To what extent is it true of you? This discussion guide, used with The Reason for God DVD, will help you and your group learn how to engage others in dialogue on six common objections to Christianity. Science has disproved Christianity. So, they give answers to questions that aren’t being raised, and wonder why they are the only ones in the conversation that seem impressed. 1. What are the implications of this for the church in a rapidly changing, pluralistic culture like the United States? Exodus 34:23-24 – God would protect their land while traveling to the tabernacle/temple. Keller quotes C. S. Lewis: “They say of some temporal suffering, ‘No future bliss can make up for it,’ not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory” [p. 34]. Keller distinguishes between evolution as the idea that “complex life-forms evolved from less complex forms through a process of natural selection,” and “Evolution as an All-encompassing Theory,” which he argues is not science but philosophy [p. 87]. It is good for three reasons. Explain. What does this say about you? But we should not criticize churches when they maintain standards for membership in accord with their beliefs. 1. A true opium of the people is a belief in nothingness after death—the huge solace of thinking that our betrayals, greed, cowardice, murders are not going to be judged… [but] all religions recognize that our deeds are imperishable” [p. 75]. Do you agree with this distinction? The Reason for God is written for skeptics and believers alike. Session 6-The Reason for God Study. 1. Publisher: Zondervan. How might Christians take this argument to an incorrect conclusion? The Reason for God small group Bible study can be used individually, with groups, or by any believer who is engaging with friends who don’t share his or her beliefs. 13. Does the gospel call us to believe in social justice, to care for God’s creation? If not, why? Do you agree? Contents. Genesis 2 is an account of how it happened” [p. 94]. What does it mean for “Heaven to work backwards”? “This means,” Keller says, “every human culture has (from God) distinct goods and strengths for the enrichment of the human race… while every culture has distortions and elements that will be critiqued and revised by the Christian message, each culture will also have good and unique elements to which Christianity connects and adapts” [p. 45]. Does it make you uncomfortable about being a theist? Remembering that this is an issue about which some people are very sensitive, did Keller’s understanding of Genesis 1 & 2 surprise you? Does it surprise you that “Christianity does not provide a reason for each experience of pain?” [p. 27]. What might this suggest for your next reading of the four gospels? 5. Questions for the first half of the book are posted on our website under The Reason for God: Questions for Discussion (I). In some sections of the church, however, the opposite conclusion would be drawn. How would you respond to their concern? Christians will be challenged to wrestle with their friends and neighbors’ hardest questions, and to engage those questions in ways that will spark an honest, enriching, and humbling dialogue. Keller agrees with the notion that religions claiming exclusivity of their beliefs are a barrier to world peace [p. 4] Do you agree with Keller? “The death of Jesus,” Keller argues, “was qualitatively different from any other death” [p. 30]. Why? Do you ask perceptive questions of opponents to help them clarify their arguments against Christianity? Have you heard Christians raise this issue as a problem in their faith? 1. Is there reason to believe in God? Why or why not? First, it identifies and answers the questions being raised today. As the poor souls fall through space, they cry out for mercy, but God says ‘Too late! January 14 - January 30, 2020 | 6:30PM - 8:00PM. In response to the objection that a God of love cannot be a God of anger, Keller says “all loving persons are sometimes filled with wrath, not just despite of but because of their love.” “Anger isn’t the opposite of love,” Keller quotes Becky Pippert saying, “Hate is, and the final form of hate is indifference” [p. 73]. 9. How satisfied are you with your resolution? Bible Study Guides 8. What reasons did they give? Is civility in the public square possible if this is correct? of God raising someone from the dead… [This] argument… is like the drunk who insisted on looking for his lost car keys only under the streetlight on the grounds that the light was better there. The book was published in multiple languages including English, consists of 293 pages and is available in Hardcover format. Christians will be challenged to wrestle with their friends and neighbors’ hardest questions, and to engage those questions in ways that will spark an honest, enriching, and humbling dialogue. [p. 95] What other texts of Scripture reveal similar doubts about a miracle occurring? 12. It would mean that most of the classic Christian teachings—Jesus’ deity, atonement, and resurrection—are mistaken and based on legends” [p. 98]. Does this not seem to be an elitist argument? The Reason for God – Chapter Twelve: The (True) Story Of The Cross “The primary symbol of Christianity has always been the cross, ” begins Chapter Twelve. 10. The questions are designed to get the group discussing the substance of Keller’s book, and may cover more detail than any particular group will be interested in covering. When is confrontation appropriate? The Reason for God small group Bible study can be used individually, with groups, or by any believer who is engaging with friends who don’t share his or her beliefs. How is this significant for making the case that the gospel narratives are not merely legend—what is Lewis referring to? How do they tie together? While reflecting on how Redeemer Presbyterian engages the culture of New York City, what are two ways in which your church does a good job of engaging the culture of your city? 1. What’s the solution? The Reason for God small group Bible study can be used individually, with groups, or by any believer who is engaging with friends who don’t share his or her beliefs. We will continue to meet, covering one chapter per week, through to the end of December (for the first half of the book). Do you find the doctrine of divine judgment or God’s “wrath” offensive or troubling? Just because we can’t see a reason in human suffering at times doesn’t mean that there isn’t one! [p. 57]. 9. 13. This turns on its head what is often the common reaction to The Da Vinci Code, and to the recent media coverage of The Gospel of Judas. [p. 70]. The Reason for God small group Bible study can be used individually, with groups, or by any believer who is engaging with friends who don't share his or her beliefs. If yes, what questions do you ask? To what extent have you struggled with this doubt yourself? “Instead of trying to shape our desires to fit reality,” Keller says, “we now seek to control and shape reality to fit our desires” [p. 71]. Why or why not? 7. Review the illustrations. What about suffering? 6. Why do so many Christians tend to act as if such fundamentals do not apply to them, since they are neither loving nor receptive? The Reason for God Summary. Discussions on Part 2 of the book beginning in January 2009: January 7: Chapter Nine – “The Knowledge of God”, January 14: Chapter Ten – “The Problem of Sin”, January 21: Chapter Eleven – “Religion and the Gospel”, February 4: Chapter Twelve – “The (True) Story of the Cross”, February 11: Chapter Thirteen – “The Reality of the Resurrection”, February 18: Chapter Fourteen – “The Dance of God”, February 18: Epilogue – “Where Do We Go from Here?”, 3835 Burton St SE [p. 60-61]. Croatian theologian Miroslav Volf says, “If God were not angry at injustice and deception and did not make a final end to violence—that God would not be worthy of worship… The only means of prohibiting all recourse to violence by ourselves is to insist that violence is legitimate only when it comes from God… My thesis that the practice of non-violence requires a belief in divine vengeance will be unpopular with many… in the West… [But] it takes the quiet of a suburban home for the birth of the thesis that human non-violence [results from the belief in] God’s refusal to judge. But at the same time, robust, orthodox belief in the traditional faiths is growing as well” [p. ix]. The questions are designed to get the group discussing the substance of Keller’s book, and may cover more detail than any particular group will be interested in covering. It would mean that no one could really know what Jesus said and did, and that the Bible could not be the authoritative norm over our life and beliefs. 2. objections and questions about God. Christians will be challenged to wrestle with their friends and neighbors’ hardest questions, and to engage those questions in ways that will spark an honest, enriching, and humbling dialogue. “We should criticize Christians when they are condemning and ungracious to unbelievers. This touches on one of the reasons many of the postmodern generation find biblically orthodox Christianity to be irrelevant. Aug 6, 2017 - "The Reason For God" Discussion Questions Index | Church of the Servant The Reason for God is worth reading, reflecting on, and discussing with friends—both Christians and non-Christians. Why? “If this [revisionist] view of the New Testament’s origins and development is true, it would radically change our understanding of the content and meaning of Christianity itself. 15. “The tendency of religious people,” Keller says, “is to use spiritual and ethical observance as a lever to gain power over others and over God, appeasing him through ritual and good works” [p. 59]. Therefore, all should examine their doubts regarding Christianity. To what extent would a stranger who follows you around for several months say this sort of love is your primary characteristic? When these beings gather before God, God only has questions for one of them. The DVD features a culturally diverse group of people meeting to discuss the most common objections to Christianity. The Reason for God small group Bible study can be used individually, with groups, or by any believer who is engaging with friends who don’t share his or her beliefs. So, it's important for you to start having that hobby. What plans should you make? What does this suggest? The Church is responsible for so much injustice. 21. It is good for three reasons. Every question you ask should help you gather either facts or an opinion. 8. 14. A common image of hell in the Bible is that of fire. 2. We discussed the 6th and final objection in our study this past Sunday, August 16th: How can God be full of love and wrath at the same time? “The church has a history of supporting injustice, of destroying culture… If Christianity is the true religion, how could this be?” [p. 51]. Explanation – Read Luke 13:1-5 Ask Jesus’ question. Which community’s beliefs lead it to demonize and attack those who violate their boundaries rather than treating them with kindness, humility, and winsomeness?” [p. 40]. 8. The book was published in multiple languages including English, consists of 293 pages and is available in Hardcover format. Which one do you tend to identify with the most? The Reason for God small group Bible study can be used individually, with groups, or by any believer who is engaging with friends who don’t share his or her beliefs. 13. Knowing God Personally 2. Have you ever heard the charge that believing in hell makes you “narrow” [p. 80-81]? 6. If you reject these scholars’ conclusion, on what basis do you reject them if you accept the scholarly conclusion of Lewis in question #11? Do you understand why non-Christians might react the way they do? The Reason For God – Chapter Fourteen Posted February 18, 2009 by Church of the Servant. Have their excuses been compelling? We hope you find our discussion guide to The Reason for God helpful. 16. Does this seem to make a compelling case? The Reason for God small group Bible study can be used individually, with groups, or by any believer who is engaging with friends who don’t share his or her beliefs. Use this discussion guide to The Reason for God: Belief in the Age of Skepticism, by pastor and author Timothy Keller, to guide your small group through some of the toughest questions people have about faith. Where did they learn this? 38. What’s the difference between denouncing and disagreeing? 7. Keller says that the Gnostic gospels, not the canonical gospels, “‘suck up’ to the ‘powers that be’” [p. 105]. 13. Christians will be challenged to wrestle with their friends and neighbors' hardest questions, and to engage those questions in ways that will spark an honest, enriching, and humbling dialogue. “We should not be surprised to discover it was the Bible-believing religious establishment who put Jesus to death” [p. 59]. Which short story/essay did you like best? “The human impulse to make perpetrators of violence pay for their crimes is almost an overwhelming one,” Keller says. Yes, there is. To what extent would their definitions apply to you—or to your Christian friends? Steps to Spiritual Growth 4. When they are missing, what difference does it make? Define each. How did you respond viscerally to the illustration Keller goes on to describe? 6. 11. 2. How does this statement affect your faith? Have you found unbelievers agreeing? The Reason for God small group Bible study can be used individually, with groups, or by any believer who is engaging with friends who don’t share his or her beliefs.Christians will be challenged to wrestle with their friends and neighbors’ hardest questions, and to engage those questions in ways that will spark an honest, enriching, and humbling dialogue. Why is that? Give examples of rhetoric from the side of skepticism; from the side of Christian faith; from the side of faiths other than Christianity. [p. 85] What makes them especially difficult? How does secularism deal with suffering and evil?
Give examples of Christians denouncing something, rather than engaging in careful reasoning. What impact has the shift from what was, a century ago, generally “a culture of belief” to today’s “culture of skepticism” had on Christian belief? How does this challenge make you feel about the Christian faith? “For the record,” Keller states, “I think God guided some kind of process of natural selection, and yet I reject the concept of evolution as All-encompassing Theory” [p. 94]. Since there are so many other issues raised concerning the historicity and trustworthiness of the Bible, what plans should you make? Great to use in groups. 2. Why or why not? What evidence would you list to support this statement? 6. Where do you believe this divide stems from? We must be grateful, then, when God raises up someone who is gifted at listening to the culture, at identifying the questions being raised, and at thinking through the issues with a passion for truth, love, and the gospel. Why or why not? You Can’t Take the Bible Literally. The panel includes atheists and agnostics. 11. Where are most of your friends and co-workers? Do you think a skeptic would find it convincing? Keller says, “The church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints” [p. 54]. How could a good God allow suffering? History of Christmas customs. What do you hope the answer is? Questions for Discussion and Reflection: 1. Many Christians might find this statement to be unsettling. This discussion guide and accompanying DVD will help you and your group learn how to engage others in conversations on faith and life. The perennial issues of life never change. Summarize each objectively and clearly in language that would be readily understood and appreciated by a non-Christian who does not have a churched background. The gospel is neither religion nor irreligion, but something else entirely. Why? Specifically it will help you think about six common objections to Christianity. African theologian Lamin Sanneh says that Africans have always held strong beliefs in a spiritual world of good and evil. 7. Thanks for exploring this SuperSummary Plot Summary of “The Reason for God” by Timothy J. Keller. Instead they were oral histories taken down from the mouths of living eyewitnesses who preserved the words and deeds of Jesus in great detail” [p. 102]. Take the time to read (at least sections of) Beowulf or The Iliad and compare them to sections of Mark’s gospel. How does Keller describe the ministry of Redeemer Presbyterian Church? Which do you have the most trouble accepting? Sometimes arguments like this in defense of God are made in a tone that seems coldly logical—which offends doubters who are truly wounded by the horrible suffering they find in our broken world [p. 27]. If it is true, why don’t we hear hell explained this way? How do we know which of the two we are actually trusting? [p. 77-78]. Second, it gives reasons for Christian faith that are accessible, thoughtful and never overstated. How often do Christians seek the very best arguments of their opponents? 18. 14. Why or why not? Given the refutation of the “story of the blind men and the elephant” [p. 8-9], how do we make this argument while maintaining the humility appropriate to knowing we see only in part, through a glass darkly (see 1 Corinthians 13)? Discussion If you could ask God one question right now, what would it be? Does this resonate with your experience of talking to people who raise this objection? How does Keller’s understanding of the biblical story of Lazarus and the rich man compare with how you’ve normally thought of it or heard it explained? Do you agree? 10. What is the difference between being lovingly exclusive and narrow-mindedly oppressive? Which do you find most problematic or troubling? Author: Timothy Keller. Biblical Christianity resolves the issue of evil in the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection—i.e., the suffering of Christ—that is different from the solution proposed by every other religion. People who raise the objection that God couldn’t send anyone to hell, Keller says, often believe that “any Christian who thinks there are people bound for hell must perceive such people as unequal in dignity and worth” [p. 69]. How comfortable are you in discussing this topic with a skeptic? You know, reading is not the force. Finding Answers to: Life's Journey!, Life's Questions!, Life's Meaning!, Life's Purpose! 8. Why? “Think of people you consider fanatical,” Keller says. 5. 4. When people bring up their disappointment, what is usually your first response? Why? How can Christians talk about this with non-Christians without sounding self-righteous? Keller appeals to C. S. Lewis to show that magic and science grow from the same impulse, and that modernity, of which we are inescapably a part, was “born in ‘dreams of power’” [pp. Have Christians always fared well in taking their faith into different cultures? For a list of each chapter’s questions for discussion, and for an opportunity to submit your own written reflections, click on the appropriate link below: October 1: Chapter One – “There Can’t Be Just One True Religion”, October 8: Chapter Two – “How Could a Good God Allow Suffering?”, October 15: Chapter Three – “Christianity Is a Straitjacket”, November 5: Chapter Four – “The Church is Responsible for So Much Injustice”, November 12: Chapter Five – “How Can a Loving God Send People to Hell?”, November 19: Chapter Six – “Science Has Disproved Christianity”, December 10: Chapter Seven – “You Can’t Take the Bible Literally”, December 17: Chapter Eight – “The Clues of God”. Are you the one that don't have such hobby? 8. “It is one thing,” Keller says, “to say that science is only equipped to test for natural causes and cannot speak to any others. To what extent do you agree with him? The questions are designed to get the group discussing the substance of Keller’s book, and may cover more detail than any particular group will be interested in covering. Now you will suffer!’ This caricature misunderstands the very nature of evil. Of this [gospel] text there are only two possible views. Is this the commonly understood meaning of love? “I must conclude that the source of the idea,” he says, “is the Bible itself.” How is this significant? When Keller says that complete inclusiveness is an illusion, does that make you uncomfortable? List the specific “counterproductive content” Keller mentions to counter the argument that the early church fabricated the gospel accounts to make Jesus fit their agenda [p. 104-105]. What is your response? If you have any questions about the study, or about God in general, feel free to email me from the link in the right sidebar. What is the difference and why does this matter? 6. Have you noticed the same divide into two camps? Is this the view of the future that Christians tend to believe in and hear about in church? Robert Bellah “concludes that the most fundamental belief in American culture is that moral truth is relative to individual consciousness” [p. 70]. We cannot consider a group exclusive simply because it has standards for its members. visit the House Church Resources page for more info. Keller says, “hell is simply one’s freely chosen identity apart from God on a trajectory into infinity” [p. 78]. C. S. Lewis is quoted as saying, “To ‘see through’ all things is the same as not to see” [p. 37]… “If you say all truth-claims are power plays, then so is your statement… To see through everything is not to see. “Today’s outspoken believer,” Keller says, “may be tomorrow’s apostate, and today’s outspoken unbeliever may be tomorrow’s convert. A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality study guides that feature detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, quotes, and essay topics. Do you believe that right doctrine and proper moral behavior will assure your relationship with God? Keller claims that the notion—“If Christianity is all it claims to be, shouldn’t Christians on the whole be much better people than everyone else?”—is actually based on a “mistaken belief” [p. 53]. 2.
What might that look like? What reasons would you give if a Christian challenged this statement as untrue? Do you find this true in your personal experience? Christians will be challenged to wrestle with their friends and neighbors’ hardest questions, and to engage those questions in ways that will spark an honest, enriching, and humbling dialogue. If we were to lose his presence totally, that would be hell—the loss of our capability for giving or receiving love or joy. 13. Do you see yourself more as a patient in a hospital than a saint in a museum? Why? PDF Study Guide The Reason For God, discussion guide, softcover (9780310330479) by Timothy Keller What is the significance of these ideas? Devotionals 5. Can you think of a time when you used this argument inappropriately and hurt or angered someone? “Liberal democracy is based on an extensive list of assumptions—a preference of individual to community rights, a division between private and public morality, and the sanctity of personal choice. 20. Keller says he has often asked non-Christians, “What is your biggest problem with Christianity? If Christianity is “not the product of any one culture but is actually the transcultural truth of God,” Keller says, “we would expect that it would contradict and offend every human culture at some point” [p. 72]. 19. Have friends raised ideas they garnered from The Da Vinci Code, arguing that though the story is fictional, the ideas behind it are true? 7. What role has each played in your spiritual pilgrimage? Does this surprise you? How could a good God allow suffering? In giving specific examples of how Christianity has used self-correction to stop injustice and oppression, Keller mentions: William Wilberforce and the abolition of slavery; Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Civil Rights movement; Desmond Tutu and the end of apartheid in South Africa; Catholic leadership in the Solidarity Movement in Poland; the martyrs Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador and Dietrich Bonhoeffer of Germany. Since we were originally created for God’s immediate presence, only before his face will we thrive, flourish, and achieve our highest potential. Christians will be challenged to wrestle with their friends and neighbors’ hardest questions, and to engage those questions in ways that will spark an honest, enriching, and humbling dialogue. It is quite another to insist that science proves that no other causes could possibly exist” [p. 85]. What is a good, winsome way to present this truth to a skeptic without seeming arrogant or insensitive or offensive? “Human beings are most free and alive in relationships of love. Were you happy with your response? We modern people think of miracles as the suspension of the natural order, but Jesus meant them to be the restoration of the natural order. Christians will be challenged to wrestle with their friends and neighbors’ hardest questions, and to engage those questions in ways that will spark an honest, enriching, and humbling dialogue. 9. Which are you most drawn to? “Because doubt and belief are each on the rise, our political and public discourse on matters of faith and morality has become deadlocked and deeply divided. When the apostle wrote to the Church in Ephesus, he pointed out that God provides leaders “to equip” Christians for faithful service in a fallen world (Ephesians 4:11-16).