RFG Intro: Best of Left and Right; Doubting Doubts

Discuss in ILovePhilosophy.com: RFG: Intro.: Best of Left and Right, and Doubting Doubts

Tim Keller’s The Reason for God Book Discussion — Introduction

Best of Left and Right, and Doubting Doubts

Keller observes, “the world is polarizing over religion. It is getting both more religious and less religious at the same time,” (x). Do you see this in your day-to-day? If so, how so? If not, how do the people around you seem to feel about religion? How do you feel about religion? Would you like to give a brief synopsis of your faith narrative thus far (modeled after June, Jeffrey and Kelly’s)? This is a great way to introduce yourself to the group.

Keller mentioned “the two camps,” and a “third camp.” In the first two camps, “the people most passionate about social justice were moral relativists, while the morally upright didn’t seem to care about the oppression going on all over the world,” (xii). In response to the first camp, Keller asked, “If morality is relative, why isn’t social justice as well?” In response to the second camp, “Christianity began to seem very unreal” to him. This formed one of three barriers to his faith. The three barriers were 1) intellectual (the tough questions), 2) interior, personal (lack of experiencing God’s presence), and 3) social (dissatisfaction with the first two camps and a need for the third camp). In the third camp he found a “band of brothers” (and sisters) – “a group of Christians who had a concern for justice in the world but who grounded it in the nature of God rather than in their own subjective feelings,” (xiii). In another section he mentions a spiritual third way (the first two ways being traditional conservative and secular liberal) that is “much more concerned about the poor and social justice than Republicans have been, and at the same time much more concerned about upholding classic Christian moral and sexual ethics than Democrats have been,” (xx). Does this third camp appeal to you, and, if so, what are some practical ways to develop it? If not, why not? Have you identified any barriers to your faith that Keller did not mention?

I like how Keller points out “A faith without some doubts is like a human body without any antibodies in it.” I also like how Keller sees that all doubts emerge from a starting point of alternate belief, and that he encourages skeptics to “doubt their doubts” with as much force as they require justification for Christian belief. I like his goal that “Believers and nonbelievers will rise to the level of disagreement rather than simply denouncing the other. This happens when each side has learned to represent the other’s argument in its strongest and most positive form. … I’ve tried to respectfully help skeptics look at their own faith-foundations while at the same time laying bare my own to their strongest criticisms,” (xxviii, xix). Keller is not afraid of this ‘laying bare’. He concludes the introduction pointing out how, though Thomas doubted, Jesus gave him the evidence he sought; even though the man in Mark 9:24 had doubts, Jesus “blesses him and heals his son.” “I invite you to seek the same kind of honesty and to grow in an understanding of the nature of your own doubts. The result will exceed anything you can imagine,” (xxiii). His reference to ‘honesty’ reminds me of my fellowship’s emphasis on ‘authenticity’. I have found all of this to be true in my own spiritual journey with Christ, and it is ultimately what I pray for this group as we work through Keller’s “The Reason for God.” Do you fear doubt, questioning, and ‘laying bare’ your beliefs to criticism? Why do you agree or disagree with footnote 9 (page 244)? Do you doubt the result that Keller promises? What are your personal goals for this book discussion?

Is there anything in the introduction you would like to discuss that I did not refer to?

Notes of sermon at Redeemer on the intro.

Download sermon and study guide: http://sermons.redeemer.com/store/index.cfm?fuseaction=category.display&category_ID=29


Case study: John 20:1-18

Unmask Doubt, Examine Faith, Fuel Hope

1. Unmask Doubt

Evidence: empty tomb.
Mary’s conclusion: grave robbing.
–doubt of resurrection is belief/faith in resurrection’s impossibility
John’s conclusion: Jesus rose from the dead.
–unreasonable? Impossible? a belief

Every doubt is based on an alternative belief, a faith assumption.
It’s faith vs. faith, not reason vs. faith (false dichotomy).

2. Examine Faith

Doubt your doubts (faith assumptions).
Everyone makes their choices based on these assumptions-compass of soul. It matters.
Faith is trust, so it doesn’t matter how strong/weak it is-but what you put faith “in”.
v13 Mary trusted Jesus as Lord, now what she trusts in is gone
What do you put your faith in? Easy come, easy go. We’ve all done it.
The weakest faith in Jesus is far more liberating than the strongest faith in anything else.

3. Fuel Hope

Hebrews 11:1 – hope is that which fuels our faith
Mary’s crying, everyone is hiding in the upper room, ’cause their hope is gone
Doubt our doubts, gaze at the tomb.
Matthew 14-“why did you doubt?”
faith in reality of storm greater than faith in Jesus, for Peter
faith in our doubts greater than faith in Jesus
is relationship w/ Jesus more intellectual than it is personal?
do you believe in the cross, but it isn’t “real” to you?
If you trust Him to die for you-trust Him with every part of your life.
Spend time developing your relationship with Him…reading what He says, praying, hanging out with His people, listening to their encouragement, etcetera.
Then the doubts won’t sink you.
Gaze at the tomb. V16 It all seems too good to be true, in this broken world-a fairy tale. But it is true “Mary”. Live it. Walk out on that water. Tell everybody.

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