Title: Counterfeit Gods
Author: Timothy Keller
In recent years Tim Keller, the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian in New York City, has become quite a prolific author. And his latest offering may be his most important book yet.
Counterfeit Gods explores the empty promises by the idols found in the human heart—sex, money, power, pride—and our only hope of experiencing true satisfaction and fulfillment in the gospel.
“[An idol] is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give,” writes Keller (p. xvii). It’s a broad definition, but fitting. As Keller rightly says, “Anything in life can serve as an idol, a God-alternative, a counterfeit god” (p. xvi).
It’s easy for us to think about idols as being statues in a temple somewhere “over there” (wherever that is). But if it’s true that anything can be an idol, it’s not nearly so simple. “The biblical concept of idolatry is an extremely sophisticated idea, integrating intellectual, psychological, social, cultural, and spiritual categories.” (p. xix). Romantic love, sex, physical beauty, moral virtue, intellectual ideologies, profit, self-expression… “There are idols everywhere” (p. xxi).
They are the things we love, trust and obey, even at the expense of our relationship with Jesus. “Idols dominate our lives,” says Keller.
Throughout the book, Keller illustrates the insidiousness of idolatry through the biblical accounts of Abraham, Jacob, Zacchaeus, Naaman, Nebudchadnezzar and Jonah. The lives of each show us a pattern of idolatry: For Abraham, his son Isaac had the potential to be a powerful idol; for Jacob, his grandson, it was love as illustrated by his obsession with Rachel and behavior reminiscent of an addict. For Zacchaeus, it was money. For Naaman, success; Nebudchadnezzar, glory & power. And Jonah—well, his idols were perhaps the most complex of all. [Read more…]