Thursday, November 29, 2012


I don’t have the verbatim words, but I was listening to a Tim Keller talk from a conference and he made this important point about idols and culture while speaking on Acts 19.  To give you a little context.  In Acts 19, Paul is in Ephesus, a rather important commercial city of the Ancient World.  

A city best known for the Temple of Artemis, which was one of Seven Wonders of the World.  The temple and the fervor that surrounded it drove both a tourist and religious economy that was highly profitable for the city's businessmen.  Paul's message obviously was not jiving with Artemis' deity and the legitimacy of this temple.  So with that, a paraphrase:

In Acts 17 we see the Ephesian business community get so upset at the Christians that they have a riot.  This is presumably because the existence of Christians in Ephesus was bad for their business prospects.  The city's Christians were confronting idolatry and the city of Ephesus had thrived on selling idols and drawing visitors to see these idols. 
In 2010, 34% of Americans statistically would say they have had a born-again experience.  I don’t know this for sure, but I think it is very safe to presume that the percentage of the population that claimed it was Christian in Ephesus was nowhere even approaching 34%. 
So, why would a small group in Ephesus create such uproar, yet a large group can exist without incident in America alongside a culture that idolizes money, power, education, and control?  Further, how can it exist when this idolatry creates pervasive injustice?  
And how can Christians' lives be marked by the same idolatries as the culture at large while adding on idols of family, morality, theology, and religiosity?
It is because confronting idols is challenging.  In Ephesus, the confrontation of idols led to a riot.  In America, we just chose to not confront them.