Counterfeit Gods - Book Review

I love many things about Tim Keller. But one of the things I think I appreciate most is that he waited until late in his ministry to publish. I'd love to write a book someday, but read a lot of books by younger guys and often find myself wondering how they will feel about their books when they get older. I would be thoroughly embarrassed to read something I might have published when I was 20. Heck, I am embarrassed by some of my earliest blog posts. But Keller waited until he was later in his ministry to publish and the result (in my opinion) is deeper books that are far more profound.

If you've listened to many of Tim Keller's sermons, you know that he regularly speaks of man's bent toward idolatry. His new book "Counterfeit Gods" is a development of that theme.

I loved Prodigal God and think The Reason For God may be one of my top ten books of all time. Counterfeit Gods is the weaker of the three, from my standpoint, but don't let that dissuade you from picking it up. It's good.

Keller begins the book by introducing the fact that idolatry is far more prevalent in our mind than we like to think. When we look at the Israelites' tendency to worship golden calves, we often shake our head and thank God that we're more advanced than they. Keller helps obliterate that delusion by showing that anything more important than God in our lives is just as good as a golden calf.

Then, Keller tackles some of the most popular idols in our Western culture. He devotes a chapter each to the idols of love, money, success, power and glory, profit, and religion. The book ends with a guide to finding and replacing your idols. Throughout the book, Keller's trademark ability to speak as both an intellectual and a pastor at the comes shining through. You won't have any problem following Keller's logic throughout the book, though his IQ is twice yours and mine combined.

My only gripe about this particular book is the biblical stories Keller points to in order to make his points. He chooses to use common stories you may have learned growing up to point to the various idols we worship, but sometimes the examples feel like a stretch.

For example: He uses the story of Abraham's call to sacrifice Isaac to introduce the idea that an idol is anything that is more important to you than God. Yet, I think there are clearer examples in Scripture than that one which would have made Keller's point more clearly. Although I certainly see where Keller was going, I'm still not certain that God's call to Abraham happened because Abraham was valuing his son above God. But that's the impression Keller gives by challenging us to look for the "Isaacs in our life."

Keller doesn't say anything un-biblical, of course. I just feel like some of his biblical illustrations distract from a point which is superb.

With all of that said, you still need to read this book as well as anything else Keller puts out. Keller is a great writer and an even better thinker. His books are also unashamedly Christocentric - they will always point his readers straight to Jesus. Counterfeit Gods is par for the Tim Keller course.