2009-06-18 0 comments

Video Introduction to "The Reason for God"

The following is a video done by Dr. Tim Keller explaining why he wrote "The Reason for God."


"The Reason for God" Media Center

For those of you who will be joining us for Christianity Uncorked, here is a link to "The Reason for God" Media Center. On this page you will find access to the "Penguin Reader's Guide" that we'll be using as a guide to our discussions.

Below is Dr. Timothy Keller's (unless noted otherwise) sermons and study guides to the first seven chapters of the book. For those of you who are interested in digging deeper or conveniently listening to a message on your IPod or in your car, these audio messages and study guides will serve as a great support to the book.

Exclusivity: How can there be just one true religion? Download Audio Study Guide

Suffering: If God is good, why is there so much evil in the world? Download Audio Study Guide

Absolutism: Don't we all have to find truth for ourselves? Download Audio Study Guide

Injustice: Hasn't Christianity been an instrument for oppression? Download Audio Study Guide

Hell: Isn't the God of Christianity an angry Judge? Download Audio Study Guide

Doubt: What should I do with my doubts? (by David Bisgrove) Download Audio Study Guide

Literalism: Isn't the Bible historically unreliable and regressive? Download Audio Study Guide
2009-06-17 0 comments

The Story of Christianity Explains All Others

Doug Powell once asked what John Lennon. Jean-Paul Sartre. Woody Allen. Bertrand Russell. Stephen Spielberg. Peter Singer. Snoop Dog. Aristotle. Garth Brooks. Ayn Rand. Madonna has in common? In responding to his own question he answered, “They are all philosophers. They all try to make sense of reality, the world, of who we are and why we're here. Only some are formally trained in philosophy, but all of them put forward a philosophy in their work” (How movies, music, and art always contain the truth of Christianity).

Let’s consider two examples from popular music.

From their landmark single, “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for,” front man Bono began:

I have climbed highest mountain, I have run through the fields,

Only to be with you

I have run, I have crawled, I have scaled these city walls these city walls,

Only to be with you

But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for

This element of seeking for something beyond ourselves is reiterated by Cold Play, in their song “Cemeteries of London” from their latest installment Viva La Vida.

At night they would go walking till the breaking of the day
The morning is for sleeping
Through the dark streets they go searching to see God in their own way

God is in the houses and God is in my head
And all the cemeteries in London
I see God come in my garden but I don’t know what He said
For my heart it wasn’t open, not open
Although the meaning of this song is not explicitly clear, some have contended that it's about someone searching for something, a truth or meaning, “to see god in their own way' it describes their journey” (HoliHallow), while others believe that this song is “expressing some desire to connect with what’s 'out there' a sort of spiritual vibe going on, its mystical and explores a new dimension. When we die we shed our pride we go off to the grave and we are all equal, I think it’s about embracing the next phase and feeling whole again. Kind of envying the dead, but at the same time loving life too” (ItsAbout).

These songs relate the artists search for something beyond themselves, yet not finding what that “something” is. They speak of their search for god in their own way, seeing him, yet not knowing what he said. These songs serve not only as a recollection of the artists search for god; these songs are also shared and embraced by many devoted fans around the world as the story to their lives as well.

So what is it about these songs that allow for so many people to resonate with them? Why are people from diverse backgrounds capable of sharing their story in search for meaning? People from all walks of life are able to resonate with such songs because they reflect an element of Truth in our search for meaning.

J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings, believed that myths – stories that attempt to explain our existence or aspect of human behavior – were true in so far as they reflected Jesus Christ, who is the embodiment of Truth (see Powell). C.S. Lewis – who was heavily influenced by Tolkien - argued that, “The story of Christ is simply a true myth: a myth working on us in the same way as the others, but with this tremendous difference that it really happened.” He went on to say that “Christianity is God expressing Himself through what we call ‘real things’ namely, the actual incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection” (see C.S. Lewis’s letter to Arthur Greeves, October 18, 1931)

Man’s search for God is at the very core of our being. Human beings are naturally spiritual creatures who are incurably religious (James Emery White, A Search for the Spiritual: Exploring Real Christianity, pg. 12). Writing in the 4th century, a North African Bishop by the name of Augustine's said of God, "You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are rest-less till they find their rest in you" (Confessions, 1.1.1)

Christianity teaches that mankind was created in the image and likeness of God (see Genesis 1-2, 9). This not only means that our self-worth is found in Him, this means that everyone has been created with a religious zeal. From the Old Testament Book of Ecclesiastes, we read that God “has put eternity into man’s heart” (Eccl. 3.11). Being created with such innate desires readily explains the existence of religious pluralism – in that throughout all of time and every geographic location we will discover people who worship “god” - and the existence of God (see Art Lindsey, Argument from Desire: Do our desires point to something or nothing?).

From the New Testament, the Apostle Paul said, “And he [referring to God] made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us” (Acts 17.26-27).

This passage from the Bible insinuates that God not only created us, but also determined when and where we would live with the intent that we would seek out after Him. Although we have been created with this disposition, we come away from these verses that mankind is feeling their way along in the dark, seeking out after the One, True and Living God without knowing the way, even though He is not far from all of us (Doesn’t this sound similar to “Cemeteries of London?”).

You see, Christianity teaches that mankind is born with a “sinful nature.” The presence of sin – which is the “lack of conformity to the law of God in act, habit, attitude, outlook, disposition, motivation, and mode of existence” (J.I. Packer, Original Sin from Concise Theology) – permeates the root of our being. This facet of Christianity is typically called “total depravity” or “radical corruption.”

Even though I typically don’t like to reference Wikipedia, I believe that the authors of this article did an excellent job in defining this doctrine:

Total depravity is the fallen state of man as a result of original sin. The doctrine of total depravity asserts that people are by nature not inclined to love God wholly with heart, mind, and strength, but rather all are inclined to serve their own interests over those of their neighbor and to reject the rule of God. Even religion and philanthropy are destructive to the extent that these originate from a human imagination, passions, and will (Wikipedia, italics mine).

What’s amazing about the message of Christianity is that God did not leave us to our own devices and passions. He has not left us to search out for Him in the dark without a light. He has explicitly revealed Himself to us in His Son, Jesus Christ.

After Paul addressed the religious zeal of his audience, he concluded his talk with these words, “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17.30-31).

The plot of Christianity is this message that Paul proclaimed. This message is one of redemption and hope in the life, death, burial, resurrection, and eventual return of Jesus Christ.
If you consider yourself a person who has climbed great heights or ran great lengths to find God, then I ask that you consider the story of Christ in completing this journey and blazing the paths of a new one. If you have been searching for God in your own way, then I ask you to consider reading what Christianity considers to be the self-revelation of God, the Bible. It is within this ancient text that we discover the wisdom that leads us to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ (see 2 Timothy 3.15).

Andrew and I will be the first to admit that we don’t have all of the answers to life’s questions! But we invite you to join with us in searching out the True Story of God, as revealed in Jesus Christ.

Besides, “What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself” (Blaise Pascal, Pensees, pg. 45).
2009-06-12 0 comments

Christianity Uncorked

Sheesh...it's been since March that I've blogged. Part of that is being busy. Part of it is not making it as much of a priority as I should. And a part of it is that since I started working at Union Mission I have been blogging over at blog.wefeedpeople.com.

However, now that my good friend Jesse Wisnewski and I are beginning our Christianity Uncorked series, it's a good time to get back in the swing of things here on the blog. I'll get back to writing regularly, and now Jesse is going to be posting here as well. I'm very excited about that.

Below you'll find the flyer to our bi-monthly "Christianity Uncorked" discussion group. You can also engage the discussion on Facebook; just log on and look up either Jesse or myself and check our event calendar.

Hope to see you soon!