I got Tim Keller’s book The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism for Christmas and began getting into today. Read the introduction, which was good, and thought about writing my thoughts down. Then I thought, hey, I should blog my way through the book. So, you’ll occasionally be subject to a summary of what I’ve read and my take on it. Be warned.
So, the introduction: Keller says that both religious skepticism and faith are on the rise in the world today and each feels threatened by the other. He says both sides should look at doubt in a radically new way — believers should acknowledge their doubts, work through them and be able to explain why they believe as strongly as they do. Skeptics need to admit that the very fact of their religious doubt implies faith in something else. A quote:
I urge skeptics to wrestle with the unexamined “blind faith” on which skepticism is based, and to see how hard it is to justify those beliefs to those who do not share them. I also urge believers to wrestle with their personal and cultural objections to the faith. 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. Then there will be an understanding, sympathy, and respect for the other side that did not exist before.
As a pastor in New York City — the heart of skeptic country — Keller has seen not just traditional liberal doubters and conservative believers, but what he calls a new multiethnic orthodox Christianity that is much more concerned about social justice but also committed to upholding classical Christian morals.
The first half of the book reviews the seven biggest objections and doubts Keller has heard about Christianity over the years, and the second half examines the reasons underlying Christian belief. He wants to follow the model of how Jesus dealt with Thomas’ doubt — he challenged him not to give in to his doubt, but he also gave him more evidence to believe.
My take: Really looking forward to reading this and seeing how he deals with many of the objections to Christianity. Will be great fuel for future conversations.
Love the way he uses Christ’s dealing with Thomas. He was compassionate, yet firm, understanding but challenging. Exactly the way we need to be in today’s culture. We need to be more loving, more concerned about the poor, more willing to engage in dialogue.
I think we do have to be careful that we don’t just hear a skeptic’s position and end up respecting their beliefs so much that we agree it’s okay for them to doubt their way right into hell. But that’s usually not our problem — we tend to bring the hammer down right away.
Next installment will focus on Chapter 1 — There Can’t Be Just One True Religion.