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.

Download Week 1:

Download Week 2:

Download Week 3 here:

Download Week 4:

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: