From Mike Leake’s blog this morning:
“From this we may gather that man’s nature, so to speak, is a perpetual factory of idols…Man’s mind, full as it is of pride and boldness, dares to imagine a god according to its own capacity; as it sluggishly plods, indeed is overwhelmed with the crassest ignorance, it conceives an unreality and an empty appearance as God.” –John Calvin, Institutes, 1.11.8
I’ve read this quote a few times in books that deal with idolatry. It is no secret that the human heart has a propensity towards idol worship. Calvin is really saying no more than what the apostle Paul said in Romans 1:18-25—because of the fall, humanity worships and services creation instead of the Creator.
We are idolaters. With that statement I agree totally. Furthermore, I believe with Keller, that “idolatry is always the reason we ever do anything wrong”. It’s the root of all our problems.
Yet, I still have to wonder if we aren’t misreading and wrongly applying that Calvin quote. I don’t think “perpetual idol factory” is an accurate description of the heart of one transformed by Jesus Christ. Nor do I think that is what Calvin, or more importantly the apostle Paul, is saying. The reference for Paul—and Calvin after him is one that has not yet been redeemed.
To say that we are still churning out idols at a perpetual rate is, in my mind, to deny the transforming work of the Spirit within us.
Read the rest at Is Your Heart An Idol Factory?.