Book review: Reasons for God and
Gospel for skeptics paying dividends
By John H. Adams, The Layman, he gets some help from a team of preachers – make that teachers – on the staff. Redeemer Presbyterian is a smashing success.
What’s the secret?
It’s outlined in The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism, Dutton, 2008, $24.95.
New York magazine described Keller as “the most successful Christian evangelist in the city” and credited him with “recognizing that young professionals and artists are ‘disproportionately influential’ in creating the country’s culture and that you have to meet this coveted demographic on its own terms.”
But The Reason for God makes it clear that these young professionals and artists have a great appetite for the core Biblical truths when whetted by clear answers to the reasons for their skepticism.
The book is divided into two sections: seven chapters under the heading of “The Leap of Doubt” and seven under “Reasons for God.” That division tells the story. Keller welcomes skepticism. He coaxes it out into the open. He wants his parishioners and readers to ask the tough questions: Aren’t all religions the same? How could a good God allow suffering? Isn’t Christianity a straitjacket? You can’t take the Bible literally, can you?
Once the objections to Christianity are unpacked, Keller responds to them with Biblical truth.
Faith in Christ is all or nothing. “Does that scare you?” he asks. “Does it sound stifling? Remember this – if you don’t live for Jesus you will live for something else. If you live for your career and you don’t do well it may punish you all of your life and you will feel like a failure. If you live for your children and they don’t turn out all right you could be absolutely in torment because you feel worthless as a person.”
But what if family and career are going well? “If Jesus is the Creator-Lord, then by definition nothing could satisfy you like He can, even if you are successful. Even the most successful careers and families cannot give the significance, security and affirmation that the author of glory and love can.”
Even The New York Times has been surprised by the impact of Keller on the culture of skepticism. “Pastors from around the world are beginning to come in a steady stream to New York City to glean what they can from Dr. Keller and Redeemer. Their goal is to learn how to create similarly effective churches in cosmopolitan cities like New York, which exert outsize influence on the prevailing culture but have traditionally been neglected by evangelicals in favor of the suburbs,” The Times said on Feb. 26, 2006.
But you don’t have to travel around the world to witness this phenomenon. Reason for God will well explain the impact Keller and Redeemer Presbyterian Church have had on the culture of New York City. But its benefit goes deeper. Read and discussed by your session or Bible study groups, Reasons for God provides a penetrating examination of the great teachings of the Reformed understanding of the Christian faith. It is an enormously valuable tool for “equipping the saints for the work of the ministry.”