Reason for God Chapter 4

I am posting a study guide for Tim Keller’s The Reason for God that I created to lead my small group through. I hope it is a blessing.

Reason for God Week 4

The Church is responsible for so much injustice.



  • When have you felt treated unjustly?

Interpretation Questions

  • What was your favorite part of this chapter?
  • What made you struggle in this chapter?
  • What did you learn about God in this chapter?
  • What did you learn about yourself in this chapter?

Study Questions

Truth:  Many people take an intellectual stand against Christianity do so against a background of personal disappointment with Christians and churches.

Behavior of Christians that have undermined the plausibility of the gospel.

  1. Christian’s character flaws
  2. War and violence
  3. Fanaticism

Character Flaws

  • Shouldn’t Christians be better than non-Christians?
  • Mistaken belief about Christianity.
    • Common Grace James 1:17.  All goodness is from God, an is given to all humanity.
    • Not Perfect but forgiven.  The Bible speaks that real Christians are flawed.
      • This means that the church will be filled with broken and immature people.
      • Hospital for sinners not a museum for saints.
    • Good character is primarily due to a good home and family. You are not responsible for that.
    • You can measure the power of the gospel from how much life change happens in their life.

Religion and Violence.

  • Christopher Hitchens- religion takes racial and cultural differences and aggravates them.
  • Religion transcendentalizes ordinary cultural differences making them seem like a cosmic battle of right and wrong.
  • The problem is that non religious regimes have done the same.  French Revolution
  • Alistair McGrath – when the idea of God is gone, a society will transcendentalize something else or concept.
  • Violence done in the name of Christianity is wrong.  It is not Christian
  • Violence is rooted in the human heart.


  • Perhaps the biggest deterrent is fanaticism.
  • People try to understand Christianity on a scale of nominalism to fanaticism.
    • they think the best kind of Christian is in the middle.
    • The problem is that this view thinks that the Christian faith is some sort of moral improvement.
    • We should be fully fanatical but in a different way.  Fully committed to being loving and giving.
    • What seems over fanatical is actually a failure to be fully committed to Jesus.

The Biblical Critique of Religion

The way to run from oppression and injustice is not to tone down your beliefs but to pursue a fuller and truer faith in Jesus.

  • Jesus critiques the religious people in the sermon on the mount.
  • Jesus cannot be manipulated by our good works or moral performance.
  • True faith is marked by a profound concern for the poor and marginalized.
  • The way we treat them is how we treat God.

Where do we get the list of virtues that we criticize the church?  The BIBLE

  • Many cultures think it is ok to use power to get what you want. Including Islam and Evolution
  • Being others centered is a Christian Ethic.  Example of Anglo-Saxon’s self based shame culture.
  • The crusades are a result of Anglo Saxons not fully understanding the gospel.  Hadn’t penetrated their culture fully.  The Shame based culture of pride and respect was still intact among the leadership.
  • The right way to understand and criticize the Church is to not abandon the faith but move to a deeper and fuller understanding of the gospel.



  1. Christians first understood that Slavery was wrong.
  2. they eradicated slavery in America and Britain.
  3. Even almost broke the British government. Racism

Martin Luther King Jr.

  1. Did not call churches to become more secular.  He called them to become more true to the gospel.
  2. Desmond Tutu
    1. Commission for Truth and Reconciliation.


  1. Catholic Church in Poland
  2. Forgiveness in Jesus’ name

Nazi Germany

  1. Deitrch Bonhoeffer – He went to Germany and made an illegal seminary
  2. It is not a religious act that makes the Christian but participation in the sufferings of God in the secular life.

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10 years ago

Thanks, your compilation of thoughts was an added help for this book. I am meeting with several college guys, all at different campuses, and leading them through The Reason for God this summer– at their request.
I taught all of them in high school, but they have since come back from college desiring to be even more grounded, more ready in conversations, and wanting genuine answers for themselves. Pretty cool.
All that to say, Thanks!
Ari Durham