Even in its beginnings, the movement of Jesus followers spread out in all directions outward from its Middle Easter origins, not only to Europe, but also to North Africa, to Turkey and Armenia, to Persia and India. “Christianity was a world religion long before it was a European one.” And today again, . . . Christianity is the religion that is most equally distributed across the continents of the world. So “no other [faith] . . . has so extensively crossed the cultural divisions of humanity and found a place in so many diverse cultural contexts.”
Timothy Keller, Making Sense of God, page 229.
“Think of Jesus at his trial,” says one biblical commentator, “Was he the prisoner, or were his accusers? . . . He was calling the shots, not they. In this age that values freedom almost more than anything else, Jesus confronts us as the most liberated man who ever lived.”
Timothy Keller, Making Sense of God, page 236.
quoting Michael Green, Who is This Jesus? page 14.
Francis Crick, a leading molecular biologist and neuroscientist, famously wrote: “You, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.” If there is no God or spiritual dimension, that is pretty much the logical conclusion.
Timothy Keller, Making Sense of God, page 224.
Luc Ferry does a good job of summarizing the moral, consciousness, reason, and beauty arguments against the secular, naturalistic view of things. He writes that his experiences of “truth, beauty, justice, and love . . . whatever the materialists say, remain fundamentally transcendent.” By that he means, “I cannot invent mathematical truths, nor the beauty of a work of art, nor the imperatives of the moral life . . . [They] impose themselves on me as if they come from elsewhere.” He adds, “I am not at all persuaded by the argument that I merely choose ethical values.” These things are signs that impress themselves on our minds and hearts and point us toward God.
Timothy Keller, Making Sense of God, page 226.
The ultimate example of God’s working in the world was Jesus Christ, the only founder of a major religion who died in disgrace, not surrounded by all of his living disciples but abandoned by everybody whom he cared about, including his Father. He was the victim of a miscarriage of justice and he died oppressed and helpless. Jesus Christ’s salvation comes to us through his poverty, rejection, and weakness. And Christians are not saved by summoning up their strength and accomplishing great deeds but by admitting their weakness and need for a savior.
Timothy Keller, Making Sense of God, page 208.
If we believe that the Resurrection really happened, then Jesus Christ has, as it were, made an opening in the barrier between the ideal and the real. The downtrodden of the world can say, “Now I have got something, I have a hope. I have a hope for the future.” Middle-class people can get excited about philosophy and ethical principles, but not the masses, not the people who are really stuck in the darkness of this world. The Resurrection, not taken as a symbol but believed as a concrete fact, will lift up the downtrodden, and will change the world. Belief in a final judgment gives us enough hope so that we will neither resort to violence to bring in justice nor give in and collaborate with injustice.
Timothy Keller, Making Sense of God, page 172.
This schizophrenia does not exist only in academic circles. It is now pervasive, especially in the day-to-day lives of younger adults. Sociologist Christian Smith found that younger American adults held two views of morality in sharp tension, even contradiction. Most are relativistic, not believing in abiding moral absolutes. And yet they have many very strong moral convictions, which they insist others should honor. When asked how they knew if an action was moral or not, most said that the “automatically know . . . what is right and wrong in any situation. When asked how they would explain to someone else why they should do or not do some action, they repeated insisted that “everybody already knows” what is right and wrong. But there is no set of moral values that is self-evident to all people.
Timothy Keller, Making Sense of God, page 180.
The Gospel would still be true even if no one believed it. The hopeful thing is that, where it is tried–where it is imperfectly and hesitantly followed–as it was in Northern Ireland [and South Africa] during the peace process[es], as it is in many a Salvation Army hostel this Christmas, as it flickers in countless unseen Christian lives, it works. And its palpable and remarkable power to transform human life takes us to the position of believing that something very wonderful indeed began with the birth of Christ into the world.
Timothy Keller, Making Sense of God, page 192.
Quoting A. N. Wilson, It’s the Gospel Truth.
All judgments that something or someone is good or bad do so based on an awareness of purpose. If you know what that purpose is, then your moral evaluation of something can be a factual statement, a truth that exists apart from your personal likes and dislikes. You may not like watches for some reason, but if it is a good one, you will have to acknowledge it to be so. If you know the purpose of a farmer is to get a crop out of a piece of land, but she does not get any yield at all, year after year, then you know she is a bad farmer, however much you may like her personally. If, however, you have no idea of the purpose of an object, then any description of it as “good” or “bad” is wholly subjective, completely based on inner preferences.
How, then, can we tell if a human being is good or bad? Only if we know our purpose, what human life is for. If you don’t know the answer to that, then you can never determine “good” and “bad” human behavior. If, as in the secular view, we have not been made for a purpose, then it is futile to even try to talk about moral good and evil.
Timothy Keller, Making Sense of God, pages 186-187.
Eastern religions today teach that after death our souls merge with the All-Soul of the universe. Just as a drop of water returning to the ocean loses its individual nature in the whole, so we become an impersonal part of the impersonal spiritual life force knitting all things together. But if after death there is nonexistence, impersonal existence, or in any case nonconsciousness, that means there is no love, because only persons can love. If we are not a self after death, then we have lost everything, because what we most want in life is love.
Tim Keller, Making Sense of God, p. 167