Idols of the Heart (Publication)

Idols of the Heart: Publication

By. Marianne Castillo

I. Overview

Idols of the Heart: Learning to Long for God Alone is a Christian book written by Elyse Fitzpatrick. On the back of the book Elyse Fitzpatrick says that she writes Idols of the Heart for the many people who “desired to live godly lives but feel trapped in habitual sin. This book reveals that at the heart of every besetting sin lies idolatry”. [1] The chapters focus on revealing what the reader loves and worships. [2] Idols of the heart helps readers identify the false gods in their hearts, thoughts, and affections. [3] Each chapter ends with hope, that “God changes hearts”. [4] Idols of the Heart teaches the reader God is the answer to being free from false Idols.

On the back of the book two authors and one pastor have expressed their recommendations/opinions of the book Idols of the Heart:

Martha Peace says “With great clarity and intriguing biblical illustrations, Fitzpatrick explains how idols in our hearts compete without affection for God. In a gentle way, she tells how by God’s grace to turn from your idols to whole-hearted love for God”. [5]

David Powlison, “ Demonstrates how ‘false gods’ generate the garden- variety sins of irritability, self- pity, escapism, and anxiety, as well as anger, despair, addictions, and panic. Fitzpatrick shows how Jesus Christ retakes our lives from these idols, setting up his reign over our attention, loyalty, and affection”. [6]

Dr. Ed Bulkley says, “If you are struggling with desires, addictions, and harmful behaviors that seem too strong to overcome, perhaps you are worshipping an idol of the heart. Fitzpatrick explains what those idols might be and how to deal with them in a biblical way. Idols of the Heart I not just another self-help manual”. [7]

Idols of the Heart begins with a dedication to Elyse Fitzpatrick’s husband that reads “To Phil his steadfast love and patience: It’s because you laid down you life day after day that I was able you do this”. [8] Then follows the table of contents that show where to find the: List of illustrations, acknowledgements, introductions, chapters 1-12, appendix A-C, notes, and an index of scripture. [9] Each chapter has a consistent structure of a title, a verse that corresponds to the content of the chapter, a monologue that relates to the chapter, as well as 1-7 “further thought questions” at the end of the Chapter. The further thought questions encourage the readers to open up their bibles, read a passage of scripture, self examine ones heart, and spend time in prayer asking the Lord to help them grow in what they have read.

The Notes and Index of Scripture are resources that Idols of the Heart contain in the back of the book. The notes section clearly list the resources in each chapter that Elyse Fitzpatrick uses. [10]  The Index of Scripture are all the verses that Elyse Fitzpatrick refers to in Idols of the Heart. [11] These two resources are useful to the reader who would like to do further reading.


II. History & Impact

Idols of the Heart was published 2001 in Phillipsburg and New Jersey by P&R Publishing. [12] Idols of the heart is Elyse Fitzpatrick’s second book written in 2001 and her fifth book out of twenty-three. Elyse Fitzpatrick acknowledges many people for helping her and inspiring her to write Idols of the Heart. George Scipione for training her; Dave Powlison who took the time to guide her thinking about idolatry; Pastor Dave Eby for his sermon note that Elyse Fitzpatrick used throughout Idols of the Heart. The Evangelical Bible Book store employees who suggested her books for resources, close friends that supported her; as well as her mother who not only supported her but did some grammatical editing. Elyse Fitzpatrick last thank you went out to “Barbara Lerch at P&R, who believed that it is time for reformed woman to be heard on this topic”. [13]

Idols of the Heart is impactful to women and men all over. Goodreads have three full pages of positive reviews from men and women.

Amanda gave four stars on October 27, 2014 leaving a comment that reads “This is a really good book, convicting me about the idols in my life and helping to change my thinking and therefore actions to worship God better”. [14]

Ian with four stars on February 6, 2016 says “I highly recommend his book. Each chapter ends with ‘Further Thought Questions’ which help you digest the content and apply it to yourself”. [15]

Melanie Gurnette left a five star review on February 4, 2014 saying “I have learned a lot about how I have been worshipping my heavenly father, and how quite frankly it has been lacking. I am thankful to writes like Fitzpatrick who bring understanding and action to the scripture I have read my whole life’. [16]

Greg Froster, a writer for one of the articles in CrossWay, believes that books are primary. He explains that books allow readers to view someone else’s perspective/ experience on the world. Grey Froster says “This is what gives books their profound and mysterious power”. [17] John Piper believes that Christian writers are influential. He expresses that a way loving people is by influencing them. Idols of the Heart is an impactful Christian book. John Piper says, “You should be writing in such a way as to make God look better than anything else in the world, to make the path of sin look worse than anything else in the world, and to make the path of righteousness look beautiful in spite of all the difficulties that the path of obedience might bring.” [18] In Idols of the Heart Elyse Fitzpatrick makes the sin of idolatry look evil and encourages her readers to know that the Lord will “develop whole hearted love and devotion in you- all for His glory and praise!” [19]


III. Works/Publications


IV. Bibliography

Fitzpatrick, Elyse. Idols of the Heart: Learning to Long for God Alone, New Jersey: P&R Publishing, 2001.

Froster, Gregg. The Importance of Books in Christian History. Article. USA: Crossway, 2019.

“Idols of the Heart: Learning to Long for God Alone by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick.” Goodreads, Goodreads, 1 Jan. 2002,

Piper, John. How Important is a Christian Writer’s Influence? Interview. Desiring God, 2013.


[1] Elyse Fitzpatrick. Idols of the Heart: Learning to Long for God Alone (New Jersey: P&R Publishing, 2001), 241

[2] Ibid, 16

[3 Ibid

[4] Ibid, 17

[5] Ibid, 241

[6] Ibid

[7] Ibid

[8] Ibid, 5

[9] Ibid, 7

[10] Ibid 217

[11] Ibid, 233

[12] Ibid, 4

[13] Ibid, 11

[14] “Idols of the Heart: Learning to Long for God Alone by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick.” (Goodreads, 1 Jan. 2002)

[15] Ibid

[16] Ibid

[17] Gregg Froster. The Importance of Books in Christian History (Article. USA: Crossway, 2019)

[18] John Piper. How Important is a Christian Writer’s Influence? (Interview. Desiring God, 2013)

[19] Elyse Fitzpatrick. Idols of the Heart: Learning to Long for God Alone (New Jersey: P&R Publishing, 2001), 18