Saturday, January 30, 2010

Book Review: Counterfeit Gods by Tim Keller

I have read several books about idols (things or people that we put in front of or in place of God in our lives). I can say that this book is a great addition to the others. However, Mr. Keller takes a slightly different approach to the subject than I have seen before. He takes each of the four main categories of idols (love/sex, money, success, and power) and illustrates them from the lives of Biblical characters.

First, the author explains what an idol, or counterfeit god, is. He says, "A counterfeit god is anything so central and essential to your life that, should you lose it, your life would feel hardly worth living." Also, he states, "We look to our idols to love us, to provide us with value and a sense of beauty, significance, and worth." In other words, something is an idol if we expect it to do for us only what God can actually do. How many of us have said or heard someone say that we couldn't go on if a certain person or thing was taken away from us? Mr. Keller helps us to see how we are replacing our worship of God with these other "gods" and how that affects our relationship with Him.

He goes on, then, to tell of people in the Bible who did these very things: they allowed other gods into their lives. There's the story of Jacob, who put all of his deepest hopes and longings on his wife, Rachel; Zacchaeus, who had sacrificed everything for money; Naaman, who thought, because of his success and achievement, he could get anything he wanted from God; and Nebuchadnezzar, who sought power so much that he almost lost everything.

Keller shows us the signs which point out the idols in our lives and, thankfully, gives practical solutions. He says, "...idols cannot be dealt with by simply eliminating surface idols like money or sex....There is only one way to change at the heart level and that is through faith in the gospel." He speaks of Jesus and how He is our perfect example. Then he says, "Jesus is not only an example, however, he is a Savior. Only by admitting our sin, need, and powerlessness, and by casting ourselves on his mercy, will we finally become secure in his love, and therefore empowered in a way that does not lead us to oppress others."

So, there is hope! And this book tells us of the hope we have in Christ. Through faith and trust in him we can overcome the idols of our hearts.

I recommend this book for all who want a deeper relationship with God and are willing to humble themselves to achieve it. Mr. Keller has shown us the way.

A few thoughts of my own on this subject tomorrow. Until then, tolle lege!


Janet said...

Someone in my book club recommended this, and now I have a better understanding of what it's about. Thanks for the great review.

Carrie said...

Yes, I wasn't quite sure what to make of the book either and so I was glad for your review.


Jennifer @ Mrs. Q: Book Addict said...

This sounds like an interesting read. I really enjoyed your review.