Editor’s note: We reviewed this book in the original title in 1999. With this new edition and title we felt that it would be important to call it to your attention. There will be only minor changes to the original review.
Breaking the Idols of Your Heart is a unique approach to an important Bible book. We want to encourage our readers to read and study Ecclesiastes. It is a world and life view book that enables us to understand the importance of a biblically Reformed world view and how to distinguish non-Christian thinking “under the sun,” to Christian thinking “above the sun.”
This book possesses high quality, depth, and practicality, as do Allender and Longman’s other writings. I am impressed with its sound biblical approach, its contemporary handling of Scripture, and its faithfulness in interpreting and applying the Word. Both writers have unusual insights into the postmodern mind because of their sound biblical and theological ability to bring the Scripture to bear on our setting.
Breaking the Idols of Your Heart has a message for each of the generations in our culture, but especially for the busters (and the younger boomers and older millennials who border each end of the buster generation). We have seen the younger generations, especially since the 1960s, chase one thing after another to try to bring meaning to very frustrated, confused, and lonely lives. They chase after power and control, but come up empty. They chase after relationships, but are not satisfied. They chase after pleasure, but find meaninglessness. They chase after spirituality (as the younger generation is definitely doing),and finally after immortality. The problem is that chasing after these things is like chasing after the wind. “Hey, that sounds familiar,” you say. Indeed, it is the message of Ecclesiastes.
Breaking the Idols of Your Heart is actually a topical study of Ecclesiastes set in a contemporary narrative. Noah Adamson, the main character, is a young businessman who is chasing after the wrong things to find meaning and to deal with problems that have followed him into adulthood. His wife, Joan, while more passive, is also searching for meaning. Though they profess to be Christians their lives are generally empty because they are pursuing things that cannot fulfill. Through each episode in the book, the reader will identify with the feelings and experiences of the characters.
Like Acts 17 in the New Testament, Ecclesiastes is one of the most contemporary books in the Bible. Pagans are not the only ones who seek meaning through vain pursuits; Christians fall into the same trap. We chase after relationships and find that, while we are relational, relationships wrongly sought after leave us empty. God intends us to exercise self-control, but trying to be in total control doesn’t satisfy either. He made us to work, but work motivated by envy becomes an idol and also leaves us unfulfilled. The message of Ecclesiastes, illustrated so powerfully in this book, speaks to good and necessary things in life that can actually cause us deep emptiness and meaninglessness when we elevate them above their rightful place. Today, few people-even Christians-understand how to keep things in their rightful place.
Breaking the Idols of Your Heart helps us see that if we replace God’s purpose with any other purpose we will not be satisfied. The only way to experience meaning and fulfillment is to seek a life with God through Jesus Christ at the center. The message of Ecclesiastes and consequently Breaking the Idols of Your Heart is that we can live “under the sun” with a sinfully shortsighted perspective, or we can live “above the sun” and see how God is the answer to all that we long for in life. This book reminds us of the reality that St. Augustine expressed: our hearts are restless until they find rest in God. I am intrigued by the authors’ development of that message and challenged to work out a strategy to teach this to rising generations.
Buy, read, discuss, and teach this book. Follow carefully the development of a Christian mind with a world and life view perspective and you will be blessed far beyond your expectations.