Book Review – Idols of the Heart
I read a lot of books . . . and by a lot I mean about 70 to 80 books a year. So what I’m about to say comes from many years of immersing myself in all sort of books (almost exclusively non-fiction). Every once in a while a book comes a long that captures my attention in the first chapter. These are rare gems. Even rarer are the scarce books that accomplish this same effect in the introduction. Idols of the Heart distinguishes itself as the only book I have read that has gripped my heart before I ever made it to the introduction. In her Note for the Second Edition, Fitzpatrick expressed the cry of my heart with these simple words,
He knows my weakness: the weakness of my love, the weakness of my mind, the weakness of my determination to love Him more than all else. And yet he loves me because of the work His Son has done for me in justifying me and calling me beautiful . . . even though I fall so far short of His perfect standard, embodied in His law as expressed in the Ten Commandments.
This is what motivates me to live want to live a life worthy of Christ. This is what drives the desire within me that cries out with the hymn writer, “Search all my thoughts, the secret springs, the motives that control the chambers where polluted things hold empire o’er my soul” (Frank Bottome, 1823-1894, Search Me O God, My Actions Try).
By re-releasing Idols of the Heart, Elyse Fitzpatrick has taken a good book written fifteen years ago and made it a great book by infusing it with more of the gospel. When you take any topic . . anything, and add more of God’s grace toward sinners, it instantly becomes phenomenal. . . and that is what this book is. It’s phenomenal!
Elyse Fitzpatrick’s purpose in writing this book is to cause the reader to come face to face with their idols and forsake them for the love and glory of God. A God who is merciful and who has purchase a people for Himself by placing their (our) vile sin upon the back of His Son in exchange for His perfect law-keeping record. Confronting these idols however can only be done when the reader realizes that he is in desperate need of a foreign righteousness that has fulfilled all of the law’s demands. It is in understanding that need, that the reader can then begin to identify (with the help of God) the motives that control the hidden chambers of his heart where those hideous and wretched idols camp out. It is here that Fitzpatrick is most helpful.
Using examples of people from scripture, Fitzpatrick carefully unpacks their experience to demonstrate that they were much like we are. They have many of the same fears, inordinate loves, and sins that cling so closely to us. After retelling their experiences, she moves on to identifying the idol that captured the affections of their heart. She does this with a precision and depth of insight which comes from her experience as a Biblical Counselor. She then turns the reader to Christ in order to see that our only hope is found in the one whom we have so carelessly sinned against. Time and time again, with each chapter, Fitzpatrick revealed to me areas in my life that are in serious need of a profound and scandalous grace.
I am very grateful for this book. In the short time that I spent with it, God used it time and time again to first reflect His perfect righteousness to me and then to reflect my sinfulness to me. It reminded me once again to “implore the help of grace” as Augustine puts it, and then to drive me back to the cross for that grace.
This is a book that you are going to want to pick up as soon as possible and read a couple times this year. It is also a book that you will want to order a few extra copies of to give away to those who are mourning their sin and want to understand the root cause of their habitual sin so that they can have victory through the glorious gospel of Christ.
If you would like to order a copy of Idols of the Heart you can find it on Amazon by clicking on this link.
P&R Publishers also provides this free Study Guide to Idols of the Heart
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from P&R Publishing in exchange for an online review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
About the Author
Elyse Fitzpatrick counsels with the Institute for Biblical Counseling and Discipleship and is a frequent retreat and conference speaker. Fitzpatrick coauthored Women Helping Women, a 1998 Gold Medallion finalist; Love to Eat, Hate to Eat; Overcoming Fear, Worry, and Anxiety; and Uncommon Vessels: A Program for Developing Godly Eating Habits. She and her husband, Philip, have three adult children and two grandchildren.
- Book Review – Vindicating the Vixens by Sandra Glahn - February 8, 2018
- Book Review – Leaving Mormonism: Why Four Scholars Changed Their Minds by Corey Miller & Lynn K. Wilder - December 2, 2017
- Book Review – Marriage God’s Way by Scott LaPierre - November 17, 2017