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.
Consider this: If you live a long life, it will tear you up to see the people who matter most to you put into the ground one by one. If your greatest source of contentment and love is your family, that will be intolerable. But if you learn to love God even more than them, your greatest source of consolation, hope, joy, and value will not be diminished by grief. Indeed, the sorrow will drive you to drink deeper from it. You will not find yourself empty, and you won’t always be hardening your heart in order to deal with how your losses tear you up. The love of God can never be taken from you, and in his love, the Bible says, you live with loved ones forever.
Timothy Keller, Making Sense of God, p. 93.
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
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
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.
One of the world’s most prominent philosophers, Jürgen Habermas, was for decades a defender of the Enlightenment view that only secular reason should be used in the public square. Habermas has recently startled the philosophical establishment, however, with a changed and more positive attitude toward religious faith. He now believes that secular reason alone cannot account for what he calls “the substance of the human.” He argues that science cannot provide the means by which to judge whether its technological inventions are good or bad for human beings. To do that, we must know what a good human person is, and science cannot adjudicate morality or define such a thing. Social sciences may be able to tell us what human life is but not what it ought to be.”
Timothy Keller, Making Sense of God, p.12
As we have explored these tough choices (earlier chapters in this book, the purpose hasn’t been to convince you to agree in principle with any of them. The purpose is to promote action. Agreeing in principle allows us to remain as passive spectators to the life that Jesus is inviting us into. The call of the real Jesus is for us to move and participate in these new ways of living.
Jason Mitchell, No Easy Jesus, p.184
In a 2004 article titled “Live More Musically,” journalist Andy Crouch explores the differences between purchasing music and practicing music, which he compares to “playing a CD [or] playing a fugue.” One of his main points is that we experience different levels of satisfaction with music we’ve learned to play through long hours of sacrifice than with music we’ve merely purchased.
[T]he music we purchase delivers almost all of its satisfaction up front. In other words, we’ll never be happier with a product we’ve purchased than when we use it for the first time. After that, our satisfaction level tends to go down.
But when we learn to play a musical instrument, the satisfaction curve moves in the opposite direction. During the early stages, there is little enjoyment. (Not just for us, but even more so for those who have to endure our attempts to blow air through a brass instrument or draw a bow across strings.) But if we make the choice to grit it out and keep practicing, in time something beautiful will happen. What at first were discordant noises will eventually become distinguishable notes. And those notes will eventually become phrases, melody, music.
“But when we practice, we change.”
Jason Mitchell, No Easy Jesus, p.188-9
Compassion requires reaction.
That’s what the world needs – our presence as well as our prayers. People who are struggling and in need aren’t looking for pity. They’re looking for care and concern that act on their behalf – for people who will not only pray from a distance, but who will also be willing to draw so close to them that our shirts might get stained.
Jason Mitchell, No Easy Jesus, p. 66