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Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters

4.34  ·  Rating details ·  13,652 ratings  ·  721 reviews
The New York Times bestselling author of The Reason for God and The Songs of Jesus and a nationally renowned minister, Timothy Keller exposes the error of making good things “ultimate” in this book, and shows readers a new path toward a hope that lasts. 

Success, true love, and the life you’ve always wanted. Many of us placed our faith in these things, believing they held t
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Hardcover, 240 pages
Published October 20th 2009 by Viking
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Average rating 4.34  · 
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 ·  13,652 ratings  ·  721 reviews


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Rachel
Dec 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Hard hitting, and grace-filled, this book was a perfect book to set the tone for 2017!

Here are a few of the gems I found:
“An idol is something that we look to for things that only God can give. If we look to some created thing to give us the meaning, hope, and happiness that only God himself can give, it will eventually fail to deliver and break our hearts. To practice idolatry is to be a slave.” 


“God saw Abraham’s sacrifice and said, “Now I know that you love me, because you did not withhold
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Jeffrey Thomas
Mar 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This has to be my favorite Timothy Keller book that I've read to date, and easily one of my all time favorites! The ways in which he unpacks numerous of the idols and counterfeit gods that rule our lives through the use of real life stories as well as examples in Scripture reveals the real heart of the issue with each of those. The end of each chapter also does an awesome job of relating each of those idols to Jesus, showing how He is always the thing we need in those unique spaces in our hearts ...more
Gene Helsel
Jun 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
Tim Keller does an excellent job of exposing the idols of money, sex and power and the many various forms that they take today. The first chapter alone is worth twice what I paid for the book. Keller is an able expositor and pastoral "applier" of God's Word.

For the majority of this book Keller is very careful to draw his insights and applications directly *out of* the biblical narratives (exegesis.) But a few times he falls prey to the preacher's ever-present temptation of "eisegesis" (reading
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Luke
Aug 05, 2013 rated it it was ok
Keller speaks on idolatry, and the power that this sin commands in a world obsessed with materialism, selfish gain, celebrity and greed. Essentially, idolatry is at the root of all sin, as we choose to worship something more than God - to put something ahead of God. Keller makes his point (idolatry sux if you call yourself a christian!) and takes the next 2/3rds of the book outlining different types of idolatry with a few anecdotes segmented throughout. But then things get good towards the end. ...more
Maggie
Oct 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Counterfeit Gods is my introduction to Timothy Keller, guess I'm late to the game, but based on what I read, I plan on reading more of his works. This is an excellent book, one of the most convicting I've read in a while, with a much needed message for our modern culture and society. When many of us think of the word "idol", we either think of teen pop stars or people worshipping before a golden calf and other statues. However, Keller shows the reader what false gods look like in this day and ag ...more
John Gardner
Feb 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
As with Keller’s previous two books, this one is very good. In fact, it may be his best yet, which is high praise from a big-time Keller fan like me!

In “Counterfeit Gods”, Keller delivers a timely message regarding idolatry in our culture, and in our own lives. He very quickly dispels the common image of an idol as a carved statue that is literally worshiped (though this does still happen and he does address it). Instead, he writes that most idols are, in fact, good things, such as spouses and c
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Josh Miller
Feb 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
After reading this book written by Timothy Keller, it is a no-brainer - I will try and read anything by him that I can get my hands on! Talk about an intriguing read!

Keller challenges the gods of our current society (and nearly every society) in a masterful way. There are very few intellectuals that are enjoyable to read. However, Keller is one of those. This would make an outstanding "book club" read or a good Bible study by a Sunday School.

Although I underlined, starred, and marked many secti
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Michael
Oct 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the books I'd categorize as a must read. Keller's thesis is that idolatry lies behind all sins, and he plumbs the idols that we all have in our lives (money, sex, power, theological, political, economic, and many others). He's at his best in identifying these idols and illustrating them in the lives of different biblical characters (Jonah, Jacob, Leah and Rachel, and others). More light could have been shed on replacing these idols with God, but that's rightly the material for ano ...more
Steve Hemmeke
Jan 25, 2011 rated it liked it
Good book. Here are some highlights:

An idol of politics
"One of the signs that an object is functioning as an idol is that fear becomes one of the chief characteristics of life" (98).

Keller goes on to show how fear leads to reviling and demonizing political opponents, making a toxic instead of healthy atmosphere for political discourse. This comes from making politics an idol, for fear that we will lose political stability if our politicians and policies don't SAVE us. We can SAY politics isn't a
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Justin Lonas
May 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Short, to the point, and kindly ruthless.

I was put off at first by Keller's somewhat pedantic style (he typically writes for a broad audience, especially for non Christians, so his rehashing of basics can seem insulting to some), but after finishing the whole book, it seems like a good fit. He pares away rhetorical flourishes, side-notes, allusions, and deeper discussion to cut the chase, a bruising theological argument that all sin begins as idolatry.

Keller doesn't sugar-coat the accusation tha
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Troy Nevitt
Jul 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was an easy read. Short. Helpful.
I feel I should leave the review short to prove that.

Keller focuses on idolatry we know easily invades our lives, and how they do not truly satisfy the longings people have like Christ does. He's right. This book is helpful as a reminder of the deception that is promised through sex, money, and power.
Jade
Sep 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: high-school
This is an absolutely phenomenal book. I personally have always been foggy on what idolatry really is. This book has changed the way I perceive the world around me and even who I am. Idols drive almost every action I take, and I have just begun the lifelong battle of uprooting them and replacing them with the only One who is truly worth idolizing. Wish me luck.
Josh Long
Apr 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Don't blow it off this book off you think it's going to be self-explanatory stuff. Keller does a great job at unpacking the narratives of Abraham, Jacob and Jonah in really insightful ways. Worth the read.
Jeremy
Oct 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: christian-life
This is a very simple and well laid out book helping us to understand that idolatry isn't a relic of the Old Testament or obscure tribal communities but rather a universal human condition. Keller deftly lays out the primary "idols" of American society and discusses how one can identify and replace the idols the reader is specifically wrestling with.

I will definitely use this book in discipleship relationships.
Tara Nemcik
Sep 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book really dives into the tendencies of human behavior to show us how we have made gods of earthly things. Identifying why we struggle with finding real peace and job. It can be a rough journey to better understand yourself, but I would recommend exploring your own personal idols.
Sharon
Jan 30, 2014 rated it it was ok
I often hear Christians comparing Keller to C.S. Lewis in his ability to distill complex theological ideas into manageable, everyday language. While I know that there is a need for this level of discourse for large swathes of people, religious and non-religious alike, and appreciate that Keller's books often serve as an entrypoint for further exploration, it was this very "toning down" that I found frustrating about Counterfeit Gods (and tend to find frustrating in general with Keller's books, p ...more
Mikelkpoet
Oct 28, 2009 rated it it was ok
Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.
Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.
Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.
Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.
Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.
Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.
Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.
Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.
Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.
Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.
Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.
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Alex Stroshine
Sep 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: christian-living
Timothy Keller's "Counterfeit Gods" is a great book about the idols that plague our society. Keller looks at how money, sex, power, success and even theology all work as idols that tear us away from genuine devotion to Christ. He uses Biblical narratives, such as the stories of Jacob and Jonah, in order to help the reader grasp how certain idols affected these individuals and how they struggled and moved past them. I would have liked Keller to have a chapter on entertainment/Hollywood as I feel ...more
John
Jul 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: inspirational
There is this thing Timothy Keller does that marks him a good writer of the Christian sort. It is that he tell a few stories that connect to the theme of a chapter and then explore it both the theme and the story by the writing. This way one gets insight into the biblical narrative as well as more modern example of the same principles as work. It makes the writing feel good and the reader feel satisfied. Keller has also a keen eye on where to do the approach and how to drive the point home, and ...more
Joanna
Aug 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A deeply affecting book, relevant to everyone. At first, I was disappointed that it was written in a simpler fashion than, say, C.S. Lewis's masterworks, but I came to realize that it was all the more powerful for being straightforward. Universal truths about the human condition don't need to be dressed up.

This is sometimes an uncomfortable read because of the incisive insight it has about the many finite gods to which we enslave ourselves: I found some of the examples eerily relevant to my own
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Daniel Supimpa
Jul 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
🇬🇧 A well-written presentation of modern idols (like money, sex, power, ideology and doctrinal orthodoxy) by one of the most culturally engaged pastors of our time. His argumentation is very good, the examples fitting and his conclusions are—in a positive way—very evangelical, always pointing to Christ and the narrative of the Gospel.
My only contend would be with the absence of other themes I’d imagine could fit here: entertainment and technology. Other than that, a book you should take the time
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Natalie Print
Apr 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A helpful, biblically-based book which encourages us to see where we are valuing certain things too highly and living with them as more important to us than God. I found it very challenging - in a good way - as it really helped to highlight some of my idols, without piling on the guilt! Tim Keller encourages us to keep battling our idols, whilst not losing sight of the fact that Jesus has done everything to forgive us, and having realistic expectations about the Christian life, for growth not pe ...more
Clay
Jun 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If there is an annual reading list, this should be at the top.
Stress levels in young Americans are increasing at an alarming rate and yet we are living in the most prosperous and worry free (rationally speaking) time in human history. Our culture is telling us that there’s a life out there that we can attain that will bring our souls peace and remove all insecurity and stress. The cultural theme is that you can be your own god. I often forget it in my own life, but nothing is enough except for G
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Samuel Ferguson
Apr 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A book which looks deep at the heart and uncovers the hidden idols and false gods that we place our trust in. A true gospel centred resource helpful for anyone, as all fall short in regards to idols. Gives a picture of a broken situation but also of thee solution; replace your idols with Jesus, this is the only way to be free of them
Jeremy
May 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing treatment of idolatry, both in terms of covering basics on some of the "surface idols" and in terms of covering "deeper idols." Keller as usual is a fantastic writer, a clear thinker, and so convicting. Highest recommendation.
Ricardo Suranta
Jun 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: christianity
Mr. Keller wastes no page and tackles the idolatry issue right from the introduction.

His breadth of knowledge and depth of Biblical understanding gave this book a perfect balance of engaging real-world issues and theologically informative (or transformative, IMO) content. He was able to uncover various kind of idols, offer an example either in a real-world case or biblical character (surprise, surprise) and contrast them against the one true God who can satisfy them: Jesus Christ.

I highly reco
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Jeremy Duffle
Aug 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: christian
Very good dissection of various gods we face in America. Has separate study guide (for small group setting)
Anna
Oct 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Another Tim Keller book written his familiar sense with anecdotes and personal encounters/relationships. He shows us Biblical characters that also struggled with counterfeit gods and idols. It’s a compact book.
Angela Romine
Loved this book! It helped to focus my attention to the idols that may be in my life and warn me of others that can be hidden. I would recommend this book to anyone!
Heather Walters
Jul 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019, ruf
Ouch / ohm. May we continue to look upward and meditate on Christ’s death as the absolute joy of our lives so that we may enjoy the gifts he graciously gives us without making them our chief gods.
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Timothy Keller is the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, which he started in 1989 with his wife, Kathy, and three young sons. For over twenty years he has led a diverse congregation of young professionals that has grown to a weekly attendance of over 5,000.

He is also Chairman of Redeem
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