Q17: What Is Idolatry?

New City Catechism: Question 17


Christians practice catechesis to instruct believers on the foundational truths of the Christian faith. In a question and answer format, this form of discipleship teaches the Apostle’s Creed, the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, along with the basics of the Bible. The New City Catechism, created by Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, asks 52 questions, one for each week of the year, on topics such as God, creation, and salvation. Each video provides an extended answer to the question from either a pastor at Redeemer or council members of the Gospel Coalition. This video with Tim Keller, Founding Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, answers the question, "What is idolatry?”



Romans 1:21 (ESV)

21For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


Romans 1:25 (ESV)

25because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.



We can respond to question seventeen with the following answer: idolatry is trusting in created things rather than the Creator for our hope and happiness, significance and security.


Tim said we fall into idolatry when we put anything or anyone before or at the same place as God. It’s a sin because it elevates good things to the ultimate status that only God should hold. What stands out to you the most about this answer? Why?
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Idolatry can grow in your life for a long time without obvious evidence of sin. We need to be wary of idolatry because it ruins your soul, destroys community, and dishonors God. 


Does the answer to this question impact your Christian walk? If so, how and why?
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Read through Romans 1:21, 25. Take a moment to reflect on idolatry. Use the space below to respond. You can write out a prayer, list the implications of idolatry, or brainstorm ways you can apply the principle to your life.
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The Catechism can help you remember the core beliefs of Christianity. Take time this week to learn the answer to this question and memorize Romans 1:21, 25. Allow God to transform your heart, mind, and actions as you battle idolatry.



 To learn more about New City Catechism or to download the app, click here