I recently finished, for the second time, Timothy Keller’s fine case for faith, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism. Clear and straightforward, he presents his case for Christianity in two parts. In the first half of the book, Keller shares the most common and/or prominent doubts he has encountered during his ministry as pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan. Then, in the second half of the book, he builds a case for Christianity. He confesses that showing the doubts about faith are themselves worth doubting is helpful, but not enough. Building the case for Christian faith is yet another matter. In other words, it’s one thing to prove that the barriers to belief are not so rock solid as their proponents would have us think. But it’s still another to make the case to take the next step and arrive at belief.
I recommend The Reason for God, but your thinking cap must be worn throughout. I found it filling the role of a modern Mere Christianity, by CS Lewis. And no wonder. Keller quotes Lewis frequently and even calls him one of the three greatest influences on his faith. Perhaps that’s one reason I like Keller so much. I like Lewis and find myself nourished by his writing. So it’s only a small jump to appreciate what Keller has done. That said, while Lewis offered his thoughts in Mere Christianity as a “layman of the Church of England,” he did so with such excellence that his book has been a treasure to millions ever since. But Keller adds a pastoral touch. He has studied at the feet of Lewis, but he clearly comes from the vantage point of a working pastor. His mission field in Manhattan among the highly educated, high achieving, and high ambition younger adults has demanded the union of the sharp intellect of the professor and the spiritual concern of the pastor. In my view, Keller brings them together well.
This is a good book if you are either skeptical about faith or looking to gain more confidence in your understanding of Christian faith. If you are willing to think along with him during some of the challenging parts, The Reason for God (Barnes&Noble.com, Amazon.com) will be a rewarding read.
Here’s a nice feature article from the June 2009 issue of Christianity Today profiling Keller and Redeemer’s ministry in Manhattan. And below is a short selection from a college outreach event at which he spoke.