And in every single city of Judah he made high places to burn incense to other gods, and provoked to anger the LordORD God of his fathers.
—2 Chronicles 28:25
The first of the Ten Commandments, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:2), requires us to worship God exclusively. Christianity, like Judaism, is an exclusive religion. It is not pluralistic; it is not tolerant.
Certainly the Old Testament and New Testament writers were not tolerant of other gods. God Almighty is not tolerant of other gods. He says with absolute clarity: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” All of the other gods, said the apostle Paul, and all of their images are simply demons, and God would not have us to have fellowship with demons.
Even when people try to worship the true God through an idol, it becomes idolatry, as with the golden calf. What Aaron said is, “Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord. And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play” (Exodus 32:5–6).
They were worshiping Jehovah through the calf; they weren’t worshiping the calf. And so the Bible makes it abundantly clear that idolatry is either the worshiping of images or pictures or statues—or the worship of the true God through or by means of images. Either one of them is equally idolatry.
Question to ponder: Why has the Western world been largely free from direct idolatry?