As I’ve mentioned several times before, I’m a big Tim Keller fan. Just finished his book Counterfeit Gods today. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Lots of good insights, as always, but nothing particularly new. Those familiar with Keller’s sermons will find many of them in book form here.
Here’s what Counterfeit Gods is good for:
Bathroom reading. Each chapter is divided up into two-four page segments. You can read it in five minute increments and still gain plenty.
A good introductory book study to the biblical concept of idolatry. I recommend it for discipleship, small groups. If you want to better understand how Christians see the world and how we look at “unbelievers,” Counterfeit Gods will give you some good, basic insights in Christian thinking.
A fresh, insightful, take on familiar Bible stories. It’s not often that you hear about how Jacob’s idolatry dictated his actions, or about how Jonah’s nationalism caused him to run away from God’s command to preach to Ninevah. Keller is the master of drawing profound lessons from the biblical narrative in ways that we often do not see.
Here’s what it’s not good for:
An evidential apologetic for the Christian faith. I hesitate to say this, because I think all of Keller’s work is at least somewhat apologetic in nature. Counterfeit Gods is no exception, as he references all sorts of thinkers, from Nietzsche to Madonna to Malcolm Gladwell, but my impression is that this book is targeted mainly at Christians. If you’re curious about Christianity, this book will help you, but it would be best to start with The Reason for God first.
Good literature. I love the way Keller thinks. I love how he engages with those outside of Christianity. He is an excellent speaker and preacher. But he is not a strong writer. There are far too many adverbs, a few plain editing mistakes, and too many unclear sentences. It’s easy enough to understand what Keller says in the book, so he is at least clear, but as a student of the craft, some things bothered me.
Here’s a quick video from the publisher to whet your appetite a bit more: