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Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters Paperback – October 4, 2011
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"The human heart takes good things like a successful career, love, material possessions, even family, and turns them into 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." Thus anything can be an idol and, really, everything has been an idol to one person or another. The great deception of idols is we are prone to think that idols are only bad things. But evil is far more subtle than this. "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 that it can satisfy our deepest needs and hopes. Anything can serve as a counterfeit god, especially the very best things in life."
What then 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." If anything in all the world is more fundamental than God to your happiness, to your meaning in life, then that thing has become an idol.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
"Thus you can easily understand what and how much this commandment requires, namely, that man's entire heart and all his confidence be placed in God alone, and in no one else. For to have God, you can easily perceive, is not to lay hold of Him with our hands or to put Him in a bag [as money], or to lock Him in a chest [as silver vessels]. But to apprehend Him means when the heart lays hold of Him and clings to Him. But to cling to Him with the heart is nothing else than to trust in Him entirely. For this reason He wishes to turn us away from everything else that exists outside of Him, and to draw us to Himself, namely, because He is the only eternal good. As though He would say; Whatever you have heretofore sought of the saints, or for whatever [things] you have trusted in Mammon or anything else, expect it all of Me, and regard Me as the one who will help you and pour out upon you richly all good things."
The words above from Martin Luther's Large Catechism serve as a sobering reminder that idols are not made out of brick, wood, and stone alone - often, they are found in our heart. In Timothy Keller's new book, Counterfeit Gods, he lays out a case for idolatry in our current time that should pierce every Christian to the core. As Keller says in the beginning of his book, perhaps there is no better time to be reminded of the idols in our own hearts then in a time of uncertainty. The current economic crisis has stripped away our masks of religiosity and exposed idols that we did not know existed.
In Keller's second chapter, he focuses on love and sex. He specifically shows how our love for other human beings becomes an idol if we place our love for them above our love for God.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great book, I recommend to anyone. Timothy Keller gives great insight using scripture about the worldly Idols of money, success, etc... Read morePublished 2 days ago by Amazon Customer
Another great book by Tim Keller. I love how he teaches from the Bible and then weaves in other sources.Published 3 days ago by Jorge A. Linares
The introduction is a must read before getting into the chapters. Only got through the first two chapters but read them several times to glean all the treasures within them. Read morePublished 10 days ago by L. hoffman
Caused me to realize how many things qualify as Gods in the first commandment. Every Christian should read this book.Published 26 days ago by Amazon Customer
Wow! I've read the introduction and the first chapter thusfar and it is very convicting. You might think...."I don't have any idols!" but read on. Read morePublished 1 month ago by M. Mabry
This book was quite an eye opener. I will refer it often and ponder it's truths deeply. I highly recommend this book to all who believe that this journey is about Christ and... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Roberta Hawkins