There are significant reasons, then, that “law-breaking” isn’t the best way to first describe sin to postmodern listeners.
I ordinarily begin speaking about sin to a young, urban, non-Christian like this:
Sin isn’t only doing bad things, it is more fundamentally making good things into ultimate things. Sin is building your life and meaning on anything, even a very good thing, more than on God. Whatever we build our life on will drive us and enslave us. Sin is primarily idolatry.