Here Are Your Gods: Faithful Discipleship in Idolatrous Times

Reviewed by:

G. Connor Salter, Professional Writing alumnus from Taylor University, Upland, IN.


Here Are Your Gods: Faithful Discipleship in Idolatrous Times


Christopher J.H. Wright


IVP Academic (InterVarsity Press)

Publication Date:

September 29, 2020




144 pages


The term “idol” isn’t used very much in Western Christianity anymore, perhaps because people usually think of idols as just statues used in pagan contexts. The problem is that if one looks at how the Bible talks about idols, it’s clear the concept is still important today. Christopher Wright unpacks the Old Testament’s explanations of idolatry, what kind of things people worship and how the Old Testament Israelites viewed other gods. From there he considers how idolatry and the development of nations go together (idols are frequently personifications of whatever a nation glorifies), and connects this to Scripture’s teachings about God ruling over all nations and ordaining their rise and fall. Finally, Wright brings these ideas into a contemporary context, looking at how the New Testament says Christians should handle living in idolatrous cultures, common things that the Western world idolizes, and what Western Christians should do about living in idolatrous cultures.

Wright gives an excellent overview of idolatry in the Old Testament, giving clear yet detailed explanations. His ideas stand up to academic criticism, but are accessible enough that a laymen can read his ideas. In talking about how Ancient Near Eastern pagan gods were usually projections of whatever people feared or desired, he shows readers how the concept of idolatry still applies today. Wright doesn’t explore the idea of worship quite as much as philosopher James K.A. Smith does in various books, which highlight how the Bible teaches that people “worship” whatever they devote themselves to, but Wright touches on the same principles. This provides a sobering reminder that the possibility to “having other gods before God” is still there today.

As Wright shifts into the book’s next section, based on a lecture he gave on “Following Jesus in an Age of Political Turbulence,” he still keeps his discussion centered in the Bible. He talks about modern forms of idolatry, admitting that he’s influenced by his own biases but focusing on things (lust for power, sexual prowess, blatant lying) that God strongly judged leaders for in the Bible. When he starts talking about what these idols mean for the future of Western civilization, he again focuses on what the Bible says about God’s sovereign control over nations. The idea of God judging nations gets bandied about in some very unhealthy ways, usually with people taking whatever natural disaster has recently happened and blaming it on a particular thing they don’t like about their culture. Wright avoids such subjective judgments, focusing on the big picture pattern that the Bible shows: nations rise and fall based on many factors. Some of these factors are external and dramatic, some are internal and subtle; in the end though, all nations fall and their fall is always ordained by God due to violating his moral commands. Writers like Dorothy Sayers and C.S. Lewis who emphasized free will might have phrased this idea differently and said that nations live with the consequences of the rulers and policies they choose. Regardless, the point is that idolatry and moral corruption means a culture is moving from God and that will have consequences.

Because Wright works so hard to focus on the Bible’s view of national progress rather than his own opinions, he’s able to give a sobering but enlightening answer to Western Christians concerned about their society. He admits frankly that given the Biblical pattern of national progress, Western civilization seems be to winding down. This is a sad reality, and it raises difficult questions about how Western Christians will live out their faith. At the same time, this isn’t a new situation. Christians have lived out the uneasy tension of being in the world but not of the world from the very beginning, and while the Bible may not answer every question that Christians have, it gives them all they need. The problem of living in idolatrous times is not new, and the final verdict is established. Thus, Christians have much to put their hope in.

A rare book that makes idolatry seem relevant for today and gives wise counsel without becoming subjective opinions.


Rating (1 to 5 stars)

5 stars

Suggested Audience

Christians interested in what it means to follow or have false gods and how that concept applies to a contemporary Western context.

Christian Impact

Wright carefully goes through Scripture, setting aside cultural misconceptions that many Western Christians have about concepts like divine judgement, idolizing things, and the birth and end of nations. In doing so, he gives readers the tools to identify idols in their own lives and avoid them. His later discussions about how the Bible calls Christians to live in idolatrous cultures point Western Christians back to principles they have likely forgotten which enable them to live wise lives for Christ.

"Here Are Your Gods": Faithful Discipleship in Idolatrous Times

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