Book Review: Counterfeit Gods

“Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters” by Timothy Keller

As with Keller’s previous two books, this one is very good. In fact, it may be his best yet, which is high praise from a big-time Keller fan like me!

In “Counterfeit Gods”, Keller delivers a timely message regarding idolatry in our culture, and in our own lives. He very quickly dispels the common image of an idol as a carved statue that is literally worshiped (though this does still happen and he does address it). Instead, he writes that most idols are, in fact, good things, such as spouses and children. The problem comes when we take a “good thing” and elevate it to an “ultimate thing”, giving it a higher place in our lives than God.

Keller devotes a chapter each to different categories of personal idols (Love/Sex, Money/Greed, Success, and Power/Control) and their modern manifestations. Next he explores “the hidden idols in our lives”. These are the idols of our culture and society (profit, politics, religion, etc). Finally, he digs even deeper to expose what he calls “deep idols”, which are the underlying motivations that drive our “surface idols”, and which are harder to uncover. For instance, a woman with a “deep idol” of approval may eliminate the “surface idol” of a succession of abusive relationships, only to seek approval through the clothes she wears. Rather than simply removing idols, then, we must replace them by giving God the glory He is due, making Him our highest object of praise and acknowledging Him as the fulfillment of every longing.

Keller’s points are illustrated through the Biblical examples of Jonah, Nebuchadnezzer, Jacob, and several others. Because he is a master story-teller, Keller is able to write an engaging and convicting book that allows us to see these idols from an external perspective while simultaneously keeping our focus on the idols in our own lives.

Highly recommended! Buy it here.

One comment on “Book Review: Counterfeit Gods

  1. […] book by its own merit, but I was especially thankful to have read it just a week after reading “Counterfeit Gods”. The books deal with the same subject (and are even structured quite similarly), but from a very […]

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