The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism is Timothy Kellor‘s recent work that addresses several of the common doubts and reservations that people (including Christians, at times) have regarding God and Christianity.
It is a culturally-aware, contemporary explanation of Christianity that doesn’t condescend, but respectfully analyzes and instructs. The book is divided into two parts: The Leap of Doubt, and The Reasons for Faith.
The Leap of Doubt
Since all doubts are actually a set of alternate beliefs, honest skeptics must “learn to look for a type of faith hidden within their reasoning.” Keller explains:
“You cannot doubt Belief A except from a position of faith in Belief B. For example, if you doubt Christianity because ‘There can’t be just one true religion,’ you must recognize that this statement is itself an act of faith.”
The specific doubts that Kellor examines are:
- “There can’t be just one true religion.”
- “How could a good God allow suffering?”
- “Christianity is a straightjacket.”
- “The church is responsible for so much injustice.”
- “How can a loving God send people to Hell?”
- “Science has disproved Christianity.”
- “You can’t take the Bible literally.”
The Reasons for Faith
In the second half of the book, Kellor presents a positive case for how Christianity makes the best sense of the world around us. Rather than talking about “irrefutable proofs” for the existence of God, he instead offers “strong clues”—a sign to me that he understands his audience. After considering “the knowledge of God,” “the problem of sin,” “the (true) story of the cross,” and “the reality of the resurrection,” he concludes by describing what he calls “the dance of God.”
“God did not create us to get the cosmic, infinite joy of mutual love and glorification, but to share it. We were made to join in the dance. If we will center our lives on him, serving him not out of self-interest, but just for the sake of who he is, for the sake of his beauty and glory, we will enter the dance and share in the joy and love he lives in. We were designed, then, not just for belief in God in some general way, nor for a vague kind of inspiration or spirituality. We were made to center our lives upon him, to make the purpose and passion of our lives knowing, serving, delighting, and resembling him. This growth in happiness will go on eternally, increasing unimaginably (1 Cor. 2:7–10).”
A note about the title of the book
Had I not already been familiar with Tim Keller’s theology, I suspect the title — The Reason for God — would have alienated me. I would have supposed that the book was an attempt to explain the reason why God exists (as if God needed a reason to exist, and as if humans could decipher the alleged reason). However, since I knew this is the type of interpretation that Keller did not intend, I was intrigued. I knew what the phrase didn’t mean, but I didn’t know what it did mean. After mulling it over, I have concluded that Keller means one of two (or both) things:
- The Reason (that is, the reasoning faculties) for God (that is, in the service of God). Another way of putting might be: The Mind for God.
- The Reason(s) for God — “strong clues” for believing in the existence of God