Monday, March 21, 2016

PLEASE READ! ... The Reason for God, Belief in the Age of Skepticism

This book, by Timothy Keller, Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan may save a lot of souls, and possibly even provide a downpayment on saving America and Western civilization. It truly is THAT GOOD!

I tend to write direct and often "in your face". Quiet, reasoned, caring conversational style is not my natural mode in writing -- but I **DO** understand that it is important, and I **DO** very much respect it when I see it. Keller very much has that, plus he has an extremely well stocked brain coupled with the gift of writing both well and compactly with enough personal anecdotes to make this book more reachable than many of similar depth of content.

In part 1, called "the leap of doubt", he covers a series of objections to God with great insight and hard philosophical backing. They are:
  1. There can't be just one true religion. 
  2. How could a good God allow suffering? 
  3. Christianity is a straightjacket
  4. The church is responsible for so much injustice. 
  5. How can a loving God send people to Hell? 
  6. Science has disproved Christianity
  7. You can't take the Bible literally. 
In an "intermission" between parts 1 and 2 he discusses the various arguments for and against -- "Strong Rationalism" -- essentially "proof of God", which is no more doable than proving our own existence. We then arrive at "critical rationality", the idea of "best fit". Evolution can't be "proven" in a strong rationalism sense given the time scales involved, yet most scientists find it compelling. 

"The view that there is a God, [Richard Swinburne] says leads us to expect the things that we observe -- that there is a universe at all, that scientific laws operate in it, that it contains human beings with consciousness and with an indelible moral sense. The theory there is no God he argues does not lead us to expect any of these things. Therefore, a belief in God provides a better empirical fit ..."

He then moves to Part 2, The Reasons for Faith
  1. The clues of God.
  2. The knowledge of God
  3. The problem of sin
  4. Religion and the Gospel 
  5. The true story of the Cross
  6. The reality of the Resurrection
  7. The Dance of God 
At the end of chapter 9, which is basically my old belief that if you look in your heart, you already know there is a God, he summarizes: 

If you believe human rights are a reality, then it makes much more sense that God exists then that he does not. If you insist on a secular view of the world and yet you continue to pronounce some things right and some things wrong, then I hope you see the deep disharmony between the world as devised and the real world (and God) your heart knows exists. This leads us to a crucial questions. If a premise ("there is no God") leads to a conclusion you know isn't true ("Napalming babies is culturally relative") then why not change the premise
As frequent readers know, Nietzsche and a lot of other lesser philosophers have decided long ago that "God is dead, so power = morality" (might=right)".  The baby of morality goes out with the bathwater of God, and the world ends up arguing in strange gibberish that has been known to be gibberish since the Greeks. It seems to be getting clearer every day that our civilization is dying rapidly without God.

The review could go on forever -- the book is a treasure trove of understanding what the COSTS are for creating a God in our own image. How God is the sworn enemy of the smug -- both the smug because they believe that they "do a better job" of following rules, being successful, etc, AND of the smug that "have a more open and sophisticated mind than the unwashed masses". Christ came to comfort the "poor in spirit" (comfortable), and more-so to  make the comfortable UNcomfortable ! ... no matter what it is in this world that they believe is to their comfort other than serving the REAL Christ, not one of their imagination.

He makes it clear that ONLY in giving our WHOLE life to Christ is there a way out of our broken state.
"It is only Grace that frees us from the slavery of self that lurks even in the middle of morality and religion. Grace is only a threat to the illusion that we are free, autonomous selves, living lives as we choose". 
He quotes a lot of CS Lewis, who I love, he also is high on Jonathan Edwards who is now on my reading list. There are others. This book is a TREASURE to anyone who seeks God and restoration of our broken nation and world! I can't recommend it highly enough!!!

I'll close with this quote from Lewis on love that is oh so true:
Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.

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