Book review: Counterfeit gods

A review of ‘Counterfeit gods’ by Tim Keller

Review by Jamie Hurd

This Christmas I had a lovely time with family and friends, lots of food and fun, and a great book to read. That book was Counterfeit Gods, and what a book to read during the festive season, when we always do things in excess. We eat too much, spend too much, drink too much but rarely do we worship too much. It was great to read this book when I was enjoying the Christmas period because it alerted me to the problem of idol worship. When you think of idols I wonder what comes to mind? statues? Pagans? How about family, or career, or love, or even dare I say ministry?

Well this book dares to go there. It challenges us that most of our idols are in things that aren’t in themselves’ bad and even look very good. Loving your wife or kids, surely that cannot be a bad thing? But, when you elevate these good things above God then we have a colossal problem on our hands in the form of idolatry. Keller helps us to identify where our idols lie before he even attempts to point us to the solution. So what 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.”

So anything that I put before God, things that I trust to bring me fulfilment and satisfaction have become the idols in my life.

I loved three things especially in this book. Firstly I really enjoyed how Keller retold stories in the bible in a way that was full of life. A real sense that he rescued some of Gods wonderful words from the label of ‘Sunday School Story’ and helping to show how great these verses are. He shows them in such a fresh way that it’s almost new to you. The second reason I loved this book is its very contemporary for the times we live in.  It takes real life examples and is very engaging. The third reason is how Keller always points us to the solution, and it is nothing new. It is the gospel. How can we turn from our idols, should I try harder? No, it’s the gospel.

“The way forward, out of despair, is to discern the idols of our hearts and our culture. But that will not be enough. The only way to free ourselves from the destructive influence of counterfeit gods is to turn back to the true one. The living God, who revealed himself both at Mount Sinai and on the Cross, is the only Lord who, if you find him, can truly fulfill you, and, if you fail him, can truly forgive you.”

This book shows us our counterfeit gods, looks to God for our forgiveness and also the power to turn from our idols and turn to God. Christ is so much better than any of our idols and through his work we have the power to turn to him.

You can buy the book here


One thought on “Book review: Counterfeit gods

  1. Diolch Jamie. Read with interest – you give a good resume of the book in a short space which makes me want to check it out.
    Content is so true …

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