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Time after time, Keller argues that faith is above all rational. In the margins of the book, I asked him if he was seriously arguing that the cultural achievements of humans would retain their meaning in Heaven, that Shakespeare would feel validated by God himself, were he to make it into that blessed abode. So much for theodicy and the existential despair of many people, whether religious or secular. This is far from a new thing. Philo of Alexandria, a contemporary of Jesus, deployed all his considerable intellect to making Judaism appealing to the sophisticated Hellenistic world, and before him, the author of Ecclesiastes wrote his world-weary lament in the vernacular of Stoicism.

In the Middle Ages, Thomas Aquinas and the scholastics devoted much of their efforts to the intellectual rehabilitation, if not accreditation, of the Christian faith. That, of course, was not the approach of the man who turned a Jewish sect into a world religion, the self-appointed apostle to the gentiles, Paul of Tarsus:. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. Where is the teacher of the law?

Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength 1 Cor NIV. Ironically, the more religion relies on rational argument, the more exposed it becomes to doubt. When the Christian faith spread throughout the Roman Empire, it was in the form of a narrative that caught the spirit of the age.

I was hoping Keller might have worked out something similar, a faith narrative that might resonate in the 21st century, given the fact that he specifically invites people like myself to sit down with him and hear him out. But no, the story he wanted to share with me was his attack on my humanist philosophy of life and some optimistic happy-talk about wall-seasoned syllogisms that genuflect before the throne of God.

What we skeptics are looking for are not 69 pages of end notes and a text marinated in sophisticated arguments advanced by theistic philosophers. Many of us know the arguments on either side of the faith divide, and we know that when the verbal fog dissipates, we are at best left with the universal intuition that there might be something beyond the human horizon and that reality is more complex than what we can see and observe.

Instead of trying to make Christian sense of this reality, Keller tries to bury me in arguments. We who identify as skeptics do not reject the idea that existence is a mystery. What we reject are simplistic partisan arguments and the ever-present tendency of ideological enclaves on either side of faith to appropriate that mystery for their own purposes and to nail it to their respective temple doors with ten inch dogmatic nails. The mystery of life — why something exists and the origin of life — belongs to all of us, whether we believe or not.

After all, it is no mean thing to draw five thousand sophisticated New Yorkers to church on a Manhattan Sunday. I can only guess, from his many anecdotes that much of it is due to his ability to listen to people and affirm them as they are and include them in his fellowship, despite their intellectual reservations. If so, he preaches better than he writes.

Aage Rendalen is a retired foreign language teacher who has served the Richmond public school system in Virginia. Make sure your comments are germane to the topic; be concise in your reply; demonstrate respect for people and ideas whether you agree or disagree with them; and limit yourself to one comment per article, unless the author of the article directly engages you in further conversation. Comments that meet these criteria are welcome on the Spectrum Website. Comments that fail to meet these criteria will be removed. Stott is. Still tops, but I. Read Keller with appreciation.

Trust is the Proper response to the Gospel. Adventism when confounded with the Gospel responds—"Yes, But! If her words are final why hold back? Apologetics is a primitive and humdrum endeavor that is practiced by those who know nothing about the study of hermeneutics. The study of hermeneutics is to chess what apologetics is to tic-tac-toe. Whereas apologetics is what you teach children in Vacation Bible School, the study of hermeneutics is what you should teach students in an institution of higher learning.

If we presuppose reason, natural law, a fixed human nature, and other historically-conditioned Enlightenment notions of universality, transcendence, and absoluteness, then the rationalist argumentation of the apologist can be valid.


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But the Counter-Enlightenment teaches that people are different. The most fundamental hermeneutical error one can make is to fail to realize differences that might exist. The first class in a course on hermeneutics is a study of Hermes and how he overcomes differences, i.

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At times of doubt, when one is slipping down the rope of faith and only stops at the knot at the end of the rope, one is left with idea in the quote above, and finds a bit to hold on to. Maybe that is when faith is most pure, when there is no evidence. Helpful insight indeed. One added thought: there is a difference between apologetics which begins with a specific outcome in mind; namely, to provide arguments for a specific view of the ultimate—such as theism or pantheism and so on.

However, a careful philosophical analysis of the nature of Being and consciousness, as well as the peculiar uniqueness of beauty, leads one not to a specific view of the ultimate, but to the mystery of Being itself.

God

It does not start with nature and says little about it. In either case, one must account as best one can for the other.

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He is reducing the complexity of human experience and faith to a left brain exercise, devoid of feeling, emotion, connection, and even love. He is also ignoring swaths of the biblical narrative such as the Psalms, and Job. Did Jesus not think enough in that circumstance? One can never argue people into belief on the basis of rational argument, or a superior framework for data and knowledge. Paul, to the Corinthians, said that knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. Jesus said to his disciples that people would know who they are by their love for one another.

The most powerful argument for faith is a love that is continually and consistently lived, not apologetics.

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This is just as Jesus did in his dying moments, or as the dying criminal did next to him. The cross is foolishness to human wisdom, but is the wisdom of God. People like Keller need to get off the ground of trying to make the one fit into the parameters of the other. Aage, Thank you for your recent interviews and articles. I have benefitted from daily messages from an American author named Richard Rohr.

He is the director of an organization called the Center for Action and Contemplation and is not afraid to explore Christianity beyond the traditional ways of thinking. His group just finished a series on the Trinity. One of the insights was that the universe is based on the ternary and we believers are to move on from our traditional binary thinking. I am looking forward to it. Perhaps it may be of help to you. Aage, your essays always promote deeper thinking than the large majority of others published here. If only this were more fully practiced by all the apologetic writers who are filled with certitude about their personal assumptions that should be adopted by others.

Each of us must find out own answers or be content that there are none. To think that Evolution might be the greatest witness to the existence of God. And that Atheism might just qualify as a Faith.

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Skeptic's Bookshelf: What about Gods? by Chris Brockman (1978, Paperback)

For what can we say against the Truth , but for the Truth. We might argue over how long it took to create the world, but that is understandable , because everything was created fully grown. God is so patient with us. Additionally , It takes faith to disbelieve in God.

That in our proving that He does not exist, we find Him in our search of Him.


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  8. God is just too wonderful. He hides in the shadows hoping that we like the skeptics , would seek Him out. The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament show forth His handy work. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. Ps Of course, most of us have not had a class in hermeneutics. Shelve The Skeptic's Annotated Bible. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Rate it:.