New Keller Book for the Church Library

Posted: November 12, 2008 in Theology

This ain’t a review – it’s just a note.

keller1

I got this for the church’s library and I’m reading it first before we enter it through the official procedural steps and stages of librarian documentation (by which I mean Muriel Mast or Carolyn Biggs putting one of those little manila pouch deals in the back cover).

Tim Keller has a way of tossing pithy summaries into complex issues.  He really is a gem of a mind.  He seems to have his finger on my generation’s pulse in a way that makes me say, “Yeah, that’s right.  That’s the competing worldview that’s in my head.”

He delves into questions like “How can you claim to be exclusively right without falling under the charge of arrogance?”  In a way he reminds me of C.S. Lewis, but Lewis wrote with a tad more humor and playfulness – Lewis and Keller both have a humble certainty about them.  [In my experience it’s the people who are the most certain who can remain calm when someone disagrees.  The people who are themselves deeply conflicted tend to get the most red-faced when crossed.]

While Dr. Keller’s actual arguments, whether here or in his sermons, tend to strike me as having the ring of truth, what I think his two major contributions may be to the conversation have to do with the posture he takes toward doubt and the doubter.

Two things.  First, he takes the posture of friend rather than opponent.  Second, he engages doubts as alternative faith assertions rather than letting us take for granted that (for example) theism is a leap, but atheistic materialism or relativism are givens.  Keller seems to have a friendly and even winsomely intelligent way of asking you to doubt your doubts.  Or to put it another way, he cleverly asks us to translate our doubts into the faith asertion they really entail, and then ask of those doubts, “Is this belief credible, or is it just another leap of faith?”

It reminds me of what Matt Chandler says:  “If people would scrutinize their belief systems with the seriousness with which they scrutinize Christianity, I think they’d realize their current belief system is shot through with worse holes than they think they see in ours.”  Chandler encourages people on all sides to doubt their doubts.  He points out that Luke the doctor made a thorough investigation of all the happenings surrounding Jesus, even going to the trouble of getting all the eyewitness testimony possible.  He wasn’t taking it on blind faith, but following his doubts in their need for the best possible evidence, he became more convinced that Jesus was the Lord his apostles proclaimed.

I’m still just in the beginning of this book and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.  It seems like a decent gift for that friend who thinks Jesus is cool but has serious concerns about whether he/she could be a follower of Jesus and still be ethical and intellectually honest.

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Update:

I finished the book and found it so helpful that I would put it up there with Piper’s Desiring God, and Packer’s Knowing God in terms of usefulness.  Keller speaks to the outsider, but does so with a Gospel depth that is helpful and convicting to the person who has been following Jesus for some time.

A great book to start a discussion group or Bible study around.  It has my wholehearted endorsement.

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Comments
  1. Bruce says:

    I haven’t read anything by him, but I did listen to a sermon of his on the Resurgent podcast several years back. I was impressed. Actually, if I remember right, everyone at the conference was awed to be in the same room as him.

  2. Josh says:

    I like the position as friend. I’ve been asking myself how we as communities of Christ can put ourselves in the position of friend rather than opponent.

  3. Josh says:

    Oh. I like Tim Keller too. Haven’t read anything yet, but listened to that same Resurgence talk that Bruce did. Good stuff.

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