Some Orthodox Christians Get It, Some Don’t

Another Evangelical, Tim Keller, has written a book called “The Reason for God: Belief in An Age of Skepticism.” Sunday’s Washington Times book review describes Keller as a “theologian, intellectual, pastor, who shepherds a church of 5,000 in New York City,” and it makes me want to read Keller’s book. Some excerpts from the review:

“We have come to a cultural moment in which both skeptics and believers feel their existence threatened because both secular skepticism and religious faith are on the rise in significant, powerful ways,” Mr. Keller says.

The fact is, he argues, that both religion and secularism are ascendant. The failure to recognize this causes a problem, he says: “We don’t reason with the other side; we only denounce.” Mr. Keller recommends less fear and loathing of opposing faith views. The idea of either side making the other extinct is silly. Instead of paranoia, he says each side should learn to “represent the other’s argument in its strongest and most positive form,” then wrestle with that opposing point of view.

“Only then is it safe and fair to disagree with it,” Mr. Keller writes. “That achieves civility in a pluralistic society, which is no small thing.”

This is very refreshing. It is also very hard work to address opposing views on heartfelt issues this way, which is why I don’t think Keller’s approach will gain wide acceptance. Even so, it’s important to promote such honest, rigorous discourse.

Tim Keller is a Presbyterian, like John (although Keller is in the PCA, not the PC(USA)); but John’s on vacation so we may not get his insights into Keller’s approach to theology.

John adds a thought or two: I have some disagreements with Keller (for example, he is a “complementarian,” meaning he does not believe in the ordination of women to church office – I am “egalitarian.”), but taken as a whole he is one of the best and most effective Christian thinkers writing today. He is also one of the more liberal in the PCA, though remaining very conservative by PC(USA) standards. Maybe that is why I like him so, we stand in pretty much the same place between the two.

Keller’s specialty is engaging with prevailing culture. One of his key theses, as reflected in the review, is that faith is more than label, and conversion is about convincing and thus changing, not coercing and thus relabeling. He is worth a read by any serious Christian, but don’t look for much in the way of politics, not really his bag, though he has much to say, indirectly.

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