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Keller on Idolatry

I’ve been trying to watch the live streaming of the 2009 Gospel Coalition National Conference today and have been inspired by what I’ve heard. Piper always winds me up and his words about “fanning the white hot flame of the Spirit” were convicting as usual. The thing that really caught my attention was Tim Keller’s talk on idolatry from Acts 19.

Keller says that Paul confronts the idols of culture whenever he preaches the Gospel. In Ephesus, the charge was that he confronted the idols so persuasively that it affected the economy of that city. All cultures have their idols and we ought to be willing to confront them where we find them. Keller defined idol as “something so central to life that you can’t live without it.” In other words, if I can’t live without my air conditioning (Lord have mercy) then I’ve made my own comfort an idol. I like the way he put it when talking about his love for his wife and how easily she might become an idol in his life: “If you live for your wife, she can’t die for your sins. I have to love Jesus more.”

Dr. Keller identified three realms of idolatry: Personal, Religious, and Cultural. The religious idols stuck out to me the most. He said they were truth (I’m OK [with God] because of the rightness of my doctrine), gifts, and morality (I trust in my own holiness instead of Jesus). He spoke a word of grace to me in that our numbers, our preaching, our effectiveness in disciple-making can easily become idols yet we must trust in no one but Jesus.

The closing involved reminding us of how dangerous it is to destroy idols because of the push back both from people and from the powers and principalities because idols are the conduits through which they work. Paul risked his life to destroy idols and it cost Jesus torture and crucifixion to destroy them. That’s a frightening thought but we must destroy those idols that keep us from dependence upon Jesus.

Do you know how to take the Gospel to the idols? Are you willing

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