By this logic what makes for
idolatry is not the use of representational forms in worship, but
only the use of non-Christian images, which is obviously a
prejudice. An image of Krishna as the good cowherder is on par with
that of Christ as the good shepherd, the Divine as the caretaker of
souls. To make one into a superstitious idol and the other into a
sacred image is hypocritical and intolerant. It is like saying that
only spices used in American cooking are legitimate spices, while
those used in Indian cooking are food adulterants!
What Christian would accept
a depiction of Christ being called an idol? Would Christian
religious leaders approve of it in the press of Christian countries?
Yet Hindus and other non-Christians routinely accept that depictions
of their deities - who represent such high truths as
Self-realization - are demeaned as idols.
To call such images idols
implies that those who worship them practice idolatry or take the
image itself as a God. This adds yet more prejudice and error to the
judgement. The use of an image - whether we call it an icon or an
idol - does not imply belief in the reality of the image. That we
keep a photograph of our wife and children at our work desk does not
mean that we think our wife and children are the photograph.
The use of the term idol
inflames the sentiments of anti-idolatry religions like Christianity
and Islam, as both the Bible and the Koran instruct their followers
to destroy idolaters and their temples. The use of the term idol is
thus careless, insensitive, and potentially inflammatory. It should
be removed in an effort to promote greater understanding and good
will between religious groups.