We Become What We Worship: A Biblical Theology of Idolatry, By G. K. Beale

We Become What We Worship

A Biblical Theology of Idolatry

by G. K. Beale

We Become What We Worship
  • Length: 341 pages
  • Dimensions: 6 × 9 in
  • Published: October 08, 2008
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: 2877
  • ISBN: 9780830828777

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The heart of the biblical understanding of idolatry, argues Gregory Beale, is that we take on the characteristics of what we worship.

Employing Isaiah 6 as his interpretive lens, Beale demonstrates that this understanding of idolatry permeates the whole canon, from Genesis to Revelation. Beale concludes with an application of the biblical notion of idolatry to the challenges of contemporary life.

"This profoundly insightful study of idolatry brings into the spotlight a topic of exceptional significance. Illuminating a wide range of biblical passages, Professor Beale skillfully elucidates the life-defining and transforming nature of worship, both true and false. Everyone who reads this book will be deeply challenged to reflect afresh upon the way in which what we revere shapes not only our present lives but also our future destinies."

T. Desmond Alexander, Union Theological College, Belfast

"Nothing else comes even close to this authoritative analysis of the destroying power of idolatry and its comparison to the renewing power of true worship of the one real God. Beale's relentlessly thorough coverage of the biblical material, using a purposely maximalist approach, gives the reader a close look at every possible reference to relevant passages, no matter how obscure or tangential, so that no stone is left unturned in demonstrating how idolatry--ancient or modern--ruins people's lives. Any biblical preacher or teacher would benefit from this book."

Douglas Stuart, professor of Old Testament, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

"This stimulating and in-depth study on idolatry is vintage Greg Beale. Beale argues that we become like the idols we worship, and he makes his case through a careful intertextual study of the Scriptures. Insights abound as Beale unfolds the biblical text. We are reminded afresh that idolatry is the root sin, and that it is so heinous because it robs God of the glory and praise and honor that he alone deserves."

Thomas R. Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

"This is an original, brilliant and most satisfying treatment of a theme central to biblical understanding, but often misunderstood or ignored in the modern church. This book requires careful study but it repays far more than it requires."

David F. Wells, Andrew Mutch Distinguished Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

"We Become What We Worship is biblical theology at its best, weaving together Old and New Testament texts into a unified message. Beale's work is original yet traditional, profound yet simple, exegetical yet 'hyperexegetical,' sometimes provocative yet always profitable, for the scholar yet for every serious Christian. His message that we resemble what we revere, either for ruin or for restoration, is convincing and convicting."

Bruce Waltke, professor of Old Testament, Reformed Theological Seminary

"This thoughtful examination of a surprisingly significant biblical theme will richly reward all who read it. . . . It offers that rare combination of careful, insightful exegesis and perceptive application from which not only biblical scholars but all Christians can benefit."

Frank Thielman, Presbyterian Professor of Divinity, Beeson Divinity School

"This stimulating and challenging book will make readers think."

Linden D. McLaughlin, Bibliotheca Sacra, October-December 2010

"Beale's work--a masterful exercise in biblical theology--is compelling. The book is weighty, but accessible, and Beale's tone is irenic throughout."

Gary A. Parrett, Interpretations, July 2010

"An excellent example of how to build a theological conviction in light of detailed work in biblical texts in their original languages."

Chris Keith, The Expository Times, February 2010

"A good example of sound evangelical scholarship. . .A solid discussion of one aspect of idolatry in the Christian Bible."

L. S. Tiemeyer, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, 33.5, 2009

"Preachers, students, and teachers will find in this exciting book not only original ideas, but also food for thought about the relevance of intertextuality for biblical theology."

Matthieu Richelle, Themelios, 2009

"As a heavy-weight contribution to this field of research the book is to be commended as a thoughtful, important and impressive piece of work."

Marcus Nodder, Now Reviews, May 2009

". . .for the interested Christian lay-person, it provides a solid discussion of one aspect of idolatry in the Christian Bible."

L. S. Tiemeyer, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, 33.5 2009

"If you're studying the subject of worshipping anything that is a substitute for God, you'll surely want to obtain this volume."

The Baptist Bulletin, March/April 2009

"Think of this book as a thorough resource to use for your sermons, a textbook on idolatry, and a voice of wisdom that is not afraid to call into question the worship of the Church. Worship leaders, pastors, and small group leaders alike will have more than enough in this resource to use for weeks on end; and with a topic talked about this much in Scripture, this is exactly what we need."

Worship Leader, March/April 2009

"Greg Beale has turned out yet another masterpiece of biblical theology and intertextual exegesis. Beale is a master at letting Scripture interpret Scripture."

Green Baggins (greenbaggins.wordpress.com), February 2, 2009

"Beale argues that humans are 'imagining' beings, necessarily reflecting one image or another, and do it becomes crucial to determine who or what we are reflecting and to whom or what we are becoming conformed. Having established this thesis, Beale spends most of the book supporting it by demonstrating how the Bible presents this argument. I found a lot of Beale's initial Old Testament exgesis to be fascinating."

On Journeying with those in Exile (poserorprohet.wordpress.com), January 1, 2009

"I highly recommend that pastors consult this book whenever they are preparing to preach on one of the texts that Beale exposits. We Become What We Worship is a terrific resource that shines light on many passages of Scripture."

Trevin Wax, Discerning Reader (discerningreader.com), December 23, 2008


1. Introduction
2. A Foundational Example of Becoming Like What We Worship: Isaiah 6
3. Becoming Like What We Worship: Evidence Elsewhere in the Old Testament
4. The Origin of Idolatry in the Old Testament
5. Becoming Like What We Worship: Judaism
6. Becoming Like What We Worship: The Gospels
7. Idolatry in Acts
8. Becoming Like What We Worship: Paul's Epistles
9. Becoming Like What We Worship: The Book of Revelation
10. The Reversal from Reflecting the Image of Idols to Reflecting God's Image
11. Conclusion: So What Difference Does It Make?
Author Index
Index of Ancient Sources
Scripture Index


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G. K. Beale

G. K. Beale (PhD, Cambridge) is professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary (Dallas, Texas). He has published many books, including The Temple and the Church's Mission, We Become What We Worship, Handbook on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, and commentaries on 1-2 Thessalonians and Revelation.