While Tim Keller’s book, The Reason for God, is only one book among many modern day apologetics for the Christian faith, it may be the best. I’ve heard it said, although I’m not quite sure from whom, that “The Reason for God is the most important apologetic that’s been written since Lewis’ Mere Christianity.” That’s high praise, and it’s well deserved.
This book is divided into two main sections. The first seven chapters are responses to the most common arguments against Christianity. The last seven chapters are arguments in favor of Christianity. Between these two large sections of the book, Keller pauses to let the reader dwell on what has been argued so far. He ends the book with an appeal to enter into Christianity whole-heartedly, not flippantly or easily. In his own words, “it would be very easy in that condition (one of difficulty or need) to approach God as a means to an end. Are you getting into Christianity to serve God, or to get God to serve you? The later is a kind shamanism, an effort to get control of God through your prayers and practices. It is using God rather than trusting him” (238).
This Book Rocks
This is a great book for at least three reasons. The Reason for God is highly accessible, contains real-life, tested apologetic arguments, and adequately interacts with the all the major arguments against Christianity.
First and foremost this is a book that is accessible to a wide range of readers. While dealing with philosophy, science, Biblical interpretation, and religious arguments, Keller manages to keep the book on a level that interested high school students could easily comprehend. The book is filled with personal stories and pop culture references, and his style reminds me of the descriptions I’ve heard of Francis Schaeffer. Keller gives you the feeling that he really knows and has thought about what he writes.
Part of the power of this book is that Keller has been living these arguments and discussions about Christianity for the past twenty years in New York City. Each of the first seven chapters begins with quotes from people that Keller has actually interacted with. Because this book is built upon real conversations between a Pastor and people who have attended his church, it’s congenial in tone. The worst part about many apologists is their arrogance. Keller takes no such approach. His approach is firm and whole-hearted, but kind.
The arguments within The Reason for God are approachable and congenial and yet they still do adequate justice to the points of contention that many have with the Christian faith. Keller doesn’t shy away from hard questions, and he doesn’t pretend his own arguments are water tight. He knows that Christianity is ultimately built upon faith, and faith can’t be completely proven. He leaves room for people to struggle and disagree with his own opinions, and yet he’s not weak or cowering. This is a book that I believe will help convince many. Seekers will go away challenged and questioning, not angry.
I love this book. I feel wiser and more informed for having read it. While I don’t agree with Keller’s arguments regarding creation, I appreciate the manner in which he explained his opinions. Again, even though I have contention with something Keller said, his tone leaves me wanting to research and think rather than just react in a rage of disagreement. If you love Jesus read this book! If you don’t understand Christianity or have doubts, read this book!