If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Ye shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the Lord thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.
Only God is to be worshipped, and, just to underline the point, the above passage goes on to stipulate the death penalty for all forms of idolatry. So complete is the prohibition on idolatrous worship, that even somebody showing the signs of a true prophet is not to be trusted, but instead put to death.
Given that to be the case, it is difficult to comprehend what must be the full extent of God’s anger, when he looks down upon the modern world and beholds the almost universal idolatry of wealth. In the case of the new atheists, the idolatry of science is not far behind. Anybody who forswears the worship of that former idol is likely to be thought of as, at best, a bit eccentric. In America there is even the nonsensical heresy (and it is heresy) known as the prosperity gospel. There could hardly be any laws prohibiting idolatry today, because our whole culture is built upon it.
But that fact ought not to be an occasion for self-righteousness, as we imagine that we can exempt ourselves from the judgment which must surely come. We can only become aware of ourselves as contributors to the systemic sin which characterises this modern world. It is certainly not the case that we have no part in it.