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Thursday, March 10, 2022

Book Review: Cultural Counterfeits: Confronting 5 Empty Promises of Our Age and How We Were Made for So Much More by Jen Oshman

BOOK review
Started on: 27 February 2022
Finished on: 4 March 2022

Title: Cultural Counterfeits: Confronting 5 Empty Promises of Our Age and How We Were Made for So Much More
Author: Jen Oshman
Publisher: Crossway Books
Pages: 208 pages
Year of Publication: 2022
Price: Rp 231,277 (

Rating: 4/5
*This e-book was received as a review copy from Crossway
"To live by counterfeits is to live an unprofitable, colorless life. To live by counterfeits is not to live at all but rather to die."
In today's culture, women and girls are highly influenced by idols that promise purpose and meaning for their lives—outward beauty and ability, sex, abortion, and gender fluidity. Christian women are not immune from these temptations either, and can elevate good things like marriage and motherhood to the status of idolatry. In Cultural Counterfeits, Jen Oshman encourages women to reject the empty, destructive promises these idols offer and embrace something much more satisfying. She casts a vision for women to experience real hope and peace in Jesus, who will give them unshakable and eternal identities. This timely and compelling book will help women find freedom and joy as they explore God's good design and purpose for their lives.
"Idols are counterfeits. Idolatry is when we ascribe meaning or power to something that cannot actually bear it—when we expect created, temporary things to deliver that which only the one true God can."
"We set up these idols in our hearts and give them meaning and power that should be reserved for God alone. We deify them by making them central to our lives, our value, our identity, and our purpose. We can make idols out of partners, children, careers, politics, money, sex, power, clothes, homes, vacations, cars, and who-knows-what else."
The title of this book was the first thing that caught my attention and the reason why I decided to read it. As the blurb states, Cultural Counterfeits specifically talks about five idols in the Western world that have been especially destructive to women and girls by giving empty promises. Chapter by chapter, Jen Oshman will reveal how we got here among these idols, unpack the most attractive and sinister counterfeits of our age, and in the end she will help reorient us to how good and sovereign and kind our God is. The author talks through a biblical perspective that will remind us of God's truth regarding these counterfeits. I also love the discussion questions at the end of each chapter that can be useful for personal or group reflection. I have to admit, there are are times when I wasn't able to relate to the Western culture that was mentioned because it doesn't really match with the culture in my country—but I still learned so much from what she writes regardless ๐Ÿ˜Š.
"Whether you are languishing and starving in a far country or steeped in your own moralism and no less dissatisfied, the Father is watching and waiting."
"Women are hungry for healing and wholeness, but they continue to put their hope in new counterfeits of a forever-flawed ideology."
Whenever I think of an idol, I always think of some kind of statue that people worship because they believe its power. However, author and pastor Timothy Keller reminds us that, "An idol is whatever you look at and say, in your heart of hearts, 'If I have that, then I'll feel my life has meaning, then I'll know I have value, then I'll feel significant and secure.'" The five idols in the Western culture that Jen Oshman discussed in this book are: the idol of outward beauty and ability, idol of sex, idol of abortion, idol of gender and sexual fluidity, and the idol of purity, marriage, and motherhood. She dedicated the first few chapters explaining the history of how the Western culture became what it is today—applauding the visually pleasing, believing that sex is our deepest need and highest good, thinking that abortion promises us control and choice, and more. I was utterly shocked by the facts and statistics that she shared in this book about eliminating unborn babies with disabilities and even assisted suicide—which I never knew about prior to reading this book. Even though I have so much to talk about all of these idols, I will only share my thoughts on two of them to avoid this review becoming too long.

The first one will be the idol of gender and sexual fluidity—also known as LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning or queer, intersex, ally or asexual, and the plus sign is an umbrella for the inclusion of anyone else on the sexual orientation or gender identity spectrum). To be honest, I always had a difficult time confronting this topic because like Jen Oshman acknowledged in this chapter, "Rehearsing a biblical sexual ethic is now considered hate speech across campuses, in newspapers, and in legislation.". But after reading a mind-opening passage in this chapter that touch on the topic of dualistic thinking, the author successfully strengthened my belief that we should continue to seek a way to communicate this issue with grace and truth instead of affirming or condemning.
"Every human body is invaluable because each one bears a soul, each one is imago dei, each one was created very good... Life is a gift to steward, not manipulate, exploit, or dispose of as the world sees fit."
The second one that I'll be discussing is the idol of purity, marriage, motherhood—when we've exalted these good gifts above the giver. Amongst all of the idols that are mentioned in this book, I think this one is the most relatable for me personally because where I live in, some people look to marriage and motherhood for ultimate meaning, value, significance, or security. I laughed a little when Jen Oshman quoted author Rebecca McLaughlin who said that the apostle Paul would not be impressed when we champion marriage above faithful singleness ๐Ÿ˜‚. I am reminded that our highest calling is not limited to a temporary role on earth and they can never give us the soul satisfaction that we long for—only Jesus can fully satisfy us.

Throughout this book, the author also talks about the story of the prodigal son and the older brother. The whole parable reveals that both the sin of the younger brother and the legalism of the older brother prevents us from finding happiness and fulfillment. All of us are tempted by idols and none of us are immune to thinking that we are better people. Cultural Counterfeits has certainly encouraged me to think critically about the culture going around me through a biblical perspective. In the last chapter, we are reminded that no matter what we've done and no matter what our world is like, our God is with us—which is very comforting and full of hope. Highly recommend this book if you are struggling with any of these idols or want to have a firm biblical foundation on these particular topics ๐Ÿ‘.
"Let's reject the empty promises of our age and embrace instead the God who satisfies our longing souls and fills you and me with good things."
"There is nothing we can do to make him love us more or love us less. His love and forgiveness are complete and unconditional. May his kindness lead us to repentance."
by.stefaniesugia♥ .

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