As a part of my year-long God Project, I’ve spent the past month reading Timothy Keller’s book, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism. I read Keller’s The Reason for God and Athanasius’ On the Incarnation in order to give ample attention to my Tradition. Having grown up as an Evangelical Christian like Keller, The Reason for God allowed me to critically reflect on the beliefs that I inherited.
A look back
In case you missed them, here are the posts that I’ve written in response to Keller’s book:
Does God have a purpose for pain? (Reading Timothy Keller) – While Keller believes that God intends to eventually bless us through each instance of pain (although we might not see how just yet), I argued that a loving God doesn’t want suffering to happen.
Divine Power and Human Freedom (Reading Keller and Tupper) – Keller evidently thinks that love requires the involved parties to limit their power. While Keller thinks that God is all-powerful, I borrowed Keller’s logic to argue that maybe God’s power is limited in order to allow genuine human freedom.
Does God Exist? (Reading Keller) – Keller argues that nature, beauty, and morality “point to” (but do not definitively prove) the existence of a supernatural Being. That seemed a bit speculative to me.
Idolatry and Ultimate Concern – an Existential case for God? – Timothy Keller, sounding a bit like Paul Tillich, writes that every person treats something as the center of meaning in their life. Wouldn’t it be best if we put that responsibility on someone who would never disappoint us – namely, God?
Sin – an ethical case for God? – Keller, sounding like Frank Tupper, points out that if we center our lives around ourselves or our “tribe”, we will desperately lash out at all perceived threats. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if everyone cared more about the love of God than the narrow self-preservation of “me and mine”?
Overall, I found that Keller’s book was relevant and well-written, making the best possible case for many conservative Evangelical beliefs in 21st Century America. But now that I’ve shifted to a mainline Protestant mindset, I must confess that some of Keller’s writing bothered me. I was especially frustrated with his selective use of fringe New Testament scholars who happen to support what he already believed, his notion that an all-powerful God of “love” “intends” our suffering, and his defense of Hell. To put it bluntly, I think that a thoughtful person who can reconcile God’s perfect love to an eternal Holocaust (AKA Hell) has all of the tools necessary to justify a variety of Holocausts here on earth. Even so, Keller’s insistence on the unconditional love and initiative of God reminded me of the best of Evangelical Christianity.
This wraps up the “Tradition” leg of my reading list. Next, I’ll be turning to Skepticism and considering good reasons to not believe in God at all. Stay tuned for more details!
For those of you who started following this blog when I started my God Project in late October and have made it this far, I would love to hear your feedback. Are my posts too frequent or infrequent? Too long or to short? Is my style too formal or informal? What am I doing well, and what could I do better? Have any of the topics that I’ve covered resonated with your own personal journey of faith and thinking? Is there anything you’d like me to write more or less about? Just as my beliefs are subject to change as I learn new information, so my writing style is subject to change as I hear from all of you. I welcome any and all feedback on the form or content of this blog.