Timothy Keller

Dual Book Review: The God Question & The Reason For God

I recently read The God Question: An Invitation to a  Life of Meaning by J.P. Moreland and The Reason for God: Beilef in an Age of Skepticism by Timothy Keller.  These books do not just have similar titles, they are very similar books. J.P. Moreland is a professor of Apologetics at the Talbot School of Theology, and strictly speaking is a better apologist than Keller.  Keller however is a Pastor.  He started the Redeemer Presbyterian church in New York City.  As a pastor, his book addresses issues he has seen in the pastorate.

I read a lot books that fall under the rubric of apologetics.  And in truth, all of them have some similarities.  Modern day apologists are still expanding on the work of Aquinas and secularists are still attacking his methods.  He has been dead for 8 centuries, and books still keep coming.  So there is bound to be some overlap.

Both The God Question and The Reason for God are written in a similar fashion.  Both address the reader directly, make wide use of first person and both tackle life’s most basic questions.  Moreland uses the story of his personal journey to Christ.  And Keller answers questions about the Christian faith that have arisen from his years as a pastor in Manhattan.

In the first part of The God Question Moreland addresses the reason why Americans don’t know how to be happy.  He even diagnoses the problem.  We don’t know how to be happy because we have decided to reject the notion of moral right and wrongness.  And addressing the reader directly he transitions into a work of apologetics.  This direct address to the reader as “you” is an approach I have never seen before.  Though Moreland does his best to be gentle, the subject is inherently offensive.  I wonder how effective this approach is to someone who is a committed agnostic. (Is that an oxymoron?)  At any rate It is a novel approach and the book remains interesting.  Moreland ventures into territory rarely addressed by apologetics as well.  He discusses the reality of demons and the importance of prayer and worship.  These topics are usually not found in apologetics books.

In The Reason for God Keller uses the introduction to admit that there are genuine differences in those who are skeptics of God, Christianity, and religion and Christians.  He explains that in his view doubts are not bad because they lead us to seek answers.  If we seek answers we will find the truth; God is real and Christianity is true.  In the first section of the book he addresses a host of doubts that people have expressed to him. Then in the second section he builds the case for Christianity.

I have some disagreements with both authors but nothing that would really temper my recommendation. I am comfortable recommending either book.  But if I was forced to only recommend one, it would be The Reason for God because it is written by a pastor and reflects a pastor’s heart.