Tim Keller on Counterfeit Gods

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I recently finished Counterfeit Gods, by Tim Keller.  In his epilogue he writes:

Idolatry is not just a failure to obey God, it is a setting of the whole heart on something besides God.  This cannot be remedied only by repenting that you have an idol, or using willpower to try to live differently.  Turning from idols is not less than those two things, but it is also far more.  “Setting the mind and heart on things about” where “your life is hid with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:1-3) means appreciation, rejoicing, and resting in what Jesus has done for you.  It entails joyful worship, a sense of God’s reality in prayer.  Jesus must become more beautiful to your imagination, more attractive to your heart, than your idol.  That is what will replace your counterfeit gods.  If you uproot the idol and fail to “plant” the love of Christ in its place, the idol will grow back.” (Tim Keller, Counterfeit Gods, pp. 172-173)

When I picked up Counterfeit Gods I thought, ‘I’ve done the whole idolatry thing and it has been a helpful study and Keller is the best at unpacking it, but I doubt I get much new here.’  I am happy to report that I was pleasantly surprised.  At one point in the book I felt strongly that the Spirit of God was speaking directly to me through Keller’s writing and bringing me to a point of deep and deeply needed repentance.

I have read several of Keller’s books previously: Reason for God, The Prodigal God, Ministries of Mercy, and Generous Justice (presently reading).  If you haven’t read him, start with The Prodigal God or perhaps Counterfeit Gods.  Reason for God is an excellent book for examining specific obstacles to faith; it is a resource I especially like to recommend to university students and young intellectuals.