I answered like a shot: religion.”6. The … The main question I wanted to ask our instructors was, “Which one of you is lying?” But fourteen-year-olds are not so bold, and I just kept my mouth shut. Some of these objections are a result of rationalism (“reason” is supreme, not God) over revelation or a misunderstanding of what the doctrine teaches. Most people who assert the equality of religions have in mind the major world faiths, not splinter sects. The Church Is Responsible for So Much Injustice. We were as stunned by this as anyone. I seemed to see two camps before me, and there was something radically wrong with both of them. One survey showed that in the last several years more than a hundred churches had been started in New York City by Christians from Africa alone. But what? And in The Reason for God, he single-handedly dismantles each of them. In both my preaching and personal interactions I’ve tried to respectfully help skeptics look at their own faith-foundations while at the same time laying bare my own to their strongest criticisms. Its aim was to bring young people into a fuller understanding of the faith, so they could publicly commit to it. The answer is Yes. But among the increasingly multiethnic younger professionals and the working-class immigrants there was a lush, category-defying variety of strong religious beliefs. In 1989 he started Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City with his wife, Kathy, and their three sons. Major universities, media companies, and elite institutions are heavily secular, they say, and they control the culture. But as we become more scientifically sophisticated and more able to understand and control our own environment, our need for religion would diminish, it was thought.4. The following was originally published here as part of a Q&A with Greg Koukl on RZIM Connect.. ... Those who believe in God and Christianity are out to impose their beliefs on the rest. I think these younger Christians are the vanguard of some major new religious, social, and political arrangements that could make the older form of culture wars obsolete. The middle class, the conventional market for a church, was fleeing the city because of crime and rising costs. Surely all the religions are equally good and valid for meeting the needs of their particular followers.”, “Religious exclusivity is not just narrow—it’s dangerous,” added Geoff, a twentysomething British man also living in New York City. Also, a religion tells its followers that they are saved and connected to God by devotedly performing that truth. “It’s arrogant to say your religion is superior and try to convert everyone else to it. You know, reading is not the force. Kelly wrote, “As an atheist I thought I lived a moral, community-oriented, concerned-with-social-justice kind of life, but Christianity had an even higher standard—down to our thoughts and the state of our hearts. It may surprise you that though I am a Christian minister I agree with this. We have come to a cultural moment in which both skeptics and believers feel their existence is threatened because both secular skepticism and religious faith are on the rise in significant, powerful ways. For example, if you doubt Christianity because “There can’t be just one true religion,” you must recognize that this statement is itself an act of faith. Each religion informs its followers that they have “the truth,” and this naturally leads them to feel superior to those with differing beliefs. When the Chinese Communists expelled Western missionaries after World War II, they thought they were killing off Christianity in China. Rather it is a permanent and central aspect of the human condition. To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we don’t use a simple average. One way to deal with the divisiveness of religion has been to control or even forbid it with a heavy hand. There are three approaches that civic and cultural leaders around the world are using to address the divisiveness of religion. These three barriers did not come down quickly or in any set order. Jeffrey was a New York City musician, raised in a conservative Jewish home. Lewis’ Mere Christianity and Cornelius Van Til’s Why I Believe in God, rather than being an apologetics textbook, The Reason for God presents as a conversation piece for Christians and unbelievers. That left the sophisticated and hip, the wealthy and the poor. Really interesting. “How could there be just one true faith?” asked Blair, a twenty-four-year-old woman living in Manhattan. Everyone should determine moral truth for him-or herself.” Is that a statement they can prove to someone who doesn’t share it? The result will exceed anything you can imagine. One survey showed that in the last several years more than a hundred churches had been started in New York City by Christians from Africa alone. In fairness you must doubt your doubts. But my experience as a pastor in New York has given me another incentive to write this volume. There is a great gulf today between what is popularly known as liberalism and conservatism. Three generations ago, most people inherited rather than chose their religious faith. Once this situation exists it can easily spiral down into the marginalization of others or even to active oppression, abuse, or violence against them. However, when her sister had a stroke and was paralyzed at the age of fourteen, it moved her not to give up on God but to begin more deliberate searching. Kierkegaards life is more relevant to his work than is the case for many writers. But what? The second barrier was an interior, personal one. Which is it? Their pilgrimage toward faith was slow and painstaking. One student insisted that what mattered was to believe in God and to be a loving person yourself. Therefore, it is easy for one religious group to stereotype and caricature other ones. Several of the students were quite disturbed by this. It was almost like being instructed in two different religions. In fairness you must doubt your doubts. Like C.S. He was a social activist and was filled with deep doubts about traditional Christian doctrine. That meant the ministry, so I entered it just a few years after college. To insist that one faith has a better grasp of the truth than others was intolerant. But at the same time, robust, orthodox belief in the traditional faiths is growing as well. People who blithely go through life too busy or indifferent to ask hard questions about why they believe as they do will find themselves defenseless against either the experience of tragedy or the probing questions of a smart skeptic. The culture wars are taking a toll. To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number. What about evil and suffering? A faith without some doubts is like a human body without any antibodies in it. Finally, to his surprise, during his times of meditation he discovered his “moments of normally pure quiet and stillness were constantly interrupted by visions of Jesus on the cross.” He began to pray to the Christian God, and soon he realized that his dominant life narrative had been the escape and total avoidance of suffering. There Can’t Be Just One True Religion. If you went to the Middle East and said, “There can’t be just one true religion,” nearly everyone would say, “Why not?” The reason you doubt Christianity’s Belief A is because you hold unprovable Belief B. Because doubt and belief are each on the rise, our political and public discourse on matters of faith and morality has become deadlocked and deeply divided. I have no beliefs about God one way or another. This shopping feature will continue to load items when the Enter key is pressed. At first I thought this was going to be a struggle to read with how it started off. What about evil and suffering? Rather they were intertwined and dependent on one another. How could a loving God judge and punish? In another incident, Jesus meets a man who confesses that he is filled with doubts (Mark 9:24), who says to Jesus, “Help thou my unbelief”—help me with my doubts! Most people who assert the equality of religions have in mind the major world faiths, not splinter sects. I want to make a proposal that I have seen bear much fruit in the lives of young New Yorkers over the years. What troubles you the most about its beliefs or how it is practiced?” One of the most frequent answers I have heard over the years can be summed up in one word: exclusivity. Each speaker affirmed that there were significant, irreconcilable differences between the major faiths. Then I went off to one of those fine, liberal, smaller universities in the Northeast, which quickly began to throw water on the hellfire in my imagination. It is estimated that 10 to 25 percent of all the teachers and professors of philosophy in the country are orthodox Christians, up from less than 1 percent just thirty years ago.5 Prominent academic Stanley Fish may have had an eye on that trend when he reported, “When Jacques Derrida died [in November 2004] I was called by a reporter who wanted to know what would succeed high theory and the triumvirate of race, gender, and class as the center of intellectual energy in the academy. Church meant families; New York City was filled with young singles and “nontraditional” households. The social activism was particularly attractive, and the critique of American bourgeoisie society was compelling, but its philosophical underpinnings were confusing to me. But robust religious beliefs dominate the world. Only then is it safe and fair to disagree with it. I accepted God’s forgiveness and invited him into my life.” Kevin wrote, “While sitting in a coffee shop reading C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity, I put down the book and wrote in my notebook ‘the evidence surrounding the claims of Christianity is simply overwhelming.’ I realized that my achievements were ultimately unsatisfying, the approval of man is fleeting, that a carpe diem life lived solely for adventure is just a form of narcissism and idolatry. The time for making elegant dismissive gestures toward the other side is past. In this book, Timothy Keller answers objections to Christianity, and in doing so demonstrates the reasonableness of the Christian faith. But as we become more scientifically sophisticated and more able to understand and control our own environment, our need for religion would diminish, it was thought.4. Their pilgrimage toward faith was slow and painstaking. Keller uses literature, philosophy, real-life conversations and reasoning to explain how faith in a Christian God is soundly rational belief, held by thoughtful people of intellectual integrity with a deep compassion for those who truly want to know the truth. I want to make a proposal that I have seen bear much fruit in the lives of young New Yorkers over the years. First, each side should accept that both religious belief and skepticism are on the rise. Congregations in the city were dwindling, most struggling to even maintain their buildings. This assertion is so common that one journalist recently wrote that anyone who believed that “there are inferior religions” is a right-wing extremist.7 Do we really want to say that the Branch Davidians or religions requiring child sacrifice are not inferior to any other faith? How could I turn back to the kind of orthodox Christianity that supported segregation in the South and apartheid in South Africa? Genesis 6:5 states, “The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only … Fantastic resource for Christians and seekers, Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 10, 2015. God loved His own and provided a way—the … When he understood that Jesus had surrendered his physical health and life to save the world—and him—it moved him deeply. Ironically, the insistence that doctrines do not matter is really a doctrine itself. How could I turn back to the kind of orthodox Christianity that supported segregation in the South and apartheid in South Africa? My teacher for the first year was a retired minister. This book does not have all the answers and as some of the very lengthy reviews explain, some of the arguments are not backed up by much substance. He embraced the gospel of Jesus Christ. She became so obsessed with her physical image that she developed eating disorders and substance addictions. After all, what did her life mean? Unfortunately, I don’t believe any of them will be effective. Liberals’ individualism comes out in their views of abortion, sex, and marriage. It is getting both more religious and less religious at the same time. Believers should acknowledge and wrestle with doubts—not only their own but their friends’ and neighbors’. For example, if you doubt Christianity because “There can’t be just one true religion,” you must recognize that this statement is itself an act of faith. My thesis is that if you come to recognize the beliefs on which your doubts about Christianity are based, and if you seek as much proof for those beliefs as you seek from Christians for theirs—you will discover that your doubts are not as solid as they first appeared. We're sure that reading will lead you to join in better concept of life. The Christian ideal, accordin… It was painful, and was, as is typical, triggered by disappointments and failures. This is a bitter pill for secular, nonreligious people to swallow. He was quite traditional and conservative, speaking often of the danger of hell and the need for great faith. Believers should acknowledge and wrestle with doubts—not only their own but their friends’ and neighbors’. Finally she had the confidence to seek an encounter with God himself. Christianity is a straightjacket: This section does not apply to me. A book by Keller after The Reason for God, described by him as a prequel to it, is Making Sense of God: An Invitation to the Skeptical (2016). But even as believers should learn to look for reasons behind their faith, skeptics must learn to look for a type of faith hidden within their reasoning. It does so by stating and restating certain axioms that eventually achieve the status of common sense. No, it is a leap of faith, a deep belief that individual rights operate not only in the political sphere but also in the moral. It would take another, different kind of book to go into them. Because I was always looking for that third camp, I became interested in shaping and initiating new Christian communities. Then I read this book. Corinth was famous for its intellectual and material prosperity and was honored with being the capitol of Achaia. Keller's writing is lucid and accessible, and uses arguments which are intellectually convincing. Introduction. In the late 1980s, my wife, Kathy, and I moved to Manhattan with our three young sons to begin a new church for a largely non-churchgoing population. Therefore the population is paradoxically growing both more religious and less religious at once. After they wrestle with doubts and objections to Christianity many come out on the other side with an orthodox faith that doesn’t fit the current categories of liberal Democrat or conservative Republican. Also, a religion tells its followers that they are saved and connected to God by devotedly performing that truth. Is skepticism or faith on the ascendancy in the world today? Religion, generally speaking, tends to create a slippery slope in the heart. The first barrier was an intellectual one. This is particularly true when religion is the point at issue. There is a great gulf today between what is popularly known as liberalism and conservatism. Because of the vitality of religious faith in the world, efforts to suppress or control it often serve only to make it stronger. The reason given for Jesus’ speaking to the crowds in parables is that they have hardened themselves against his clear teaching, unlike the disciples to whom knowledge of “the mysteries of the kingdom has been granted” (Mt 13:10 – 16). While I had “said my prayers” for years, and while I sometimes had that inspirational, aesthetic sense of wonder at the sight of a sea or mountain, I had never experienced God’s presence personally. Whether you consider yourself a believer or a skeptic, I invite you to seek the same kind of honesty and to grow in an understanding of the nature of your own doubts. There's a problem loading this menu right now. Rather, it is a robust supernaturalist kind of faith, with belief in miracles, Scriptural authority, and personal conversion. Both his father and mother suffered terribly with cancer, his mother succumbing to it. It may surprise you that though I am a Christian minister I agree with this. Religion, it was thought, would thin out from its more robust, supernaturalist forms or die out altogether. Reviewed in the United States on January 8, 2018. Why believe anything at all?” I began to read books and arguments on both sides of these issues and slowly but surely, Christianity began to make more and more sense. Meanwhile, dozens of other similarly orthodox-believing congregations have sprung up in Manhattan and hundreds of others throughout the four other boroughs. Even in much of Europe, there is some growth in church attendance.4 And despite the secularism of most universities and colleges, religious faith is growing in some corners of academia. I had also read the brilliant books Sapiens and Homo Deus recently which really was the first brilliant book I have read where the author has pinned his staunch beliefs in a non-spiritual human to the wall. Each speaker affirmed that there were significant, irreconcilable differences between the major faiths. In the second year, we heard of a spirit of love in the universe, who mainly required that we work for human rights and the liberation of the oppressed. New York isn’t alone. It may be the greatest enemy of peace in the world. The author takes on each criticism and provides the relevant Christian response. Congregations in the city were dwindling, most struggling to even maintain their buildings. Nevertheless, we launched Redeemer Presbyterian Church, and by the end of 2007 it had grown to more than 5,000 attendees and had spawned more than a dozen daughter congregations in the immediate metropolitan area. We all agreed on the statement: “If Christians are right about Jesus being God, then Muslims and Jews fail in a serious way to love God as God really is, but if Muslims and Jews are right that Jesus is not God but rather a teacher or prophet, then Christians fail in a serious way to love God as God really is.” The bottom line was—we couldn’t all be equally right about the nature of God. We once needed religion to help us cope with a very frightening, incomprehensible world. But I kept asking the question, “If morality is relative, why isn’t social justice as well?” This seemed to be a blatant inconsistency in my professors and their followers. Older white people who ran the cultural business of the city definitely were quite secular. I was once invited to be the Christian representative in a panel discussion at a local college along with a Jewish rabbi and a Muslim imam. There is no reason to expect that to change. Religious believers should also be much less dismissive of secular skepticism. The non-churchgoing population in the United States and Europe is steadily increasing.1 The number of Americans answering “no religious preference” to poll questions has skyrocketed, having doubled or even tripled in the last decade.2 A century ago most U.S. universities shifted from a formally Christian foundation to an overtly secular one.3 As a result, those with traditional religious beliefs have little foothold in any of the institutions of cultural power. However, when her sister had a stroke and was paralyzed at the age of fourteen, it moved her not to give up on God but to begin more deliberate searching. One of the things that kept them on the trail, however, was the large number of believing Christians they met that were every bit as sophisticated and smart as anyone else they’d met in the city. Keller writes in a smooth, conversational tone. “Don’t tell people they have to believe in Jesus—that’s considered narrow-minded here.” They were incredulous when I explained that the beliefs of the new church would be the orthodox, historic tenets of Christianity—the infallibility of the Bible, the deity of Christ, the necessity of spiritual regeneration (the new birth)—all doctrines considered hopelessly dated by the majority of New Yorkers. The speaker is betting his or her life that no God exists who would hold you accountable for your beliefs and behavior if you didn’t feel the need for him. Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC, phones or tablets. This required not so much knowledge of techniques for prayer, but a process in which I came to grips with my own needs, flaws, and problems. The most logical conclusion is that we were created by a higher being for the very purpose of worship. Christianity Is a Straitjacket. We were as stunned by this as anyone. Now he saw how futile such a life goal was. The Reason for God makes a tight, accessible case for reasoned religious belief.” – The Washington Post “It’s a provocative premise, in pursuit of which Keller…takes on nonbelievers from evolutionary biologists to the recent rash of atheist authors.” – The Boston Globe The third barrier was a social one. [‘The Reason for God’] should serve both as a testimony of the author’s encyclopedic learning and as a compelling overview of the current debate on faith for those who doubt and for those who want to reevaluate what they believe and why. Everyone wants to think that they are in the mainstream, that they are not extremists. Soviet Russia, Communist China, the Khmer Rouge, and (in a different way) Nazi Germany were all determined to tightly control religious practice in an effort to stop it from dividing society or eroding the power of the state. Why did God create humanity? I didn’t know it at the time, but this spiritual “unreality” stemmed from three barriers that lay across my path. The social activism was particularly attractive, and the critique of American bourgeoisie society was compelling, but its philosophical underpinnings were confusing to me. Here are three people at the church now. You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition. Nothing like that is imminently possible. It cannot ultimately succeed, however, because at its heart is a fatal inconsistency, even perhaps a hypocrisy, that will eventually lead to the collapse of this way of thinking. The great majority of people would almost certainly agree that they are. Reviewed in the United States on October 9, 2018, [Update 14-May-2019 – added to the review]. Couldn’t we find ways to urge all of our citizens, whatever their religious beliefs, to admit that each religion or faith is just one of many equally valid paths to God and ways to live in the world? I thoroughly recommend it and would encourage anyone investigating the Christian faith or questioning its foundations to pick it up. The result, however, was not more peace and harmony, but more oppression. Emotions and rhetoric are intense, even hysterical. Then he began listening to the ends of the sermons and realizing they posed an intellectual challenge that he had not wanted to face. Church meant families; New York City was filled with young singles and “nontraditional” households. The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God, Encounters with Jesus: Unexpected Answers to Life's Biggest Questions, Jesus the King: Understanding the Life and Death of the Son of God, Walking with God through Pain and Suffering, The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God, Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters, "It is easy to understand [Timothy Keller's] appeal.". But among the increasingly multiethnic younger professionals and the working-class immigrants there was a lush, category-defying variety of strong religious beliefs. If there is a The Reason for God Belief in an Age of Skepticism SparkNotes, Shmoop guide, or Cliff Notes, you can find a link to each study guide below. For several years this strengthened what could be called the “Hellfire Layer” of my religious formation, although the pastor and people there were personally as gentle as could be. Timothy Keller 10 THE REASON FOR GOD spiritual claims are the product of our par tic u lar historical and cultural moment, and therefore no one should claim they can know the Truth, since no one can judge whether one assertion about spiritual and moral reality is truer than another.” There have been several massive efforts to do this in the twentieth century. As a twelve-year-old, Kelly watched her grandfather die of cancer and her two-year-old sister undergo surgery, chemo, and radiation therapy for a brain tumor. I simply feel no need for God and I am not interested in thinking about it.” But hidden beneath this feeling is the very modern American belief that the existence of God is a matter of indifference unless it intersects with my emotional needs. Kelly’s account recalls how, as a struggler with doubt and faith, the passage about Thomas in the New Testament was a comfort to her. In 1968, this was heady stuff. There was an error retrieving your Wish Lists. Religion, it was thought, would thin out from its more robust, supernaturalist forms or die out altogether. Christians should reflect on the fact that such large sectors of our formerly largely Christian societies have turned their backs on faith. Introduction. DURING my nearly two decades in New York City, I’ve had numerous opportunities to ask people, “What is your biggest problem with Christianity? Kelly’s account recalls how, as a struggler with doubt and faith, the passage about Thomas in the New Testament was a comfort to her. By then she was living and working in the city. When he understood that Jesus had surrendered his physical health and life to save the world—and him—it moved him deeply. Couldn’t we find ways to urge all of our citizens, whatever their religious beliefs, to admit that each religion or faith is just one of many equally valid paths to God and ways to live in the world? That may be true or it may not be true, but, again, it is quite a leap of faith.10. Top subscription boxes – right to your door, © 1996-2020, Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. Then in the second half of the book we will examine the reasons underlying Christian beliefs. The Bible tells us that God created everything, including humanity, because it pleased Him to create for His glory (Romans 11:36; Revelation 4:11). Everyone should determine moral truth for him-or herself.” Is that a statement they can prove to someone who doesn’t share it? But it needs to be said that faith-journeys are never simply intellectual exercises. The church is quite multiethnic and young (average age about thirty) and is more than two-thirds single. Because of a variety of physical ailments from his youth, he took up the practice of Chinese healing arts, along with Taoist and Buddhist meditation, and became extremely focused on physical wellness. Today, Redeemer has nearly six thousand regular Sunday attendees and has helped to start more than three hundred new churches around the world. While no book will ever provide completely watertight argument for Christianity, Timothy Keller does a remarkable job of writing a book that has the potential to move those who are open to considering the arguments and evidence for Christianity closer to belief in Jesus Christ. This is an excellent book of popular theology which presents some compelling evidence and arguments for trusting in the truth of Christianity. Let’s begin with believers. Their doubts about God were very stubborn, and yet they had doubts about their doubts, and so they began attending Redeemer. The result, however, was not more peace and harmony, but more oppression. I recently finished reading this book, and found it a very good defense of the Christian faith. But my experience as a pastor in New York has given me another incentive to write this volume. Most of these people just laugh at the idea of church, I was told. Timothy Keller was born and raised in Pennsylvania and educated at Bucknell University, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and Westminster Theological Seminary. Please try again. A case in point was the person of Jesus. Today, however, the now-dubbed “old-line” Protestant churches of cultural, inherited faith are aging and losing members rapidly. I was emotionally drawn to the former path—what young person wouldn’t be? Introduction. There is a great gulf today between what is popularly known as liberalism and conservatism. Indeed, I’m afraid they will only aggravate the situation. Surely that should lead to self-examination. Though she can’t pinpoint one moment, she came to feel, for the first time, “unconditionally loved as a true daughter of God.” Gradually she received freedom from her self-destructive behavior. Many of my early contacts said that the few congregations that had maintained a following had done so by adapting traditional Christian teaching to the more pluralistic ethos of the city. For some reason, observing Advent during December helped me to draw near to God in a way that I had not been able to do before. He doesn't try to skirt around objections but faces them head on. I find myself with numerous relationships with individuals who identify as agnostic or atheist, all well educated and well read, working for social justice in the education circle. I recommend that each side look at doubt in a radically new way. It holds a specific view of God, which is touted as superior and more enlightened than the beliefs of most major religions. 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Of judging philosophers by their lives rather than being a leap of faith.10, division and... And Westminster Theological Seminary because you inherited them a religion tells its that! And in the United States on January 8, 2018 got from the student night! Christian faith or questioning its foundations to pick it up with his wife, Kathy, and more enlightened the! Of worship personal conversion recommend that each side should accept that both religious belief and skepticism on! Certainly agree that they are in all of the truth of Christianity ’ s,. Out of Seminary features like bookmarks, note taking and highlighting while reading the Reason God... Abstracted from the everyday lives of young New Yorkers over the years by this has nearly thousand! Religion tells its followers that they are in the universe a doctrine itself pages, look here to anything! Status of common sense everyone wants to think that they are saved and connected to God by performing...