Discuss in ILovePhilosophy.com: RFG 11: Religion and the Gospel
Tim Keller’s The Reason for God Book Discussion – Part 2: The Reasons for Faith
ELEVEN: Religion and the Gospel
“In chapter 11, the author contrasts religion with the message of the Christian gospel. He points out that religion is a set of rules and standards that determine what a person must do to obtain divine approval and enter heaven. In contrast, he states, the gospel makes it clear that no human can measure up to God’s standard — which is perfection. That explains why God sent Jesus, his Son, to earth to die for the sins of humanity. The perfect God, in human flesh, was sacrificed for imperfect humanity. Keller writes: “The Christian gospel is that I am so flawed that Jesus had to die for me, yet I am so loved and valued … that Jesus was glad to die for me” (p. 181). How do you respond to Keller’s characterization of religion in contrast to the message of the gospel? How do you react to his summary of the meaning of the gospel?” – Penguin http://download.redeemer.com/sermons/Penguin%20Reader%20Guide.pdf
I think it is important to note how, as Keller pointed out, “All other major faiths have founders who are teachers that show the way to salvation. Only Jesus claimed to actually be the way of salvation himself,” (174).
My pastor sometimes uses this “religion, irreligion, and the gospel” idea of Tim Keller’s in his sermons, so I was familiar with it. I think it is something we need to keep reminding ourselves of. I think many of us grow up with the religious mindset, never truly understanding the gospel mindset even if we were raised in a Christian family.
In both religion and irreligion, we are slaves. Only the gospel sets us free. I liked this quote, “We are not in control of our lives. We are living for something and we are controlled by that, the true lord of our lives,” (185). If you don’t live for Jesus, you will live for something else.
I liked Keller’s discussion of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – if my reading list wasn’t so long, I’d read it right now. I liked his discussion of pride and Pharisaism (religious mindset) and that there are two types: liberals who feel superior to bigots and narrow-minded people, and conservatives who feel superior to the less moral and devout (180). It is building our identity on our own good works, our own self-salvation (impossible) rather than on God’s unconditional acceptance. It is a rejection of the gospel message, of God’s love, of our Savior.
His love is radical, and a response to it is radical. I liked how Keller discussed Valjean’s response to the bishop’s grace contrasted with Javert’s unfortunate suicide in Les Miserables. He couldn’t handle the paradigm-shift. Another one I should read.
I liked Keller’s mention of humble confidence, despite circumstances. It won’t necessarily be all roses, but you will know you are loved with an unshakable love. I liked that he pointed out that this doesn’t lead us to want to go sin our faces off, but instead we are changed in the presence of such love and want it to radiate through us.
The subject matter of this chapter is definitely something I struggle with. I obsess over others’ assessments rather than accepting God’s assessment of me, I feel proud of myself for things I couldn’t have done without God or things that had no love in them, I comfort myself with thoughts of “at least I’m not like them.” But He loves me anyway.