Tim Keller is the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Manhattan, New York, a city full of doubt and scepticism concerning God and the gospel. In this book Keller draws on this experience to gently take people on a journey which ends by pointing them to Jesus.
The book is split into two parts. The first deconstructs the questions that people raise against God and Christianity, such as suffering, the exclusivity of Christ, the nature of the Bible and science. Like any book you may not agree with everything he says, but his method is thought-provoking, well-considered and a challenge to those who would seek to share the gospel and those who need to hear the gospel.
The second part gives reasons for belief in God. Keller is humble in his assertions, but also very clear. As he looks at areas such as the world around us, inbuilt morality, sin, the historicity of the cross and the resurrection he slowly builds his case that belief in God and specifically belief in the God of the Bible makes sense.
If you want to engage doubting or sceptical friends today, this would be an excellent book to read or maybe even to give away as a gift.
For a fuller review at Chaillies.com click here
I have lost count of how many times I have read a passage of the Bible with the assumption that I know what this is all about. Yet, as I have studied it through I have realised that the opposite is true. I didn't have a clue.
These times have been a real lesson about my own inability and pride. I have learnt that if I want to know what God is saying in the passage and how it applies to me and others I need to take the pose of a listener, not the speaker.
I had just built this website, come up with a name and written the tagline ‘engaging today’s world with timeless truth’. Then I saw the advert for this book and the words ‘engaging current issues with timeless truth’. Two options, tear up every copy of the book and hope no one notices or be open, get the book and make it the first book review. I took the latter.
Anyone who is familiar with Al Mohler’s blog will be used to his incisive analysis and very fair appraisals of today’s culture. I was not surprised to find this book in a similar vein, especially as the chapters began life as articles on his blog.
The chapters are short. They can be read in 5 minutes, 10 if you want to digest them some more. They are also far ranging in their content matter. Public law, political correctness, terrorism, torture, education, post-modernism (or should it be post-postmodernism), abortion, suffering and racism are all given the ‘Mohler treatment’.
Often Christian books about culture can be 1. very defensive or 2. un-questioning. I think it is fair to say that Mohler avoids these extremes allowing us to see the good, or at least the reasons for what is happening as well as seeing where the culture around us is different to and opposed to God’s revealed truth.
For me, there was only one slight negative. It is not a negative about the content of the book in any way, but about reading the book in a British context. These chapters are addressing American culture. Yes, there is a real cross over, but not a complete cross over between the two cultures. This doesn’t mean, don’t read this book, but you will need to think through the application a little more carefully. Not a bad thing!
If you want to read a more lengthy review click here
What is the difference between legalism, or moralism, and true biblical holiness. I found this passage from Arturo Azurdia's new book, Connected Christianity, thought provoking:
God does not desire a moral people; He desires a holy people. You ask: 'Is there really a difference between the two?' There is most certainly. It is the difference between the Pharisees - the most zealous of the parties of ancient Judaism during the late Second Temple period - and the Lord Jesus Christ. They were moral; He was holy. Morality is the negative concept, in that it defines itself in terms of what one refrains from doing. Its preoccupation is almost exclusively with externals. Holiness, by contrast, is the positive and holistic concept. While encompassing externals, its reach is far more penetrating and comprehensive. One may describe the difference as follows: the moral person abstains from wrong actions ... the holy person hates the very thought of wrong doing. The moral person is preoccupied by what people perceive him to be ... the holy person is consumed with what God wants him to be. The moral person mindlessly adheres to a cold list of dos and don'ts ... the holy person ponders what brings greatest pleasure to his heavenly Father. The moral person keep a meticulous record of his good deeds, expecting by them to win the favor of God... the holy person grieves that nothing he ever does, even for God, is altogether free of sinful and selfish motive. Thus he recognizes every blessing from God as an expression of pure grace. The moral person lives by a self determined definition of right and wrong and delights to impose it upon other people ... The holy person yields to the Word of God as the final authority, which, in turn, compels him to guard the silences of the Bible and, therefore, honor the freedoms these allow among those who serve the same Savior.
The neighbourhood in which I live has been under the cloud of tragedy. On Sunday evening a ten your old from my kids school was accidently shot while he was playing cowboys and indians. A few hours later he died in the hospital.
My heart has gone out to the parents throughout this week. How do you deal with such a tragedy? I have tried to put myself in their shoes and know that I would torment myself with the question - what could I have done differently? I think of the moment in Lord of the Rings where the king of the Rohan buries his son - his thoughts are quite simply, 'it shouldn't happen this way'. What sense is there in this?
I keep coming back to this thought. Without a faith in God there can be no rest, hope or peace in such a tragedy. It is only if we believe in a sovereign and righteous loving God that there is anything to cling to. I am not saying that it will make sense to us or that the pain would be lessened, but we can rest on the fact that there is a purpose, a purpose being worked out by a loving God, in the tragedy we are experiencing. It may be hard to contemplate a God who would allow this to happen, yet it is harder still to deny his sovereignty and be left with a random world where evil can trump God.
'I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.' Jude 3
Why am I an evangelical? Why do I believe the things the Bible says about Jesus; that he is the Son of God, fully God and fully man, that he died on the cross as a sacrifice for sins, taking the punishment that I deserved, that he rose again and ascended into glory and is coming again? Why do I believe the things the Bible says about me; that I am a sinner, have been since I was conceived, that I need God's forgiveness and the only way to be saved is to come to Jesus?
Maybe I believe these things because I am surrounded by others who also have these beliefs. I'm simply following the crowd. It might be because these are the truths I have always heard. It is my tradition. Both of these would be belief for convenience. It is easier to believe than disbelieve. Yet, the verse above from Jude requires more than this.
I will not contend, fight to the death, for a belief that others hold, or a tradition in which I feel comfortable. I will only contend for truth if I am convicted that it is right and absolutely vital. Jude is urging us to have more than a set of beliefs we subscribe to, but to have the essential and timeless truths of the gospel deeply etched upon our hearts.
I am very particular about the cheese that I eat. I don't like the smelly ones. I don't like the ones with too much taste. In fact, anything more pungent than a mild chedder is pushing it a bit far.
When my mum worked in a cheese shop I didn't benefit as much as I could have done. To be honest, my nostrils were often repulsed as I opened the fridge door by the acrid smell of festering cheeses. I could walk in the kitchen no problem, but open the door and I couldn't get out fast enough.
These memories have been returning to me over the last couple of days as I have been thinking about 2 Corinthians 2:15-16. Christians, Paul tells us, should be the aroma of Christ in the world. To some that aroma will be repulsive, to others attractive, but people should smell Christ in us. But, and this is what has been challenging me, how will they smell us unless we get up close and personal?