The Reason For God - Chapter Four Review

Chapter Four of Keller's book is entitled, "The Church Is Responsible For So Much Injustice."
This is taking much more time and work than I expected. For this chapter I am going to bullet point Keller's rebuttals to the criticism and then my thoughts on the rebuttals.
  • People are affected by their emotional backgrounds with how they react to Christianity intellectually.
Interesting that Keller would start off with this, seeing how he so often rails against relativism.
I guess when one is critical, you must have met some naughty Christians. It felt like he was saying you could not be against Christianity without having some sort of personal grudge. I found this offensive, mainly because I want the message that I grew up with and loved to be true.
  • Many people with harmful pasts, abusive families and character flaws become Christians. Christianity is for people who realize they are sick and need the grace of g0d. Therefore it's to be expected that Christians would be a mixed bag of good and bad.
I hear this argument a lot when Christianity fails to live up to its own claims. The problem with this is, either your all powerful g0d changes all lives or he doesn't. I think it's very interesting that you get 'born again' experiences in all forms of faith. The appeal to 'we're all sinners struggling to get through' just makes me sigh and think that it is not really different from any other human created belief system.
  • All societies have killed and abused their citizenry. You can't just blame religious thought for this, even the commies did it, and they were atheists!
I guess I would say, again, this just leads one to say Christianity is another human created institution. If you're just like everyone else, and yet claim a supernatural source, where does that leave you? Keller using those evil commies as an atheistic society is interesting. Stalin was taught by the church, and used what he learned there to manipulate his people. He calls his list of societies that hurt people, and were not Christian, "rational and secular". That made me laugh. Secular maybe, rational I don't think so. I can't think of any society in history I would call "rational". I think it's very difficult to make a society rational. The whole "counting bodies" argument always tires me.
  • People who are super fanatical and hateful are not fanatical enough. If you were really fanatical about your faith, a 'real' Christian, then you would treat others with love. This is because you would be so humbled by being "accepted by g0d by sheer grace."
This seems to me to be the no true Scotsman fallacy.
  • Christ's own teachings have a built in critique against the abuses the church has done throughout history. Christianity teaches against the hypocrisy it has committed. You can't criticize Christianity without using it's own morals.
I think there is some validity in arguing that Christianity has not lived up to itself. I would probably take it a lot further than Keller, and say the argument could be made that Christianity sold out around the time of Paul. I am curious what Keller would make of Jesus being another apocalyptic Jewish teacher. That would change the view of Jesus' teachings.
  • Look at all the good that Christianity has done. From abolitionists to Bonhoeffer to Martin Luther King Jr. These are examples of 'true' Christianity.
This would work for me if you could not provide examples of the same thing in other faiths. As well, I could be mistaken, but I believe many of the first abolitionists were humanists. Also, King got much of his anti violence message from Gandhi. I don't say this to discount the good that Christians have done, but only suggest that maybe its origin are not supernatural. Christianity is just so very, well, human. The history of its church just makes that more clear.
I also find it very curious that all his examples happen after the enlightenment.

I feel Keller might have answered the criticism in a superficial way in this chapter, but missed the greater point.


  1. Scott,

    I have responded to your Keller posts and put it on your Facebook wall, because for some reason I can't copy the link into this box.


  2. Here is your comment Nick.


    I would have to disagree with many of your points on your Keller posts.

    You say:

    “I hear this argument a lot when Christianity fails to live up to its own claims. The problem with this is, either your all powerful g0d changes all lives or he doesn't.”

    The NT itself claims that one is justified by faith, but that sanctification is a process; that it takes time to be conformed to image of Christ because of the power of the flesh. If Christianity claimed perfect behaviour right away then you might have a point.

    The logical application of Christ’s teachings is a life of self-denying sacrificial love (demonstrated over and over again by many people I know and by Christians throughout the world: e.g. Christians in China loving and praying for their abusers). The logical application of atheism is a survival of the fittest mentality: e.g. Hitler, Stalin, etc. (just compare the numbers of deaths from atheist regimes vs. the Crusades)

    I know many people that have been transformed by Christ; I don’t agree with your true Scotsman argument, and I think it is a little bit of a caricature of what Keller is saying.

    Also, I wouldn’t be reading Ehrman if you want reliable scholarship; many of his observations are exaggerations and not based on solid evidence:


    Concerning the age of the earth, etc. to be a Christian does not mean subscribing to a young earth (e.g. see Dr. Gordon Hugenberger’s messages [http://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/Ted_Hildebrandt/OTeSources/01-Genesis/Audio/Hugenberger-Genesis/Hugenberger-GenSermons.htm); at this point I hold to the framework hypothesis (e.g. Meredith Kline)] or an actual worldwide flood (it could have been local flood of the known world because the population world lived in only one small geographical area).

    Your objections to evil, suffering, the cross, etc. are answered if the resurrection is actually an historical event. It means that God can be trusted, and it means that everything Jesus said is true, and it means that heaven will bring healing that we cannot even fathom, and life will make sense when see him in all his glory:





  3. So are you claiming Christianity does not claim supernatural change of persons? My point was more to the fact that Christianity does not seem to do much different than other stuff humans have created. You get the same collection of good and bad.

    Ahh, the whole counting bodies argument. I am disappointed. The fact is, in our world, the least violent societies are the least religious. Imagine if Calvin had access to automatic weapons. What a scary thought. Seriously though, please don't do that if you ever meet a skeptic, it will probably just make them dismiss you and not listen to any valid points you are making. It would be the equivalent if someone told you that you're gonna start killing your kids because you're a Christian, it is Biblical.

    People are transformed by all sorts of things, that's kind of the point. Christianity is not special in this regard. Maybe it is a bit a a caricature, but no true Scotsman gets used a lot by the religious.

    Really? Are you really saying Ehrman is not a good scholar? I asked a scholar, working on her PHD, before I started reading Ehrman. She's a Christian, and her PHD is related. She said he was a reliable scholar. Just because you don't like someones conclusions does not make them a bad scholar. I know I used to think that, I learned that bad habit from PBC. From what I have seen, the standard evangelical approach to a scholar who disagrees with them is to say they don't know what they are talking about. I am not appealing to authority by mentioning my friend, just that she is someone I know who, if anything, would disagree with Ehrman's conclusions, but know if he was a decent scholar.

    Obviously you don't need to subscribe to young earth creationism, no disagreement there. I would ask, then why does it seem that the vast majority of preachers in North America treat Genesis as a narrative of historic events? There is a huge disconnect between the scholars and the evangelical pews. It also speaks to how people treat the Bible, obviously it's not “infallible” in the way most people use that word.

    *sigh* Sorry, can't agree that you can prove that the resurrection was a historical event. By definition it's a miracle, and therefore any scenario is more likely. I guess my biggest problem with Keller so far is he's trying to bring in a scientific epistemology to what is essentially a matter of faith. Christianity sold out to the enlightenment. You can't bring science into the faith realm. They don't work together, and when you try to start 'proving' miracles you're just being, well, very silly. Historical event, lol. I'm seriously laughing at the idea. You can't prove a miracle, it's a miracle. Oh, and I am not satisfied with the childish pat on the head and patronizing idea that it will all make sense one day.

    Thanks for your comments and links. It got me thinking and exploring. If you feel I did not address one of your points, or missed the point, let me know.