Andy Crouch on Power, Idolatry and Justice

Link to the video.


  • Expand your functional Bible to include the beginning and the end. Story begins in the good world of Gen 1 and extends into the glory of a remade world in the new earth.
  • Is there a good news story about power that does justice to the catastrophe of Genesis 3?
  • Creation is in the jussive power. The best grammatical mood for power is not the imperative, but the jussive. For of the verb used for prayer, invitation, “let there be”. It calls being into being. 
  • 1. Power is for flourishing. Power is given so that more and more being would abound. Everything might be everything it could be or become. Even when God uses coercive power he does so to create room for more flourishing. Even force is used for flourishing. The test of power is flourishing.
  • Who is flourishing because you have power.
  • God entrusts the flourishing of the world to imagebearers. Be (imp) fruitful and multiply so that everywhere my image bearers go there will be flourishing.
  • We are, of all God’s creatures the most vulnerable. We require a garden. We are the only creature of whom it can be say “are naked”. We are naked, yet we have everything we need to till, and keep and tend the world.
  • 2. We misuse our power to make idols. To deal with our vulnerability, we misuse our power. The deepest corruption of power is not violence, it’s misplaced creativity. The Biblical word for this is idolatry.
  • Idols are the result of human creativity misapplied to human vulnerability. We are the only creatures that make images of God that are not true to God.
  • Our idols make two promises to us:
  • 1. You shall not surely die. You shall not have to be contingent and vulnerable to another for your life.
  • 2. You shall be like God. Every idol promises to elevate us from our meek image bearing into what we imagine will be like God, and it will be cheap and fast. Idols promise to do this cheaply and quickly.
  • the reality of idolatry is that they work AT FIRST. They initially deliver a delicious experience of escaping from our contingency and dependence into an experience of what we imagine to be God-like power and control. But idols don’t continue to work.
  • They promise everything and demand nothing at first, until as they develop they eventually demand everything and deliver almost nothing.
  • 3. Those who make idols, become like them. 
  • If the Biblical name to make false gods is idolatry, the Biblical name for play a false god is injustice. That is why the Hebrew prophets never separate idolatry from injustice.
  • Jayakumar Christian, head of World Vision in India, when you see poverty you need to understand that poverty is playing God in the life of someone else. The image of God is lost both in the exaggerated power of the idol making injustice doer and the eradicated image in the poor. The world meant to be full of true images, is full of false images.
  • Steve Jobs. No one exemplified image bearing jussive creativity more than Steve Jobs (says Andy Crouch). Steve Jobs who was an image bearer also had an idol, which wasn’t technology, but was literally an apple. Steve Jobs had an idol and it was food. He had a series of eating disorders. He discovered that by embracing extreme diets that initially gave him a sense of god-like control and exhilaration. He became more and more dependent upon his eating disorders. Received a diagnosis of a curable cancer he refused surgery, refused to cede control and submit to the opinions of others and tried to treat his cancer with outlandish diets. The idol that Steve Jobs served robbed him of life, us of a culture maker, his children of a father. Idols tell us you shall not surely die, you shall be like God.
  • This is all of our temptation and nowhere more than Washington DC. I was having a conversation with a very powerful person. Had a wonderful breakfast, and went home in a fog of fatigue, and was unavailable to many important people. That little taste of power. “You shall not surely have to sleep!”
  • Do we believe that we are enough in our image bearing. Do we believe we can be agents of image bearing and flourishing without making or becoming idols. This is the question of power and the Biblical answer is yes.
  • The jussive is not just the mood of creation, it’s the mood of prayer. The Biblical story hinges on an image bearer who says “let it be” The virgin Mary. Let it be in us, according to your word.

About PaulVK

Husband, Father of 5, Pastor
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3 Responses to Andy Crouch on Power, Idolatry and Justice

  1. Pingback: Dropping the Idols and Not Letting Go Until He Blesses You |

  2. Pingback: Clean Narratives and the Rape of Dinah |

  3. Pingback: The God Pharaoh Should Have Been |

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