There are few themes as significant as that of idolatry and Keller exposes the idols of our time in a way that few others are able to do. Keller begins his book by explaining why idolatry is not just an ancient religious problem, but is the essence of "life" today, in modern and post-modern culture. We live in a culture that is an idol-making factory and the heart of every human is an idol-making factory as well.
The four great idols of today that he explores are that of love (romance and sexuality, relational security), money, success, power and glory. A chapter is devoted to each of these idols.
Keller's book is so significant because Keller is able to do what many writers cannot. While some are able to do any of the particular things that follow very well, Keller's gift is to do them all quite well and weave them together in a synergistic way.
FIRST: He exegetes the Scripture and tells the great narrative story of the Gospel in simply magnificent ways. He opens up a major text for each chapter and I will never read several of those texts as I use to. He is a biblical theologian who is accessible to all readers.
SECOND: He exegetes our contemporary culture in profound and yet very understandable ways. Specifically, Keller lives in one of the greatest cities in the world and he understands that culture in depth. He is both apologist and missionary, prophet and pastor as he dissects that culture and explains its significance. He is one of the sons of Issachar who discerns the time.
THIRD: He exegetes the human heart with the skill of a master surgeon, wielding the sharpest scalpels. As I am reading Keller, I am reading my own heart. My own idols are being exposed to me. He takes me deep beneath the water line and helps me understand and discern the intricacies of my heart. That this is crucial is seen in Proverbs 4:23:
"Above all else guard the heart,
for it is the wellspring of life."
Keller knows the damage of idolatry as what is hidden in the heart erupts into one's life.
FOURTH: He constantly brings us to Christ and to grace, for only Christ can conquer the idols in our hearts and only through grace can we receive the power of a new and greater affection.
This book is pastoral, biblical, cultural, prophetic, apologetic, missional . . . AND it is accessible to everyone. I am just not aware of anything else like it.
To say it a slightly different way, Keller exegetes the Scripture, discerns the culture, interprets the heart and weaves it together in a way that is pastoral, apologetic and a touch prophetic. Every chapter I read, was my favorite chapter.
And here is where this book will become extraordiarily useful for you. Use it as a stepping stone for reflection and discernment about the idols in your life.
Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International
p.s. And as a final thought, in light of the series I have been doing on the church, I wonder if (for some of us) we have made the Church an idol and when it has clay feet, we are devasted, hurt and angry?