Friday, October 18, 2013

Recommended Books - Reason for God

I wanted to get into the habit of provided reviews of books that we recommend. Pastors often read more than the general population so of course we run into good and bad books all the time. But there are some books that stand out. Ones that we think will be of benefit for you. Considering our current series of "Rock and Hard Place" (which is attempting to address controversial issues facing Christianity today), it seems natural to recommend a book that addresses such questions.

There are plenty of books that address many difficult questions but if I had to chose the first one to go to it would be Reason for God by Tim Keller. This is the book that I think first put him in the more popular consciousness of Christians in America. It came out around the same time as other books by the "New Athiests," Dawkins (The God Delusion) and Hitchens' (God is not Great). Reason for God was also a New York Times bestseller. It is one of the more popular apologetics book to come out recently. For years many people have been recommending C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity or Case for Christ by Lee Strobel. But those books are dated a bit even though they are quite good. Reason for God is good because it addresses many of the current nuances of people's objections to Christianity and faith in God in a way that is accessible. The basic arguments don't change and are in fact as old as philosophy itself. But the way they are presented, their overall tone, and their concerns often do.

Let me give an example. The book begins with what I think is the most common objection. The objection is that their cannot only be one true religion and that it is arrogant to do so. Many may take a more strict logical approach to this objection by appealing to the historical truth claims of Christianity versus Buddhism, or that monotheistic faith is more rational than other views of God. Those may be true, but Keller pinpoints that the objection is more based on the perceived arrogance of claiming only one religion is true and that we cannot know which one is. He then demonstrates that such a claim about the nature of the world's religions is in itself an arrogant claim that assumes it has the one objective all-knowing perspective. All worldviews and religions are making claims about the nature of religion and how we can know that it is true. What matters is we realize our assumptions and recognize it is just as much as, if not more so, an act of faith to believe in this one or that one. But that doesn't mean there are not better reasons to believe in one religion or another.

Reason for God is separated into two parts. The first part address objections to Christianity and the second part addresses reasons for Christianity. The first part covers seven major objections: there can't be just one true religion, how could a good God allow suffering, Christianity is the enemy of freedom, why is the church responsible for so much evil, how can a loving God send people to hell, science has disproved Christianity, and you can't take the Bible literally. The second part covers seven reasons for faith in Christ: Clues of God (which are basic arguments for his existence), knowledge of God, the problem of sin, religion versus the gospel, the true story of the cross, the reality of the resurrection, and lastly the dance of God.

If I had any critique, it would be that some of the arguments for Christianity focus on making sense of basic Christian principles and neglect historical evidences that demonstrate such a belief is warranted. Its one thing to say Christ was crucified, buried and rose on the third day. Its a whole other thing to say what that means and how. Keller focuses on the later, rather than any historical evidence for the former like many other apologetic type books. The book does not deal with how the Bible came to be or whether we can trust it. But no worries (shameless plug) - I am doing a sermon series in November on those very subjects (Lord willing they will be profitable for you). By and large Keller is successful at achieving the basic aim of the book: faith in the God of the Bible is not crazy, but in fact quite reasonable.

What are some books that you have found beneficial for faith in Christ? Or ones that have been a source of great doubt?

Check out Reason for God by Tim Keller and share you insights with us. You can get it at Amazon or almost any major bookstore (Christian or otherwise).

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