Yesterday, I offered motivation for reading Tim Keller’s book, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism. For anyone with questions about the Christian faith – - Christian or not- - this is the most important work in recent years. But don’t expect to breeze through the book like it’s the latest John Grisham novel. Those not accustomed to reading theology or philosophy should begin with a strategy for interacting with the content. Here are four suggestions:
- Write all over it – If you are going to benefit from Keller’s thinking, then you need to dialogue with him. You should find yourself rewriting his thoughts in your own words on every other page. Make notes. Underline things. Reread. Outline. I don’t write neatly, so my copy looks like a kindergartner got a hold of it with a crayon. Notice the above. Maybe click on it and make it bigger. I’ve written in a source, added a post-it which summarizes his argument, and cross-referenced the post-it in the paragraphs.
- Talk about Keller’s thought in your every day conversations. Nearly every page offers a discussion starter. Just ask the question in conversation, “Do you think it is arrogant to insist your religion is right and to convert others to it?” (page 11). Share Keller’s arguments. See if they are persuasive. The only way material like this is going to stick is if you talk about it, which leads to the next point.
- Read the book in community. Near the end, Keller makes a very important statement: “Almost anything – - from a new language to a new skill- – is best learned in a community of others who are at various stages in their own pilgrimage.” Find three people to share the book at the same time. Email one another quotes. See if you can give the arguments. Or disagree with the arguments. Develop your own illustrations with one another.
- Listen to Keller sermons while reading. I would especially recommend the Can I Believe selection of sermons. Keller is Keller. So he is going to make the same points but in slightly different ways in sermons. And they’re free!