The Reason For God: Belief In An Age of Skepticism, by Timothy Keller
This is a book that reveals the mindset of the author. And, as one might imagine, there are a lot of areas where I think differently than the author does. He is a pretty typical Hellenistic Christian, and as someone who strives to restore biblical Christianity, there are going to be some differences there. Yet reading a book like this, which is clearly aimed at least nominally at skeptical audiences, can often be an intellectual exercise where someone sees a skilled apologist handle some obvious objections that are often leveled against Christianity. Obviously, these kinds of books appeal to Christians for precisely the reasons that they give defeating arguments to objections to the plausibility of Christianity that can then be used by Christians in our own conversations with unbelievers. In general, this book looks at the question of faith and dealing with skepticism from an intellectual perspective, and that has at least some appeal even if it is not as good a book as it could have been had the book been written by someone whose belief system was more in line with the scriptures and who was not interested in making a somewhat generic case for belief.
This book is divided into two parts. The first part of the book looks at seven chapters which deal with the leap of doubt, examining common objections to Christianity. These chapters examine the question of exclusivity (1), the classic argument from suffering (2), the mistaken view that Christianity is a straitjacket (3), the belief that the Church is responsible for a lot of suffering and injustice (4), the question of the loving nature of a God who punishes the wicked (5), the mistaken belief that science has disproved Christianity (6), and thoughts that the Bible cannot be taken literally (7). After a short intermission, the author closes out this over two-hundred page work with a discussion of various reasons for faith that serve as a constellation of clues. These include the idea that there are clues for God that exist within the world (8), the knowledge of God that is sometimes suppressed by people (9), the problem of sin (10), religion and the Gospel (11), the true story of the cross (12), the reality of the resurrection (13), and the dance of God (14). The book then concludes with an epilogue about where we go from an assent to belief in God, as well as acknowledgments, notes, and an index.
In general, I consider it a good thing that the author was so inspired by C.S. Lewis, who was no mean apologist himself. That said, Lewis understood that apologetics could be a dangerous work for a writer, who could easily find himself dealing with a desert of dry argumentation that could lack the fullness of conviction of belief and the enjoyment of dealing with that commitment in a solid manner. All too often enjoying works of apologetics can simply be an act of intellectual vanity where people of faith find themselves patting themselves on the back for being more rational than skeptics, which is by no means a challenging task. The hard task of belief is not intellectual assent but obedience in humility and love. These tasks this book does not seek to engage in, although they make up the life of a believer and the task that makes being a godly believer in our world such a challenge. It is all too easy to give our intellectual assent to the truths of the Bible without living according to God’s ways, to say that Christ is lord and king but not to live as He lived on this earth as He set an example for. And that would be to miss the entire point of what we are about in this life.