844 of 913 people found the following review helpful
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. "But, at the same time, robust, orthodox belief in the traditional faiths is growing as well." As each grows, those who hold to each become increasingly convinced that they are in imminent danger. The world is polarizing over religion--or at the very least our culture is polarizing over religion. "We have come to a cultural moment in which both skeptics and believers feel their existence is threatened because both secular skepticism and religious faith are on the rise in significant, powerful ways. We have neither the western Christendom of the past nor the secular, religionless society that was predicted for the future. We have something else entirely."
Attempting to find a way forward, Keller suggests that both believers and skeptics look at doubt in a whole new way. Within the book he does not make the classical distinction between believers and unbelievers, but rather between believers and skeptics. His thesis depends on this distinction between unbeliever and skeptic because, he says, we all believe something. Even skeptics have a kind of faith hidden within their reasoning. Understanding what we believe about belief is crucial. His thesis is this: "If you come to recognize the beliefs on which your doubts about Christianity are based, and if you seek as much proof for those beliefs as you seek from Christians for theirs--you will discover that your doubts are not so solid as they first appeared." He seeks to prove that thesis in the book's first part.
In the first seven chapters Keller looks at seven of the most common objections and doubts about Christianity and discerns the alternate beliefs underlying each of them. This section is titled "The Leap of Doubt" and answers these seven common critiques:
1. There can't be just one true religion
2. A good God could not allow suffering
3. Christianity is a straitjacket
4. The church is responsible for so much injustice
5. A loving God would not send people to hell
6. Science has disproved Christianity
7. You can't take the Bible literally
In the second half of the book, titled "The Reasons for Faith," he turns to an examination of seven reasons to believe in the claims of the Christian 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
The book begins with an Introduction, between the two parts is an Intermission, and following it all is an Epilogue.
The Reason for God is, at least to my knowledge, unique. The reader will soon see that Keller follows closely behind C.S. Lewis whom, along with his wife and Jonathan Edwards, he counts as his primary theological influences. Yet he sets Lewis and Edwards in a new context. And really, much of the book only makes sense within our contemporary cultural context. The arguments that matter here and now are different from those of days past and, I'm sure, different than ones in days to come. But the arguments Keller makes are compelling and reasonable and targeted pointedly at today's skeptics. If you have read our day's leading skeptics you owe it to yourself to read this as well.
Nobody but Tim Keller could have written this book. It seems likely to me that nobody but Tim Keller will agree with everything he says. For example, many believers will be uncomfortable with his defense of evolution--not the naturalistic evolution of so many skeptics, but a theistic evolution that attempts to reconcile rather than ignore the creation accounts of the Bible. Others will take issue with his description of hell and the thread of ecumenism that runs throughout the volume. But if we heed his exhortation to major on the majors, to look to what's most foundational to the faith before focusing on matters of secondary importance, both believers and skeptics have a great deal to learn from this book.
Publishers Weekly has said well that this is a book for "skeptics and the believers who love them." Believers will rejoice in a book that carefully and patiently answers the objections of their skeptical friends and does so with grace and in a way consistent with the Bible. Skeptics will see that even their skepticism is founded on some kind of faith and will be challenged to discern those underlying beliefs. May this book convince us all that we can believe and can believe reasonably, even in this age of skepticism.
176 of 205 people found the following review helpful
on February 26, 2008
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." Keller does this with each of the objections to Christianity, showing that none of the objections make Christianity impossible or even implausible.
Doubting our doubts about Christianity is only part of the journey. In the second half of the book, Keller offers reasons for faith, demonstrating that the Christian faith makes the most sense of the world. "I ask you to put on Christianity like a pair of spectacles and look at the world with it. See what power it has to explain what we know and see."
What really stands out about this book, besides its content, is the way that Keller engages with these issues. He is civil, respectful, winsome, and ironic, but never hostile. He does not belittle those with alternate beliefs, even as he directly examines and challenges those beliefs. Keller models a way of relating to those who disagree, and provides a model for all of us. He shows how one can possess an robust and orthodox Christian faith, and yet winsomely engage with those with completely different and hostile beliefs.
Keller's wife, Kathy, has said that the mark of a good sermon is that people stop taking notes part way through. It starts rationally, like a lesson, but ends with an encounter with Jesus. The Reason for God is full of rational arguments, but it doesn't end there. By the end of the book we encounter beauty, and some of the most profound expressions of the Christian faith I've read.
Last Sunday, somebody thanked me for making this book available to them. They've been looking for a book like this for some time, and they're loving it. I don't think he will be the last one. The Reason for God is a book that deserves to be read not only by Christians, but by those who have doubts - even by those who are hostile. It covers important issues, and shows not only the rationality but the beauty of the Christian faith. Just as importantly, it does so in a way that is genuinely respectful to the reader no matter what their beliefs. I hope it will be read widely.
60 of 69 people found the following review helpful
on June 28, 2008
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). 1 Corinthians 15:3-6 was written soon after Christ's Resurrection, and it would've been self-defeating and self-refuting to mention 500 witnesses to the Resurrected Christ if such witnesses didn't exist. (pp. 203-204) Pointedly, "'Jewish revolutionaries whose leader had been executed by the authorities, and who managed to escape arrest themselves, had two options; give up the revolution, or find another leader. Claiming that the original leader was alive again was simply not an option. Unless, of course, he was.'" (p. 208) Finally, Gnosticism couldn't possibly be an "alternative Christianity" because the earliest Gnostic gospel wasn't written until at least a century after the four canonical ones. (pp. 102-103)
Keller cites many examples of Christian-led social reform. For instance: "In the late twentieth century the Catholic church in eastern Europe refused to die under Communism. Through `patience, candles, and crosses' it began the chain of events that brought down all those totalitarian regimes. The Polish priest Jerzy Popieluszko...When he was murdered by the secret police, 250,000 people came to his funeral...Many of those who went to his funeral marched past the secret police headquarters with a banner that read `We forgive'. The Christian underpinnings of the resistance movement were unmistakable." (p. 65).
The essence of the Christian faith is: "God did not, then, inflict pain on someone else, but rather on the Cross absorbed the pain, violence, and evil of the world unto Himself." (p. 192)
48 of 56 people found the following review helpful
on February 29, 2008
In the late '70s and early '80s, Christians coming of age who wanted a better grasp of theology turned in significant numbers to one book: J.I. Packer's 'Knowing God.' The book was a watershed in how many of us understood the nature of God and His interaction with the world.
There were, of course, other excellent texts for thoughtful laypeople. Francis Schaeffer's work excited the imaginations of that generation of believers. Of course, C.S. Lewis was (and still is) at the pinnacle of modern-day Christian thinkers and apologists.
But it was Packer's book we all read and discussed studied in order to make up for what we should have known about our faith, but didn't.
Thirty years on, Tim Keller's 'The Reason for God' is the new 'Knowing God,' but with a critical difference: This is a go-to book for everyone thinking about Christianity.
Indeed, as Tim says on thereasonforgod.com, the book is primarily for non-believers with doubts about Christianity. My point here is that it is likewise indispensable reading for Christians who regularly interact with others who have serious questions about faith in a secular age.
For that reason, the first half of the book will be new and somewhat challenging, even if you've heard Tim speak many times. Tim's response to the different arguments against God's existence require careful attention, particularly if you refer to and study his footnotes (well worth the price of the book on their own).
The second half will be familiar territory to regular Keller devotees. But here again, the great benefit of this work is that all those themes that have shaped our thinking about the Gospel are now collected in one place.
Finally, the last chapter (`The Dance of God') is pure poetry. Great writing from a great thinker.
306 of 377 people found the following review helpful
on February 15, 2008
This book is filled with excellent arguments and - persuasions - for the existence of God. If you don't believe there's a God, I challenge you to read it with an open mind. If you do believe in God, this book will increase your faith in that proposition and your ability to persuade others of it.
I believe this book is a net positive to the world of Christian thought and I would easily recommend it (and have) to my secular friends who are wrestling with the issues surrounding the question of the existence of God.
However, there are a few caveats that my traditional, orthodox and evangelical Christian friends may want to note.
First, Keller quotes extensively from N.T. Wright. Wright however, does not believe in the doctrine of "justification", i.e. the traditional Christian belief that sinners are redeemed by faith in Christ and that the justification of our sins is brought about through Christ's death and resurrection.
Wright said in his book "What St. Paul Really Said":
"Many Christians, both in the Reformation and in the counter-Reformation traditions, have done themselves and the church a great disservice by treating the doctrine of "justification" as central to their debates, and by supposing that it described the system by which people attained salvation." pp. 158-59
I don't think Keller agrees with Wright on this point, but he references him so frequently in this book and in his sermons that I wanted to bring Wright's position on this most central doctrine of Christianity to your attention.
Also, Keller has some interesting things to say about heaven. On pages 31-32 he says, "In Revelation 21, we do not see human beings being taken out of this world into heaven, but rather heaven coming down and cleaning, renewing, and perfecting this material world."
However, Revelation 21 doesn't say anything about renewing and perfecting THIS world. It in fact says this world will pass away - referring to it as the "first earth" or the "old earth" - indicating that this earth will no longer exist. It will be replaced by a new earth.
Revelation: 21:1 - Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had passed away. And the sea was also gone.
This may not seem like an important divergence from Biblical teaching, but it actually ends up in a place quite different than most Christians would expect.
For more insight into just where Keller goes with this -- in a talk to the church's Entrepreneurs Initiative a few years ago, Keller said this:
"I'm trying to overcome a typical, wrong, unbiblical attitude on the part of Christians, particularly evangelical Christians, toward this material world. ... An awful lot of Christians say, 'this world is going to die, it's going to burn up, and while we're here basically the only thing that's important is to get people saved, and if they get saved eventually they'll be able to leave this world. So it's a temporary theater for salvation. ...
THE WHOLE PURPOSE OF SALVATION IS TO MAKE THIS WORLD A GREAT PLACE. ... God sees this world as not a temporary means to an end of salvation, but actually salvation is a temporary means to an end - to the renewal of creation. ...
SAVING SOULS IS A MEANS TO AN END OF CULTURAL RENEWAL. Does the Christian church understand that? I'm not sure."
There are a lot of deep theological issues here - I'll be the first to admit. But I seem to remember something about the saving of our souls also having something to do with glorifying God and sparing each individual person from an eternity in hell -- separated from God.
Cultural renewal is well and good and certainly a by-product of saved souls, but is it really the "whole purpose" of salvation?
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Keller's book is a wonderful combination of three things that are regrettably rarely found together : an evangelical commitment to Scripture, a pastoral heart, and philosophical acumen. Though in various combinations you will find two of these put together well in books about current culture and serious apologetic issues, it is fairly unique to find them all in one book. As someone who reads a fair amount of Christian apologetics and philosophy, I was happy with how seriously Keller took the issues he tackles. Each major objection to the faith he handles is looked at seriously and with a critical eye to the facts of the matter and clear reasoning about the issue.
In addition, Keller's pastoral vocation rises to the surface alongside his thoughtful rigor. I was excited several times to read how he answers typical, if not stereotypical, responses to the Christian faith. This book has been forged in the realities of cosmopolitan New York, but has clear application to anyone who has objections to or is answering critics of the faith.
Though some reviewers have attacked this book for offering nothing new, that is partly because the objections to the faith are hardly new themselves. What changes are personal and cultural contexts; what remains is the truth of the matter.
I know others are not completely satisfied with the way Keller defends the faith, especially when it comes to the "proof" of Christianity. Instead of talking in terms of "proof," Keller's approach is to combine "clues" for the faith that, in his argument, point most clearly to Christ. Though this approach may be a bit modest, it remains a constructive abductive strategy.
As a pastor I greatly appreciated this book on several levels. And if a pastor or a Christian is serious about thoughtfully engaging with our current culture I think it would make a great addition to their library.
73 of 91 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 2008
Tim Keller's new book, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism, is currently #7 on the New York Times Hardcover Nonfiction Bestseller's List - and for good reason. This is an articulate, reasonable, compassionate, and informed defense of Christianity.
Keller's book is written for both believers and skeptics and addresses the seven most common objections people have to Christiantiy.
Part One: The Leap of Doubt:
1. There can't be just one true religion
2. How could a good God allow suffering?
3. Christianity is a straitjacket
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.
Then Keller builds a case for the plausibility of Christiantiy in seven chapters.
Part Two: The Reasons for Faith:
8. The Clues of God
9. The Knowledge of God
10. The Problem of Sin
11. Religion and the Gospel
12. The (True) Story of the Cross
13. The Reality of the Resurrection
14. The Dance of God
This book is so good, it could become the Mere Christianity (C. S. Lewis's famous defense of Christianity written in the first half of the twentieth century) of the twenty-first century. Here's what I like about Keller. He speaks the language and understands the mind-set of postmoderns, because he has worked with them, witnessed to them, and pastored them for nearly twenty years in Manhattan. But he is orthodox in his theology, not shying away from the more difficult aspects of historical Christian doctrine. Instead, he faces these "hard doctrines," acknowledges the difficulty these pose to many people, and then offers nuanced and intelligent answers to the questions.
Keller is also a gifted communicator, drawing from an amazing breadth of philosophy, literature and popular culture. This one's a keeper. I'll read it again and hope lots of others will read it too.
308 of 395 people found the following review helpful
on May 5, 2008
The Rev. Tim Keller deserves credit for tackling the most common complaints about Christianity in his new book, "The Reason for God." Unfortunately, I found the book to be very unsatisfying on both a spiritual and intellectual level. Other readers may disagree, of course, but here's why I give it only two stars:
-- The answers to huge questions seem very shallow to me. Yes Keller is clearly a passionate believer, but his "Readers Digest" approach to vast issues of good vs. evil, life vs. death, belief vs. doubt, just don't rise to the challenge. They work well as superficial "talking points" but not as a strong foundation for faith.
For example, can anyone really explain the Christian position on "exclusivity" in 500 words? Can we really get a meaningful answer to "hell vs. salvation" in an essay that's shorter (in page-length) than "Pat the Bunny"? Can we even have faith based on reason?
As a believer myself, I don't think so. Someone who's serious about answering these questions should be willing to spend a whole lot more time digging into the issues -- and debating both sides for greater clarity. I wouldn't object so much to Keller's book if the title had been more honest -- such as "Quick Answers to Common Questions About Christianity." By calling it "The Reason for God," he sets expectations pretty high...yet doesn't really deliver.
-- Another trap Keller falls into is the tendency to sugar-coat the negatives. It's undeniably true that Christianity and most world religions have MUCH to atone for in their respective histories (massive violence, intolerance, torture, greed, fanaticism, etc.). At the same time, they have much to be proud about, from St. Francis to the local soup kitchen, from the sacrifices of Job to the wisdom of Solomon, from the beauty of Arabic architecture to the invention of algorithms in Muslim universities. It's not helpful to minimize these huge examples of light and darkness. We must live with the history of our tradition -- like it or not. (See James Carroll's new movie, "Constantine's Sword," for a moving take on this important topic.)
-- Most importantly, Keller forgets the example of Jesus' own teaching style, particularly in the first half of his book.
Christ was careful to avoid "reducing" spirituality and God to a superficial argument that the clever Pharisees could pick apart. He knew that much of what passes for "logic" is simply mean-spirited sophistry aimed at humiliation. That's why Christ often answered questions with more profound questions. His use of parables transcended the inherent limitations of language ("that's just semantics / that's just how YOU define it") to reach a higher plateau of understanding that still inspires a billion people today.
I went out to Keller's church website to download about 10 of his recent sermons -- just to see if I was missing something in the book. He's an excellent preacher and seems like an excellent pastor. But his sermons seem to fall into the same mistake: raise an enormous question, then rush through a quick answer that doesn't really satisfy. For example, on the question of whether scripture should be "authoritative," Keller concludes that is "just has to be." He doesn't explain (in the book or podcast) what "authoritative" means or what role interpretation plays in Biblical study for the average person.
BOTTOM LINE: If Christ were on a stage tonight debating Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens, I think he'd steer clear of these traps and leave us much more satisfied than Keller's new book. Ultimately, we don't need superficial answers to debating points. We need love, faith and humility -- even love for those who disagree with us.
49 of 61 people found the following review helpful
on March 1, 2008
The Reason For God by Timothy Keller is a superb book. It presents powerful arguments for the Christian faith, but without the complexity and underlying judgmentalism that has characterized many books on the subject. It makes an obvious but powerful point, that even the loudest critics of faith are themselves "people of faith." Not to believe in a creator, for example, requires a leap of faith. On close examination, each of us inevitably believes in something, even if that something is the belief that there is nothing worth believing in.
What do you believe about your life, why you are here, where you are going? Is life just a mindless fumbling through a maze or does it have purpose and meaning? What does the future hold, a depressing existence and then annihilation or the promise of hope and a future? These questions and many more are answered in plain language with intelligence and respect. It is a powerful book.
Keller is the founder and senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan. Redeemer is amazing, attended by more than 5000 each week, mostly in their 20s and 30s. Many are highly successful people with advanced degrees and lots of questions. The church does not rely on music or drama to bring people in, rather Keller has found a way to speak into the interests and concerns of so many people by addressing their serious questions directly: "There can't be just one true religion." "How could a good God allow suffering?" "Science has disproved Christianity." "You can't take the Bible literally." And many others.
You will find them all here and will not be disappointed.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Everyone likes a good book that provides tools for apologetics, right? Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, has provided an articulate, readable, and helpful book for thinking people who seek to better understand and explain Christian belief. In this work he provides answers to some of the most common objections raised concerning the existence of God, and the "reasons for faith" found in the Christian tradition.
In his introduction, Keller begins by saying:
"There is a great gulf today between what is popularly known as liberalism and conservatism. Each side demands that you not only disagree with the other as (at best) crazy or (at worst) evil. This is particularly true when religion is the point at issue. Progressives cry out that fundamentalism is growing rapidly and nonbelief is stigmatized. They point out that politics has turned toward the right, supported by mega-churches and mobilized orthodox believers. Conservatives endlessly denounce what they see as an increasingly skeptical and relativistic society. Major universities, media companies, and elite institutions are heavily secular, they say, and they control the culture.
Which is it? Is skepticism or faith on the ascendancy in the world today? The answer is Yes. The enemies are both right. Skepticism, fear, and anger toward traditional religion are growing in power and influence. But at the same time, robust, orthodox belief in the traditional faiths is growing as well." (ix)
Because Keller's willingness to acknowledge that both religious and secular outlooks are gaining adherents, he proposes that an alternative to increasing polarization between two extremes is needed. Keller's own ministry has found that what may be emerging is a "spiritual third way." He believes younger Christians, who have wrestled with doubt and come out the other side, "are the vanguard of some major new religious, social, and political arrangements that could make the older form of the culture wars obsolete"(xix).
The book has two major divisions. The first part, titled "The Leap of Doubt," addresses these concerns:
There Can't Be Just One True Religion
How Could a Good God Allow Suffering?
Christianity is a Straighjacket
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
In this portion of the book, Keller draws from philosophy, theology, and examples from his ministry to address these objections to religious belief. Each chapter begins with a quotation from persons expressing these objections-presumably persons that could be met on the streets or in cafes in New York City(and perhaps your community). Keller is not afraid to engage leading atheist thinkers, including Ricard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. His responses to these objections are well-reasoned and invite conversation. Because many of these objections are so common, I found Keller helpful. At the very least his answers provide a platform from which one might develop their own responses to thinking people who may have objections to the existence of God.
In the second part of his book, entitled "The Reasons for Faith," Keller presents reasons one might at least consider the existence of God, and whether the truth concerning that God might be found in the Christian story. Here are the chapter headings:
The Clues of God
The Knowledge of God
The Problem of Sin
Religion and the Gospel
The (True) Story of the Cross
The Reality of the Resurrection
The Dance of God
As I hinted above, this book is good. Throughout the book you hear excerpts from Keller's story and ministry, largely drawing from his experience of planting a church in an area thought to be devoid of hope for the proclamation of the Gospel. When Keller told others of his desire to plant a church in NYC, people scoffed. Over time, Keller's church has reached over 5,000 persons. When Keller tells his story, it makes sense. He is an intelligent, thoughtful person.
The worship services which take place at Redeemer have no frills, but are simply composed. Dr. Keller, in his preaching and in his ministry, sought to create a welcoming space for thinking people and provide them with reasoned, compelling answers for believing that the Christian story was true. Keller would make it a practice to remain in their worship space following services so that people could ask questions about the sermon. Sometimes discussion would last over an hour following the conclusion of the service. In these spaces Keller could answer questions, allow his heart to be made known, and challenge his interlocutors when they possessed objections. These conversations also allowed Keller to better understand the city in which he was conducting his ministry.
Keller is Presbyterian, though he does his best to make this book accessible to persons from a broad range of the Christian tradition. I appreciate Keller's book because it is open, thoughtful, and articulate. His telling of the Christian story does not shy away from categories of sin, the need for repentance, and an understanding of the atonement which includes belief that Jesus' death is more than illustrative of the sacrificial type of life we ourselves should lead. Keller asserts that Jesus's death and resurrection possesses a cosmic significance affecting our redemption. In the death of Christ we are justified, as Jesus has paid the penalty for our sins.
I found this book helpful and would recommend it. It includes both philosophical and theological treatments that are intellectually engaging, as well as personal stories which illustrate his key points. If you're seeking to improve your own ability to articulate your faith, or perhaps are seeking a resource to help you engage non-Christian friends, family, or persons in your community, you may find this a helpful resource.