Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Secret Idols

Nov. 9, 2016

 An Allegory of the Vanities of Human Life, c. 1640
oil on canvas
by Harmen Steenwyck

     Is the use of idols the result of a fallen soul that will not turn to face God despite an ability to do so, or one that is simply unable to do so? Fair question. The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Who can destroy the secret idols of a sinful heart? When man does not submit the deepest mote of his being to the fire of sanctification, the secrets of his heart remain dark, dead, unredeemed. As lifeless as gold. Deceitful and wicked though it may be, the human heart can hold no secrets from its Creator, though we can bring forth a wilderness of vain imaginings in which to hide from Him. The City of Man is a city of idols and vanities. It's the city of everything foul and depraved and godless. Our earthly existence as inhabitants of this city is an ongoing distraction, for some more than others. The Dominican priest who inspired the historical Bonfire of the Vanities in Florence in 1492, Girolamo Savonarola, understood this all too well. Savonarola understood how human eyes lust for this world unceasingly. He understood how our flesh cries out for it, screams for it day and night. The pride of life within us all will not let go of it. The Dominican knew his enemy, our Enemy. 

     The idols that cannot be smashed with a hammer or burnt in a Bonfire of Vanities are the ones that do not properly exist as physical objects. Even the smashable ones still exist as mental objects in our minds, after they have been destroyed or before their creation. Woe to the god-makers! Woe to the craftsmen! Woe to the silversmiths of Ephesus! When the Apostle Paul was passing through Ephesus with the sword of the Word in his mouth, the local devotees of the goddess Artemis did not like what he had to say on the matter. He caused a riot. 

     The idol of self is the hardest to destroy because it is what makes relational worship possible in the first place. That cleaving of soul and spirit, joint and marrow, is what makes the ladder of divine ascent accessible to us. Don't worship the ladder! 


Steenwyck print on

Bible Gateway


gmudge said...

Hi Peter
I just finished reading your blog twice. You think wonderfully deep and it surely made me think.
I think you are exactly right so keep it up.
Gerry Mudge

Theophane said...

Thank you, Gerry

Do you think anyone else in our small group (or Chartwell congregation) might enjoy reading The Theophane Blog? I am still trying to increase my readership.


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