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When Christianity Becomes Idolatry

I am standing in front of a church congregation with a microphone in-hand. The pastor had asked me to give a short testimony about when I came to the church and what was going on in my life at the time. Here’s, essentially, what I said: 

I came to the church during a confusing time in my life. I was struggling with theological and philosophical ideas, and there were some people in the church who understood my questions and helped straighten me out. 

Recollections of Idolatry

Fast-forward about five years. I am on a stroll with my wife through a park on a sunny spring day. Out of nowhere, I get a revelation. That little speech in front of the church all those years ago was idolatry.  


The backstory to that mini-testimony is that a couple years prior, I’d come out of a rebellious, sinful time of my life. I’d gotten “straightened out,” but I had never truly faced my sin before my Savior. Instead, I’d accepted the counterfeit of deep theological study. I’d fallen for the subtle lie that knowledge of good Christian theology served as my justification.

All I’d done was exchange the truth for a lie and served created things for the Creator God (Rm. 1:25). I’d taken a good gift from God and used it for my own purposes of looking good in front of others. If I were to infuse some truth serum into that speech, it would sound a little more like this, “Hi, I am guilt-ridden over some past sin but I’ve pridefully never really faced the fact that my sin is treason against God. So rather than call it sin, I’ll just say I’ve been trying to crack a ‘theological problem’ so you’ll think I’m smart.”

When Christianity Becomes Idolatry

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mattjohnson@churchleaders.com'
Matt Johnson is a pastor at Mars Hill Church and publication manager for Re:lit and Resurgence. He also serves as a leader in Mars Hill's Redemption groups. Throughout the 90s and the early part of the decade, Matt was a traveling musician. Matt met his wife, Rose, at Mars Hill in '97 and they served in music ministry together for over 10 years. In recent years Matt has written music criticism for Paste Magazine, Three Imaginary Girls, Seattle Sound, and Bandoppler. Matt and Rose got married in 2001 and they have two young daughters.