Ok so I have wanted to write this out for a while, but honestly every time I have thought of it I have been too lazy to go to  my purse and grab my notes. We got to go see Tim Keller last week in Nashville.

His new book is about idols. He defined an idol as ‘anything I love more than God’. He talked about good things in life, but what happens when we turn ‘good’ things into ultimate things then it becomes idolatry. If you lose a good thing there is sorrow, but if you lose an ultimate thing you are completely devastated with no consolation. You have turned your good thing into a pseudo-god. There are different kinds of gods: personal, cultural, religious and deep idols. How we have to identify them. The heart is so constituted that the only way to get rid of an idol is to get a new one. I thought this was an interesting thought. Kind of goes along with the thinking that human beings were made to worship something. But he is talking about your heart being captivated by God. God should be where your affections are and falling completely in love with Him is the only answer. The solution is not to love good things less, but to love the best thing more.

The biggest point I walked away from of the evening was on child sacrifices. He says so often we look to other cultures where this is practiced or in their history and think how awful! How could they do that? When here at home, we are working 60 hours a week. He connected the two thoughts by saying we are practicing child sacrifices/family sacrifices every day when we choose other places to be or things to do other than be with them. Some men are on their 3rd families while making their way to the top of their careers. This hit me in the face. Ernie and I just stared at each other. So true. He actually says we are worse because we dont even know we are doing it..

He talked about turning approval into an idol. Ouch. What do you daydream about the most? Your religion is what you do with your solitude. Double ouch. Where do you spend your money? He said its no problem for him to spend money on books. That he found out that was his idol. Maybe wanting to look really smart and how approval is at the root of many of our idols even if we dont realize it. Another point was if you ever say I will obey God if _____. Whatever is in the _____ could be your idol. Ive been there. He said how idols can change shapes too. When you are free from one another one can take its place.

He said you have to have an incredible prayer life and get a deeper sense of what God has done for you. Talked about Colossians 3, having a life hid in Christ. Very encouraging!

Then he did the Q&A. This is where I almost had a heart attack because I saw Ernie fidgeting around. 🙂 Donald Miller was sitting behind us a few rows and we saw him get up to ask a question. He asked ‘Can we ever be rid of our idols in this life?’ The answer was a quick ‘not on this side of heaven.’ Then onto the next question. I felt something inside me turn over, Ernie felt it too. The next question in my head was, ‘Then what are you doing here trying to help people identify and conquer their idols? Whats the point if theres always another one down the road?’ But then I thought of how I could see his point.. How death could be the last thing we go through in life to have no ultimate things. Because for everyone, life is an ultimate thing. Regardless, to me, the answer was void of hope. I felt like his theology left him conflicted in the area of hope.

This is taken from the church website where he spoke.. ““Is there any hope? Yes, if we begin to realize that idols cannot simply be removed. They must be replaced.” But thats not what was said when asked the direct question that evening.

What I thought was so interesting is while he talked I thought of ways how I agreed with him. Even though theology-wise we are very different. I wondered  if instead of finding ways we disagree with people and argue, what if we tried as hard to find ways that we agree?

I left feeling good, encouraged to have my mind thinking on such good, meaty things. I appreciated his talk very much.

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6 Responses to Idols

  1. Jack Brannen says:


    Found your link to this on your Twitter feed. I attending Keller’s same talk in Louisville, KY.

    I think Keller would also agree that we begin working on our idols now in a process that will be complete after death. So we won’t be rid of them in this lifetime, but we can begin the work.

    So re: hope—I think a growing Christian will be joyfully aware, throughout his life, that he is becoming less and less dependent on his idols and more dependent on God. Even though he may not be completely rid of them.

    Hope that is helpful!
    Jack B.

  2. Anonymous says:

    On the right hand column I noticed Romans 12:2 ….be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind…

    A daily need in this life on this side of heaven. Can we ever be ‘rid’ of the need of renewing the mind?

  3. The Causey's says:

    Sarah, I think about this a lot. Actually right now, I am in the middle of a book called “American Idols, ” There are so many things that can be an idol in our lives. In our culture today we think of idol worship as something “far away in some distant land out there,” but it is in every home in America. God has been dealing with me on this issue, glad to see I’m not the only one. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Brenda
    (Would have written more, but typing with one hand and holding a baby . . . tedious.)

  4. Ernie Flowers says:

    @ Jack B. Great thoughts!

    Can you please give me scripture that explains this statement?

    I think Keller would also agree that we begin working on our idols now in a process that will be complete after death. So we won’t be rid of them in this lifetime, but we can begin the work.


  5. Janelle says:

    This post hits hard, but in a good way. The part about child sacrifices is especially convicting. What am I sacrificing my kids for? I guess I need to go see about mine. 🙂

  6. Jack Brannen says:


    This isn’t a perfect example, but Heb 10:14 says, “because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” I think “are being made” indicates that the process has already started.

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