The shock of being an insider.

This is a quote that rocked me to the core last week.  It’s something Tim Keller references in his study Gospel Christianity 101 (which you should immediately purchase, read, and use as the curriculum at your small group)  He quoted Richard Hays from his book The Moral Vision of The New Testament:

God’s… invasion of the world has wrought an inversion: God has reversed the positions of insiders and outsiders.  Those who are in positions of authority and privilege reject Jesus and the message.  However, people of low or despised position in the social world of first-century Jewish culture receive the gospel gladly, for their need is great… Those familiar with the story should not  under-estimate the shock of this inversion.

It’s a great quote.  It’s not something terribly new to me, but what rocked me this time as I was reading it is the harsh realization that in my church, in my ministry, and in my life I consistently become an insider.  In fact, at times it is my primary goal. I get a new teaching, or a new way of doing things, and I make and “inside” and an “outside.”  I’m always an insider, scratching and clawing my way to be recognized, applauded, and accepted by the other “insiders.”

The gospel alone forces me to admit being an outsider.  But once I am out in the cold, with no way of saving myself, that same gospel shows me (and in some mysterious way gives me) a righteousness that is unshakable.

May God continue to push us out into the cold, lest we believe the compelling lie that there’s something we did (or can do) to save ourselves.

Tim Keller=Brainache.

I am absolutely loving the first of the two Keller books purchased recently.  I don’t know how any(genuinely seeking)one could read this book and remain ambivalent toward Christianity.

More to come on this thought once I finish the book.

The Reason for God.

The Reason for God by Tim Keller is a must-read for anyone looking for a pastoral, thoughtful, and compelling defense of the Christian faith.

I call it pastoral because, unlike some theological works (even those by such great minds as CS Lewis), this book doesn’t at any point talk down to it’s reader.  It is a defense, to be sure, of the Christian faith.  But it feels like Pastor Tim is talking to you over a cup of coffee, not a podium and his reading glasses.  He is respectful of, and even encouraging to, those who enter into the discussion with doubts.

The real strength of this book, (and what I’d like to see skeptics like Dawkins respond to) is when (in the chapter called “Intermission”) Keller points out the differences between “strong rationalism” and “critical rationalism.”  His basic point is that not even atheistic naturalists have to give proofs that will satisfy people from every conceivable perspective, yet that is precisely what those same atheists require of Christians.  This is the only point at which I think those atheists and skeptics could find reason to be offended by this book.

All things considered, I’d highly recommend this book to anyone searching, or any Christian looking for a model of how to have a thoughtful, intelligent conversation with skeptics.  My word of caution to those Christians would be to replicate the tone of the book (caring more for the person than the philosophical debate), and avoid weaponizing the very compelling truths contained in the book.

What is the Bible Primarily About?

Saw this video over at Zack’s place.  Like him, I have been floored by reading the Bible through this lens.  The Old Testament is an Easter egg hunt that has been so loaded with eggs it’s unfair.  Once you start to see the Bible in this way, it’s pretty awesome.  Please take a few minutes and let Tim Keller blow your mind, and like Zack said, if your pastor is not giving you this kind of stuff on a regular basis, kick him in the hind-parts.