Idols: Our False Gods Participants Guide

Join the Conversation:

Record thoughts and questions here that come up as you watch the episode.  Explore them later with the group.

Listen to God’s Word: Isaiah 40:18-31

Discuss the Episode

  1. Tremper’s early spiritual journey involved legalism, a belief that if we do enough religious things, we will be happy because we are doing what God requires. Have you experienced legalism in your life or the lives of others?
  2. Idols are almost always some aspect of God’s good creation – work, money, relationships, wisdom, knowledge, even spirituality – that we substitute for God. How can we tell when something becomes idolatrous?
  3. Dan states that we will struggle with idols our whole lives. He mentions that idols give us a sense of power and let us hide from a world that is tough. What are the idols that you rely on? What are things that we can do as individuals and as communities to keep potential idols in their proper place, e.g, gifts from God to be enjoyed.
  4. Technology (eg. cell phones, laptops, televisions) are essential to function in our society, but are also a source of frustration and can have harmful and disruptive effects in our lives. How can technology be both helpful and hurtful? Does technology control us more than we control it? What would a Christian perspective on technology look like?


Reflect on What Others Have to Say

Underline and mark ideas you would like to discuss.

The idolater would suppose his idol to represent some supernatural force or being, but [Isaiah] inculcates a true understanding.  Idols may look magnificent, venerable and mysterious, they may excite a sense of awe, but there is nothing there except the materials – no ability but human ability, no innate resources but those of the earth….[An idol] does no more than reflect the resources of the one who commissioned it.
Alex Motyer, The Prophecy of Isaiah: An Introduction and Commentary

An idol is something within creation that is inflated to function as God. All sorts of things are potential idols; depending only on our attitudes and actions toward them...Idolatry may not involve explicit denials of God’s existence or character. It may well come in the form of an over‐attachment to something that is, in itself, perfectly good...An idol can be a physical object, a property, a person, an activity, a role, an institution, a hope, an image, an idea, a pleasure, a hero ‐ anything that can substitute for God.
Richard Keyes, No God But God: Breaking with the Idols of Our Age

Repentance can be defined as the true turning of our life to God, a turning that arises from a pure and earnest fear of him; and it consists in the mortification of our flesh and of the old man, and in the vivification of the Spirit….Both things happen to us by participation in Christ….Therefore, in a word, I interpret repentance as regeneration, whose sole end is to restore in us the image of God that had been disfigured and all but obliterated through Adam’s transgression….And indeed, this restoration does not take place in one moment or one day or one year; but through continual and sometimes even slow advances God wipes out in his elect the corruptions of the flesh, cleanses them of guilt, consecrates them to himself as temples renewing all their minds to true purity that they may practice repentance throughout their lives and know that this warfare will end only at death.  
John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion


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