A Critical Review Of Tim Keller’s "The Reason For God"1 -- By: Samuel E. Waldron
RBTR 6:2 (July 2009) p. 103
A Critical Review Of Tim Keller’s The Reason For God1
Sam Waldron, Ph.D., is Dean and Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology at Midwest Center for Theological Studies and one of the pastors of Heritage Baptist Church, Owensboro, KY.
Tim Keller’s The Reason for God is a good book. No. Scratch that. It is a really good book. After reading the first three chapter, I wanted to assign it immediately as a text for the classes filled with mostly unconverted freshman I teach at Kentucky Wesleyan College. His apologetics connects with the culture in which he ministers. This is so because it is built on the real live interaction he has had with unbelievers in New York City where he has ministered since 1989. Keller’s method is simply to answer the most common objections to Christianity with which he has been confronted over the years. This gives a freshness and relevance to what he says which is impressive. I found myself admiring his freshness and relevance again and again as I read the book.
Keller is the minister at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan. God has used him to build a thriving and biblical (and very large–5000 people were in attendance by 2007) church in the midst of New York City paganism. Redeemer has also given birth to a number of daughter congregations in the city. Keller carefully tells us that this did not happen by their adopting avant garde methods or by melding Christian doctrine with the spirit of the age. At one point he notes that visitors are surprised at how “orthodox” and “traditional” Redeemer Presbyterian is (xiv).
All of this does not mean that The Reason for God is without flaws. There are problems endemic to almost all apologetic attempts to commend Christianity to the world. One of those dangers is the subtle tendency to shave down some of the roughest edges of the old rugged cross and soften the hardest sayings of Scripture for the sake of commending it to a critical world. I do not think Keller has wholly avoided these dangers. I want to say, however, to say that he has fallen into them less than most Christian apologists. I will say more about this later.
RBTR 6:2 (July 2009) p. 104
The Reason for God is divided into two parts and between them is what Keller calls an “Intermission.” Part 1 consists of an introduction and Keller’s answers to the seven most often raised objections to Christianity which he has heard as a pastor in New York City. In the introduction Keller argues that both skepticism and faith “are on the ascendancy in the world today” (ix). This is why both sides sometimes engage in shrill...
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