Church meant families; New York City was filled with young singles and “nontraditional” households. Meanwhile, dozens of other similarly orthodox-believing congregations have sprung up in Manhattan and hundreds of others throughout the four other boroughs. God loved His own and provided a way—the … The conversation was courteous, intelligent, and respectful in tone. So, it's important for you to start having that hobby. 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. 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. In 1989 he started Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City with his wife, Kathy, and their three sons. At the end of each process, even if you remain the skeptic or believer you have been, you will hold your own position with both greater clarity and greater humility. After all, what did her life mean? Both his father and mother suffered terribly with cancer, his mother succumbing to it. Their doubts about God were very stubborn, and yet they had doubts about their doubts, and so they began attending Redeemer. The third barrier was a social one. The Reason for God small group Bible study can be used individually, with groups, or by any believer who is engaging with friends who don’t share his or her beliefs. There is no empirical proof for such a position. All major religions1 and cultic groups2 reject the doctrine of deity of Christ. 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. Please try again. “How could there be just one true faith?” asked Blair, a twenty-four-year-old woman living in Manhattan. Rather they were intertwined and dependent on one another. 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. That achieves civility in a pluralistic society, which is no small thing. The second barrier was an interior, personal one. A Well-Written Book that Challenges Readers to Consider the Claims of the Christian Faith, Reviewed in the United States on May 13, 2018. 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 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. DOWNLOAD: REASON FOR GOD STUDY GUIDE PDF Reason For God Study Guide - What to say and what to do when mostly your friends love reading? While the first half of the book lays out a pathway that many of these Christians have taken through doubt, the second half of the book is a more positive exposition of the faith they are living out in the world. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required. How Could a Good God Allow Suffering? The title of Alasdair MacIntyre’s book, Whose Justice? What about evil and suffering? Several of her Christian friends at college spoke to her of their faith, but she was “rocky soil for the seeds” of their testimonies. Jeffrey was a New York City musician, raised in a conservative Jewish home. He was quite traditional and conservative, speaking often of the danger of hell and the need for great faith. He embraced the gospel of Jesus Christ. Indeed, I’m afraid they will only aggravate the situation. People are opting instead for a nonreligious life, for a non-institutional, personally constructed spirituality, or for orthodox, high-commitment religious groups that expect members to have a conversion experience. 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. I will respectfully discern the alternate beliefs beneath each of them. She became so obsessed with her physical image that she developed eating disorders and substance addictions. Church meant moderate or conservative; the city was liberal and edgy. And in The Reason for God, he single-handedly dismantles each of them. Prime members enjoy FREE Delivery and exclusive access to music, movies, TV shows, original audio series, and Kindle books. “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. 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. 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. The social activism was particularly attractive, and the critique of American bourgeoisie society was compelling, but its philosophical underpinnings were confusing to me. 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. 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. So much to read, digest and think about. No one can prove it empirically, and it is not a universal truth that everyone accepts. There Can’t Be Just One True Religion. New York isn’t alone. Please try your request again later. She saw a counselor at the church who helped her draw a connection between the mercy of God and her seemingly inexhaustible need for acceptance. Let’s begin with believers. He was a social activist and was filled with deep doubts about traditional Christian doctrine. 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.” Why did God flood the earth?" Are you the one that don't have such hobby? What's more, Timothy Keller has "field tested" many, if not most, of these arguments through interactions and conversations with one of the most savvy, skeptical groups of people in the world: New Yorkers. At first I thought this was going to be a struggle to read with how it started off. Christianity began to seem very unreal to me, though I was unable to discern a viable alternative way of life and thought. Then in the second half of the book we will examine the reasons underlying Christian beliefs. 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. It was almost like being instructed in two different religions. Major universities, media companies, and elite institutions are heavily secular, they say, and they control the culture. The people most passionate about social justice were moral relativists, while the morally upright didn’t seem to care about the oppression going on all over the world. Your recently viewed items and featured recommendations, Select the department you want to search in. Three generations ago, most people inherited rather than chose their religious faith. Helps me see things in a different light. This would eliminate the self-talk that is rampant in each camp, namely that it will soon be extinct, overrun by the opposition. Such an admission is not only reassuring, but also humbling. This is particularly true when religion is the point at issue. Buddhism doesn’t believe in a personal God at all. 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. Those who don’t believe are “enemies of truth” and “purveyors of relativism and permissiveness.” We don’t reason with the other side; we only denounce. Nobody ever said “fuggedaboutit” out loud, but it always hung in the air. The Church Is Responsible for So Much Injustice. 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. It’s only in hindsight that I see how the three factors worked together. Everyone should determine moral truth for him-or herself.” Is that a statement they can prove to someone who doesn’t share it? In the past several years, my social circle has expanded to include many friends from backgrounds very different than mine. The result will exceed anything you can imagine. How could I turn back to the kind of orthodox Christianity that supported segregation in the South and apartheid in South Africa? I have no beliefs about God one way or another. Something more is now required. 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.". Soon, however, he became somewhat jealous of his Christian friends’ joy and hope for the future that he had not encountered before. 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. Then there will be an understanding, sympathy, and respect for the other side that did not exist before. It was almost like being instructed in two different religions. Our problems are not going away soon. There was once a confident belief that secular European countries were the harbingers for the rest of the world. Understanding the deity of Jesus is fundamental in defending the truth of the Christian faith. Yet now I saw the stark contradiction in the traditional churches. And Christianity, in particular, was growing rapidly among them. Its aim was to bring young people into a fuller understanding of the faith, so they could publicly commit to it. 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 title of Alasdair MacIntyre’s book, Whose Justice? Judaism, Christianity, and Islam believe in a God who holds people accountable for their beliefs and practices and whose attributes could not be all reduced to love. The rest of this book lays out why I still think so. We believe non-believers are better than their beliefs. Surely that should lead to self-examination. Introduction Chapter 1: There Can’t Be Just One True Religion This is strongly recommended for all, even if you, like me, sometimes cow away from the world of Christian literature which is, unfortunately, saturated with trite and poorly written works which do more to undermine the faith than to promote it. The great majority of people belonged to one of the historic, mainline Protestant churches or the Roman Catholic Church. The conversation was courteous, intelligent, and respectful in tone. These three barriers did not come down quickly or in any set order. 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. How could a good god allow suffering: A good human would attempt to elevate unnecessary suffering of other humans. Keller uses literature, philosophy, real-life conversations and reasoning to explain how faith in a Christian God is a soundly rational belief, held by thoughtful people of intellectual integrity with a deep compassion for those who truly ant to know the truth. When the Chinese Communists expelled Western missionaries after World War II, they thought they were killing off Christianity in China. By the time she was an undergraduate at Columbia University, she had lost hope that life had any meaning to it. Therefore, it is easy for one religious group to stereotype and caricature other ones. Which Rationality? But the theory that technological advancement brings inevitable secularization is now being scrapped or radically rethought.7 Even Europe may not face a secular future, with Christianity growing modestly and Islam growing exponentially. Most of these people just laugh at the idea of church, I was told. I thoroughly recommend it and would encourage anyone investigating the Christian faith or questioning its foundations to pick it up. It is getting both more religious and less religious at the same time. Only then is it safe and fair to disagree with it. How could I turn back to the kind of orthodox Christianity that supported segregation in the South and apartheid in South Africa? How could a loving God judge and punish? TWO. Both his father and mother suffered terribly with cancer, his mother succumbing to it. Church meant moderate or conservative; the city was liberal and edgy. Ironically, the insistence that doctrines do not matter is really a doctrine itself. The great majority of people belonged to one of the historic, mainline Protestant churches or the Roman Catholic Church. We have something else entirely. 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. 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. Kierkegaard derived this form of critique from the Greek notion of judging philosophers by their lives rather than simply by their intellectual artefacts. We were as stunned by this as anyone. The problem with this position is its inconsistency. This is an excellent book of popular theology which presents some compelling evidence and arguments for trusting in the truth of Christianity. With great humility, Keller shows how rather than being a leap of blind faith the gospel answers some of life's deepest questions. Why not be self-destructive? As a child, the plausibility of a faith can rest on the authority of others, but when we reach adulthood there is a need for personal, firsthand experience as well. That achieves civility in a pluralistic society, which is no small thing. 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? Kierkegaards life is more relevant to his work than is the case for many writers. The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism. 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. One student insisted that what mattered was to believe in God and to be a loving person yourself. Religion is not just a temporary thing that helped us adapt to our environment. Those who don’t believe are “enemies of truth” and “purveyors of relativism and permissiveness.” We don’t reason with the other side; we only denounce. There was a problem loading your book clubs. 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. In the first half of this volume we will review the seven biggest objections and doubts about Christianity I’ve heard from people over the years. I did not work through them in any methodical way. Penguin Books; Reprint edition (August 4, 2009), Reviewed in the United States on September 30, 2016. Find all the books, read about the author, and more. Instead, this move only served to make the leadership of the Chinese church more indigenous and therefore to strengthen it. It insists that doctrine is unimportant, but at the same time assumes doctrinal beliefs about the nature of God that are at loggerheads with those of the all the major faiths. Many see both sides in the “culture war” making individual freedom and personal happiness the ultimate value rather than God and the common good. “How could there be just one true faith?” asked Blair, a twenty-four-year-old woman living in Manhattan. But robust religious beliefs dominate the world. Table of Contents. This existential critique consists in demonstrating how the life and work of a philosopher contradict one another. Let’s begin with believers. The people most passionate about social justice were moral relativists, while the morally upright didn’t seem to care about the oppression going on all over the world. The … Nobody ever said “fuggedaboutit” out loud, but it always hung in the air. Ironically, the insistence that doctrines do not matter is really a doctrine itself. Question: "What was the purpose of the flood in the time of Noah? The Reasons for God: Conversations on Faith and Life is a recording of Timothy Keller meeting with a group of people over six sessions to address their doubts and objections to Christianity. Kelly was an Ivy League atheist. Introduction. 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. When I reached my teens in the early 1960s, the time came for me to attend confirmation class, a two-year course that covered Christian beliefs, practices, and history. I also urge believers to wrestle with their personal and culture’s objections to the faith. When he understood that Jesus had surrendered his physical health and life to save the world—and him—it moved him deeply. A person’s faith can collapse almost overnight if she has failed over the years to listen patiently to her own doubts, which should only be discarded after long reflection. To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we don’t use a simple average. 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 may be the greatest enemy of peace in the world. 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. Religion, it was thought, would thin out from its more robust, supernaturalist forms or die out altogether. It does so by stating and restating certain axioms that eventually achieve the status of common sense. The panelists were asked to discuss the differences among religions. 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. Therefore the population is paradoxically growing both more religious and less religious at once. We don’t reason with the other side we on only denounce and criticise. THREE. 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. 3. 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.