Sitting at the kitchen table this morning, with my breakfast cereal digesting in my stomach, I found myself meditating on this question. It would not escape me. What causes me to care about what matters? Why do I want to give my life to that which matters? If I want to live for something that matters, then there must be something that matters.
As I meditated, journaled and navigated the deep waters of this question, I discovered that this is a question that has pervaded much of my thought for the past several years. Ever since coming to college really, but moreso over the past four years after my return from South Africa.
I realized this morning that when I find myself in a situation that seems void of joy, it is an experience that is often tainted by a feeling of tentativeness, uncertainty and a curiosity that wonders, "Does this really matter?" What I truly want is to live life with a certainty - a contentment - that says, "This matters. …
The final objection to Christianity that Keller discusses is the belief that "You can't take the Bible literally."
This chapter is jam-packed, but I will briefly mention a few of Keller's arguments for the validity of the Bible.
"The content is far too counterproductive for the gospels to be legends."
If the New Testament gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) were just books written by some misguided Jews looking too hard for a Savior, then why would they include so much content that would be very culturally counter-productive to the advancement of their "new religion?" For example, if they were making up legend and promoting a false reality, why would they say that women were the first eyewitnesses and testifiers to the resurrection of Jesus - the leader of their "new faith?" A woman's testimony was not allowed in court at that time, so why not at least say that some men were the first to witness the risen Christ?
The sixth objection to Christianity that Keller often faces and thus addresses in Reason for God is the belief that "Science has disproved Christianity," or more aptly stated, "science has disproved the existence of a creator God and consequently, all theistic religions."
It is a much debated question today: are science and belief in God mutually exclusive? Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens and others would urge us to believe so, but severing the two is not so easy and there are many prominent scientists of our day who are firm believers in the creator God of the Bible.
Keller first addresses the belief that miracles are scientifically impossible, because you can't empirically prove their reality. In response, he states that because science requires an experimental model to test everything, how could a scientist test the statement "No supernatural cause for any natural phenomenon is possible."
Next, Keller looks at the question of whether or not science is in di…
The next objection to Christianity that Keller addresses in Reason for God is the question, "How can a loving God sending people to hell?"
Real simple, nice and light-hearted question, right?
If you're looking for a hellfire and brimestone condemnation in the pages of Keller's book, you won't find one. Keller's response to this question is gently and respectfully discussed without compromising the absolute truth of the Scripture, and it was one of the better discussions to date in my reading on this topic.
The reality is, however, that this question is so delicate that I really don't want to wade into it in this blog post. I know, chicken, right? Not really, but if there is any conversation generated in the comments section, I would love to engage there.
What do you think? Why would such a place as "hell" exist? Could God be good, loving and just and simultaneously allow humans to dwell in a place of torment after death on earth?
T.S. Eliot once wrote "Can a lifetime represent a single motive?"
I come to the blogosphere today thinking about the topic of "focus", after just reading a chapter on the topic in Os Guiness' book, The Call.
Our world has become a smorgasbord of choice. We are overwhelmed, overloaded, saturated and fragmented. Is focus even possible anymore?
Recently, I have found myself desiring a more focused life. In my work - vocational ministry - I am often working in many different spheres, such as small groups, public communication, mission to the poor, art and media, raising funds, mentoring, shepherding, connecting with new people. On one hand, it's great that I am getting so much exposure, perhaps helping me along as I discover God's calling. But, I often feel fragmented and diluted.
What is a guy to do in a world that worships choice and change? I enjoy change as much as the next guy! But, it seems that only one reality can lead us away from the altar of choice: …
The fifth objection posed by skeptics that Keller addresses is one that has always been difficult to handle: "The Church is responsible for so much injustice."
Keller responds from three different angles: individual character weakness, the history of war and violence and finally, fundamental fanaticism.
It may feel like a straw man response, but the reality is that Christians are not perfect. We are saved by sheer grace, not by our good works. The Church necessarily attracts and is filled with broken people. After coming to faith in Christ, one does not immediately become a Mother Theresa. That said, there are many who have worn the name of Christ, but have not lived it or have likely never been indwelt by his Spirit.
Religion and Violence
Christopher Hitchens rightly argues that many religions often "transcendentalize" ordinary cultural differences so that opposite parties feel they are in a cosmic battle between good and evil. Historically, violence…
The third objection posed to Christianity that Keller addresses is "Christianity is a straightjacket."
Because our faith is one that is grounded in absolute truth, another way to think about this one is through this question: "Is a belief in absolute truth the enemy of freedom?" We do live in a society that worships personal freedom, so this is a worthwhile question.
Keller asks: Is freedom a "place" we eventually hope to find ourselves where there is no ultimate purpose for our existence, but only a purpose to define our own existence and live for our own pleasure?
This question of the existence of absolute truth and ultimate purpose is one that undergirds much of our political and social squabbles. So, some would say that truth claims are actually power plays for Christians to just get their own way. Unfortunately, many "Christian" leaders throughout history have used truth claims as power plays. But, we must dig deeper beyond the tarnished image…
The second objection to Christianity that Keller addresses is the ever-popular question, How Could a Good God Allow Suffering?
In this post, I will not even get one toe into the depths of this timeless, difficult question posed to Christ-followers. Actually, Keller argues that this question is more of an issue for already-Christians, rather than non-yets. But it is still a very popular objection to faith in Christ.
Many philosophers of our day have agreed that just as goodness in the world does not prove God's existence, they have also agreed that evil and suffering can not disprove God. The assertion that the world is filled with pointless evil and therefore a supposed good God could not exist hides another premise that if suffering appears pointless to me, then it must be pointless.
If you ask around, you could easily find someone who has gone through a period of suffering and come out better on the other end. Keller shares some stories of this vein, and also points to the life of …
I am still plowing through Keller's Reason for God and as usual, I'm finding it much easier to keep flipping its pages as opposed to taking time for reflection. I really need to develop a better rhythm of reading, studying and reflecting when I pick up nonfiction. I digress.
After my last post, I realized two things. One, I need to keep these posts much shorter. Two, I need to preface these posts with an apology to Keller. I have no doubts that I might be doing him a disservice in these summaries, but I am trying my best to remain true to his thoughts as I post some *hopefully* succint reviews of each chapter.
The last section of the first objection chapter, There Can't Be Just One True Religion, deals with the solution that some propose: to keep religion completely private.
Contemporary political scientists, sociologists, etc have argued that in public sector conversations, one should "not argue for a moral position unless it has a secular, nonreligious grounding."
After his introduction on doubt, Keller begins the first section of Reason for God with a look at the seven most common objections to faith in Christ that he has received in his years at Redeemer. The first of these objections is "There can't be just one true religion."
This is the question of exclusivity. "There can't be just one way to God", "Jesus can't be the only way", etc, etc. Keller agrees that one of the major barriers to world peace, is in fact "religion." When you share a common set of beliefs with others, you naturally feel a superiority to those outside of that community who believe differently. The response to religion is then to either outlaw, condemn or intensely privatize it.
Outlaw Keller states that the trajectory of thinking for many years has been that the more scientifically sophisticated and more able to understand and control our environment, our need for religion would diminish. But this "secularization the…
I just started a new book, The Reason for God, by Tim Keller. If you aren't familiar with Keller, he is pastor of Redeemer in NYC, a church that is known for connecting with a broad cross section of New Yorkers - poor, wealthy, yuppies, artistic, multicultural.
I thought I'd make some posts related to the questions that Keller discusses in his latest book. I think I will enjoy this book because it is a very contemporary (copyright 2008), accessible apologetic, but it does not abandon orthodoxy. Ever since reading I Sold My Soul on Ebay, I have been thinking more actively about our age of skepticism and how a Christ-follower can intellectually, lovingly and respectfully engage others on the many current objections posed.
Keller opens up by addressing the topic of doubt, which is absolutely foundational for any discussion of apologetics. If we have not honestly acknowledged and wrestled with the doubts of our own faith (if think you don't have any, then take some time to think…