Reason For God Study Guide Chapter 3

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. This is one of my favorite chapters in the book.

IReason for God Chapter 3

Christianity is a Straightjacket


Ice Breaker:

How did you know you were in love with your spouse?


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:

Can someone share the objection to Christianity?  Christianity keeps us from being who we really are and can become. It limits us unnecessarily.

  • Is believing in absolute truth the enemy of freedom?
    • Christianity calls some things heresy and others immoral.
    • It keeps people outside of its community.
    • Governor of Alabama who said that his Christian family is his real family.


What is freedom?  Is freedom that there is no overarching purpose for which we were created?

  • True freedom is freedom to create your own meaning and purpose.
  • The idea of freedom from an evolutionary perspective is found in Stephen Jay Gould’s quote.
  • What did you think about that quote?

The world is making mistakes on the nature of truth, community Christianity and liberty itself.


Some say all truth claims are power-plays.

What does this mean?

  • That every truth claim has a desire to control others through it.
  • It is ultimately self defeating
  • “To see through all things is the same as to not see.”
  • Even believing this is a power-play
  • What this really is, is skepticism fully formed.  It leads you nowhere.

There must be absolute truth somewhere.  We have more to live in than just an empty existence.



Community can’t be completely inclusive.

  • Do you agree with this statement?

Critics say that Christianity is not open to all.  All human communities should be completely inclusive open to all because we are human.  This is called Liberal Democracy. All that is important is to be respectful of the privacy and rights of others.

What is the matter with this view? Over simplification.  Liberal Democracy is based on an extensive list of assumptions.

  • Preference of individual to community rights
  • Division between private and public morality
  • The sanctity of personal choice.

The idea of a totally inclusive community is an illusion.

  1. All the ideas in Liberal Democracy foreign to many other cultures. Not all the shared commitments of are shared by Non Western Cultures.
  2. Every human community holds in common some beliefs that necessarily create boundaries, including some people and excluding other from its circle. (GLTB  board illustration.)
  3. Any community that did not hold its members accountable for specific beliefs and practices would have no corporate identity and would not really be a community at all.

What do you think about this idea?

Do you have any examples of this?

  • You cant be a fan of both Duke and UNC
  • You cant consider a group exclusive because it has standards for its members.

What do you think about Keller’s proposed new guidelines to determine if a group is open or closed?

  • Which community has beliefs that lead its members to treat persons in other communities with love and respect, to serve them and meet their needs
  • Which community’s beliefs lead it to demonize and attack others who violate their boundaries rather than treating them with kindness, humility and winsomeness?

Christianity isn’t Rigid

  1. What do you think about how Christianity has adapted itself to honor other cultures?
  2. Christianity changes the core and redeems the culture.


Christianity supposedly limits our personal growth and potential because it constrains our freedom to choose our own beliefs and practices.

Kant:  an enlightened human being is someone who trusts in his or her own power of thinking rather than in authority or tradition.

  • You become god.
  • Freedom to determine our own moral standards is considered a necessity for being fully human.

Oversimplification.  Freedom cant be defined in only negative terms of absence of confinement and constraint.

Confinement and constraint make you free sometimes.

  • Practice and discipline can make you great at piano.
  • Discipline also can be negative if it is trying to make us into someone we are not.
  • Freedom is finding the right restrictions that can liberate us.

The belief that we each should determine our own morality is based on the belief that the spiritual realm is nothing at all like the rest of the world.

  • Do you believe that?
  • Great question:  Are there people in this world who are doing things that they think are ok but you think they should stop regardless of what they think because it is wrong?
  • Doesn’t that mean that you do believe that there is some kind of moral reality that is ‘there’ that is not defined by us, that must be abided by regardless of what a person feels or thinks?

Love, the ultimate freedom is more constraining than we think.

  1. Love is the most liberating freedom loss
  2. You have to lose independence to attain greater intimacy .
  3. What do you think about freedom and love in the context that Christianity is a love relationship with Jesus?
    • We have to limit ourselves to be in love with him.
    • We have to say no to other loves
    • He has limited himself by being in love with us.

Freedom is not the absence of limitations and constraints but it is the finding the right ones that fit our nature and liberate us.


Download Week 1 here:

Download Week 2 here:

Download Week 3 here: