List of Idol Categories from Counterfeit Gods

In the Notes section of Counterfeit Gods, Tim Keller has included a helpful list of idol categories:

  • Theological idols – Doctrinal errors that produce such distorted viewsof God that we end up worshipping a false god.
  • Sexual idols – Addictions such as pornography and fetishisms that promise but don’t deliver a sense of intimacy and acceptance; ideals of physical beauty in yourself and/or your partner; romantic idealism.
  • Magic/ritual idols – Witchcraft and the occult.  All idolatry is in the end a form of magic that seeks to rebel against the order of transcendent reality rather than submitting to it in love and wisdom.
  • Political/economic idols – Ideologies of the left, right, and libertarian that absolutize some aspect of political order and make it the solution.  Deifying or demonizing free markets, for example.
  • Racial/national idols – Racism, militarism, nationalism, or ethnic pride that turns bitter or oppressive.
  • Relational idols – Dysfunctional family systems of codependency; “fatal attraction”; living your life through your children.
  • Religious idols – Moralism and legalism; idolatry of success and gifts; religion as a pretext for abuse of power.
  • Philosophical idols – Systems of thought that make some created thing the problem with life (instead of sin) and some human product or enterprise the solution to our problems (instead of God’s grace).
  • Cultural idols – Radical individualism, as in the West, that makes an idol out of individual happiness at the expense of community; shame cultures that make an idol out of family and clan at the expense of individual rights.
  • Deep idols – Motivational drives and temperaments made into absolutes: a. Power idolatry: “Life only has meaning/I only have worth if – I have power and influence over others.”  b. Approval idolatry: “Life only has meaning/I only have worth if – I am loved and respected by __________.”  c. Comfort idolatry: “Life only has meaning/I only have worth if – I have this kind of pleasure experience, a particular quality of life.”  d. Control idolatry: “Life only has meaning/I only have worth if – I am able to get mastery over my life in the area of __________.”

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