Thursday, February 28, 2008

Review: The Reason for God

Earlier this month Tim Keller's The Reason for God was published. It's a God-Delusion size book on 'belief in an Age of Skepticism'.

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Keller opens by examining what he considers to be the top seven questions people ask today about Christianity and belief in God. A brief intermission deals with what is Christianity and sufficient reasons to believe. The second half more directly outlines the core beliefs of Christianity.

Keller writes, like he speaks, with clarity and well considered argument. The book feels like being in dialogue with him. He's careful to show the implications of his argument, both when they advance his cause and where they don't necessarily prove anything. Keller writes out of his experience, peppering his arguments with personal stories of people he has discussed these things with.

He admits to leaning heavily on Jonathan Edwards and C.S. Lewis which is no bad combination for anyone to drink from. This book has all the things I wish Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins had thought about when writing their books. It has the honesty to say that certain arguments don't prove things. It engages gently with opponents without getting carried away into hype.

Keller advocates life in all it's Christianness. He paints a warm picture of humanity, of people enjoying life. I find his comments on the gnostic gospel to be very helpful. He notes how they resonate with the anti-material worldviews of the Greek/Roman world, while the gospel accounts have a "positive view of material creation and their emphasis on the poor and the oppressed that offended the dominant views of the Greco-Roman world." (p106)- whereas the Da Vinci gospels suck up to the views of their day.

I think it ought to be standard reading for UCCF staff and also for Christian Union leaders - this is what good 'lunchbar' style material looks like. This is what thoughtful persuasive evangelism looks like. Keller takes people's questions seriously, getting under the skin of doubts that stand in the way of belief in God. He doesn't brush them aside in a hurry to share the gospel, but takes the time to show that these popular doubts have their problems. With doubts exposed as unnecessary Keller then moves to lay out a warm and persuasive case for Christianity.

The Reason for God is written to be utterly accessible to any skeptic and I'd gladly give it to anyone. This will also be a great resource to anyone in the church who wants to be more thoughtful in their beliefs and their explaining of them.

I'm going to go back and read this book again several times.
As and when you can get hold of copy I suggest you do so.

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