HOLINESS AND IDOLATRY IN THE PROTESTANT AND CHARISMATIC TRADITIONS





HOLINESS AND IDOLATRY IN THE PROTESTANT AND CHARISMATIC TRADITIONS

Am I an idol worshiper? OH NO, I am Not! But think about a minute.

The concept of holiness and idolatry was always confusing to me. Recently I attended a conference on holiness and idolatry. New layers of applications to this topics are revealing to me, which include the relevance of this topic with other religious traditions like Hinduism and Buddhism etc. In the religious pluralistic, multi-cultural context this topic is very relevant. Hinduism has gone extensively creating content for the holiness. There is a popular Hindu belief that there are 330 million goddesses in Hinduism. This means that almost every Hindu can have a god, specifically designed for him/her. However, theoretically, there can be just seven gods and seven goddesses in Hinduism. On the contrary, Buddhists are not idol worshipers even though it is customary among the Buddhists to keep Buddha images to pay their respects to the Buddha. In the catholic and Indian orthodox tradition I see the applications of creating the content for their holiness through praying and creating mediators between God and human beings. In the Protestant, Pentecostal and Charismatic movements, there is an attempt to eradicate the concept of idols, but to some extent they failed because traditions, liturgy, money, dress code, theology, personalities, etc. create idols.
When we try to mimic the one time God experience in the charismatic tradition we are by way of creating the idols and it is same with the traditional churches where the corporate experience of God idolized with the liturgical traditions. During this conference I personally started to evaluate and understand which are the idols I have in my personal practice of religion. I could also personally identify that, through my research and studies I am trying to put content to  my Christ experience. This was and is my journey for last many years.
I was born and spent my early years in the St. Thomas Indian orthodox tradition. Where my parents raised me and gave me a mamodisa (child baptism) and I grow up as an Indian Pentecostal and later moved to the charismatic movements. I have taken my Adult baptism and I am sure I am saved and saved completely. I also had a Christ experience when I was doing my college studies attending a small prayer group, a knockdown experience just like Paul. I also received a missionary call which put me into my theological journey and missionary journey spending many years in the mission field, primarily reaching the un-evangelized with the gospel of Jesus Christ. With my missionary experience and theological journey, I am trying to put content to my faith but God is different, ever transcending and my God experience is progressive and changing. This journey with God in creating a theology where by I avoid the twin pitfalls of spiritualizing the gospel so that it has little to say to the material afflictions of humanity or politicizing the gospel so that it fails to meet our deepest spiritual needs. 

Binu B. Peniel
2014 (C) binu.peniel@gmail.com

Binu Peniel

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