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The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism Hardcover – February 14, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this apologia for Christian faith, Keller mines material from literary classics, philosophy, anthropology and a multitude of other disciplines to make an intellectually compelling case for God. Written for skeptics and the believers who love them, the book draws on the author's encounters as founding pastor of New York's booming Redeemer Presbyterian Church. One of Keller's most provocative arguments is that all doubts, however skeptical and cynical they may seem, are really a set of alternate beliefs. Drawing on sources as diverse as 19th-century author Robert Louis Stevenson and contemporary New Testament theologian N.T. Wright, Keller attempts to deconstruct everyone he finds in his way, from the evolutionary psychologist Richard Dawkins to popular author Dan Brown. The first, shorter part of the book looks at popular arguments against God's existence, while the second builds on general arguments for God to culminate in a sharp focus on the redemptive work of God in Christ. Keller's condensed summaries of arguments for and against theism make the scope of the book overwhelming at times. Nonetheless, it should serve both as testimony to the author's encyclopedic learning and as a compelling overview of the current debate on faith for those who doubt and for those who want to re-evaluate what they believe, and why. (Feb. 14)
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* Keller has just made life harder for preaching atheists such as Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens. For with this tightly reasoned defense of faith, he challenges the evangelists of doubt on their own ground. One by one, the arguments for unbelief fall before Keller’s unrelenting logic. The claim that science has disproved religion comes in for particular scrutiny, as Keller deflects the antireligious syllogism that converts evolutionary theory into an obituary for orthodoxy. Keller even turns the tables on rationalists, adducing compelling evidence for scriptural doctrines, including the physical resurrection of Christ. And although Keller frankly acknowledges that inquisitors have justified atrocities as religious duties, he nonetheless traces the modern concept of human rights back to religious roots and exposes the fragility of such rights when shorn from those roots. We start down the road to Hitler’s death camps and Stalin’s gulag, he warns, whenever we refuse to recognize in fellow humans the divine image of God. But by recognizing that image, Keller affirms, we open sacred possibilities not only for redemption in the hereafter but also for social justice here and now. Readers expecting Keller to deliver the usual pious bromides may experience a profound shock to their spiritual and social complacency. --Bryce Christensen

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 293 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton; First Edition first Printing edition (February 14, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525950494
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525950493
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.9 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,066 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,641 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

TIMOTHY KELLER was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and educated at Bucknell University, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and Westminster Theological Seminary. He was first a pastor in Hopewell, Virginia. In 1989 he started Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan with his wife, Kathy, and their three sons. Today, Redeemer has more than five thousand regular attendees at five services, a host of daughter churches, and is planting churches in large cities throughout the world. He is the author of COUNTERFEIT GODS, THE PRODIGAL GOD, and the New York Times bestseller THE REASON FOR GOD.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

862 of 933 people found the following review helpful By Tim Challies TOP 1000 REVIEWER on February 14, 2008
Format: Hardcover
There are many people I "know" primarily through their books. I read constantly and find that books allow me to understand the people who write them, especially when the author has written several books. As I read through the corpus of his writings I learn to understand how he thinks and learn to understand what he believes. Even if I have never met an author face-to-face, I often feel like I have met him in his books. Because Tim Keller has written so little, I do not know him in the way I feel I know many of his peers--pastors and theologians who have written extensively. So it was with great interest that I read The Reason for God, only his second book (besides edited volumes to which he has contributed a chapter) and certainly his most significant. Published by Penguin and with a positive review by Publishers Weekly, it has all the makings of a bestseller.

The Reason for God is written for skeptics and believers alike. It is a response to or perhaps an antidote to the the writings of popular authors like Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris. And it is a fine one, at that. While the skeptic has several volumes he can hand to a believing friend (many of them written by the aforementioned authors), the believer has fewer to choose from. So many introductions to Christian beliefs were written many years ago and simply do not resonate with today's skeptics. They assume too much and deliver too little. Keller's volume seeks to fill that void, and it does so well.

The Reason for God arrives at a unique time, for we are at a point when both belief and skepticism are on the rise. "Skepticism, fear, and anger toward traditional religion are growing in power and influence," says Keller.
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187 of 217 people found the following review helpful By Darryl Dash on February 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I'm a certified member of the Tim Keller fan club. I listen to his sermons. I read everything he writes. I even belong to the Facebook fan club. Few thinkers or practitioners have influenced me more than he has. I am not the biggest fan out there, but I'm certainly a member of the club. This is dangerous, because nobody can live up to all that.

But Keller isn't the first to face the challenges of a growing profile and unrealistic expectations, and thankfully, he continues to use his influence wisely. The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism, now on the New York Times bestseller list, is likely to multiply his influence even more, not only within the church but also within a culture with serious doubts about Christianity.

In a sense, there's nothing new in this book. It's all out there in other places, just like all the ingredients of a meal prepared by a chef are there in the grocery store. In The Reason for God, you have presuppositional apologetics in the tradition of Van Til, as well as generous doses of C.S. Lewis, the subtle but strong influence of Jonathan Edwards, as well as engagement with contemporary thinkers and writers.

What is unique is how Keller brings all together; in other words, the way these ingredients are mixed. Keller aptly deals with common doubts and objections to Christianity, such as "There can't be just one true religion" and "How can a loving God send people to hell?" Behind every doubt is an alternate set of beliefs. "The only way to doubt Christianity rightly and fairly," Keller writes, "is to discern the alternate belief under each of your doubts and then to ask yourself what reasons you have for believing it.
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67 of 78 people found the following review helpful By Jan Peczkis on June 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Let's consider issues generally not developed by previous reviewers. Also, it's incorrect to fault Keller for providing answers instead of raising more profound questions, as Jesus sometimes did. Note that, when the Sadducees asked Him which of seven successive husbands would be married to the woman after death, Christ didn't ask any deeper question. He plainly told them that they were wrong, and why they were wrong, in their conception of the afterlife.

"Ironically, the insistence that doctrines do not matter is really a doctrine itself. It holds a specific view of God, which is touted as superior and more enlightened than the beliefs of most major religions." (p. 8)

A common theme throughout Keller's book is how cultural expectations shape out attitudes. For instance, we find God's unilateral forgiveness attractive and hell offensive. In other cultures, it's the exact opposite. (p. 72) The anti-abolitionists who cited Ephesians 6:5 as justification for 19th-century chattel slavery didn't realize that it was incomparably more severe than the indentured servanthood which Paul had in mind. (pp. 109-111, 266-267) We learn that magic was uncommon in the middle ages; it didn't peak until the 16th-17th centuries--at the same time that modern science got started (p. 70)

The early-church-made-everything-up assertion is contrary to reality. The New Testament mentions unflattering things such as Peter's denials, the disciples' jealousies, etc.--the exact opposite of writings designed to promote and popularize a new religion. (pp. 104-105) Furthermore, we now realize that the ancients were very careful to separate fictional and factual writings (p. 204). Also, Jewish thinking anticipated a final resurrection of many people, not just One (p. 207).
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