Counterfeit gods is a difficult book to read. It’s difficult not because of bombastic language or obscure theology, but because it’s painful in incising into the inner parts and proving the existence of idols in my life. After reading this book, I can only conclude that we all have idols. It’s just a matter of whether we can discern and acknowledge their existence. And more often than not, these idols were good things. As Tim Keller wrote, ‘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.’ They can be anything, from love and family, achievements, secure and comfortable life, to recognition and approval, but we misplace our hopes and expectations and turn them into gods.
After finishing the book, I wish that Keller had given his readings this warning earlier:
You cannot get relief simply by figuring out your idols intellectually. You have to actually get the peace that Jesus gives, and that only comes as you worship. Analysis can help you discover truths, but then you need to “pray them in” to your heart. That takes time.
Before I read the book, I identified my idols through a series of questions. After I read the book, I knew that my idols are still there and I need to do the long and painstaking work of replacing them. I probably need to work on this my entire life. But this I would rather do than to continue to love, trust and obey the false gods.
I will share snippets from the book this month, as Keller identified the idols in various Biblical characters’ lives, through familiar episodes in new perspectives.