Monday, 20 July 2009

Reasons for God

This book is great. Tim Keller is a Presbyterian minister who planted a church in Manhattan in 1989. Despite Manhattan a been seen as a secular place Keller has seen his church grown to have over 5000 people in it. The Reason for God comes from Kellers' experience from many conversations with the people of Manhattan.

Keller lays out faith as not being just an intellectual thing but also a personal and cultural thing. No side of faith can claim to solely go off facts while accusing the other side of having a world view based off their location of birth. All three factors help in your belief.

Keller looks at the assumptions behind people's belief and asked on what basis do they think what they think. He also argues beyond our own limited cultural experience and draws on examples from all over the world, but having said that he also loves C.S Lewis who is quoted in almost every chapter.

The first half of this book has seven objections to the existence to God; these include topics like suffering, why only one true religion, the injustice of religion, the idea of hell and science vs Christianity.

Keller points out that we all have belief in something and we all have something that is ultimate in our lives that we do things for. These ultimate things that we live for can cause us to have an "us vs them" mentality on people who don't have the same ultimate goals as us. Keller shows how only the reformed doctrine of grace alone creates a community who are not exclusive or hostile to outsiders.

Tim says that Christianity has it's own in built check on religion and that the new atheists have been beaten to the punch by Isaiah and even Jesus who slammed religion. When people criticise Christians, what they want is them not to be less Christian but more Christian.

Tim also argues that it is belief in a God of justice that stops you from picking up your sword and taking vengeance. Only those that don't have a belief in ultimate justice will seek to continual cycles of violence here and now.

The second half of the book has Tim arguing for God. He doesn't present a series of proofs for God, but rather a series of concepts that make the most sense only if God does exist. Keller assumes that we are all practical theists because we all have set standards of morals that are not native to the natural world. He then gives a great overview about what the Christian faith believes and why it is the best fit for our world.

You can download here seven sermons based off the first seven chapters of this book. Also a while ago I linked to Tim speaking at Google about this book.


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