Thursday, November 19, 2009

Counterfeit Gods

Last night I read Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters.

Counterfeit Gods is a book about idolatry. Modern, 21st century, 2009 idolatry. It begins with a discussion about God granting the desires of a man's heart, and how that leads only to destruction. We never think of the desires of our heart as being a bad thing to receive, but Keller illustrates very well how those desires are destructive when they are not God. A book that illustrates this point rather vividly (without the emphasis on making God the desire of your heart) is Needful Things: The Last Castle Rock Story by Stephen King, one of the best looks inside the human heart I've ever read. But back to this book... Keller then goes on to illustrate how Love of family, and love itself is a form of idolatry if it is held as more valuable than God in our lives.

Keller has a chapter on Money that is also well written, although not filled with as much revolutionary thinking because that area has been recognized in the church for a while. But the following chapter on success is again very, very eye-opening, and not-just-a-bit convicting. This is followed by a chapter on power, and its role as an idol in our lives. The chapter on hidden idols reveals how _anything_ that we hold as valuable, anything that we utilize to validate our self worth, anything that we do short of look to God for that love and acceptance is idolatry.

Keller then tells the story of Jacob wrestling with God and how when Jacob, and relates Jacob's transformation as he finally sought for a blessing from God rather than the things of the world, even in spite of the permanent physical wound he bore from the struggle. This likewise was very powerful as we look at the story of Jacob's life, and all of his failures, and then see how God used him in spite of those failures, but really only after he finally sought God's blessing instead of the blessings of Isaac, Rachel, etc. The book then turns very practical at looking at how we can work to remove idolatry from our lives.

This book is brilliantly written. Scripture is interwoven throughout, as the stories of the bible illustrate the concepts Keller is trying to communicate. As a result, this book has authority behind it. It is an expository book in this regard, drawing critical life lessons out of scripture and working to apply those to our current social economic context.

Without question, Counterfeit Gods is the best book I've read this month. And I've read a LOT of books this month. Highly recommended.


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