A Warning to Theologians!

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This is a great, terrifying, and important story to hear from Pastor Mike Wilkerson. In his discussion of idolatry from the fantastic book Redemption Wilkerson tells the story of a friend who turned the study of God into an idol. The story serves as a warning that any one of us can turn the things of God into a god, we can “imitate orthodoxy through idolatry.” He writes:

I knew a guy once who loved to read big theology books, and the bigger the book, the better to hide his secret sin. He justified himself by having better theology than others and wouldn’t let anyone speak into his life if they didn’t have the same level of theological sophistication. In the process, he traded an orthodox knowledge of God for a relationship with God. He was able to appear spiritual to others according to his Christian orthodoxy while maintaining the life of living in unrepentant sin.

These stories familiar to many of us in ministry. It is heartbreaking for me to confess that I have known people like this. A dear friend who by all appearances seemed very orthodox, very godly, and very disciplined. But in his heart he was arrogant, condescending, unteachable, and far from God. Behind closed doors he was not who he appeared to be in the church. Today, this friend no longer follows Jesus. That story has been repeated many times over in my life and each time I think about it I shiver.

Do not suppose, friends, that you and I are so very different than these people. We can imitate orthodoxy through idolatry if we are not careful. We need to be humble, involved in community, and submissive to God’s Word. The study of God can replace a relationship with God, and so we must all be cautious. This is a warning to me and to you, friends. Idolatry is subtle, don’t be fooled.

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