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Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters Hardcover – October 20, 2009
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Praise for Timothy Keller and Counterfeit Gods
"Keller's wisdom and biblical understanding, served up in clear, engaging writing, can help both Christians and non-Christians to identify the idols in our own hearts and replace empty promises with hope in Christ." —World magazine
"Offers much insight for shepherding local churches. Keller argues that Christians cannot understand themselves or their culture unless they discern the counterfeit gods." —Christianity Today
"Tim Keller knows how to tell a Bible story. Like The Prodigal God before it . . . Counterfeit Gods is built around them. And every time I read one of those stories, I feel like I am hearing it for the first time. . . . Counterfeit Gods is easily one of the best books I've read this year." —Tim Challies
"Smashes the arrogant conclusion that violation of the first commandment was merely an ancient problem. Combining biblical theology with experienced surgery on the soul over the years in modern Manhattan . . . Keller's heart diagnostics will leave us neither ignorant nor unmoved." —David B. Garner, associate professor of Systematic Theology, Westminster Theological Seminary
From the Trade Paperback edition.
About the Author
Timothy Keller was born and raised in Pennsylvania and educated at Bucknell University, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and Westminster Theological Seminary. His first pastorate was in Hopewell, Virginia. In 1989 he started Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City with his wife, Kathy, and their three sons. Today, Redeemer has nearly six thousand regular Sunday attendees and has helped to start more than three hundred new churches around the world. He is the author of The Songs of Jesus, Prayer, Encounters with Jesus, Walking with God through Pain and Suffering, Every Good Endeavor, and The Meaning of Marriage, among others, including the perennial bestsellers The Reason for God and The Prodigal God.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
I was uncertain about reading it fearing it would just make me more angry with religion than I already was. So I took a risk and eventually downloaded it.... After the first chapter I wasn't sure I liked it... the examples given seemed to say that if you weren't fortunate enough to end up with good relationships it was somehow due to your lust and idolatry. The Leah Jacob Rachel marriage debacle didn't help because of the many hot messes in the bible that God allowed its a pretty big one. Its also probably one of the most misinterpreted bible stories used tell women to stay in unloving unfaithful marriages because God will bless them.... Or that ongoing debate of how not wanting to be single and wanting a stable marriage and a family makes you either ungrateful, desperate, or lacking in faith.
Despite my opposition I kept reading....I'm glad I did....., the book got MUCH better the explanation of idols as not something we do wrong but actually the foundation of all sin and original sin was the catalyst for idolatry, the desire to live apart from God and manage our own lives as if we can control something..... The concept that in this broken world so many factors play into the lives we end up with and lack of FAITH has NOTHING to do with it was like taking a breath of fresh clean air. That one negative belief that has kept me in bondage for YEARS is that I can earn brownie points with God by being a good church going, tithe paying, Sunday school teaching, bible reading, Christian only music listening, modest dressing, polite, abstaining Christian woman. Finally a pastor was admitting that life isn't all about moral behavior and you can't earn your way into blessings or God's mercy and grace. Don't get me wrong I think moral behavior is important but it has to be for the right reasons , which is to glorify God, frankly most examples I had seen were based on getting human approval or people pleasing which is a form of idolatry.
He discussed this in excellent detail. He went over every area of idolatry and male and female idolatry and really explored this basic sin. He even admitted to maintain his own idolatry and that its an ongoing process.... for the first time in years I didn't feel like a lonely loser Christian who somehow didn't have faith the right way to not have a crap life.... In the end I not only understood the idols in my life that I needed to work on but I had a renewed hope in God that despite I was 40 divorced single and childless I still have worth in Gods eyes. But God doesn't judge me and he loves me and sees how hard I try. I just have to work on letting God love me in the ways the humans in my life haven't and healing is waiting for me if I'm willing to let go of what the world/church says my life is supposed to look like... God Always will love me and Always has I just couldn't see it because I placed to much importance on my human relationships for happiness. Don't get me wrong I'm not going to become a hermit. I will however be thankful for the family and friends I have left, and focus on replacing my idols with the love God has always had for me.
With each passing day being alone is not feeling so lonely. Thanks for this book. If anyone who reads this has experienced any life hardships or doubts or you are just feeling lost in life then read this book... its really surprisingly nothing like what I expected at all and I'm so thankful for that.
Tip: Be sure to check the footnotes esp on kindle he gives a lot of information for further study to let go of idols and experience God love, as well as, he gives good points that can't fit in the book. He took one section about the slave girl when discussing power and pride idolatry and in the notes was very clear that taking abuse or neglect was not acceptable and that biblical times had certain standards. All I can say is if you are struggling in your relationships in life or your relationships with God read this book