Keller, Timothy. The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism. New York: Dutton, 2008.
Brief Overview of the Book (Theme, Perspective, Approach):
The book is a tool for evangelism. He gets people in his setting in New York city to doubt their doubts. He would be considered conservative by the culture where Scripture is considered conservative and he would be considered liberal by the culture where Scripture is considered liberal. Therefore, he is in a unique position to reach out in a very liberal city. He does not shirk back from the controversial topics like there being just one true faith, suffering, the sins of Christians, and hell. Instead, he tackles these subjects ‘head on,’ so to speak. Technically speaking, this is a book of applied apologetics (in the tradition of Van Til).
Critique (strengths and weaknesses):
Like with most people, I would not agree with absolutely everything that he says. However, the strengths of this book far exceed any weaknesses. It is not the book that I would have written, but that is mostly because I am serving in a different context and have different interests and style. I would be interested if anyone has any comments about arguments you find particularly persuasive in the book. While his critique resembles Van Til, his positive argument is open to the criticism that it moves away from this approach. [Take a look at my sermon for Easter 2009 for a positive approach sometimes relying on things Keller says but making a different apologetic, what I hope is closer to Van Til’s approach.]
Application (specific, shows just how valuable & relevant the book is):
I actually appealed to things that Keller says concerning the difference between religion and faith in Jesus Christ in some of my sermons on the clash between Jesus and the Pharisees. This is probably the best part of the book to apply in the context of the Bible belt. Nevertheless, I will not hesitate to refer back to the other arguments made in this book when people assert the views he addresses.
The noted religion scholar John Hick has written that once you become aware that there are many other equally intelligent and good people in the world who hold different beliefs from you and that you will not be able to convince them otherwise, then it is arrogant for you to continue to try to convert them or to hold your view to be the superior truth.
Once again there is an inherent contradiction. Most people in the world don’t hold to John Hick’s view that all religions are equally valid, and many of them are equally as good and intelligent as he is, and unlikely to change their views. That would make the statement “all religious claims to have a better view of things are arrogant and wrong” to be, on its own terms, arrogant and wrong. (11)