Ed Stetzer Talks With Tim Keller About Reaching Skeptics With the Gospel

Ed: So just a short story to start us off: I was on a plane recently talking to a woman who lives near Moody Church. She’d had a bad experience with Christianity, so I said, “If I got you these two books, would you meet me at church and take them to read?” She said yes, later met me at church, and I gave her the books—one of them was your book, Reason for God, and the other was a book you wrote entitled Making Sense of God. So, I’m a fan, but for the rest of the world, could you tell us a little bit more about these books, who you wrote them for, and what they’re really about?

Tim: Reason for God is for people with a fairly high religious consciousness. That means they already pretty much believe in a personal God. They have some idea of sin and of the moral standards that exist outside of themselves.

Secondly, they feel some cross-pressures—now I’m using a term that’s getting popularized by a lot of writers, but it’s Charles Taylor who came up with the idea. He’s a Catholic philosopher who wrote in his book A Secular Age that there are non-Christians who feel like the whole faith thing is utterly ridiculous and then there are others who don’t believe in God, yet occasionally they feel like it does make sense.

Occasionally, they might feel that it’d be great if there was a God or they feel that even though my beliefs say there’s no meaning in life, I feel like there is, or my beliefs say everything is relative, but I feel like it isn’t. So in short, a cross-pressured person is someone who has some motivation to say, “Yeah, I’d be happy to hear a good case for God.”

Reason for God was written for people like that. I didn’t quite realize it at the time, but I came to realize over the years that the book worked better with people who already said, “I feel some sense that I’d be open to a good case for God. I’d be willing to go with it.”

Making Sense of God is for people who actually think the whole thing is just absolutely stupid. It starts back further, and I think it’s working with a much ‘harder crowd’ you might say. In the very beginning, for example, the book makes a case that most non-believers hate: The burden of proof is not on Christians or on those who believe in God because everybody is operating out of a set of faith beliefs that can’t be empirically proven.

So, if you believe that the universe just happened and there is no God, but that somehow human rights still exist, you can’t prove that. In fact, it takes a lot of faith to imagine humanistic values can arise from an impersonal universe. And that’s fine. That’s a set of beliefs, but they’re just that—beliefs. And I’ve found that first part of the book gets a lot of horrible pushback from people who are absolutely sure that Christians have faith, but they believe the actual truth about the universe.

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Source: Christianity Today