This week’s book of the week is Timothy Keller’s The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism. You can listen to him explain the book in the video above. My college roommate, Phillip, told me about how great Keller’s writings were, and since I started my religion course back, I thought this would be a good mind-stretching selection for week 3 on my reading plan. Keller is the pastor of the Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, which he planted back in 1989. The church now has over 6,000 regular attendees.
The book addresses the frequent doubts that skeptics, and even ardent believers, have about religion. The first 7 chapters he combats skeptic reasoning for disbelief in God. The last 7 chapters he shows reasons to believe in God. This book is so good. It had my brain hurting at times and I was doing my church shout at others. Great stuff!
Top 5 Lines:
- “There may be no greater inner agony than the loss of a relationship we desperately want…We cannot fathom, however, what it would be like to lose not just spousal love or parental love that has lasted several years, but the infinite love of the Father that Jesus had from all eternity. Jesus’s sufferings would have been eternally unbearable. Christian theology has always recognized that Jesus bore, as the substitute in our place, the endless exclusion from God…” (29).
- “Can our passion for justice be honored in a way that does not nurture our desire for blood vengeance?…If I don’t believe that there is a God who will eventually put all things right, I will take up the sword and will be sucked into the endless vortex of retaliation. Only if I am sure that there’s a God who will right all wrongs and settle all accounts perfectly do I have the power to refrain” (77).
- “The most instructive thing about this text is, however, what it says about the purpose of biblical miracles. They lead us not simply to cognitive belief, but to worship, to awe and wonder…We modern people think of miracles as the suspension of the natural order, but Jesus meant them to be the restoration of the natural order…His miracles are not just proofs that he has power but also wonderful foretastes of what he is going to do with that power” (99).
- “Most people think of sin primarily as ‘breaking divine rules,’ but Kierkegaard knows that the very first of the Ten Commandments is to ‘have no other gods before me.’ So, according to the Bible, the primary way to define sin is not just the doing of bad things, but the making of good things into ultimate things” (168).
- “Remember this — if you don’t life for Jesus you will live for something else…Your career can’t die for your sins…we all are being pursued by guilt because we must have an identity and there must be some standard to live up to by which we get our identity. Whatever you base your life on — you have to live up to that” (179).
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Distinctive Discipleship. He is married to Amanda and the father of two sons and one daughter. Travis graduated from North Greenville University with a B.A. in Christian Studies and earned his M.Div. and D.Min. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, with his doctoral focus on family discipleship.