25.11.10

"Counterfeit Gods" By Timothy Keller



Timothy Keller, Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters. Penguin Books, 2009. 240 pages. 

In this book Keller explores our societies common idols: money, sex, power, and success.  That fourth one didn't make it into the title, but thankfully it is in the book. The human heart, says Keller (as many have said before him), is an idol factories.  We continually enshrine things other than God.  But, because of recent events, Keller believes we are in a moment of cultural disillusionment which will allow us to see our idols for the dead things they are.  Thus, he goes on in chapter one to talk about how getting everything we want is actually terrible, if what we want is determined by our idols.  The next four chapters expose the seductive and destructive power of each of the idols mentioned above and how easy it is to fall for them in our society.  He concludes with one chapter on rooting out the hidden idols in our life and another on replacing them with God. 

This is the second Keller book I have reviewed (The Reason for God being the other).  Keller continues to be an excellent writer.  Counterfeit Gods is an engaging read, not too difficult but still challenging.  His introduction was a bit weak.  I disagree that our moment of cultural disillusionment really provides much of a window to expose idols; history seems to tell a story of idols being replaced by other idols.  The chapters on each idol were very good.  His exposition of the four idols draws from some of the best of Christian tradition in balanced combination with modern observations and stories.  His final chapters, on replacing idols with the one true God, were too brief for my taste.  If anything, he should have spent as much time on the positive vision as he did on the negative (something Hart's Atheist Delusions does very well).  Nonetheless, the final two chapters still contained quite a few gems worth reading. 

Conclusion: 4 of 5 stars. Recommended.  We need to think about the idols in our live, and we need to expose and remove them.  This book can be both an excellent starting point for that journey or a great help for those on the way.  

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