Idolatry is at the heart of every evil action or evil inaction of our lives. Tim Keller makes that point very well for us in Counterfeit Gods. As Keller exposes the idols behind the idols of sex, money, power, and all the rest, he also faithfully challenges Christians to not only identify, but to replace their idols with righteous alternatives.
Keller’s delving into what he calls “deep idols” is an extremely helpful point in this work. What are deep idols? Deep idols are the driving sins behind the surface sins in many of our lives. For example, a person’s financial greed is often driven by something else. A greedy person might be driven by a desire for control. Another greedy person is driven by a desire for the pleasures that the money may bring. Another might be driven by the feeling of superiority that a financial fortune brings. The major point is that addressing the idols on the surface will not change the deep idols, and those deep idols are what we must address to truly repent of sin.
I also very much enjoyed Keller’s insightful handling of many of the biblical stories. Whether dealing with Jonah, Naaman the Syrian, Nebuchadnezzar, or Jacob, Keller brings narrative passages to life for his readers in a way that helps them to find solid application as they grasp the biblical meaning in the story.
Finally, Keller rightly handles the issue of repentance. Far too many authors tell Christians that they need to stop certain activities in their lives without giving them help to do so. Keller is among the few insightful souls who tell people to defeat their idols by replacing them with Christ, the righteous alternative. The replacement concept in repentance is very much refreshing in a modern work.
The only negatives that I found myself pondering as I read through this work were generally quibbles. For example, I’m not fond of the frequent references to psychological concepts. I also would also occasionally question some of Keller’s smaller conclusions that he draws from various texts.
Keller’s book is worth the read. He’s insightful, easy-to-read, and helpful for believers of any generation or culture. I’d recommend you give this one a chance. No, don’t expect an earth-shattering paradigm-shift. Just read this for a faithful walk through the concept of idolatry in our lives.