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Idols for Destruction The Conflict of Christian Faith and American Culture

The bookshelf next to my desk holds Christian classics and books I refer to often Idols sits on that shelf for Herb's lucid critiue has been an invaluable reference for my own writings It helps believers to understand the ideologies that undergird secular culture and how they dramatically and dangerously differ from the Judeo Christian view based on adherence to absolute truth Charles Colson Prison FellowshipWell written and highly readable discerning and critical analysis of our times. A brief review of this book is certain to fail in capturing the brilliance of this book I suspect that outside of the Bible this book is the most important and best book I will have ever read This is not meant as hyperbole but as respect for a book that is the best encapsulation that I ve encountered of how the Christian ought to interact with the society around us cultural political economic and religiousI have typed nearly twenty pages of uotations from this book as I ve read it to further ponder and study I cannot say this of any other book I ve ever read Schlossberg wrote the book over twenty five years ago but his analysis of our current socio economic and political environment is remarkably insightful because it captures the failings of the modern nation state and the crisis in the consciences of its people These things were just as true twenty five years ago as they are today Buy this book read it study it and I am confident you will not regret it This is a remarkable book and a gift to the church unlike any other I ve ever read Here s a review of the book that I wrote recently for a church publicationSome time ago a friend posted a uestion on Facebook asking What happens to the nation whose God is not the Lord Thirty years ago Herbert Schlossberg sought to answer this very same uestion and his conclusions were published in a remarkable book entitled Idols For Destruction Why write a book review in 2011 for a book first published in 1983 and republished in 1990 This book like few others prophetically captures the essence of our culture critiuing and chastising it The book was relevant when published but its relevance has only increased in the years since its publication Schlossberg argues that idolatry is at the heart of cultural decay and describes in horrific detail the results He writes when the people turn to idolatries and the outcome of those faiths become incarnated in society s institutions the rot sets in What happens in the future depends on the moral state of the people who decide to follow one course of action rather than another One can immediately see Schlossberg s intent in the opening chapter of Idols For Destruction as he ponders the meaning of the fall of civilizations His concern writing in the early 1980s was to diagnose the ills of society in light of God s Word He begins the book examining what the Bible says about the decline of civilizations He observes It is a curious fact that the Old Testament which describes the beginning course and end of a number of societies never assesses them as being on the rise or decline as progressing or regressing as growing to maturity or falling to senescence Instead the biblical explanation of the end of societies uses the concept of judgment It depicts them as either having submitted themselves to God or else having rebelled against him p 5Schlossberg echoes CS Lewis s remark that human history is the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy Schlossberg argues we went astray through the rejection of God s authority and the enshrinement of humanism He begins by decrying humanists who are hostile to any notion of law that is external to the legislative organs under human control and this means that morality cannot be predicated on universal codes p 43 The humanist has rejected the supernatural and embraced the material all that exists is matter and only matter matters He writes Being poor is the greatest evil in humanitarian thinking because having material possessions is the greatest good Modern materialism is not only an ethical philosophy that places a high value on money and possessions but a social philosophy that says that human relations are determined by material factors p 61 This materialist philosophy being at the heart of humanitarian project explains what is perhaps the most important concept in the book the power of envy and jealousy in shaping and reshaping human institutions something Schlossberg calls ressentiment The Humanitarian impulse is not to raise those who are down but to topple those who are up ressentiment is the motive p 55Schlossberg exposes the fraud of humanitarianism it seeks not the betterment of society but simply to exercise power The state is the humanitarian s lever of power to reshape society p 75 76 It is the state who rather than God becomes the Father Schlossberg says Looking to the state for sustenance is a cultic act we rightly learn to expect food from parents and when we regard the state as the source of physical provision we render to it the obeisance of idolatry p 183Herein lies the central lesson of Idols For Destruction The paternal state not only feeds its children but nurtures educates comforts and disciplines them providing all they need for their security This appears to be a mildly insulting way to treat adults but it is really a great crime because it transforms the state from being a gift of God given to protect against violence into an idol It supplies us with all blessings and we look to it for all our needs Once we sink to that level as Lewis says there is no point in telling state officials to mind their own business Our whole lives are their business The paternalism of the state is that of the bad parent who wants his children dependent on him foreverThe paternal state thrives on dependency When the dependents free themselves it loses power It is therefore parasitic on the very persons whom it turns into parasites Thus the state and its dependents march symbiotically to destruction p 184The paternal state grappling for power in opposition to God and its Machiavellian means of maintaining power lead to the kinds of policies en vogue in national capitals across the globe Governments use monopoly power over the creation of currencies and their inflationary policies to enrich themselves at the expense of its citizenry all the while giving the perception of economic expansion America has been pursuing inflationary monetary policy for decades but never so rapidly as the last three years These policies Schlossberg writes have both moral and economic conseuences p 99 He adds A society that inflates its currency tampers with a moral value If the economic system lacks the basic honesty that permits economic transactions to reward both seller and buyer lender and borrower there can be no sense of justice p 101 Yet it is both a cause and effect of moral decline As long as people think they are advancing economically the pressure to continue inflating outweigh those for stopping When a society becomes pragmatic the moral considerations seem less important than the economic ones p 102Inflationary economies promise wealth without end Yet Christians know as Jesus teaches the poor you always have with you John 128 Ours is not a world of wealth without end ours is a world of scarcity He argues compound interest without end and growth without end are in the same category as entitlements without end they are illusions But illusions in which people place their faith take on a sinister reality When they are cashed in without sufficient resources to pay everyone off then a process of allocation must be devised to settle claims That process often is violence p 108 If you doubt this recall the power of envy it cannot be assuaged any than cancer can be they are both pathologies whose very being reuires expansion to their neighbor s territory There is no fence that will ever be respected no limitation that will be recognized as legitimate no sense of proportion or humility sufficient to smother a sense of inferiority p 104 We ve recently seen these forces unleashed around us look at Greece or Wisconsin for that matter where people facing the loss of entitlements resort to violence and mass protestThe state has become the central god in the Humanist pantheon because of the power inherent in its function as arbiter of justice and role as law keeper Schlossberg compares our age to the Kingdom of Judah Ecclesiastical support for the state idolatry is unconsciously imitative of the temple religion that endorsed and undergirded the unjust rules of Judah He condemns the modern false prophets and those with itching ears 2 Tim 43 People desire false teaching because it enables them to absolutize contingent systems to which they have given allegiance They seek religious leaders who will bless their idolization of the nation or the state or the unrestricted pursuit of wealth or power or the acting out of their hatred and ressentiment through humanitarian policy p 255 256America long ago switched allegiance with the One True God to The State and the American church in the guise of being subject to the governing authorities Romans 131 is in danger of the same apostasy So what happens to a nation whose God is not the Lord Schlossberg argues that one of the clearest manifestations of God s judgment is a decline in wealth moral and monetary Christianity has built moral capital that we ve suandered and upon which we are now living Once this reserve has been used up a range of horrors will be unleashed upon a people This is the civilizational collapse the long prophesied lapse into barbarism One only has to read the Old Testament to be reminded of these scenarios Recall Gideon threshing wheat in his winepress hiding from the Midianites and Amalekites so as to avoid being plundered by these foreign armies Judges 6 Ben Hadad s Siege of Samaria in 2 Kings 6 was appallingly brutal people resorted to eating dung and even human flesh The Israelites in 2 Kings 17 burned their sons and their daughters as offerings and used divination and omens and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD provoking him to anger These are the sort of judgments levied upon idolatrous nations in the Bible Our own national history records analogous judgments the Civil War in particular was a time of savagery famine mutilation destitution rape and pillage The Bible teaches that these things are judgments from God where guilty and innocent are caught up together in the judgment of God Schlossberg has much to say than can be summarized in such a brief review But Schlossberg is clear The practice of idolatry has serious conseuences which the prophets of Israel identified as oppression injustice and bloodshed p 262 But as CS Lewis writes Perhaps civilization will never be safe until we care for something else than we care for it

Download å PDF, eBook or Kindle ePUB free Á Herbert Schlossberg

Ture war ' Herb Schlossberg penned an acute description of the crisis of virtue that is the domestic issue of the 1990s His diagnosis remains essential reading for everyone who believes that self governing republic reuires self governing and morally serious citizens George Weigel President Ethics and Public Policy CenterThorough provocative and especially penetrating If you want to think Christianly about culture Idols for Destruction is must reading John H White President Geneva Colle. Fantastic work by Schlossberg Sets forth the situation clearly and leaves us with only one response Schlossberg correctly identified the problems with American society back in the 80s and his thoughts are relevant even now 30 years later A must read for anyone looking to build a Christian culture The Prince of Pleasure (The Wilde Brothers, years later A must read for anyone looking to build a Christian culture

Herbert Schlossberg Á 5 review

; a stimulating contribution Carl F H HenryThis book has become a vade mecum for thousands of Christians who understand the cultural disaster of our time and are determined to do something about it Richard John Neuhaus Editor in chief First ThingsNow that Francis Schaeffer is no longer with us Schlossberg is just about the most provocative Christian thinker around Harold O J Brown Professor of Theology Trinity Evangelical Divinity SchoolYears before anyone talked about an American 'cul. An absolute must read

10 thoughts on “Idols for Destruction The Conflict of Christian Faith and American Culture

  1. says:

    Superb I don't read a lot of books than once but this is one of them Read the first time in September of 1983

  2. says:

    A brief review of this book is certain to fail in capturing the brilliance of this book I suspect that outside of the Bible this boo

  3. says:

    Since the beginning of time a battle has been steadily raging having as its object the complete control and sovereignty over the mind of mankind This conflict is over the most important uestion of man’s existence who or what is god? Who holds the ultimate authority and who establishes the standards that guide my conduct? The roots of this conflict are found in the Garden of Eden where the first man and woman succumb

  4. says:

    Marvin Olasky puts it in his top 5 books on Christian politics along with Augustine's City of God Foxe's Acts and Monuments The Fede

  5. says:

    An absolute must read

  6. says:

    This book was not the easiest to read nor fun but necessary This book challenged my presuppositions and yet after reading I felt I grasped about a tenth of what he was getting at I have re read sections throughout the years because it is a book that has a lot of depth to it Enjoy at your own risk The author shows the dest

  7. says:

    This is an impressive book with comprehensive historical research and creative application to American culture It presents a powerful critiue of secular humanism and all related attachmentsSchlossberg approaches culture politics and economics with solid biblical presuppositions which is why the theme of idolat

  8. says:

    Fantastic work by Schlossberg Sets forth the situation clearly and leaves us with only one response Schlossberg correctly identified the problems with American society back in the 80s and his thoughts are relevant even now 30 years later A must read for anyone looking to build a Christian culture

  9. says:

    This book is something of a in depth version of Nancy Pearcey's Total Truth I recommend this book to any Christian seeking to look past the idols that have been erected in our society and see the truth of Christ

  10. says:

    Excellent critiue of culture through lens of first commandment

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