Book Review: Counterfeit Gods Timothy Keller is the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, New York. His recent book Counterfeit Gods continues to cement his place as one of this generation’s leading voices in calling the church back to where it belongs. Keller, however, has the unique ability to speak to the hearts of people who do not claim follow Jesus as well.

The driving question that Keller is seeking to answer comes from a description of Americans by Alexis de Tocqueville who said that Americans exhibited a, “strange melancholy that haunts the inhabitants…in the midst of abundance. (x)” De Tocqueville analyzes this “strange melancholy” and comes to the conclusion that it is the result of taking an “incomplete joy of this world” and having that become the center of your life. Keller states, “That is the definition of idolatry. (xi)” He goes on to say that an idol 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. (xvii)” This is the central motif of Keller’s text. He then draws us back to the reality that it is in relationship with Christ, the idol breaker, that we can be set free from our idol worship.

Keller hits on topics like money, greed, power, politics, sex, and love. He grabs your attention with riveting personal stories from his life, his ministry, and from the headlines. The economic collapse of 2008–09 plays a heavy role. If you come to this text with an open mind then you will walk away from this text with a challenged heart. It is strong in biblical exegesis as Keller works through key texts and draws out their central teaching and their contemporary application. I would say that the weakness of this text is that the issues raised are difficult and that in such a brief text they can only be given a cursory examination. I would like to see Keller develop this text more fully at a scholarly level.

I was deeply challenged by the book. I was most especially brought to a place of deep consideration regarding the idolatry of religion. I think that as a pastor I am easily swayed by this idolatry. I can get caught up in my Reformed, Presbyterian dogma and lose sight of the sacrificial savior who called me to follow him. Following a self-sacrificing savior is painful, difficult, and yet fully satisfying and glorious! But, the comfort of a religious dogma that provides all the answers is seductive and so easy to embrace.

I encourage you to grab this little text and evaluate the idol factory in your heart.