Skeptic or believer - I think everyone should read
September 2, 2013
Why hello modern day C.S. Lewis. I mean, for real Timothy Keller. For real. This is by far one of the best Christian apologetic books I've read in a while. It's an easy read, yet so many great points to think about and ponder. Whether a skeptic or believer, you should read this book! I believe a decision about faith is too important a matter to not think about it.
Here's the list of chapters so you have a better idea of what he covers. The first part he address is common arguments against Christianity and the second is reasons for belief in Christianity.
Timothy Keller, the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, addresses the frequent doubts that skeptics and non-believers bring to religion. Using literature, philosophy, anthropology, pop culture, and intellectual reasoning, Keller explains how the belief in a Christian God is, in fact, a sound and rational one. To true believers he offers a solid platform on which to stand against the backlash toward religion spawned by the Age of Skepticism. And to skeptics, atheists, and agnostics he provides a challenging argument for pursuing the reason for God.
Part 1: The Leap of Doubt
There Can't Be Just One True Religion
How Could a Good God Allow Suffering?
Christianity is a Straitjacket
The Church is Responsible for So Much Injustice
How Can a Loving God Send People to Hell?
Science Has Disproved Christianity
You Can't Take the Bible Literally
Part 2: The Reasons for Faith
The Clues of God
The Knowledge of God
The Problem of Sin
Religion and the Gospel
The (True) Story of the Cross
The Reality of the Resurrection
The Dance of God
There's lots of quotes to share, so let's dive right in!
"Everyone has faith in something_.What is religion then? It is a set of beliefs that explain what life is all about, who we are, and the most important things that human beings should spend their time doing."
"At the very heart of [Christians'] view of reality was a man who died for his enemies, praying for their forgiveness."
"Love is the most liberating freedom-loss of all. Human beings are most free and alive in relationships of love [whether for a friend or romantic love]."
Regrading injustice: "When people have done injustice in the name of Christ they are not being true to the spirit of the one who himself died as a victim of injustice and who called for the forgiveness of his enemies. When people give their lives to liberate others as Jesus did, they are realizing the true Christianity that Martin Luther King, Jr., Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and other Christian voices have called for."
"If there is no God, then there is no way to say any one action is "moral" and another "immoral" but only "I like this." If that is the case, who gets the right to put their subjective, arbitrary moral feelings into law?"
On the resurrection: "The resurrection also puts a burden of proof on it's nonbelievers. It is not enough to simply believe Jesus did not rise from the dead. You must then come up with a historically feasible alternative explanation for the birth of the church. You have to provide some other plausible account for how things began_If the resurrection of Jesus happened, however, that means there's infinite hope and reason to pour ourselves out for the needs of the world."
So now that I just did a quote slam, what do you think? Have you read any of Keller's writings? Any of the quotes resonate? I would love to hear your thoughts!
This book is jam packed with so much information and wisdom- I am not done with it yet, but I have loved every page. I want to read it more than once to take it all in. I highly recommend it to Christians and non Christians. VERY well done. Answers questions with respect, fairness and fully.
I was introduced to this book a couple of years ago, and I love it. I have been a Christian since I was in high school (several years ago). I read this book and appreciated Timothy Keller's logical case for the existence of God, and the way he answers some of the questions common to all unbelievers and newer believers. He started and grew a large church in NYC, and he deals with skeptics all the time. The book is very thought provoking. I bought copies for all the graduates on my list.
I have read this book about 3 times. The clarity that it contains is truly exceptional. I bought this copy to give to my son-in-law as I have my copy marked up and highlighted. I don't want to lose it.
Can anyone look at the world objectively? According to this author, no, definitely not. Working from that assumption (which I happen to agree with), he proceeds to deconstruct the deconstructionists, proving that all people base their worldview on certain unproved (and unprovable) assumptions. The skeptics who like to bash religion for being irrational and unscientific are not exactly the gold standard for rationality themselves.
I doubt the book would change the beliefs of the hardcore theophobes, since their biggest beef against God is that they don't like competition, plus they enjoy feeling intellectually superior to everyone else. I do think the book serves the admirable purpose of strengthening the faith of the faithful, much as C. S. Lewis's books Miracles and The Problem of Pain do. I read this book in 2009, and recently re-read it after witnessing the kerfuffle over Year of Biblical Womanhood and its author's emphasis on believing in a God she is "comfortable" with, which apparently struck a chord with a lot of ex-evangelicals. Timothy Keller, by contrast, is content to take the God of the Bible "as is," knowing that that God isn't some adorable spiritual pet that 21st-century "spiritual but not religious" people can cuddle with on a rainy day. Keller has a very high opinion of God, and a very low opinion of the human ego - in other words, he has the right priorities.
Rather than drag out the review, I'll let the author speak for himself:
All doubts, however skeptical and cynical they may seem, are really a set of alternate beliefs.
God's grace does not come to those who morally outperform others, but to those who admit their failure to perform and who acknowledge their need for a Savior. p 19
Any community that did not hold its members accountable for specific beliefs and practices would have no corporate identity and would not really be a community at all. p 40
When the idea of God is gone, a society will transcendentalize something else, some other concept, in order to appear morally and spiritually superior. p 55
Because Christians think wrongdoing has infinitely more long-term consequences than secular people do, does that mean they are somehow narrower? p 81
And, these two gems directed at the half-Christians or "spiritual but not religious crowd":
To stay away from Christianity because parts of the Bible's teaching is offensive to you assumes that if there is a God he wouldn't have any views that upset you. p 112
If you don't trust the Bible enough to let it challenge and correct your thinking, how could you ever have a personal relationship with God? In any truly personal relationship, the other person has to be able to contradict you. . . . You'll have a Stepford God, a God essentially of your own making, and not a God with whom you can have genuine interaction. p 114
I highly recommend the book for any Christian who feels uncomfortable about sharing his faith with his nonreligious friends, who is guilty of sharing the secular culture's contempt for Christians and their "irrationality" and "intolerance" and "exclusivism." If you ever feel the urge to ditch the label "Christian" and start calling yourself "spiritual but not religious," this book might well help you maintain your loyalty to the God revealed in the Bible.