Indeed, Gods at War: Defeating the Idols that Battle for Your Heart, written by a teaching pastor, reads like a sermon series, and a quality one at that. Idleman opens up the book by explaining that idolatry, far from being an obsolete sin, is really the root cause of many surface sins. It’s a root cause because, for Idleman, idolatry is all about misplaced worship and disordered loves. In combating idolatry, the battle for our heart is one or lost.
After a few introductory chapter Idleman looks at a series of “gods” which battle for our hearts – modern day examples of idolatry. In three sections (the temple of pleasure, the temple of power, and the temple of love) he works through issues such as “the god of food”, “the god of money”, and “the god of family.” He concludes with the chapter “the god of me” where he contends that at the root of all of the other idols is the desire for us to be our own gods.
Each chapter concludes with a series of “diagnostic questions” to help the reader determine where they might be susceptible to false worship. For instance, concluding the chapter “the god of success” Idleman asks “What’s your operating definition for success? What goals… chart your course?” In light of the chapter, these are probing questions. They also make the book ideal for group study.
Idolatry is a big issue in the bible and it can be difficult to know how to apply commands against idolatry to modern day life. Idleman does a good job of bringing out some key applications. After reading the book in its entirety I would like to read a more scholarly approach to the same topic. How legitimate is the connection between commands against Old Testament idolatry and modern day vices? I still feel like there are some unanswered questions at this level. However, I was unable to find fault with Idleman’s applications. On the whole, his book answered more questions than it raised.
I intend to use this book for group study with our church’s youth group. It is written for adults but the ideas are relatively basic and fundamental. The ideas of the book get to the heart, rather, to our hearts. There is a battle raging for our hearts. It might be easier, sometimes, to deal with surface issues, but it is necessary to allow God to search our hearts and to cleanse us from within.