The Danger of Idols (Lints)

 Not many people in our American culture worship and bow down to physical images and statues.  Instead, our idols are things like money, entertainment, sports, sex, health, fitness, image, relationships, and work.  But whether the idol is an actual statue or something like football or a flat stomach, the truth is that idols are dangerous and deadly.  Here’s how Richard Lints explains it as he discusses the image of God in man as it relates to idolatry:

“The image finds its flourishing in its relationship to the original.  Creatures find their satisfaction in the God who made them.  The idol represents both a false fulfillment and a perversion or corruption of the creature.  The [biblical] canon goes to great lengths to narrate the tug in human hearts between the living God and the idols who pull them away from the living God.”

“Idols are dangerous in the same way that outside love interests are dangerous to the marriage.  Adulterous liaisons inevitably pull the marriage apart at the seams.  As with adultery, so idolatry is about both wrong beliefs (e.g. a belief about where satisfaction can be found) but more importantly, idolatry is also about corrupted desires (e.g. the desire to get gratification on whatever terms are necessary).

“All idolatry involves error in belief to some extent, if the belief in question is that some creature has a worth enjoyed only by the Creator.  If there is only one God, there is only one object worthy of worship and adoration.  Monotheism and monolatry go hand in hand.  The worship of one God (monolatry) is a necessary consequence of the belief that only one God exists (monotheism).”

These are some profound thoughts about idolatry.  It is dangerous, it is about wrong beliefs, and idolatry is about corrupted desires.  These are things to think about as we fight idolatry and seek to faithfully bear the image of God rather than sinfully bear the image of an idol we’ve made.  As the Apostle John said, Dear children, keep yourselves from idols (1 John 5:21 NIV).

The above slightly edited quote is found on page 39 of Lints’ Identity and Idolatrywhich, by the way, is one of the best books on idolatry that I’ve ever read.  I highly recommend it!

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI

Typology, Providence, Sovereignty

The New Testament teaches that there are types and shadows in the Old Testament (Rom 5:14, Heb 8:5).  A 1:64 model car is a type of a real, full size car.  The shadow of a house is an image of the actual house itself.  We can learn things from the model car and the shadow of the house, but there’s something beyond them, something more.  So in the OT there are types and shadows that find their fulfillment in Jesus and the Christian faith.  I appreciate how Richard Lints explains typology in relation to God’s sovereign providence:

“Typology is founded on the notions of providence and prophecy.  While the type does have significance for its own time, its greater significance is directed toward the future.  It testifies to something greater than itself that is yet to come.  The future antitype will surely come, because God will providentially bring it to pass.  It is God’s ability to hold history together that serves as the foundation of typology.”

“The prophetic fulfillment of the original type is as certain as the God who providentially orders that fulfillment.  As typology is the foundation of the theological interpretation of redemptive revelation, so divine providence is the foundation of the theological interpretation of typology.”

“Adam was a type of Christ in his federal representation of humankind.  As Paul is quick to remind his readers in Romans 5, the link is not simply one of similarity.  There are significant and important differences, all the more important because of the similarities.  Both Adam and Christ act on behalf of those whom they represent.  Through Adam, condemnation and death spread to all people, whereas through Christ, justification and life spread to many.”

Lints also explains how Moses was a type of Christ (cf. Heb 3:5-6) and comments:

“It is the unmistakeable conviction of the New Testament that Moses prepared the way for Christ.  Moses pointed to Christ.  This was no mere accident of history, but was the outworking of the providential plan by which God brought redemption to his people.  The concept of providence is what lies behind the New Testament connection of Moses and Christ, and providence ought therefore to be foundational in our theological framework as well.”

Richard Lints, The Fabric of Theology, p. 306-7.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI