When evil men plot, good men must plan. When evil men burn and bomb, good men must build and bind. When evil men shout ugly words of hatred, good men must commit themselves to the glories of love. Where evil men seek to perpetuate an unjust ‘status quo’, good men must seek to bring into being a real order of justice.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
David Foster Wallace, the postmodern novelist, puts it like this:
In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is no such thing as . . . not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And an outstanding reason for choosing some sort of god or spiritual thing to worship . . . is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough. Never feel you have enough. . . . Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure, and you will always feel ugly, and when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally plant you. . . . Worship power – you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over things to keep the fear at bay. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart – you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out.
Finally, he adds that “the insidious thing” about these forms of worship is that they are not seen for what they are. “They are unconscious. They are default settings.” In other words, whatever is the source of your meaning and satisfaction in life is what you are worshipping, though you may not acknowledge it as such. You are not simply pursuing these things if they are what you are living for. If you are living for them, you must have them or you lose your purpose in life. If anything threatens them, you get uncontrollably anxious or angry. If anything takes them away, you can lose the very will to live. If you fail to achieve them you may fall into unending self-hatred. That is why they are “eating you alive.” Put another way, you are enslaved to them. You must give yourself to something, or you have no meaning in life.
Making Sense of God, Timothy Keller, pp 111-112.
Staying in your comfort zone is a tool of oppression.
Ana Marie Cox, on The Hilarious World of Depression,
Episode #PLACEBO, May 5, 2017
Rather than unfairly asking only religious people to prove their views, we need to compare and contrast religious beliefs and their evidences with secular beliefs and theirs. We can and should argue about which beliefs account for what we see and experience in the world. We can and should debate the inner logical consistency of belief systems, asking whether they support or contradict one another. We can and should consult our deepest intuitions.
Timothy Keller, Making Sense of God, page 53
If we feed on the Word of God, it will be easy to speak to others about the Word of God; and not only that, but we will also be growing in grace the entire time, and others will notice the change in our walk and conversation. So few Christians grow, because so few study.
D. L. Moody, How to Study the Bible: Updated Edition, page 4
These new [Christian] views of the importance of the body and the material world laid the foundation for the rise of modern science. The material world was no longer understood as an illusion or simply something to be spiritually transcended. Nor was it just an incomprehensible mystery but, according to the Bible, it was the creation of a personal, rational being. Therefore it could be studied and understood by other personal, rational beings.
Timothy Keller, Making Sense of God, page 45
Even if you are not a secular person, the secular age can “thin out” (secularize) faith until it is seen as simply one more choice in life – along with job, recreation, hobbies, politics – rather than as the comprehensive framework that determines all life choices.
Timothy Keller, Making Sense of God, page 3
Christianity provided not merely a general idea of equality but also the resources for an understanding of “natural” human rights. Who ever came up with the idea that a human being had “rights” not granted by the state and that could be appealed to against the state? Where did the thought come from that some things are owed to all persons, regardless of their social status, gifts, or abilities, just by virtue of their being human? While it is popularly thought that human rights were the creation of modern secularism over and against the oppressiveness of religion, the reality is that this concept arose not in the East but in the West, and not after the Enlightenment but within medieval Christendom. As Horkheimer in the 1940s and Martin Luther King Jr, in the 1960s recognized, the idea of human rights was based on the biblical idea of all people being created in God’s image.
Timothy Keller, Making Sense of God, page 44
quoting Brian Tierney
Charles Taylor explains why modern people are far more likely to lose their faith over suffering than those in times past. He says it is because, culturally, our belief and confidence in the powers of our own intellect have changed. Ancient people did not assume that the human mind had enough wisdom to sin in judgment on how an infinite God was disposing of things. In it only in modern times that we get “the certainty that we have all the elements we need to carry out a trial of God.” Only when this background belief in the sufficiency of our own reason shifted did the presence of evil in the world seem to be an argument against the existence of God.
Timothy Keller, Making Sense of God, pages 37.
Some years ago I spoke to a man who had been a minister in a liberal, mainline denomination in Manhattan for four decades. He told me that when he had been trained for ministry in the early 1960s, he was confidently told by his teachers that the only religion that would survive in the future was the most mild, modern kind that did not believe in miracles or the deity of Christ or a literal, bodily resurrection. But when I spoke to him he was nearing retirement, and he observed that most of his generation of ministers presided over empty church sanctuaries and dwindling, aging congregations. “Ironically,” he observed, “they can only keep the doors open by renting them out to growing, vibrant churches that believe all the doctrines they were told would soon be obsolete.”
Timothy Keller, Making Sense of God, pages 24-26.