Idols and Destructive Behavior (Pearcey)

Finding Truth: 5 Principles for Unmasking Atheism, Secularism, and Other God Substitutes by [Nancy Pearcey]

I really appreciate the book Finding Truth by Nancy Pearcey. It’s really a great resource for Christian apologetics, reasoning, and worldview. Here’s a quote that I’ve read, marked up, and re-read. I trust you’ll find it worthwhile as well:

Why do idols invariably lead to destructive behavior? What is the connection? The link is that idols always lead to a lower view of human life. In Romans 1, the connection is captured in the word ‘exchanged’: They ‘exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things (Rom. 1:23). When a worldview exchanges the Creator for something in creation, it will also exchange a high view of humans made in God’s image for a lower view of humans made in the image of something in creation.

Humans are not self-existent, self-sufficient, or self-defining. They did not create themselves. They are finite, dependent, contingent beings. As a result, they will always look outside themselves for their ultimate identity and meaning.. They will define human nature by its relationship to the divine – however they define divinity. Those who do not get their identity from a transcendent Creator will get it from something in creation.

We could say that every concept of humanity is created in the image of some god. And because that divinity will always be lower than the biblical God, its view of humanity will also be lower. Those who dishonor God will dishonor those made in God’s image. Those who create idols eventually ‘become like them’ (Ps. 115:8).

In philosophical terms, this is called reductionism – the process of reducing something from a higher, more complex level of reality to a lower, simpler, less complex level. When an idol absolutizes some part of creation, everything else must be explained in terms of that one limited part – pulled down to that level, measured against that one yardstick, reduced to that lowest common denominator…..

When we define God as a ‘something’ instead of a ‘Someone,’ we will tend to treat humans as ‘somethings’ too.

Nancy Pearcey, Finding Truth, p. 98-99.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015

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