I am quite arrogant…if you didn’t already know that. In my BC days, I was inordinately sure of myself, my methods, my ideas, and I was not afraid to tell you how wrong you were. I was shameless.
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9–11)
While I still struggle with my pride, God has helped me by the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome its voluminous and vociferous manifestations. It is one of the idols that I constantly place on the throne of my heart, seeking to usurp the rightful authority of King Jesus.
I love to read books on various theological topics. All of the elders at GFC are currently reading a book that I really didn’t want to read. I had read portions of The Reason for God in the past and knew that I had significant disagreements with the author’s theology and methodology in evangelism.
I asked Jesus to step off the throne as I placed my pride in His rightful place.
Respectable Sins, another book that I have studied through three times in the past helped me to put a more accurate face on this particular idol. Rather than simply looking like a figure of a man, I can now see the details of his face, his broad shoulders, the color of his eyes, and those gigantic earlobes. The idol is me with my theological arrogance and I think he is a respectable enough little guy. But as respectable as he might be, he is a sin.
I have grown to hate him the way I hate Reese’s cups . . . not nearly enough for my own good.
I trust that Tim Keller is a man used of God to accomplish much for the kingdom of Christ, but I think I am smarter than him. Well, not really, but he gets several things wrong, and he doesn’t have as high a view of Scripture as I do . . . or so I tell myself. I begin reading a chapter looking for his flaws so I can justify the coldness in my heart. But why would I do that to a brother in Christ? Only because Jesus is not there to be warming my heart—a cold, lifeless trinket sits in His place.
I tell myself it is because Keller is courting the world and compromising the truths of doctrines like sin, creation, Hell, evil and suffering, and others. While there are clearly areas of compromise, my harsh and arrogant judgment is not charitable or warranted.
I have had to pray several times as I began reading to check my attitude and ask the Holy Spirit to soften my heart that I might learn from the good things he has to say. While there is much I disagree with, I learned some things and several of the chapters were very well done. His distinction between religion and grace was very edifying and when he finally gets to the gospel, he calls people to repent and trust in Christ.
His wholesale endorsement of all forms of evolution (cosmological, geological, and biological) gives me great pause and is a clear compromise with the world’s system of thinking. He has a fatal inconsistency in claiming that God had originally created the world in a “good” state (a view that is fundamentally inconsistent with his view of evolution) and dodges the hard doctrinal edges of Hell as a punitive state while he tells the skeptical reader that he is going to be honest and open with them.
These are issues that would lead me to recommend this to very few people, but I am glad I was challenged to read it. It helped me to see, once again, how much I need to be killing my sinful pride. I will not embrace Keller’s evangelistic methodology or his view of the origin of the cosmos, but I did learn some things.
Although I know I will disagree with much of the book, I plan on reading Chosen but Free by Norm Geisler followed by James White’s rebuttal, The Potter’s Freedom, this year. I need to continue to challenge my theology and make sure that I know why I believe what I believe and that it is grounded in Scripture and not traditions or systems.
I am sure that I will have to stop and pray for wisdom and patience as I open Geisler’s book, but I trust that God is faithful to continue to help me battle those sins as He conforms me into the image of Christ. He has begun a good work in me, and He will complete it. He is faithful even when I am faithless.
Do you know the faces of your idols, or just their silhouettes?