Showing posts with label idolatry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label idolatry. Show all posts

10 October 2011

Dumb Idols

Your weekly dose of Spurgeon
(Better Late Than Never)

posted by Phil Johnson

The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from The Spurgeon Archive. The following excerpt is from Spurgeon's expostion of Psalm 115:5-7, first published in June of 1902.

They have mouths, but they speak not:
Eyes have they, but they see not:
They have ears, but they hear not:
Noses have they, but they smell not:
They have hands, but they handle not:
Feet have they, but they walk not:
Neither speak they through their throat (Psalm 115:5-7).

note the grim sarcasm of this remark of the psalmist; it reminds me of Elijah's taunting words to the prophets of Baal, "Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked."

The ancient Hebrews were not accustomed to treat idolatry with any kind of respect; they poured all sorts of ridicule upon it. Nowadays, we are expected to speak very respectfully concerning all false religions, and some philosophers and divines tell us that there is something good in them all; and they say that modern Papistry, with its gods many, and its rotten rags and cast clouts, which they call relics, is to be treated very delicately.

Perhaps someone asks, "Is it not a religion?"

Yes, a religion for fools; but not for those who think.

"Noses have they, but they smell not." Their devotees fill the room with the smoke of incense; they burn sweet spices before the idols, but their nostrils are not thereby gratified.

C. H. Spurgeon

21 December 2010

What did Jesus (not) say about... His mother, Mary?

by Dan Phillips

"You know what you lot's problem is? You just don't think enough about My mother."

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06 January 2010

Peanut-butter Passion

by Phil Johnson

'm a passionate person. People who know me will affirm that. I think Christians ought to be passionate about truth, passionate in our love for God and for one another, and (above all) passionate about the glory of God.

But raw passion is not the point. Passion is valid and edifies only when it's the right kind of passion, based on legitimate affections for the right things. I'm concerned about the unbridled passions frequently turned loose by people whose only religious affections were cultivated in evangelical youth groups. (And if I can speak freely: that includes a lot of of our so-called young, restless, and Reformed frends.) Everything seems to unleash stadium-style passions. I've even seen people scream, whistle, stomp, and cheer at baptisms, as if they were celebrating a touchdown. Many Christians glorify passion for passion's sake—as if raw passion per se were something praiseworthy and deeply spiritual. It's not. And this has become a serious problem in today's post-pentecostal, post-evangelical, anything-goes era.

The problem is exacerbated by the fact that so many Christians imitate all the world's passions. Christian leaders invent gimmicks to try to win worldly people by appealing to their worldly passions. All of us devote energy and emotion to things that are not even worthy of our attention. And then we bring our addiction to raw passion into our corporate gatherings. We do things to stir artificial passions—which is a form of false worship, no better than idolatry, really.

Our passions should not need to be artificially stirred up by spiritual cheerleaders and team chants. We shouldn't have to be worked into an emotional state by melodrama and musical manipulation. If we can get pumped to a fever pitch by some preacher's antics rather than by the truth of the biblical message, then whatever we are feeling isn't even a legitimate passion in the first place.

And sometimes it gets even worse than that.

Someone a few months ago sent me this article about a youth leader who likes to provoke his students to a state of screaming enthusiasm with gross-out games. (Warning: the article itself and the other links in the following paragraph are extremely gross. Home-school moms might want to look away.) The article describes how this youth leader had a teenager with hairy armpits smear gobs of peanut butter on his underarms; then the youth pastor asked for volunteers to lick it clean and swallow the peanut butter. The youth leader uses skits like that to "shock and astound." (Those are his exact words.) He told that secular reporter that he does things like that all the time to get the students excited, so that they will talk about the church. He says he wants to start "a buzz that [will] go viral, [so] that teens [will] text and Twitter about [it]." And notice what the youth leader said about his strategy: "The idea is to get students here to meet our Savior. They are getting all this crazy stuff out there in the world all the time. We are trying to show them that God is cooler."

You may think that's an extreme, one-of-a-kind example, but that type of thing is far more common than you think. It illustrates rather vividly the foolishness of trying to stir artificial passions by making God seem "cool" rather than simply uplifting His glory and letting the grandeur and majesty of our God move people's hearts to more legitimate expressions of deep passion.

That sort of artificial enthusiasm actually hinders (and in some cases totally nullifies) the message we're supposed to be proclaiming. With so many churches merely trying to entertain people, or lull them into a state of self-satisfaction, or simply gross them out, it's no wonder the world is not being won to Christ but actually becoming steadily more hostile to Christianity.

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28 April 2009

Keller on idolatry at TGC 2009

by Dan Phillips

In the past, I've had a few critical words to say about this and that from Tim Keller. I reserve the right to have a few more in the future.

But not about his talk at The Gospel Coalition 2009. I am working (enjoying) my way through the talks, and Keller's was first. It was titled The Grand Demythologizer: The Gospel and Idolatry. On balance, I found it thought-provoking, instructive, convicting, and helpful. To the point where it stopped me in my tracks as I walked, more than once; and I had to pause my iPod to deal with some of what Keller had said.

We should not think that preaching on idolatry is something that should be done in evangelism alone, and then safely dropped after a profession of faith. "Little children, keep yourselves from idols," are the apostle's closing words to Christians (1 John 5:21).

Now, I wondered if I had to get my angry eyes when Keller started quoting two apostate Jews on the subject of idolatry, towards the end. But their comment was apposite, and then Keller brings a very deft, on-target observation that could be paired with Messiah-rejecting Judaism vis-a-vis the Old Testament, on the whole.

I commend Keller's address to you.

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