Studying Tim Keller’s latest book, The Prodigal God and listening to his related sermons, I almost had cause to wonder if I was truly a born again Christian, so many were my identifications with the wrong attitudes of both sons in Luke’s parable.
Now Keller strikes again with a message on idolatry delivered at The Gospel Coalition 2009 Conference earlier this month. His talk was bracing enough to digest, but in it he referenced a sermon on the topic by a Puritan writer David Clarkson titled, Soul Idolatry Excludes Men Out of Heaven that disabused me of any remaining sense of wholesomeness.
Here's a sample:
"That which we most highly value, we make our God. For esteem is an act of soul worship. Worship is the mind’s esteem of a thing as most excellent. Now the Lord demands the highest esteem, as an act of honor and worship due only to Himself. Therefore, to have an high esteem of other things, when we have low thoughts of God, is idolatry. To have an high opinion—of ourselves—of our abilities and accomplishments—of our relations and enjoyments—of our riches and honors—or those that are rich and honorable—or anything of like nature, when we have low opinions of God, is to advance these things into the place of God—to make them idols and give them that honor and worship which is due only to the divine Majesty. What we most esteem—we make our god. If you hold other things in higher esteem than the true God, you are idolaters (Job 21:14)."
The entire thing’s a 37 page .pdf file that you can access either on Tony Reinke’s site, or at Google Books. If you prefer a light dismantling you can read a summary here at Grace Gems. Warning: not for the faint of heart.