Reason to Believe

Whereas nonbelievers may view Christianity as a straitjacket imposed by a legalistic God, Keller views Christianity as a self-imposed straitjacket. Why would Christians straitjacket themselves? Because they love -- they love God. Once we realize that God straitjacketed Himself with human flesh (through His one and only son Jesus) and sacrificed His divine freedom because He loves us, our only natural response to His love is complete surrender of our own freedom. "Once you realize how Jesus changed for you and gave himself for you," Keller writes, "you aren't afraid of giving up your freedom and therefore finding your freedom in him."

For many Christians, the second half of Keller's book may seem like a critical study and rigorous interpretation of the gospel message. Tackling fundamental doctrines of sin, death, and resurrection, Keller presents the case for belief in God. Although his book is titled The Reason for God, Keller seems to be advancing a thesis for the knowledge of God in the status quo. In the second half of his book, he boldly claims that "people in our culture know unavoidably that there is a God, but they are repressing what they know." Our inherent sense of moral values and moral obligation, Keller contends, is meaningless without the existence of God. Our powerful sense of morality essentially intimates the existence of a higher law -- an external and absolute standard of justice.

Keller's fundamental understanding of Christianity is challenging but also refreshing in a society that relativizes truth and morality and caricatures the fundamental tenets of Christian belief.

His emphasis on reason holds appeal to both believers and nonbelievers, but he certainly recognizes the limits of reason. Reason alone cannot conclusively prove God's existence, but can help us to refine and purify our doubts and beliefs. Ultimately, Keller contends, by honestly examining our doubts and beliefs in the context of God's grace and love, "we will be enabled to move out toward others as Jesus has moved toward us."


This article first appeared withThe Harvard Ichthus as "Historic Faith in a New Age."  It is reprinted with permission. 

Daniel Chung is a student at Harvard University and assistant managing editor of  The Harvard Ichthus.

10/22/2009 4:00:00 AM
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