I obtained this list from PJ’s Blog SlavePJ who got it from Blog of Dan and we’re all sourcing it from Tim Keller’s book Counterfeit God’s which I highly recommend you purchase, read, and then think through at your next convenient moment when you are about to click on the television. This list of idol categories are interesting and worth thinking through. It would be irrational to say that these are not a part of your life…I don’t believe that is the issue. I think the issue is the thinking through them enough to understand the hold they have on you. The cultural idol is woven into our philosophy of life in every area down to the communion table and baptism. When was the last time you observed a baptism and felt a deep sense of awe of God and that person and you did not personally know that person who was being baptized.
At the core of the idol is an identity issue and a deep longing (like the sexual idol clearly states and I have found) for something OR someone (or both) to deliver a deep sense of “you are somebody” that they were not allowed to do. When you think about it ironically we’re really mean. We’re asking something of idols they are not capable of doing, yet simultaneously checking out when others expect the same from us.
In the Notes section of Counterfeit Gods, Tim Keller has included a helpful list of idol categories:
- Theological idols – Doctrinal errors that produce such distorted viewsof God that we end up worshipping a false god.
- Sexual idols – Addictions such as pornography and fetishisms that promise but don’t deliver a sense of intimacy and acceptance; ideals of physical beauty in yourself and/or your partner; romantic idealism.
- Magic/ritual idols – Witchcraft and the occult. All idolatry is in the end a form of magic that seeks to rebel against the order of transcendent reality rather than submitting to it in love and wisdom.
- Political/economic idols – Ideologies of the left, right, and libertarian that absolutize some aspect of political order and make it the solution. Deifying or demonizing free markets, for example.
- Racial/national idols – Racism, militarism, nationalism, or ethnic pride that turns bitter or oppressive.
- Relational idols – Dysfunctional family systems of codependency; “fatal attraction”; living your life through your children.
- Religious idols – Moralism and legalism; idolatry of success and gifts; religion as a pretext for abuse of power.
- Philosophical idols – Systems of thought that make some created thing the problem with life (instead of sin) and some human product or enterprise the solution to our problems (instead of God’s grace).
- Cultural idols – Radical individualism, as in the West, that makes an idol out of individual happiness at the expense of community; shame cultures that make an idol out of family and clan at the expense of individual rights.
- Deep idols – Motivational drives and temperaments made into absolutes: a. Power idolatry: “Life only has meaning/I only have worth if – I have power and influence over others.” b. Approval idolatry: “Life only has meaning/I only have worth if – I am loved and respected by __________.” c. Comfort idolatry: “Life only has meaning/I only have worth if – I have this kind of pleasure experience, a particular quality of life.” d. Control idolatry: “Life only has meaning/I only have worth if – I am able to get mastery over my life in the area of __________.”