Cornerstone

"Ambassadors for Christ need to speak into those questions with the timeless truth of the gospel. After all, ambassadors must consider the country where they are going (as well as the country they represent) in order to be faithful."

Chuck Colson was sitting down with a famous television personality who was eager to talk about religion. Colson began his testimony when his friend stopped him. "I know your story, and I know Jesus works for you. But I have a friend who is into new age stuff, and that works for her." Colson tried to explain that Jesus was a historical person. His friend said that gurus are real people too. Colson began talking about death. His friend said that heaven was made up by primitive people. Colson referenced the Bible. His friend said that it was a wonderful collection of ancient myths.

Realizing he was getting nowhere, Colson decided to take a different approach. He referenced Tolstoy's War and Peace, and a recent film. These stories illustrated our difficulty with morality and guilt, shame and insecurity. Colson moved on to CS Lewis, and then quoted from the Bible again. This time, his friend listened intently to the Bible's explanation of the human condition—and Jesus' sacrifice for our sins.

Colson tells this story to explain that times change and successive generations bring different questions about God and the Bible. Ambassadors for Christ need to speak into those questions with the timeless truth of the gospel. After all, ambassadors must consider the country where they are going (as well as the country they represent) in order to be faithful.

This is where Tim Keller's The Reason for God truly shines. While many Christian books and classes are still responding to old questions, Keller is answering fresh questions from modern culture with the gospel. He does so without condescension, demonstrating his love and respect for non-believers along the way.

In the first half of the book, Keller explores the many reasons modern people reject Christianity. Chapters include "There Can't Be Just One True Religion," "How Could a Good God Allow Suffering?" "Science Has Disproved Christianity," and "You Can't Take the Bible Literally." In each chapter, Keller enlists clear thinking and modern illustrations to show that Christianity is coherent, and that it takes as much faith to disbelieve as it does to believe.

The second half of the book is spent pointing to the "reasons for faith." Like the first half, these reasons are built around how God's timeless truth applies to modern people who are less familiar with the Bible. He writes about the "clues for God" that are buried in the created world and the human experience. His chapter on "The Problem of Sin" focuses less on breaking external commands and more on the brokenness of the human heart. Perhaps the most eye-opening aspect of his book is the idea that there are many "religious" people who are just as far from God as "irreligious" people—instead of keeping God at arms length by running from him, they keep him at arms length by obeying the letter of the law but denying its spirit. For many modern people, this is an important distinction that brings a fresh look at Christianity.

The Reason for God is written primarily for those outside the Christian faith: doubters, skeptics, and seekers. It is a great gift for anyone who is curious about Christianity, even from a very skeptical perspective. But this book is also phenomenal at teaching how to communicate the Christian faith to our neighbors, co-workers, and friends in West LA. If you've lived here long enough, you've faced at least one of the questions that Keller tackles in the first half of his book. I highly encourage you to pick it up, read it, and learn new ways to speak the good news into the lives of others.

Brian Colmery

Brian serves the church by overseeing preaching and Sunday morning services at Cornerstone.

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