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Culturally transforming as well as biblically based, 'Counterfeit Gods' is a powerful look at the temptation to worship what can only disappoint, and is a vital message in today's current climate of financial and social difficulty....

Title : Counterfeit Gods: When the Empty Promises of Love, Money and Power Let You Down
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ISBN : 9780340995082
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 210 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Counterfeit Gods: When the Empty Promises of Love, Money and Power Let You Down Reviews

  • Rachel
    2019-02-27 05:44

    Hard hitting, and grace-filled, this book was a perfect book to set the tone for 2017! Here are a few of the gems I found: “An idol is something that we look to for things that only God can give. If we look to some created thing to give us the meaning, hope, and happiness that only God himself can give, it will eventually fail to deliver and break our hearts. To practice idolatry is to be a slave.” 
“God saw Abraham’s sacrifice and said, “Now I know that you love me, because you did not withhold your only son from me.” But how much more can we look at his sacrifice on the Cross, and say to God, “Now, we know that you love us. For you did not withhold your son, your only son, whom you love, from us.” When the magnitude of what he did dawns on us, it makes it possible finally to rest our hearts in him rather than in anything else.” “If you marry someone expecting them to be like a god, it is only inevitable that they will disappoint you. It's not that you should try to love your spouse less, but rather that you should know and love God more.” “Fear-based repentance makes us hate ourselves. Joy-based repentance makes us hate the sin.” “Idolatry functions widely inside religious communities when doctrinal truth is elevated to the position of a false god. This occurs when people rely on the rightness of their doctrine for their standing with God rather than on God himself and his grace. It is a subtle but deadly mistake… Making an idol out of doctrinal accuracy, ministry success, or moral rectitude leads to constant internal conflict, arrogance and self-righteousness, and oppression of those whose views differ.” 


  • Gene Helsel
    2019-03-20 01:08

    Tim Keller does an excellent job of exposing the idols of money, sex and power and the many various forms that they take today. The first chapter alone is worth twice what I paid for the book. Keller is an able expositor and pastoral "applier" of God's Word. For the majority of this book Keller is very careful to draw his insights and applications directly *out of* the biblical narratives (exegesis.) But a few times he falls prey to the preacher's ever-present temptation of "eisegesis" (reading *into* the text.) A couple of examples will suffice:- According to Keller, Jacob was an ancient-day "sex-addict" and infatuated with Rachel for almost entirely unbiblical reasons.- According to Keller, one of the reasons that Jonah didn't want to go to Nineveh was that he was afraid of ministerial failure.Unfortunately, Keller's take on Jacob significantly mars the typeoloy of Jacob as a Christ-figure and the intensity of his love for his bride (the Church.) And although "fear of ministerial failure" is indeed an idol to be reckoned with, the Bible clearly teaches that Jonah's greatest fear was "ministerial success" in Nineveh.On the whole I heartily agree with Keller's pastoral conclusions and applications, even when I don't agree with how he arrived at them.Conclusio: Buy this book. Read it. Forsake the idols it reveals and cling to Jesus as the only one worthy of your adoration and trust.

  • Jeffrey Thomas
    2019-03-16 00:54

    This has to be my favorite Timothy Keller book that I've read to date, and easily one of my all time favorites! The ways in which he unpacks numerous of the idols and counterfeit gods that rule our lives through the use of real life stories as well as examples in Scripture reveals the real heart of the issue with each of those. The end of each chapter also does an awesome job of relating each of those idols to Jesus, showing how He is always the thing we need in those unique spaces in our hearts. The idols cannot simply be removed, they must be replaced and only Jesus truly fulfills.

  • John Gardner
    2019-02-26 02:05

    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.

  • Luke
    2019-03-22 06:00

    Keller speaks on idolatry, and the power that this sin commands in a world obsessed with materialism, selfish gain, celebrity and greed. Essentially, idolatry is at the root of all sin, as we choose to worship something more than God - to put something ahead of God. Keller makes his point (idolatry sux if you call yourself a christian!) and takes the next 2/3rds of the book outlining different types of idolatry with a few anecdotes segmented throughout. But then things get good towards the end. Keller starts talking about sin as a concept, how to notice you are idolatrous, then how to deal with it.I read on through quick pages of mediocrity to land on some great ideas and thoughts about resisting sin (replace it with God). I learned that the will is weak, yet God makes all things possible, and by seeking Him the temptation is gone. Powerful technique which is so damn true in my life right now. I wish I knew this months ago when I struggled with bouts of guilt and desperation as I tried to will myself through temptation. Replace it with God. Praise be to Him.-"become increasingly enslaved and addicted to it...we must have it, and therefore it drives us to break rules we once honoured, to harm others and even ourselves in order to get it." Intro-"you don't realise Jesus is all you need until is all you have." p19-"making an idol out of work may mean that you work until you ruin your health." p23-"the family has become the nursery where the craving for success is first cultivated." p79-"she suffered and forgave not knowing how much God would use her sacrifice." p91-"when we believe in what he accomplished for us with our minds, and when we are moved by what he did for us in our hearts." p94-"rather than accept our finitude and dependence on God, we desperately seek ways to assure ourselves that we still have power over our own lives." p101-"the reason he wanted to be in christian ministry was not because he was attracted to serving God and others, but to the power if knowing he was right, that he had the truth." p112-"if you had been born in a yurt in outer Mongolia, instead of where you were, it wouldn't have mattered how hard you worked or used your talents - you would have ended up poor and powerless." p116-"what do you have which you did not receive?" p117-"our cultural idols are... breakdown of the family, rampant materialism, careerism, and the idolization of romantic love, physical beauty and profit." p130- mentions the spiritual 'fruit' - love, joy, patience, humility, courage, gentleness-"because we have lived virtuous lives we feel that God (and the people we meet) owe us respect and support" p132-"storms here on earth can take away many things, even my physical life, but not my Life" p152-"idols cannot simply be removed. They must be replaced." p155 "what we need is a living encounter with God"-"every human being, then, needs blessing. We all need assurance if our unique value from some outside source. The love and admiration of those you most love and admire is above all rewards. We are all looking for this deep admiration, looking for it from our parents, our spouse and our peers." p158-"the general answer is "because we are weak and sinful", but the specific answer in any actual circumstance is that there is something you feel you 'must' have to be happy, something that is more important to your heart than God himself." p166-"your religion is what you do with your solitude (archbishop William Temple) - in other words, the true god of your heart is what your thoughts effortlessly go to when there is nothing else demanding your attention." p168-"it entails joyful worship, a sense of God's reality in prayer. Jesus must become more beautiful to your imagination, more attractive to your heart, than your idol." p172 "rejoicing and repentance must go together."-"but when we rejoice over God's sacrificial, suffering love for us - seeing what it cost him to save us from sin - we learn to hate the sin for what it is. We see what the sin cost God... Fear-based repentance makes us hate ourselves. Joy-based repentance makes us hate the sin." p172-"rejoicing is a way or praising God until the heart is sweetened and rested, and until it relaxes its grip on anything else it thinks that it needs." p173-"it is worship that is the final way to replace the idols of your heart - private prayer, corporate worship, and meditation." p175

  • Josh Miller
    2019-02-26 02:58

    After reading this book written by Timothy Keller, it is a no-brainer - I will try and read anything by him that I can get my hands on! Talk about an intriguing read! Keller challenges the gods of our current society (and nearly every society) in a masterful way. There are very few intellectuals that are enjoyable to read. However, Keller is one of those. This would make an outstanding "book club" read or a good Bible study by a Sunday School.Although I underlined, starred, and marked many sections throughout the book, the two chapters on Money & Success delved into areas I have not studied in depth concerning idolatry. For instance, Keller writes in the chapter, "Money Changes Everything," the following:"Jesus warns people far more often about greed than about sex, yet almost no one thinks they are guilty of it."The chapter entitled "Seduction of Success" grabbed a hold of my attention more than any other in the book. It also convicted the fire out of me! You see, I surrendered to preach at a conference where the seduction of "ministry success" ran at an all time high. And was I ever infected with it! For years, I heard moaning and groaning from ministry leaders that our particular brand of fundamentalism was losing its top spots in the nation (by top spots, I mean largest churches. There were churches actually named and in what state our kind of churches at one time were the biggest, most growing, dynamic churches in the country). Conferences were held and the "success syndrome" was lifted up high for pastors and pastors in training to shoot for. To be honest, I was completely taken in by it all. After graduating from Bible college, I pastored for nine years in upstate New York. And although God blessed the work there, I was constantly aiming to be the biggest, Bible-believing church in our area. I was full of pride and God hates pride. As I read this book, I realized that I had made an idol out of "ministry success."Keller in the chapter on "The Seduction of Success" said the following:"The main sign that we are into success idolatry, however, is that we find we cannot maintain our self-confidence in life unless we remain at the top of our chosen field."One of the main features in the book is that Keller not only exposes the idols we worship today, he shows in the Bible a story/character that depicts the truth he is sharing.The last chapter, Hidden Idols in our Lives, convinced me that so many of us (for sure me) have idols in our lives that we do not even realize. After reading the following quote, I realized that many leaders in our ranks of "Bible-believers" also have these hidden idols in their lives:"Making an idol out of doctrinal accuracy, ministry success, or moral rectitude leads to constant internal conflict, arrogance, and self-righteousness, and oppression of those whose views differ."Wow! Did that every convict me!Suffice it to say, I recommend this book to every Christian. You will only be blessed, challenged, convicted, and strengthened in your resolve to live a life devoid of the many idols that attempt to take ground in our hearts.

  • Maggie
    2019-02-24 07:43

    Counterfeit Gods is my introduction to Timothy Keller, guess I'm late to the game, but based on what I read, I plan on reading more of his works. This is an excellent book, one of the most convicting I've read in a while, with a much needed message for our modern culture and society. When many of us think of the word "idol", we either think of teen pop stars or people worshipping before a golden calf and other statues. However, Keller shows the reader what false gods look like in this day and age, the subtle ways they present themselves, and the ways they can take over our lives and become destructive forces. Keller skillfully explains what these idols are, through the well known stories of Abraham and Isaac and Jonah and less familiar stories of Leah, Naaman, and Nebuchadnezzar. It seems like we don't often associate these stories with being about idol worship, so some readers might be concerned with whether or not the author is reading too much into the text. I felt that it was a refreshing look, and liked how it connected these stories to readers' lives. Many of us pay lip service and say that we follow Christ and worship God, but often in our day to day lives, our hearts are divided. But then, when our hopes and dreams, our world comes crashing down before us, the idols in our lives are revealed to us- whether it be falsely believing that true love will satisfy all our needs in life, thinking that the accumulation of money will definitely provide security, or finding our identity solely through our status or accomplishments. When things don't work out, the disappointment can be brutal and incredibly difficult to overcome. This is what happens when we put all our hopes into counterfeit gods. Keller exhorts his readers that we must be relentless in rooting out the idols in our lives, look deep into ourselves to find the reasons why we are so enamored with them, and replace them with true, biblical, and spiritual worship and cling to the one hope worth having, our faith in the work of Jesus Christ. This book is not completely perfect, the majority of it focuses on identifying idols, so much so that the last chapter on replacing idols can seem like an afterthought, but I would still highly recommend it to others.

  • Michael
    2019-03-23 07:11

    This is one of the books I'd categorize as a must read. Keller's thesis is that idolatry lies behind all sins, and he plumbs the idols that we all have in our lives (money, sex, power, theological, political, economic, and many others). He's at his best in identifying these idols and illustrating them in the lives of different biblical characters (Jonah, Jacob, Leah and Rachel, and others). More light could have been shed on replacing these idols with God, but that's rightly the material for another book. Keller doesn't have the rhetorical brilliance of a C.S. Lewis (Who does?), but his work is wonderfully insightful into the realities of the human heart. My advice is to read it, discuss it, and let the gospel work deep into your heart and life.---Four ways to discern idols:1. Look at your imagination. "In other words, the true god of your heart is what your thoughts effortlessly go to when there is nothing else demanding your attention. What do you enjoy daydreaming about? What occupies your mind when you ahve nothing else to think about? Do you develop potential scenarios about career advancement? Or material goods such as a dream home? Or a relationship with a particular person?"2. Look at how you spend your money. Cf. Matt. 6:213. How do you respond to unanswered prayers and frustrated hopes?4. Look at your uncontrollable emotions.

  • Steve Hemmeke
    2019-03-21 01:42

    Good book. Here are some highlights:An idol of politics"One of the signs that an object is functioning as an idol is that fear becomes one of the chief characteristics of life" (98).Keller goes on to show how fear leads to reviling and demonizing political opponents, making a toxic instead of healthy atmosphere for political discourse. This comes from making politics an idol, for fear that we will lose political stability if our politicians and policies don't SAVE us. We can SAY politics isn't an idol for us all we want, but as long as we are driven by fear to read all those weekly newsletters, it's taken too high a place in our lives.An idol of religion"Making an idol out of doctrinal accuracy, ministry success, or moral rectitude leads to contant internal conflict, arrogance and self-righteousness, and oppression of those whose views differ" (p 132).Some think they are not godly unless they are in conflict with someone in the church all the time. After all, we're supposed to "fight the good fight," right? Yes, but not carnally. Peace is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, both in your heart and in the body of Christ. If church conflict is normal part of its life, there is an idol lurking about. Turn your warring tendencies against THAT. Seek and destroy it.

  • Justin Lonas
    2019-03-18 04:55

    Short, to the point, and kindly ruthless.I was put off at first by Keller's somewhat pedantic style (he typically writes for a broad audience, especially for non Christians, so his rehashing of basics can seem insulting to some), but after finishing the whole book, it seems like a good fit. He pares away rhetorical flourishes, side-notes, allusions, and deeper discussion to cut the chase, a bruising theological argument that all sin begins as idolatry.Keller doesn't sugar-coat the accusation that all people are idolators in any way; he doesn't leave any wiggle room to feel good about yourself. He methodically points readers to Christ over and over again, showing that it is only when He becomes our life and sole source of fulfillment that we can break free from the passions that enslave us.This is one of those books that can be read in a day, but takes weeks to chew on before the lessons are digested.

  • Tina
    2019-03-11 08:46

    Not bad. Like a 3.5

  • Jeremy
    2019-03-17 04:49

    This is a very simple and well laid out book helping us to understand that idolatry isn't a relic of the Old Testament or obscure tribal communities but rather a universal human condition. Keller deftly lays out the primary "idols" of American society and discusses how one can identify and replace the idols the reader is specifically wrestling with.I will definitely use this book in discipleship relationships.

  • Tara
    2019-02-27 05:03

    This book really dives into the tendencies of human behavior to show us how we have made gods of earthly things. Identifying why we struggle with finding real peace and job. It can be a rough journey to better understand yourself, but I would recommend exploring your own personal idols.

  • sharon
    2019-03-08 04:45

    I often hear Christians comparing Keller to C.S. Lewis in his ability to distill complex theological ideas into manageable, everyday language. While I know that there is a need for this level of discourse for large swathes of people, religious and non-religious alike, and appreciate that Keller's books often serve as an entrypoint for further exploration, it was this very "toning down" that I found frustrating about Counterfeit Gods (and tend to find frustrating in general with Keller's books, particularly these shorter, topical, pamphlet-type publications). There was a clear formula for each chapter -- an anecdote about an individual illustrating the "counterfeit god" at play, some general thoughts regarding the idol and society, and then minor exegesis of a Biblical character's story to provide an antidote or alternative. It was, however, never really clear how the changes he was advocating for on the individual level would or could effectively address a larger social problem, and the overly formulaic use of the Biblical illustrations (something Lewis certainly would never have tolerated in his own writing) made the illustrations themselves feel defanged/tired and the writing naive. Where I really wanted Keller to delve deeper was in his cultural analysis/critique. He often made quite incisive observations regarding the problems of post-economic-downturn America (particularly re. the problems of capitalism), but would then quickly turn his focus elsewhere.Perhaps it is uncharitable of me to quibble with the book Keller did write (focused mostly on individual change with occasional gestures to larger issues) because I'd rather read the one he didn't (a more academic account of larger social structures and cultural trends that would allow for the full breadth of the intellect you sense lurking behind the everyday-ness of his prose and presentation here). But Keller himself points out (in what was, to me, the most insightful and applicable observation of the book) that for Christians the project of cultural critique is also necessarily one of idol critique and thus valuable (an argument for the study of humanities if I ever heard one!), and I can't help wishing he approached his own text from more of a cultural critique standpoint. In all, this book felt like milk, and I wanted meat.

  • Mikelkpoet
    2019-03-11 06:47

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  • Angela Romine
    2019-02-24 00:42

    Loved this book! It helped to focus my attention to the idols that may be in my life and warn me of others that can be hidden. I would recommend this book to anyone!

  • David Sarkies
    2019-03-03 00:41

    Idols of the Modern Age6 September 2011 - Paris I found that this book was very confronting and challenging and it is difficult to criticise these types of books as I tend to feel that I am attempting to justify actions that I know in my heart are wrong. To put it bluntly this book is about modern day idols, though the way that Keller describes idols is not in the sense that we understand them, that being lifeless statues that we worship, but rather ideas, goals, and passions, that we set our heart towards in the belief that they will fulfil us in place of the living and true God. Keller explores what he considers to be the three main idols in our culture, and that is love, money, and power. Love, he explains, is when we believe that our fulfilment will be found in finding 'the perfect partner'. This, however, never happens, and if we believe fulfilment will be found there it will end up being very destructive to the relationship. We will expect great things from our partners, and when they do not deliver then we will be bitterly disappointed. Putting such high hopes in relationships never works. The same is true when it comes to children because if we idolise children then we put tremendous pressures on them to come out how we want them and when they don't, then it is destructive not only to us but also too our children. The second area is greed. Greed, interestingly, is something that he suggests that we in the Western World do not acknowledge as being a problem. What I have noted is that when we don't have money (and this is probably an Australian thing) then we consider those who do to be bad and we heap all kinds on accusations against them because of it. Even if we do have money (and if you are on unemployment benefits then you are still wealthy compared to the majority world) then our bitterness will always be directed to those who have more. We hold a belief, and like love and sex, it is something that our society encourages us to believe, that if we have money, if we are financially secure, then everything will be fine. This was not the case to those who were hit by the Global Financial Crisis. The third area he spoke about is power, and it is in this section that he raises some very challenging things about politics. He has noticed that over the years people have become so much more polarised in their political beliefs (and considering Keller is American, he is referring to American Politics, which over the last ten years is very evident, but it is also evident here in Australia as well). It is like that our hopes and dreams will be fulfilled if only our political party were in power, and anybody who supports the opponent is at best a fool, and at worst, downright evil. I know because I have been on both sides of the fence. While I do hold some passionate political views, his discussion on our response to politics is quite challenging. Granted, I may not like the attitudes and the policies of the other side, but does that make my side any better – no. Further, if my side were in power, then would it make my life any better – unlikely. Keller's conclusion, then, is that many of our problems inevitably stem from our idols, and while we may be able to get rid of one, if we do not, or are not, able to replace it with something substantial, such as the Lord Jesus (actually his conclusion is that the only god who can fill the void is the god who revealed himself through the Lord Jesus), then we are destined for an unfulfilled and very disappointing life. However he does acknowledge that even though we may accept that we have idols, getting rid of them is no easy chore, and that is because our heart is an idol factory and it will continue to be until we are remade in our resurrection bodies. However it does not mean that we should just give in, but rather we need to learn to give our hearts entirely to God.

  • Justin Hairston
    2019-02-23 03:53

    Convicting and uplifting. Drags a bit in the middle, but the use of examples both secular and biblical aids the points well, and several tidbits of wisdom from the book have popped into conversation numerous times since reading it.

  • Matthew
    2019-02-26 09:05

    I was a big fan of Tim Keller’s first 2 books, The Reason for God, and The Prodigal God. Speaking largely as an apologist in the former and a pastor in the latter, Keller demonstrated his immense intellect and knack for offering keen observations of culture as it relates to the gospel of Jesus Christ. These strengths are applied directly to his latest work, Counterfeit Gods. This is Tim Keller at his finest as he subtly, yet powerfully, points out the things people, and particularly Americans, tend to turn into idols that take the place of God in our lives.Taking on various arenas of life, Keller explains how even good things become bad things when they turn into God things. His working definition of an idol is simply anything that ascends to the place that only God should occupy in our lives, and he shows how career, money, sex, and even family can become idols in our lives, taking the place of God but lacking the ability to live up to the positions where we place them.For example, when a parent places their kids in the place of God and wraps their entire identity in a child, an enormous amount of pressure is placed on the child, a pressure they will inevitably fail to live up to. This causes disappointment for the parent and disillusionment for the child. This is because the child isn’t God. He or she isn’t ever-faithful, ever-loving, all-powerful, and perfect. Only God is. It’s unfair to children and damaging to the parents when these situations occur.This idolatry can show up anywhere. I especially found Keller’s chapter on power particularly helpful. When power is made into a God, it manifests itself in many places such as careers, parenting, and relationships; today, it mostly shows up in the political arena. People turn political parties, politicians, and ideologies into gods; subsequently, when their party loses, they are devastated. Their god has let them down, and now they do the only thing they can think of…they mock, ridicule, and blame the false political god that arose in its place. They lament the end of everything or complain about the status quo. The problem, of course, is that neither conservativism nor liberalism live up to god-status. Neither is perfect, but many convince themselves otherwise, believing that everything would be perfect if they could just elect the right person who embodies their values.Keller has chapter after chapter that points out these idols in our culture, applying his Paul-like style of reasoning. All of this would be for naught, however, if people are not pointed to the true God. It’s not enough to remove idols. People have to be pointed to God as fully-revealed in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Keller does not back down from this one bit. He continually pulls our idol-fashioned foundations from underneath us, but he quickly replaces it with the true foundation, the Rock, Jesus Christ.This book should be required reading for all western Christians. Other cultures have their idols, but we in the West have truly made it an art form. The roots of this idolatry cannot be removed overnight, but this book is a powerful tool for attacking those roots and unashamedly and repeatedly reminding us what needs to exist in its place.

  • N.
    2019-03-18 05:50

    I have to come back to this book. A single, quick read is rather insufficient to reap the full benefits of it. I will probably have to do a second review as I haven't quite digested its content. Needless to say, it is a book that makes you look inwardly, and honestly and thoroughly so. This book has left me somewhat bare, but not with a hopeless, damning shame. Instead, it has revealed my need to be clothed with the righteousness of Christ Jesus, in whom alone by grace can I ever be adequately and finally swaddled. For if the Lord should mark iniquities, who could stand? Who, then, will save me from this body and mind of death? Thanks be to God through Christ Jesus! Hallelujah! What a Saviour.

  • Jo
    2019-03-15 00:49

    “Every human being must live for something. Something must capture our imaginations, our hearts most fundamental allegiance and hope. But the Bible tells us, without the intervention of the Holy Spirit, that object will never be God himself.” (pg 3) Thus Keller begins to build his case. He starts by establishing the fact that the human heart is an “idol factory,” willing to grasp at any number of things to replace God. At one point in the book he expresses the idea that Bible is filled with stories detailing the toll that idolatry takes, and Keller uses story after story from the Old Testament to illustrate how money, love, power, success, and a host of other idols can take first place in the human heart. Keller’s exposition of these Bible stories was one of the strongest points of the book. He put the stories in a new light, still interpreting carefully, and I was delightedly surprised by his insights.So what is the solution to counterfeit idols? This was a point that Keller hammered on again and again. Simply put, it is to know God more. “We have to know, to be assured, that God so loves, cherishes, and delights in us that we can rest our hearts in him for our significance and security and handle anything that happens in life.” (pg 17) Further, Keller argues that God’s love is most wondrously displayed to us in Christ’s death on the cross. We must meditate on it to come to a full understanding of God’s love. There are times when Keller is positively eloquent. I found when writing down a quote that I wouldn’t know where to stop—I wanted all of it! So, another quote for good measure.“To rejoice is to treasure a thing, to assess its value to you, to reflect on its beauty and importance until your heart rests in it and tastes the sweetness of it. ‘Rejoicing’ is a way of praising God until the heart is sweetened and rested, and until it relaxes its grip on anything else it thinks that it needs.” (173)Keller’s one big fault is that the book reads a little like a Theme and Variations. He has his point, and my goodness, he’s going to get it across. He states the same solution to various idolatry problems over and over again in different words. By the end, the chapters felt a tiny bit formulaic. However, since it is an excellent point, I don’t think I should complain too much. Very much worth reading. Keller’s one point struck home with me.

  • Jeremy
    2019-03-18 06:47

    I stumbled upon this book while scrambling to find a book to read on the plane. I've been to Tim Keller's church a several times so I figured I'd give it a shot. And I'm glad I did. This book was both challenging and restorative. I ran into many penetrating questions that I couldn't escape, all of which asked me to examine whether I love others things more than God--my family? my girlfriend? my career? It was also restoring because Keller suggested several ways we can replace--not remove--our idols. That last part was key because I've read a few books that open up deep, existential questions inside your heart but never suggest a path for you to close them. Keller does. That path is God. Below are some of the key passages, scriptures I took away from the book. If it moves you, you should give the book a read.______"Idols are God-alternates, counterfeits. It is anything more important 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. The human heart is an 'idol factory' that takes good things and turns them into the ultimate things. Our hearts deify them as the center of our lives because we think they can give us significance and security, safety and fulfillment, if we attain them.Exodus 20:3-5 (http://bible.com/111/exo.20.3-5.niv) “You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God Romans 1:24-25, 28-29 (http://bible.com/111/rom.1.24-25,28.niv) - They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done

  • Tiffany
    2019-03-25 05:56

    I read the book in a day, which is really not normal for me and a Tim Keller book. It's summertime in India, and this is the first time I've been surrounded with so very many idols and..well, gods. This book is an enjoyable read that helps you clamp down on some of the idols in your life that can be a bit ambiguous. So often, I hear bells ringing, smell incense and I pray another prayer for a neighbor. This book helped me to identify some idols I haven't properly dealt with in my own life. I've long understood the concept of worshiping others, making idols out of relationships and so forth - but somehow this book can help make the scriptures more "real" concerning that. My scripture reading today turned out to be about the three Hebrew children who refused to bow..and I was reminded of just how important this issue is to God. Americans may not have buddha or ganesh statues in their homes, but what about the other idols that we are actually encouraged to offer our time, money, children and leisure time toward? Timothy Keller has the knack of pastoring through his books - and while you don't necessarily feel judged, you always know some things need to change. His re-telling of Leah's story had me in tears..there was so much to her story I have always somehow overlooked, because I was focusing on keeping the story moving..but God stopped and met with Leah in a special way back there in Genesis, just as He still does with his children today. I enjoyed this book thoroughly.

  • Joel
    2019-03-16 06:51

    What impresses me most about Keller is his ability to express truths that are really complicated and muddled in a way that is clear, avoids simplifying it, and resonates with the reader. Even when the topic is something potentially offensive, like idolatry. There are two pages where he deconstructs the idolatry of religion (131-132, if I remember correctly) so clearly and precisely that I had to stop and think about it, then I read it to my housemate so we could discuss it before I moved on. This book is like that - you can fly through it, nodding assent the entire way, or you could spend hours, days, months thinking, delving into how the content he writes applies to yourself, your friends, your culture, your church. It is a framework he offers here - the clarity of vision for this nuanced topic is his gift and his contribution to the discussion.The reason I rated The Reason For God higher is in the writing. Having listened to Keller's sermons before, I felt this book was more like that, his sermons, his talks, than like a book. That is more of a literary critique than a content problem, or a wording problem, but I felt like he was supposed to be speaking the content and not me reading the content with the way the sentences were phrased. It is a ticky thing, I know, but it is a small statement for a comprehensively helpful, nuanced, clear discussion on a complex, deceptive topic. The last two chapters are worth the price of the book alone.

  • Aaron Downs
    2019-03-11 05:46

    Counterfeit Gods by Tim Keller, proves to be both a quick and thought provoking read. In his book Keller attempts to expose idols that are being worshiped by the average Christian. What! Christians are worshiping idols? Well, yes, we are. We may not have a golden calf set up in the back yard, but we do have our own idols. Keller defines an idol as something that we look to for things that only God can give us, which means they may, in fact, be good things. "We think that idols are bad things, but that is almost never the case. The greater the good, the more likely we are to expect it to satisfy our deepest hopes and needs. Anything can serve as a counterfeit god, especially the very best things in life."Keller looks at the following areas that have potential to become an area of idolatry: Love and Relationships, Money, Success, and Power. Keller explores many hidden idols in our lives and wraps the book up by giving insight on how to counteract and dismiss these "counterfeit gods" in our lives.I recommend this book, but, as with any you should take what you can from it and leave what may not be so good. But don't throw out the baby with the bathwater."What is an idol? It 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 you." - Tim Keller

  • Steven Wedgeworth
    2019-03-26 07:55

    Ok, so I listened to this on Audible a few years after it was released, and thus I felt like I had heard most of it before. That means I can't be entirely fair to the book. Its central thesis, that idolatry redirects our heart from Christ to worldly false saviors, is correct and very powerful. This is an important concept that pastors should study more, and it has a long pedigree working its way through the psalms, the prophets, the gospels, and into church history, notably John Calvin's works. But...I found a lot of the book a little bit stale. The exegesis of several passages was overly-psychological, and I found myself arguing with some of the claims. Was Jacob really motivated by a drive for "apocalyptic sex" with Rachel because of lingering daddy issues? I'm not so sure that Genesis is putting this thought in our mind. There was also socio-political generalizations which lack their punch now that we live in "age of Trump." The dynamics have shifted, and I was reminded of the need to be careful with these sorts of observations. So a mixed book. Good content, but a few cases of "right doctrine/wrong text." Pastors can make good use of this book, but they should take care to translate it appropriately.

  • Sharon
    2019-03-01 04:46

    One of those books (Like "What's so amazing about Grace?") that everyone living in the modern world and its climate today, should read. Although I do agree that people who are already Christians will find it more useful that a non-believer. I found this book very interesting and loved the examination of idolatry through the stories in the Old Testament (Jonah et al) Although some of it I had already guessed at or discerned for myself (such as those trying to fulfill themselves through relationships with others should turn to God's love) that does not mean there was nothing here for me to learn. I think Keller writes well and gets his point across without being too preachy and jargon-y. I was touched by this book and the way Keller was able to demonstrate the weaknesses in human nature and also how he examined it. I was able to examine myself as I read this book and see that I need to address my attitudes to certain things in my life, make them less important and focus on my relationship with God more. Therefore i was able to emotionally, spiritually and psychologically engage with this book. I can imagine this is the type of book that you can pick up and re-read in the future and could still learn from.

  • Lady Jane
    2019-03-04 09:10

    Newsweek heralded Tim Keller as "...C.S. Lewis for the 21st century," which is to say that Rev. Keller communicates gospel truths simply, to a broad audience, in easy to understand terms. Keller's post-modern, largely Biblically illiterate or semi-literate readers are different than Lewis', which should be taken into charitable consideration when evaluating his work. Counterfeit Gods is a relevant examination of idols, intrinsic to Western culture, with which Western Christians are prone to blindly follow in ignorance--until some inescapable circumstance reveals our superior allegiance to an idol over God. Keller spells it out--money, power, sex, love--all good things in and of themselves, but ruinous when yielded primary allegiance. He examines shades of gray and delves into heart issues, using current social references and anecdotes from his pastoral ministry. The issue of personal idols is not new to me, but Counterfeit Gods prompted me to ask God to examine my heart for those places where I am unwittingly idolatrous. I recommend Counterfeit Gods to Christians interested in examining themselves for any idols that may be culturally acceptable--or even rewarded--but are spiritually harmful.

  • Ethan Boggs
    2019-03-23 00:52

    Timothy Keller...is a brilliant mind, who has the ability to communicate with clarity the symptoms of a broken culture while at the same time giving the remedy for it. Very sharp thinker. Recommend it!

  • Brent McCulley
    2019-03-01 08:47

    I read this book about a year and a half after reading The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism and was overall pleased throughout the course of the exhortation. Keller does a great job at pointing out how easily idols can creep up into our life. His friendly prose is once again comforting, yet I felt that the diction of this book - in comparison to 'Reason for God' - was largely more elementary and base. This has nothing to do with Keller's brilliance by any means! but rather, with the overwhelmingly biblically-illetate and sophomoric demographic that Keller is writing to. More to the point, Keller tries as simply as possible to show how fantastic and ridiculous our culture has gotten; so much so that we can't recognize idols when they are right in front of our eyes (Ahem, the TV)!Overall, I would recommend this book to all Christians alike, although it's certainly true that some will benefit from this book in much more than others.-Brent M McCulley (10/9/13)