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on June 22, 2013
This booklet is the first of a series of essays based on a series of talks that Tim Keller gave in Oxford, England at the Oxford Town Hall, England in 2012. Based on John chapter one Keller gives a reasoned exposition of the passage with special attention given to Jesus' encounter with Nathanael and walks us through his problem as a skeptic, his need as a skeptic, and the prescription for a skeptic.

Keller bridges the gap between the biblical text and the modern day skeptic and shows how Jesus as the Divine Logos is the only one that can truly meet the skeptics greatest problems, needs, and lack of purpose and meaning. In exchange Jesus offers the skeptic meaning, a purpose for living and eternal hope.

Central to the theme of the essay Keller articulates the essence of Christianity. All other religions focus on what you have to do - works. Christianity on the other hand is the exact opposite. Jesus Christ came to earth in order to do for us what we could never accomplish for ourselves - the perfect life required by the Law.

Keller writes, "But Christianity is not just for the strong; it's for everyone, but especially for people who admit that, where it really counts, they're weak. It is for people who have a particular kind of strength to admit that their flaws are not superficial, their heart is deeply disordered, and they are incapable of rectifying themselves. It is for those who can see they need Jesus dying on the cross, to put them right with God...The very genius of Christianity is that it's not about 'Here's what you have to do to find God.' Christianity is about God coming to earth in the form of Jesus Christ, dying on the cross, to find you...because of the depth of our sin, God came in the person of Jesus Christ to do what we could not do for ourselves, to save us."

This short read is an excellent introduction to the gospel - the essence of Christianity. It is an open invitation for skeptics to be open enough to evaluate the claims of Jesus Christ from the Gospel of John and to respond to his offer of purpose and meaning in this life, and the offer of eternal life with Him in eternity.
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on January 26, 2013
Keller keeps turning out books and they are continually excellent. Is anyone else doing this? What I love about Keller's writing is they have the perfect balance between theological rootedness, breadth of knowledge, and practical Christian living impetus. He's not writing books about how many angels are dancing on needle heads.

This book might be more rightly called a pamphlet due its size (it's about 20 pages). But Keller wastes no time and there's no fluff. The book is geared for skeptics but Christians could glean a great deal from this book. Keller admonishes us,
Taking the time and effort to answer hard questions gives believers the opportunity to deepen their own faith while creating the possibility that doubtful people may become open to the joy of Christianity. (p. 8)
A lot of Christians I know are afraid of answering hard questions. They don't see those kinds of conversations as faith-deepening experiences. This book will help you feel more comfortable. With this book you can sit back and learn from a skilled pastor who answers these questions frequently.

Keller employs a technique (which you may be familiar with if you've read his other stuff). He finds a common belief and then demonstrates how Christianity's other beliefs connect to those common beliefs. For example,
By despising Christianity you sever the living taproot to what are probably many of your own core values. As we noted, Christianity originated one of the foundational ideas of peaceful civilization--that you should love your enemies, not kill them. Another idea foundational to our contemporary consciousness, as Luc Ferry points out, is the concept that every single human being, regardless of talent or wealth or race or gender, is made in God's personal image and therefore has dignity and rights. Ferry says that without Christianity's teaching that the Logos is a person and other doctrines, "the philosophy of human rights to which we subscribe today would never have established itself." (p. 12)
He makes a distinction between Christianity and all other philosophies/religions (p. 13). He explains the Christian gospel is about what Christ has done for us whereas all other religions urge you to "do something to connect with God." It's these kinds of simple yet profoundly helpful insights you can expect from Keller.

If you're looking for a book to read with someone who is skeptical or searching this should be the book of choice. It explores the big questions for life and will serve as a jumping point for further conversations. It will also deepen your faith along the way.
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on June 3, 2013
I grow weary of my fellow believers being negative about doubt. Doubt can lead to understanding which is the gateway to hope. Keller embraces doubt and makes the difference between doubt and cynicism. Short and concise the Skeptical Student is a great read.
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on June 7, 2013
Firstly, I confess that I like to read books written by and sermons delivered by Timothy Keller. His style answers my questions in an orderly fashion consistent with my own thought process.

This book is a great essay that comes from a talk that was given at Oxford in late 2012. It is the first in the series. It uses an encounter between Jesus and a skeptical student to provide context to help provide answers for some of the usual questions asked by skeptical Non-Christians have of Christianity. As it is short, it isn't comprehensive. However, it is a good short introduction that can help Christians to better arm themselves to answer some questions and also a good gift for both Christians and non-Christians who are skeptical.
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on December 27, 2012
In Keller's works, I listen for the transcendent: where does he speak truth that is unexpected and counter intuitive to most Biblical teaching? Sermons and books are made of words: where are those that are just predictable and where are those that are life-changing? I wondered if he could manage "life-changing" in just an essay.

This is the first in the new "Encounters with Jesus" series, and Keller was constrained by two obstacles: a largely unbelieving audience and the brevity inherent in a speaking / essay format.

Despite these challenges, the familiar experience of Keller pulling me out of my complacency, messing with my sense of equilibrium, continues -- thankfully. There is truth in this essay that defies its brief and ephemeral ebook format. I give this work 4 stars rather than 5 because obviously, the more Keller to be had, the more truth to be convicted by. This work is short -- but the coming series may provide cumulative impact.
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on July 4, 2013
In this first of a series of talks Keller presents to Christian skeptics, he tells the gospel story in as powerful a way as I have ever witnessed. Using the Gospel of John, he cites the story of Nathanael, a young skeptic, who asked with prejudice, "Can anything good come from Nazareth?" Keller returns often to Nathanael's question and adopts it as one of his themes.

As always, Keller's prose is polished, and he discusses the cause of Christ with clarity and substance. He does so in a manner that is easy to understand, but profound, which is the mark of excellent style. I would recommend this essay to skeptics and Christians alike. It is an important piece of work.
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on December 21, 2012
This book by Keller was short and sweet. As usual, Keller makes great arguments for reliability of Christianity. I look forward to the rest of the books in this series!
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on January 1, 2013
No one really lives like an athiest. This small book points out how unreasonable it is for so called athiest to roll their eyes at Christian faith.
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on January 10, 2013
An introduction to why Christianity is "the only true hope for the world and also why it makes so much sense to those who believe." Keller addresses that thing which we are all looking for - the reason for our very existence. And it is found not in our own power or success, but in a man from Nazareth, who makes himself available to all who seek him. He gives the essence of what make Christianity different from all other religions - you don't have to clean yourself up to find God. Keller says, "Christianity is about God coming to earth in the form of Jesus Christ, dying on the cross, to find you."
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on August 16, 2015
Nathanael in John chapter 1 is the skeptic, does anything good come from Nazareth? Shortly after that Nathanael is convinced Jesus is the Messiah. This a very short essay based on this encounter and looks at Nathanael's problem, his need, and his prescription. I enjoy Keller's books but I didn't care for this one as much.
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