The Reason For God Study Guide – Epilogue

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.

The Reason for God – Epilogue

Where do we go from here?

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 Guide

Examining your motives

Why do you follow God?

  • Do you want to use him for your own ends?
  • We must admit that all of us begin our journey toward God because we want something from him.
  • Eventually we need to begin thinking, what do I have to do to get him?
    • If you don’t make this change you will never meet the true God, only a caricature.

Counting the Cost

  • We must realize that Jesus is Lord.
  • Bono’s conversation. Jesus is claiming to be Lord rocks our thinking about him.
  • There is no use saying you believe in Jesus unless that reality changes your views on everything.

Taking Inventory

Set of questions to help you process your questions to God.

  • Content Issues – Is there parts of the Christian message that you don’t understand or agree with?
  • Coherence issues – Are there doubts and objections to the Christian faith you cannot resolve?
  • Cost Issues – Do you perceive that a move into full Christian faith will cost you something dear? What fears do you have about commitment?

You need to do this in community. Do it in a Christian church.

If you do return to God how do you know if this is a first time commitment or a rededication?

  • I cant tell, and it doesn’t matter.
  • To do either you must do 2 simple things: 1. Make the move. 2. Believe in Christ

Making the Move

The first thing you must do is Repent.

  • Not just making a list of things to be sorry for and want to change.
  • Repentance is when you recognize that your main sin, the sin under the rest of your sins is your self-salvation project.
  • Repentance is confessing the things besides God himself that you have been relying on for your hope, significance, and security. (repent for the motivations behind our good works)

Second thing to do s Believe in Christ.

  • Believe means he was show he said he was, that we require salvation, that he rose from the dead.
  • Faith that changes the life and conn3ects to God is best conveyed as trust.
  • You don’t have to wait for all doubts and fears to go away to take hold of Christ.
  • Faith begins as you recognize and reject your alternative trusts and gods and turn instead to the father asking for a  relationship to him based on what Jesus has done, not your moral effort or achievements.

Committing to Community

  • Being a part of community is vital to being a Christian who makes it.
  • Repentance and faith must be done both individually and communally.
  • Being in community is hard because Christians are a mess. But it is like the ocean. It is diverse and enormous. That doesn’t mean you don’t go into the water.

Prayer Time

Download Week 1:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/Reason%20For%20God%20Chapter%201.doc

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The Reason for God Study Guide Chapter 14

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 Chapter 14

The Dance of God

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?
  • Does the Trinity mess with you?

Study Questions:

The Divine Dance

God, father, son, and spirit live in community and glorify each other.

  • It is not self-centered or static.
  • The life of the Trinity is characterized not by self-centeredness but by mutually self-giving love.
  • They are entered into orbit around each other centering themselves on the desires and interests of each other.
  • This creates a dance.
  • The concept of the trinity overloads our minds.

 

The Dance of Love

Since God is Triune and is love then loving relationships in community are the center of reality.

  • When people say God is love they usually mean that God values love or wants us to be loving.
  • In the Christian understanding, God really has love as his essence.
  • He has been loving others from all eternity. God models true love in the way that he loves himself and the community of persons that he is.

 

The Dance of Creation

God created the world not to fill a void in his life. He created the worlds o that we could join him in the dance. He loves to create things to enter the dance of relationship with him.

Losing the Dance

Viewed through the lens that all creation is a relationship dance with God, brings new perspective on sin.

  • Sin is the losing of the dance. It is becoming self centered and isolated from God.
  • God doesn’t leave us there. Jesus died so that we could renter the dance wit him.

Returning to the Dance.

Jesus brings us back into relationship with himself and others when we move toward him.

The Future of the Dance.

So how will the story of human history end? The world wont melt away, instead heaven will come to earth. God will reengage with creation in a new way and we will continue to live with him.

The Christian Life

How do we respond?

  • WE see that Christianity is not only about getting one’s individual sins forgiven so we can go to heaven.
  • That is an important means of God’s salvation but it is not the end or final purpose of it.
  • God wants more from us than to just get us to heaven.
  • We are saved for God not just from sin.
  • We are a part of God’s plan to restore creation
  • When we get to heaven we will say we are finally home. Just like In CS Lewis, Chronicles of Narnia. Our adventures are just only the cover and title page.

Reflection Questions?

Do you long to Dance with God?

Do you long for heaven?

Prayer Time

Download Week 1:

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The Reason for God Study Guide Chapter 13

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.

The Reason for God Chapter 13

The Reality of the Resurrection

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 Guide:

If the resurrection is true it changes our lives completely.

  • It is a huge historical philosophical issue.
  • The issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like his teaching but whether or not he rose from the dead.

There is a burden of proof for both believers and unbelievers. Unbelievers need to come up with another plausible account for how the church began. They must deliver another narrative.

 

The Empty Tomb and the Witnesses

Timing

  • There was not enough time that passed between the writings we have and the events, which took place for them to be fabrications. There were living eyewitnesses to the empty tomb and the resurrection when the gospels and the letters of Paul were written.

Problematic accounts of the resurrection

  • There are too many quirks to the resurrection accounts to be fabrications. Women were used as eyewitnesses. There was no advantage for them to be used as witnesses. They had no social standing. There was probably pressure to remove these stories from the account but they could not because it was too well known.
  • The empty tomb and the accounts of personal meetings with Jesus are even more historically certain when you realize they must be taken together. If there was only empty tomb you would think the body was stolen. If just the meetings with Jesus you could think it was a dream or vision. Both together = resurrection.
  • Christians proclaimed Jesus resurrection from the beginning. That means the tomb must have been empty. No one would have believed them if the tomb wasn’t empty.
  • We cant permit ourselves the luxury of thinking that the resurrection accounts were only fabricated years later. Whatever happened, the tomb must have been really empty and hundreds of witnesses must have claimed that they saw him bodily raised.

Resurrection and Immortality

Chronological Snobbery

  • Some people believe that 1st century people were not as educated and so because they wanted to believe in a resurrection then they believed it. This is a false understanding of the ancients. To all the dominant world religions of the time, an individual bodily resurrection was almost inconceivable.
  • In the 1st century Mediterranean world the universal view of the people at that time was that a bodily resurrection was impossible.
    • In Greco-Roman thinking the soul or spirit was good and physical world was weak and corrupt. So salvation was the leaving of this body. You never wanted to go back.
    • The resurrection would also have been unthinkable to the Jews. They wanted to be resurrected but saw it as a far off event in the future when God changed the world. The resurrection was merely one part of the complete renewal of the world.
    • The idea of an individual resurrection was inconceivable to both Jews and Greeks.
    • Many other would be messiahs were executed in during this time. None claimed to have come back from the dead. This would be impossible unless he actually was raised from the dead.

The Explosion of a New Worldview.

After Jesus death the entire Christian community suddenly added a set of beliefs that were brand new and up to that point had been unthinkable. The 1st Christians had a resurrection-centered world view. This was a new and unique set of beliefs.

  • Every other instance that we know of where such a massive shift of beliefs only happens to a group of people over a period of time. It usually takes years of discussion and debate to have one single narrative that wins out. That is how cultures and worldviews change.
  • However in Christianity , the view of resurrection sprang up in full-blown reality after the death of Jesus. There was no development or debate. People were just telling others what they saw.
  • The subsequent history of the church gets even more difficult to account for. How could a group of 1st century Jews worship a human being as divine? Eastern religions believe God is an impersonal force that is in all things, Western religions believed that various gods took human form. Jews however believed in a single transcendent personal God. It would be blasphemy to believe that you should worship any human being. Yet hundreds of Jews began to worship Jesus overnight. What broke their cultural and religious mold?
  • Pascal. “I believe those witnesses that get their throats cut.” All the disciples and early church leaders died for their faith. They died not for what they believed but for what they saw. Big difference.

The Challenge of the Resurrection

Nothing in History can be proven the way we can prove something in a laboratory. However the resurrection of Jesus is a historical fact much more fully attested to than most other events in ancient human history that we take for granted.

  • If you don’t short-circuit the process with the philosophical bias against the possibility of a miracle, the resurrection of Jesus has the most historical weight and proof for what happened than any other explanation.
  • 1st century people felt the same skepticism about the empty tomb as you and I do. The only way people embraced the resurrection was by allowing it to change their perception and worldview
  • If you doubt the resurrection you should want it to be true. It gives us hope for the future. Why sacrifice what we have for those who have none if it all this doesn’t matter?

Prayer Time

Download Week 1:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/Reason%20For%20God%20Chapter%201.doc

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http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/The%20Reason%20for%20God%20Chapter%202.doc

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The Reason for God Study Guide Chapter 12

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 Chapter 12

The (True) Story of the Cross

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 Guide:

Why did Jesus have to die? Why couldn’t He just forgive us?

The First Reason: Real Forgiveness is Costly Suffering.

Economic Terms: Illustration of a car being damaged and a gate is destroyed.

  • Either you pay the price for the accident, or the owner pays the price for the accident. But the debt does not vanish in thin air.

Most wrongs done to us cannot be assessed in purely economic terms. If you have been wronged there are two things to do.

  1. Seek ways to make the perpetrators suffer for what they have done.
    1. There are problems doing this. You can be damaged by the process of getting justice.
    2. You can forgive.
      1. This means refusing to make them pay for what they did.
      2. But you have to suffer for this to happen, you have to absorb the debt.
      3. This death leads to resurrection instead of lifelong living death of bitterness and cynicism.
      4. Forgiveness must be granted before it can be felt.
      5. Forgiveness is the only way to stop the spread of evil.
      6. Forgiveness makes you free.

The Forgiveness of God

God had to pay the debt for us. God did not inflict the pain on anyone else but took it on himself.

The Second Reason: Real Love is a Personal Exchange.

If you take away the Cross you don’t have a God of love.

  • To help others you must give of yourself.
    • To help emotionally drained people you must be drained emotionally
    • To have children thrive you must sacrifice.

The Great Reversal

God identifies with the weak because of his sacrifice. He understands the pain of his people.

Why did Jesus have to die?  US!

The Story of the Cross

The story is the greatest story of redemption. It is also really personal. It is a true story about us!

The fact that Jesus had to die humbles us out of our pride. The fact that Jesus was glad to die for me assured me out of my fear.

Prayer Time

Download Week 1:

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Download the Intermission:

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The Reason for God Study Guide Chapter 11

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.

The Reason for God Chapter 11

Religion and the Gospel

Ice Breaker: What personal win have you had this month?

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:

Christianity teaches our main problem is sin. What is the solution to sin?

There is a profound and fundamental difference between the way other religions tell us to seek salvation and the way described in the gospel of Jesus.

All other major faiths have founders who are teacher that show the way of salvation. Only Jesus claimed to be the way of salvation himself.

  • Religion= Salvation through moral effort
  • Gospel= salvation through grace

Two forms of Self-Centeredness

Dr. Jekyll becomes Mr. Hyde in the moment of his pride.

Sin and evil are self-centeredness and pride that lead to oppression against others, but there are 2 forms of this.

  • Being very bad and breaking all the rules
  • Being very good and keeping all the rules and becoming self righteous.

The best way to avoid Jesus is to avoid sin.

  • If you are avoiding sin and living morally so that God will have to bless and save you then you may be looking to Jesus as a teacher, model and helper but you are avoiding him as Savior.
  • You are trusting in your own goodness rather than in Jesus for your standing with God. You are trying to save yourself by following Jesus.
  • This is a rejection of the gospel of Jesus. It is a Christianized version of religion.
  • You are able to avoid Jesus as savior by keeping rules in the same way as breaking them.

Ultimately religion and irreligion are spiritually identical courses to take. Both are sin.

  • Religion leads to self-righteousness, pride, comparison and bigotry
  • You never deal with the root issue of who you really are.

You need a transformation of the motives of your heart.

The Damage of Pharisaism

Who were the Pharisees?

Although Pharisees live in legal righteousness they have lives that are if anything, more driven by the despair of sin than “sinners”.

They think they are living righteous lives but at their core they know they aren’t because they are not doing enough. This leads to anxiety, insecurity and irritability.

Because they are insecure, they feel that they need to attack anyone who doesn’t agree with them doctrinally or culturally.

Pharisee’s turn people off against church and God.

The Difference of Grace.

There is a great gulf between the understanding that God accepts us because of our efforts and the understanding that God accepts us because of what Jesus has done.

  • Religion = I obey –therefore I am accepted by God
  • The Gospel  = I am accepted by God through what Christ has done – therefore I obey
    • What does this mean to you?

What is your motivation? Trying to prove yourself or because of who you are?

Motivation:

  • Religion= We obey the divine standards out of fear. If we don’t obey we are going to lose God’s blessing in this world and the next.  Fear of rejection.
  • The Gospel= Gratitude for the blessing we have already received because of Jesus. Desire to please because you want to look like the one who gave his life for us.

If you are following religion you have the temptation to find your identity in the religion. This makes you feel superior to others but at the same time very unconfident in your own standing.

Christianity allows us to be both humble but confident. You don’t think more or less of yourself. You don’t need to notice yourself, how you are doing and how you are regarded, as much. You are secure because you have been forgiven.

Religion and the gospel differ in how they treat the “Other” – those who don’t share your beliefs. Often we define ourselves by those we are not.

A Christian is not defined by excluding anyone, but it is found in the person of Jesus Christ, who was excluded for me. His grace humbles me because I am to flawed to ever save myself through my own merit, but affirms me because I know God loves me unconditionally.

  • This means that Christian cant despise people who don’t believe like ourselves. We are not saved by our own good we cant be proud.
  • But we are not intimidated either because nothing can be taken from us. We are God’s people. God values you.

Religion and the gospel also lead to divergent ways of handling troubles and suffering.

  • Moralistic Religion = If you life an upstanding life, God owes you respect and favor.
    • But if life begins to go downhill then crisis and anger enters their world. They feel God owes them happiness, health and wealth.
    • Gospel = Makes it possible for someone to escape the spiral of bitterness, self-recrimination, and despair when life goes wrong. They know that the basic premise of religion, if you live a good life, things will go well for you is wrong. Jesus was the most moral person in the world and he lived a life full of poverty, rejection, injustice and even torture.

The Threat of Grace

When many hear of the difference between religion and the gospel they think it sounds too easy. They think, “If that is Christianity, all I have to do is get a personal relationship with God and then do anything I want.”

These words are only spoken on the outside of an experience of radical grace. No one on the inside speaks like that. Grace can be quite threatening.

  • If you do good works you can have limits to what God can ask you. If you are saved by sheer grace, there is nothing God can’t ask of you.

If you are saved by grace you no longer have rights and you are owned by Jesus.

  • From the outside this sounds like an obligation. From the inside, the motivation is all joy.
  • What happens when you fall in love? Your great commitment means you are bound to that person but it is not a burden. It is joy to be bound to that person.
  • When you get engaged you don’t say next, ok now I can do whatever I want, and date anyone I want. No you excitedly pursue a relationship with the one you love to the exclusion of any other love.

The most liberating act of free, unconditional grace demands that the recipient give up control of his or her life.

Is this a contradiction? No, see chapters 3 and 9.

We are not in control of our lives. WE are all living for something and we are controlled by that, the true lord of our lives. If it is not God , it will endlessly oppress us. It is only grace that frees us form the slavery of self that lurks even in the middle of morality and religion. Grace is only a threat to the illusion that we are free, autonomous selves, living life as we choose.

The Gospel makes it possible to have such a radically different life.

It is critical to recognize this fundamental difference between the gospel and religion. Christianiy’s basic message differs at the root with the assumptions of traditional religion.

  • The founders of every other major religion came as teacher not saviors. They said: “do this and you will find the divine.”
  • Jesus came essentially as a savior rather than a teacher (although he was one as well). Jesus says: “I am the divine come to you to do what you could not do for yourselves.”

The Christian message is that we are saved not by our own record, but by Christ’s record.

  • So Christianity is not a religion or an irreligion. It is something else altogether.

Prayer Time

Download Week 1:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/Reason%20For%20God%20Chapter%201.doc

Download Week 2:

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Download the Intermission:

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The Reason For God Study Guide Chapter 10

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 Chapter 10 The Problem of Sin

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:

Sin

The world is fundamentally flawed. Christians call this sin.

Most of us do not understand what Christians mean by the term of sin.

  • Why is talking about sin important?

Sin and Human Hope

Many of us have the impression that the Christian doctrine of sin is bleak and pessimistic about human nature. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

  • What is the legal model of explaining sin?
  • What is the medical model of explaining sin?

How are both broken models?

The essence of sin is a wrecked relationship with God, one another and the whole created order.

  • Sins are attempts to fill voids. We fill the void of right relationship with God with other things.

How do you achieve “low self esteem?” Why is this important? What does achieving low self esteem mean?

  • You are free when you lose the right to make others the reason why you are a mess.

The Meaning of Sin

Soren Kierkegaard: Sin is: in despair not wanting to be oneself before God…. Faith is: that the self in being itself and wanting to be itself is grounded transparently in God.

  • Sin is the despairing refusal to find your deepest identity in your relationship and service to God. Sin is seeking to become oneself, to get an identity apart from hi.

What does this mean?

  • Everyone gets an identity from somewhere or something.

So sin is not just breaking rules but making good things into ultimate things.

Our need for worth is so powerful that whatever we base our identify and value on we essentially “deify.” We will worship it in the same way and passion that we worship God, even if you are non religious.

  • In what ways do you see this as true?
  • How do you see this as true in your life?

The Personal Consequences of Sin

How does sin destroy us personally?

  • If we put our value in anything but God that is a fundamentally unstable position.
    • What if you are a bad parent, or you lose your job?
    • An identity not based on God leads to deep forms of addiction.
      • We become slaves to what we use as god. They control our hearts and actions.
      • We are in denial to the degree which we are controlled by our god –substitutes.
      • One has only the choice between God and idolatry.
    • A life not centered on God leads to emptiness.
      • What happens if you do get the desires of your heart?
      • You climb the mountain and realize there is nothing there. You are still unfulfilled and flawed.

The Social Consequences of Sin

Sin does not only have an internal impact on us but a devastating effect on the social fabric.

  • Jonathan Edwards: Society is deeply fragmented when anything but God is our highest love.
    • If our highest aim is the good for our own nation or tribe or family then we put our own interests above that of others.
    • When God is our ultimate good and life center, we will find our heart drawn to not only people that we like and that are like us but to everyone of all types and to the world.
    • If we get our identity by our politics or social nationalism we are prone to despise and demonize the opposition.
    • If you get your identity from being very moral or good you look down at people who are not as good.

The Cosmic Consequences of Sin

The Bible is unique in the way it depicts creation. It isn’t a result of a battle or violence, it is lovingly made and crafted by God. God made the world at peace. Sin destroys that peace. WE have warped the world from the way it began.

What can put it right Again?

We need to find our identity in Jesus. We need to find our entire identity in Jesus. God wants us, not our achievements, status or things.

  • We need to realize we are sinners who need a savior.
  • We need to trust God and his plan.
  • Allow Jesus to be our center.

Everyone has to live for something. Whatever that something is become “Lord of your Life,” whether you think of it that way or not.

Jesus is the only Lord who if you receive him, with fulfill you completely, and if you fail him, will forgive you eternally.

Prayer Time

Download Week 1:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/Reason%20For%20God%20Chapter%201.doc

Download Week 2:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/The%20Reason%20for%20God%20Chapter%202.doc

Download Week 3 here: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/Reason%20for%20God%20%E2%80%93%20Week%203.doc

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Download Week 5:  http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/Chapter%205%20%20Reason%20for%20God.doc

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http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/Reason%20For%20God%20Chapter%206.doc

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Download the Intermission:

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Download Week 8:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/Reason%20For%20God%20Chapter%208.docx

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Download Week 10:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/Reason%20for%20God%20Chapter%2010.docx

 

Reason For God Study Guide Chapter 8

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 Chapter 8

The Clues of God.

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:

Summary:

  • Great question by Jean-Paul Sarte – what is the point of existence?
  • How do you believe in God? There can be no strong rationalism proof of God. Instead what we have are clues that point to God. Individually they do not prove God but taken together there is strong evidence for God.

Clues:

The Mysterious Bang.

  • Why is there something rather than nothing?
  • There is evidence that the universe is expanding explosively and outwardly from a single point.
  • Francis Collins: The very fact that the universe had a beginning means that someone was able to begin it. And it seems to me that had to be outside of nature.

The Cosmic Welcome Mat.

  • 15 main universal constants that have precise values. They are fine tuned for the world to exist as it is.
  • If the world was different at all, there would be no life on planet Earth.
  • Steven Hawking: The odds against a universe like ours emerging out of something like the Big Bang are enormous. I think there are clearly religious implications.
  • Although organic life could have just happened without a creator, does it make sense to live as if that infinitely remote chance is true?

The Regularity of Nature

  • Why does the world stay the same? There is no reason for this.
  • Science cannot prove why the rules that we observe around us continue. It must take it in faith that they will. (Mike: in fact it is faith that we believe everything will stay the same in the very next minute. The miraculous actually may be more normal than everything staying the same.)

The Clue of Beauty

  • Why does art move us? Why does music move something within us? Why does something ring true when we hear or see great Art or music?
  • If there is not God then the only reason you think something is beautiful is because there is something in your past evolving that associated good things for humans when it was present.
  • However when we see beauty that has nothing to do with survival instincts and are moved we realize that something out there must define what is beautiful and we resonate with it when we perceive it.
  • We have deep longings for beauty, love, joy that can’t be fulfilled by food, sex friendship, or success.  These longings within us point to a creator.

The Clue Killer

  • Influential school of thought that claims to have answers to the clues: this is the school of Evolutionary Biology.
  • Evolutionary Biology believes that everything can be explained by a function of natural selection.
  • Basically everything that we value and love and desire is because it was coded in us to be able to survive. This coding was passed down to us by our ancestors.
  • This is why we believe in God. Belief in God made our ancestors happier and more unselfish which made their tribes succeed.
  • Big admission by Richard Dawkins: since we are the product of natural selection, we cant completely trust our own senses. After all, evolution is interested only in preserving adaptive behavior, not true belief.
    • IN other words: Paranoid false beliefs are often more effective at helping you survive than accurate ones.
    • Evolution only gives us things that we can survive, but not true ideas.
    • Doesn’t this mean then by Evolutionists own admission that you cant trust what they say?
    • They cant have it both ways, to think that they can determine what is true about the world but say that religious people cant figure out religion because it is only something programmed into our DNA.

The Clue Killer Is Really a Clue

  • Because we can trust our ability to reason and interpret the world we can believe that there is a God. We can read the other clues and come to a belief in God.
  • If you don’t believe in God, the clues of God are inexplicable and troubling.
  • The theory that there is a God who created the world makes more sense than the theory that the world has occurred by natural selection and chance.

Beyond the Clues

  • He will demonstrate in the next chapter that you already know that God exists.

Prayer Time

Download Week 1:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/Reason%20For%20God%20Chapter%201.doc

Download Week 2:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/The%20Reason%20for%20God%20Chapter%202.doc

Download Week 3 here: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/Reason%20for%20God%20%E2%80%93%20Week%203.doc

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http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/Reason%20For%20God%20Chapter%206.doc

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Download the Intermission:

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Download Week 8:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/Reason%20For%20God%20Chapter%208.docx

The Reason For God Study Guide Chapter 9

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.

The Reason for God Chapter 9

The Knowledge of God

Ice Breaker

  • What was your favorite part of this chapter?
  • What made you struggle in this chapter?

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?

Free Floating Morality

People have strong moral convictions but unlike other people in other times and places they don’t have any visible basis for why they find some things to be evil and other things to be good.

Their moral intuitions are free-floating in midair- far off the ground.

Radical Thesis: People in our culture know unavoidably that there is a God, but they are repressing what they know.

  • What do you think about this? Do you have any examples?

The Concept of Moral Obligation

Common Argument: No one should impose their moral views on others, because everyone has the right to find truth inside him or herself.

This belief raises some difficult questions that must be answered:

  1. Aren’t there people in the world who are doing things that you think are wrong even though they think they are right?
  2. Doesn’t that mean you do believe that there is some sort of moral standard that people should abide by regardless of their individual convictions?
  3. Why is it impossible for anyone (in reality) to be a consistent moral relativist even when they claim that they are?

The answer: we all have a pervasive, powerful, and unavoidable belief not only in moral values but also moral obligation.

  • Basically we all think people should act right and that is something internal not external.

The Evolutionary Theory of Moral Obligation

People who are good have a better chance of surviving by taking care of each other. This trait is something that is bred into us by our ancestors as a defense mechanism.

Flaws:

  1. Being mean to other tribes is a better trait to survival than sacrificing for others.
  2. However being nice to others not like us feels right. Example: Why should we care about Haiti or Japan?
  3. Some say this is because it is a collective belief that is passed down by natural selection: However there is consensus that natural selection does not work for populations.

Summary: Evolution can’t account for the origin of our moral feelings, let alone the fact that we think there are external moral standards by which moral feelings are evaluated.

The Problem of Moral Obligation

The sense of moral obligation creates a problem for those with a secular understanding of the world.

Most people can’t answer it and are stuck having to stay true to there philosophical beliefs or moral convictions.

Example of lady who thought that there is no relative morality. But when she saw oppression of women had to act because she thought it was morally wrong.

 

Difficult Issue of Human Rights

Human rights: Every human being has inherent dignity and that it is obligatory that we order our lives in accordance with this fact.

Where do human rights come from?

  • Is it from our European Culture?
  • Is it from God?  Made in God’s image?
  • It comes from nature? Natural law.
    • Problem: Nature thrives on violence and predation, on survival of the fittest.
    • There is no way to derive the concept of the dignity of every individual from the way things really work in nature.
    • AKA: outside of our cities and suburbs the world is savage.
    • It comes from the people who write the laws?
      • That the majority of a society decides.
        • Problem: what happens if a majority think that individual dignity is not in their interests?
          • Apartheid, Slavery, Euthenasia.
          • If they are nothing but a voted on agreement then there is nothing greater to appeal to if they are voted out of existence.
          • If human rights are created by majorities what use are they? Human rights are valuable to insist that majorities value the dignity of minorities and individuals who are weaker.
          • Rights cannot be created, they must be discovered or they are of no value.

Michael J Perry:  There is a religious ground for the morality of human rights… but it is far from clear that there is a non-religious ground, a secular ground for human rights.

Neitzsche: If God is dead, any and all morality of love and human rights is baseless.

  • If there is no God there is no reason to be kind, to be loving or to work for peace.
  • If we believe there is no God, why do we still keep taking moral judgments for granted as if nothing has happened?

The Grand Sez Who?

If there is no God, then there is no way to say any one action is moral and another immoral but only “I like this.”

Who gets to determine morality?

The Argument for God from the Violence of Nature

Nature is based on violence. Humans alone seem to want peace. Why?

  • The Bible explains why.  The world is broken and needs a savior and we know this in our hearts.
  • If we believe human rights are a reality, then it makes much more sense that God exists than that he does not.

 

The Endless, Pointless Litigation of Existence

If there is no God, what is the point of existence?

You can do 2 things: 1. Don’t think about it. 2. Accept that you know there is no God.

 

Prayer Time

Download Week 1:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/Reason%20For%20God%20Chapter%201.doc

Download Week 2:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/The%20Reason%20for%20God%20Chapter%202.doc

Download Week 3 here: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/Reason%20for%20God%20%E2%80%93%20Week%203.doc

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http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/Reason%20For%20God%20Chapter%206.doc

Download Week 7

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/Reason%20For%20God%20Chapter%207%20%20You%20cant%20take%20the%20Bible%20Literally.doc

Download the Intermission:

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Download Week 8:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/Reason%20For%20God%20Chapter%208.docx

Download Week 9:

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Reason For God Study Guide Chapter 7

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 Chapter 7  You cant take the Bible Literally

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:

How can we trust that Jesus is real and the Bible is real?

  • Based in history. The quest for the historical Jesus has not historical creditability
  • We can trust the gospels
    • Jesus Seminar:  Only 20% of Jesus sayings and actions historically validated.
    • The timing is too early for the gospels to be legends.  Written during the time of living eyewitnesses.
    • There were also living opponents to the gospels  while they were written.
    • With all the contemporary eye witnesses in place it would be impossible for the new faith to spread in the way that it did if these were made up stories. Acts 26:26. “this did not happen in a corner.”

Da Vinci Code;

  • The source information apparently believed by Dan Brown has no root in History.
  • Constantine did not declare Jesus as divine. This was an already recognized pillar of the church.
  • The disciples must have been taken to heaven immediately with Jesus for the gospels to become legend.
  • Common skepticism/Da Vinci Code copycats are basing their opinions on scholarship that arose a century ago. The problem is that scholarship has been eroded quickly in the past 100 years and is seen as not credible any longer.

The content is too counterproductive for the gospels to be legends.

  • Liberal scholars say that the gospels were written by leaders of the early church to promote their policies, consolidate their power and build their movement.
    • Have they read the NT?
    • If so then Jesus would have had opinions about what was happening in the early church. – no evidence of this exists.
    • They wouldn’t have included the crucifixion.
    • They wouldn’t have had women as early eyewitnesses to the resurrection.
    • Why constantly show the apostles as petty and jealous, slow witted and cowards?
    • Mark is the strongest about Peter’s failures. This would only have happened if Peter was the source, which is the belief of inerrantists.
    • Gnostic gospels suck up to the powers of the ancient world, the gospels don’t.

The literary form of the gospels is too detailed to be legend.

  • The form of the gospels is not like ancient fiction. It is like an eyewitness account. Modern fiction has details and character development. Ancient fiction does not. Ever read Beowulf or the Illiad?
  • The way Jesus taught was meant to be memorized. And disciples were expected to memorize teachings.

We cant trust the Bible culturally

  • People are frustrated with what they see as outmoded and regressive teachings of the Bible. Women and Slaves particularly. (Also probably homosexuality. my speculative addition.)
  • Slavery
    • Slaves obey your masters.
      • Advice: slow down and try out several different perspectives on the issues that trouble you. That way you can continue to read, learn, and profit from the Bible even as your wrestle with its concepts.
      • The passage may not teach what you think it may be teaching.
      • You may be thinking about African slave trade or sex slave trade. This is not the situation of slavery in Rome. There was not a big difference between slaves and an average free person. Looked and lived like everyone else. Were paid and not usually poor. They could buy themselves out of slavery. Few slaves were slaves for life. Most only 10-15 years.  New world slavery people were seen as property and a thing.
      • The Bible prohibits kidnapping and trafficking in slaves. 1 Tim 1:9-11 and Deut 24:7.
      • 1st century Christians did not go against slavery but later Christians did because it was wrong.
    • Be on guard against an unexamined belief in the superiority of your historical moment over all others.
      • Do not universalize your time anymore than you universalize your culture.
      • To think that we are at the ultimate historic moment where we can discern all that is progressive and regressive is narrow minded and exclusive.
      • Wouldn’t it be tragic if we threw the Bible away over a belief that will soon look pretty weak or wrong?

Distinguish between the major themes of the Bible and its less primary teachings.

  • Open hand vs. Closed hand. – pyramid of belief.

Do you want a stepford God? One that never contradicts you?

  • Only if you find a God that changes and challenges you will you find a God worth serving.

 

An authoritative Bible is not the enemy of a personal relationship with God. It is the precondition of it.

Prayer Time

Download Week 1:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/Reason%20For%20God%20Chapter%201.doc

Download Week 2:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/The%20Reason%20for%20God%20Chapter%202.doc

Download Week 3 here: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/Reason%20for%20God%20%E2%80%93%20Week%203.doc

Download Week 4:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/Reason%20for%20God%20Week%204.doc

Download Week 5:  http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/Chapter%205%20%20Reason%20for%20God.doc

Download Week 6:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/Reason%20For%20God%20Chapter%206.doc

Download Week 7

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/Reason%20For%20God%20Chapter%207%20%20You%20cant%20take%20the%20Bible%20Literally.doc

Reason For God Study Guide Chapter 6

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 Chapter 6

Ice Breaker:  Which miracle would you wish you had seen and why?

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

Science has disproved Christianity

  • What did you like about this chapter?
  • What challenged you in this chapter?

Richard Dawkins believed that you couldn’t be an intelligent scientific thinker and still hold religious beliefs.

  • 7% of scientists believe in a personal God.

Aren’t miracles scientifically impossible?

Enlightenment belief: miracles cannot be reconciled to a modern, rational view of the world.

  • Scholars then say because the Bible has miracles then it cant be true.
  • This is the premise behind the claim that Science has proven there is no such thing as miracles.
  • This is a leap of faith.

Science is only equipped to test natural causes and not others.

You cant prove or disprove God through science.

  • Bias against supernatural
    • Just because you haven’t seen it doesn’t mean it isn’t real
    • If there is a God then the supernatural is possible.

Isn’t Science in Conflict with Christianity?

Media fuels this as a conflict. It paints battles between secular and Christians.

  • Makes it seem you can be rational and scientific or religious.

Argument: many churches believe in guided evolution. Catholics and Methodists included.

Evolution is really not science it is philosophy.

  • It believes in “Philosophical Naturalism” – that everything has a natural cause and organic life is solely the product of random forces guided by no one.
  • Francis Collins is a leading scientist who rejects the philosophy of naturalism. He believes in a divine creator and fine tuner.

Many models of how science and religion may be related to each other:

  • Ian Barbour: Conflict. Dialogue, integration, independence
  • Conflict: both creation science people and staunch atheists
    • He doesn’t like this model
    • I do like it.
    • Most scientist believe in a way that allows for both God and for science.

Dawkins’ assertion of only 7% believing scientists is flawed

  • The guestion is asked to only “see” scientists who believe in a Christian God not all that believe in a God.
  • This study does not tell why they don’t believe.
    • Most of them brought their atheistic beliefs with them before becoming scientists
    • Steven Jay Gould disagreed with Dawkins from personal experience.
    • Thomas Nagel also disagreed because of morality that is hardwired into people.

Doesn’t Evolution Disprove the Bible?

Many people hold to positions where Creationism and Evolution coexist.

He believes that Genesis 1 and 2 are repeating the same event like Judges 4 and 5 and Exodus 14 and 15.

I have a problem with this:

  • Death before the fall.
    • Methodist church denouncing the creation account.
    • Denouncing the creation account = death of your church.
    • There is no real evidence for evolution. It starts with a premise, there is no God so how did we get here?
      • I believe in micro evolution but there is not proof for macro evolution.
      • Where is the record?  Where are the evolutions today?
      • Most mutations are negative and sterile.

Conclusion: you don’t have to hold any of these positions to be a believer in Jesus.

Keller believes in a guided process of natural selection., and also rejects evolution as an all encompassing theory.

Matthew 28:17

They worshipped him but some doubted. WE struggle with miracles.

Miracles were never magic tricks, instead Jesus used them to restore the natural order not suspend the natural order.

  • Miracles were not just proofs that he has power but also wonderful foretastes of what he is going to do with that power.
  • Jesus’ miracles are not just a challenge to our minds but a promise to our hearts that the world we all want is coming.

 

Prayer Time

Download Week 1:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/Reason%20For%20God%20Chapter%201.doc

Download Week 2:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/The%20Reason%20for%20God%20Chapter%202.doc

Download Week 3 here: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/Reason%20for%20God%20%E2%80%93%20Week%203.doc

Download Week 4:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/Reason%20for%20God%20Week%204.doc

Download Week 5:  http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/Chapter%205%20%20Reason%20for%20God.doc

Download Week 6:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/Reason%20For%20God%20Chapter%206.doc