“The Reason for God” by Timothy Keller

There are a lot of ways for you to access or influence your creativity. Some writers may be influenced by their own experiences, some leave it to their powerful daydreaming, and others enhance their creations spiritually. Since the latter can be found in my own texts as well, I at least want to make you aware that there is such a possibility out there. „The Reason for God“ is a book for sceptics as well as believers that promotes you to explore your doubts, because it is the only way you can solidify your own beliefs, whatever they may be. It will uncover common conflicts with Christianity as well as some of the reasons for its faith. And here it comes: my book review for you.

There Are No Coincidences

Did you ever walk into a situation that made you feel like – despite all the irritations you have faced shortly beforehand – you are in the right place at the right time? Well, surely enough, I can tell you that I did. It might have been April or May, when I first entered a long-distance bus to be transported all the way to Frankfurt. This day, however, I managed to grab every irritation waving at me along the way so that it all came down to me missing the bus I originally booked. After a few more nasty moments, fighting for the last seat situated in the next bus, I finally felt the wheels running beneath my feet, having a friendly lady being my seat neighbour.

This, by the way, has been the very day I started reading „All My Colors“ by David Quantick, just not feeling relaxed enough to fully enjoy it, which is why I started to glance at my surroundings. My seat neighbour herself was turning a few pages in „The Reason for God“ by Timothy Keller over and over again. Since I am a Christian, a certain curiosity always seems to flood over when I am witnessing those kind of eyecatchers. Not to mention that I had been reminded of my cursing going just a little overboard not too long ago, which made me feel guilty right away. But this truly is another story.

Let’s get to the interesting part, shall we?

As you may know out of your own experiences (very close to using trains these days, I imagine), long-distance bus drives contain the spark of making you wonder – a lot. It is not very hard to find yourself in a conversation shortly after. And this is exactly what happened to me. In this conversation, we came to talk about the very book I am going to review in a bit. And, as you may have guessed by now, I ended up getting that very same book. If I would not have missed the previous bus, I would have missed out on something much more precious.

Reviewing this book is not only my way of thanking my friendly seat neighbour for the surprising treat, but also to recommend you a book that truly is worth sharing.

But what is the purpose of this book on this webpage?

It is not my intention to turn you into a believer and this book is not written to do this, either. Instead, it helps believers as well as sceptics to enlighten their own views on Jahweh’s existence and to either strengthen their already existing beliefs or to show them where their beliefs lack consistency. In fact, the book urges you to be sceptical in order to live your life to its fullest.

For a lot of people (as well as for me), creativity is deeply connected to Jahweh’s existence. Sometimes, it roots from it. Other times, creativity is lived for or with him. His existence can give you strength and joy to go on. Therefore, I feel that – in case you are a believer or simply curious about certain insights covering this topic – you should have the possibility of exploring the very chances for your own creativity hatching out of this direction as well. The following book review is meant for you to decide whether you would like to have a look into this direction or not. Enjoy!

The Reason for God by Timothy Keller
Keller, Timothy: The Reason for God. Belief in an Age of Skepticism. New York: Riverhead Books 2008.

Torn Between Doubts and Solidity

From childhood to founding Redeemer Presbyterian Church in 2007, Timothy Keller, the author of „The Reason for God“, lived through many experiences with Christianity, encountering doubts as well as different perspectives. The more he read about Christianity, the more sense it made to him. In his book, he shows why this feeling has not changed until today.

I have not tried to prove the existence of God for you. My goal has been to show you that you already know God is there.

Keller 2008, p. 162.

One of the elementary properties that seem to be embedded in a person’s mind is the wish to make perfect sense out of everything. Instead of looking at one’s inside, as the quote above suggests, people tend to search outside for clues. They will try to reason or find themselves exploring religions, not rarely ending up in one of them. What religion then does is not explain their existence, but it shows how to find the answers on the inside by yourself.

As for today, Keller explains that both the beliefs of the sceptics as well as the believers are equally on the rise. Although people tend to leave the “old” Protestant or Roman Catholic churches that they have inherited generations ago, they shift to a nonreligious or noninstitutional spirituality and, therefore, are now freer to choose their path. Many even end up finding their way back to religion. Contradictorily, although they have found their spiritual freedom, they still do not stop denouncing each other.

This would not happen, if the individual’s faith would not be so fragile. It can collapse almost overnight, if you were to ignore your own doubts about your beliefs for a long enough time. The only way to become confident in your own beliefs is by facing your doubts. This way, you have a chance at hand to solidify your spiritual confidence and to gain plausible reasons for your faith instead of feeling the need to become offensive towards other perspectives. Keller’s thesis is that, as soon as you see what your doubts are based on, you will find that they are not as solid anymore. Therefore, he asks „you to put on Christianity like a pair of spectacles“ (Keller, p. 127) and to look at the world through them, before you make your judgement.

Step by Step

In order to give the reader a holistic view on the topic, the author divides the book in two halves. The first one displays objections and doubts about Christianity that he has heard from people attending his church. Examples are that there can only be one true religion or that a good god would not allow suffering. The other half is then meant for clues that may solidify Christian beliefs and, for example, corrects ancient ideas about sin or the meaning of the cross.

For each of the chapters, Keller starts by quoting other voices‘ doubts. If necessary, he then explains basic notions such as religion or faith. For this, as well as for further perspectives, he refers to thoughts, ideas and examples from literature and philosophy, but also from his own experience and reasoning. Step by step, he walks the reader through individual beliefs, the conflicts they create and the insights they reveal.

How could you empirically prove that no one should believe something without empirical proof? You can’t, and that reveals it to be, ultimately, a belief.

Keller 2008, p. 123.

Keller uses an easy-to-read language that is accessible without any further knowledge about the topic. He also satisfyingly combines objectivity as well as subjectivity in his explanations. At no point, I have felt that he wanted to make me believe what he believes. Instead, I have been encouraged to uncover what has maintained my own beliefs for so long. However, there is not much more to say about the author’s writing style. It is the content that knows how to shine.

Depths You Do Not Enter in School

In the book, you will find a lot of passages that make you twist your mind into unknown strands of thinking. It really impresses me how deep the book goes into every one of the doubts and reasons concerning the belief of Jahweh’s existence. You do not only learn a lot that you are never taught in school or that you might not see by simply reading through the bible, your mind is also set to new challenges. This is very interesting because creativity opens your mind as well and allows you to uncover new areas of perception.

Furthermore, despite what you learn in school about the church in a more historical context, I would have never guessed how adaptive Christianity can be and how much it indeed does explain. It is not some misty cult you enter for certain goods to come your way. It is a deep, emotional and close connection to Jahweh, very much like how creativity can fill your heart.

Only if your God can say things that outrage you and make you struggle (as in a real friendship or marriage!) will you know that you have gotten hold of a real God and not a figment of your imagination.

Keller 2008, p. 118.

And it does not end there. When you have overcome your struggles about your own beliefs, you finally are in a position where you are able to understand and to respect those individuals who doubt. Doubts are alternate beliefs, after all, that have not been fully explored as of yet.

Information About the Book

(I will include the book details of the current edition using brackets.)

Title: The Reason for God
Author: Timothy Keller
Publication: 2008 (2017)
Publisher: Riverhead Books (Hodder & Stoughton)
Length: 310 pages (320 pages)
Price: 16 USD (9,99 €)
ISBN: 978-1594483493 (978-0340979334)

My Conclusion

As with most books of this sort, you will first have to get through the introduction that presents you all the relevant details about the author’s background. By the time you have absorbed those information, the interesting part of your reading experience begins. It is not necessarily a one-day-read, since you will find the need to think about some of the given ideas a lot. One chapter can totally fill up your mind. Not because it is hard to read, of course, but because there is a lot to process.

I have never doubted my beliefs, but after reading this book, I felt a lot more confident about them. And this feels amazing. For me, creativity always has been essential to my life. Needless to say, that it is similar to inviting Jahweh into my life. There is no way they could be two separate things. Through Jahweh, my creative art has become one with sense and meaning. However, this is another topic that I would like to discuss with you in an upcoming book review. In the future, I indefinitely will read the book again.

Über Naomi

Schon während meines Masterstudiums in Literatur- und Sprachwissenschaft begann ich, meine ersten Ideen zu präzisieren und meine Begeisterung in das wundersame Terrain der Spiritualität fließen zu lassen. Parallel zu meiner damaligen Tätigkeit als kreative Texterin entdeckte ich schnell die Brücke, die Kreativität und Spiritualität miteinander verbindet. Heute habe ich meinem Herzenswunsch nachgegeben und setze meine eigenen Visionen, Ideen und Flausen um, wie Du unschwer erkennen kannst! ;-)

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