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Making Sense of God: Finding God in the Modern World Paperback – March 20, 2018
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In this thoughtful and inspiring new book, pastor and New York Times bestselling author Timothy Keller invites skeptics to consider that Christianity is more relevant now than ever. As human beings, we cannot live without meaning, satisfaction, freedom, identity, justice, and hope. Christianity provides us with unsurpassed resources to meet these needs. Written for both the ardent believer and the skeptic, Making Sense of God shines a light on the profound value and importance of Christianity in our lives.
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"Writing about philosophy and religion without jargon, condescension, or preaching, Keller produces an intelligent person’s invitation to faith." —Booklist
"Keller provides a calm and measured invitation to examine convictions and assumptions in a way that both believers and skeptics could use as part of a reasoned dialogue." —Library Journal
"Keller masterfully weaves in relevant history, politics, and literature while expounding on the scriptures, and effectively exposes the weaknesses of secularist and atheistic worldviews. . . . Skeptics with philosophical minds will appreciate Keller's thoughtful, tightly-argued prose." —The Christian Post
"Superb . . . we should be grateful to Keller for his wisdom, scholarship, and humility." —The Gospel Coalition
"Tim Keller’s ministry in New York City is leading a generation of seekers and skeptics toward belief in God. I thank God for him." —Billy Graham
"Unlike most suburban megachurches, much of Redeemer is remarkably traditional. What is not traditional is Dr. Keller’s skill in speaking the language of his urbane audience. . . . Observing Dr. Keller’s professorial pose on stage, it is easy to understand his appeal." —The New York Times
"Fifty years from now, if evangelical Christians are widely known for their love of cities, their commitment to mercy and justice, and their love of their neighbors, Tim Keller will be remembered as a pioneer of the new urban Christians." —Christianity Today
About the Author
- Publisher : Penguin Books (March 20, 2018)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 336 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0143108700
- ISBN-13 : 978-0143108702
- Item Weight : 8 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.12 x 0.88 x 8 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #16,619 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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Keller looks at themes like hope, meaning, satisfaction, identity, justice, etc. Over the last decade or two apologetics has changed significantly. Postmodernism (or late modernism) has worn away the potential impact of classical evidential apologetics (scientific “proofs” for the existence of God etc.). But late modernism has also paved the way for narratival/experiential apologetics to be more effective. This is because in the same way relativism “relativizes” itself, deconstructionism deconstructs itself. Postmodernism is defined as “incredulity towards meta narrative,” but why shouldn’t we be skeptical of THAT truth claim and the belief system that it encompasses? This leaves a society that is void of truth, meaning, purpose and hope. Keller shows that the most rational place to find the deepest longings of our hearts is in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I’ve read six other books by Keller, but Making Sense of God may now be my favorite.
All the hallmarks of Keller’s writing appear. There is an integrative approach where wonderful quotes (no, I won’t use the overused “money” quotes!) from various disciplines are used throughout the book. Keller clearly keeps up in his reading, especially when it comes to philosophy, sociology, and cultural analysis. How many pastors do you know who have read Charles Taylor’s big book, A Secular Age not once, but three times? As Keller commonly says, he reads so widely because he is “desperate.” Many of us are beneficiaries due to Keller’s desperation.
Another common feature of Keller’s approach, especially as it relates to skeptics, is what I like to call “incremental apologetics.” This is where the skeptic is moved ever slowly. No big jumps from A to Z. The skeptic is paid the respect he deserves. The skeptic is truly listened to, and maybe most importantly, is confident that Keller is portraying his positions accurately. Given these realities it is not surprising that Keller would realize a “prequel” to The Reason for God was needed.
Related to the former is what I like to call “let’s talk on the bridge.” Keller models this well in both The Reason for God and in Making Sense of God. All sides are invited into a conversation (no bomb throwing allowed) where each participant is reminded that they utilize both faith and reason. This can be a tough sell for Christians and non-Christians alike, but it is crucial if real dialogue is to occur.
Making Sense of God is strong at showcasing the problems of a materialistic worldview. The problems that ensue from the reductionism of believing that the physical world is the totality of existence are a particular strength of Making Sense of God. And Keller does not just use Christians to answer materialists like Stephen Pinker. Rather, he highlights other skeptics like Julian Barnes whose reflections on the beauty of Mozart’s Requiem made him wonder whether physical reality is the sum total of human existence.
I close with one slight disappointment and a comment about source notes.
First, the slight disappointment. Keller writes, “All of us have things we believe—including things we would sacrifice and even die for–that cannot be proven. But since these beliefs cannot be proved, does this mean we ought not to hold them, or that we can’t know them to be true? We should, therefore, stop demanding that belief in God meet a standard of universally acknowledged proof when we don’t apply that to the other commitments on which we base our lives.” Granted there is an important truth there, but believing or not believing in God is far more costly than other matters, so it is understandable why we might “demand” more evidence. There may be sufficient evidence for Christianity, but it is understandable why many of us would like more. I found this a bit too quick of a dismissal of an honest objection, something that is uncharacteristic of Keller.
It may seem rather strange to finish this review with a comment about endnotes, but I must. I regularly scan the footnotes (these days they are almost always endnotes) to see whether the author has interacted with the best literature. Not only do Keller’s endnotes demonstrate his careful reading, but there really is a book within a book. My only concern here is that too many readers will forego reading the endnotes thinking they are unimportant, or simply too academic. For those willing to slow down and read the endnotes, they will find a treasure trove of bibliographic suggestions, further interaction, and fuller quotes.
Tim Keller graciously responded to my "slight disappointment" with this:
My point here was that both belief in a universe without a God (that things exist on their own, that moral obligation exists without God, and so on) and belief in a universe with God-take equal amounts of faith and reason to hold. Both views (I argue in the book) require major steps of faith, and both also have some good logical arguments on their side. Neither can demonstrably prove their position to all rational people. So I don’t think the objection--that belief in a universe with God must meet a higher standard of proof than believe in a materialistic-only universe—really holds true. — Tim Keller
Top reviews from other countries
So enjoyed reading this and sharing quotes on social media to sceptical friends, it caused a few conversations.
This has the usual gracious tone from Tim Keller. I always love his ability to build his case using a wide array of sources, (the footnotes alone take up 30% of the book and could provide a years reading on their own!)
He argues that secular humanism is also based on certain presuppositions that cannot be proved. There are faith based beliefs which cannot be scientific proved. He then seeks to convey that theistic belief makes more sense of the world in terms of morality, identity, purpose/meaning and beauty than secular humanism does.
The final section of the book argues for the validity of the person and works of Jesus in particular.
Will it convince a committed atheist, probably not, I dont think any book alone will do that. Should it raise questions, yes. Should it make us all think carefully, yes definitely.
A must read, for Christians to think more carefully about our atheist and agnostic peers, our own ideas and for the bibliography !!
My feeling is that 'Making Sense of God' goes a step backwards and addresses questions and dilemas for readers whom the idea of God is distant and perhaps have not though much about it and dismissed the idea of God.
What I like from this book is:
- how clear and 'concise' the arguments are.
- large amounts of resources and quotes from thinkers and scholars.
- it generally starts with the argument against.
I'll very much recommend it to anyone really.
This book questions all those secular assumptions and sheds new light of the need for religion and Christianity in modern life.
Personally, I think it does an excellent job and is essential reading, especially if you were convinced by Richard Dawkins' book "The God Delusion".
Scientists think they have all the answers but in fact, they know nothing of your individual human needs. This book examines the really important questions that matter to human individuals and that underpin our society.