A Review of “The Reason for God” by Pops

My Grandfather, Dan Helton (a.k.a. Pops), is both interesting and intelligent.  He is also both devoutly agnostic and anti-Christian.   Some time ago I gave him Tim Keller’s The Reason for God and he just got back to me with a full written review.  I thought some other people might want to read it and I would like to get some feed back on how you would respond to this book review.

Critque of The Reason for God:

Obviously the Author is scholarly in the area of theology.  Basically, the book is well written (oraganization good, sentence structure good, etc.)

Negative aspects from the viewpoint of a Great Sensei:

a.  Obviously the Author (as do MANY people) makes his living from the Christian version of religion.  There are plenty of plugs for his church in New York City.  Reading the book carefully, I believe that there is a small chain of the Redeemer churches.

b.  It is true that adversity on a small scale (major ailment of some type involving a wife, etc.) may as time passes prove to be overall beneficial.  Major disaster (60,000 lives lost in China as a result of an earthquake for example) are not addressed.  Probably a million lives of innocent people have been lost as a result of our invasion of Iraq.  Unimaginable disruption of the lives of Iraqi’s people (fleeing to Syria, etc.).

c. How did the Christian God (And the hundreds of thousands of other gods that have “existed”) come into existence?  To say that the Christian God, for example, has ALWAYS existed is absolutely absurd from the logic of the Great Sensei.  Absolutely absurd!

d.  Why did God favor the Israelites over all the other people in the known (to the people in the geographic area) world?  What made them intrinsically superior (morally, etc.) to the other people.  Because they worshipped the ONE true God?  Had this one true God made an all out effort to reveal himslf to the other people?  Was it really necessary for a Loving God to kill the children of Sodom and Gomorrah for example?  What happened to their souls?

I could go on an on.  I however have spent enough time on the Absolutely Absurd Christian religion.  In addition, my eyes are so full of tears because I am thinking about God’s sacrifice of his ONLY son that it is difficult for me to write.

Yours out of Christ—  but in harmony with humanity and all aspects of the universe (animate and inanimate) that do exist.  Essentially, the Christian dogma (not necessarily in all respects) is absurd.

– Pops

P.S. “Myths of the Bible” by Gary Greenberg, sourcebooks, Inc., Is one of the MANY books that I recommend!

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5 responses to “A Review of “The Reason for God” by Pops

  1. Justin,

    In his review, your grandfather has given some of the standard arguments against the God of the Bible and Christianity. “Christians are in it for the money,” “God must have had a beginning,” “The God of the Bible seems unloving to me,” “How could He have done this or that to a certain group of people?,” etc. I used some of these same arguments myself before God saved me.

    Except for the first argument, which involves discrediting Christianity because some people happen to make their livings as Christian ministers (an absurd argument, not very logical, and does Keller really give *plugs* for his church in the book?), all of these arguments boil down to “I can’t understand this supposed truth of God; therefore, I will not bow the knee to it (or more accurately, to *Him*).” Subjecting God to our autonomous intellects and then asking Him to shrink to fit our understanding or preferences is simple human pride. It is the finite and sinful sitting in judgment on the Infinite and Perfect.

    Of course, I don’t expect that you would answer your grandfather using the above observations (although you could, if you made some of the language a bit more gentle!), but really, his objections do come down to the rebellious and ostensibly autonomous intellect kicking against the one true God who demands submission to, and dependence on, Himself.

    The fallen reasoning goes, calamity and adversity on a small scale is acceptable and might be redeemable, but on a large scale, of course not. Well, Biblically speaking, I must ask, *Why* not? Do we have the mind of God to be able to judge His ways? Do even all of the combined finite, sinful intellects on this planet equal the one infinite, perfect intellect of God? How can we, His creatures, even begin to grasp all of His reasoning, beyond what He has already revealed to us in the Bible? Do we claim to see further than He does, in terms of the ultimate reasons for painful and/or tragic events?

    About when God “came into existence,” the very definition of the God of the Bible involves saying that He has always existed. Genesis 1:1– “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” God created “in the beginning,” which means that He existed *before* the beginning! It may seem absurd to your grandfather’s logic, but there is no reason that God *had* to have a beginning. For anyone to demand that God fit his/her understanding, in this particular area (or any other), is to demand that God become much smaller than He actually is.

    As for why God revealed Himself first only to the nation of Israel, actually, Romans 1 states, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20, NASB) Now, of course, God did reveal Himself in a *personal way* first to the nation of Israel, and it was categorically *not* because they were “superior,” in *any* sense of the word, to other nations. Deuteronomy 7:7 states of Israel, “The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples…” This truth is hard for even redeemed minds to understand, but God chooses the seemingly less likely (by sinful worldly standards) to accomplish His great purposes– so that the glory goes *to Him,* because He alone deserves it! In God’s economy, *of course* He would choose the smallest of nations to love and to work through, so that *His* greatness and power would be all the more apparent!

    About the children of Sodom and Gomorrah, the sin of the inhabitants of that land had reached an incredible point (although any sin is completely detestable in God’s eyes). According to the Bible, children are not intrinsically good, but are born with a willful, sinful, God-hating nature, bent to wickedness and rebellion. God is more than fair to allow *any* sinful human being to live and enjoy *any* blessings on this earth for any length of time! The Bible is not completely clear on what happens to the souls of small chldren when they die, but the one who submits to God must stand with Abraham when he asks, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?” (Genesis 18:25) “Justly” means according to God’s standards, not ours, as He is the Author not only of justice, but of all meaning itself!

    In the end, the best, most sound arguments in the world will not change a hardened heart– but they can be *tools,* in God’s perfect, skillful hands, which He may use to work on that heart! Thus, good arguments can (and used carefully and wisely, should) be one facet of our attempts to love our family members and friends who do not yet know God in a saving way.

    Justin, I hope and pray that these comments may be helpful to you. I recently reconnected with a friend from college days who is a deist, so I am thinking through some of these things myself. God’s blessings to you, brother, and I will be praying for you as you correspond and interact with your grandfather!

  2. Justin,

    After reflecting on my comments, I hope that I wasn’t “too hard” on your grandfather. My direct, pointed tone was directed at his reasoning and arguments, not at him as a person. You’re in my prayers, as is he!

  3. Justin,

    I just have a few observations. First, the review looks like one that was written by someone who did not read the book (other that a quick scan to find references to a home church the author is money grubbing for).

    There is a lot of hyperbole and strong assertion, but no clear reasoning. There are many things that seem absurd to us before we understand them. Imagine showing a 747 to a 16th century intellectual and attempting to convince him that this giant hunk of metal will fly… And there are many things that will continue to be over our puny heads.

    ESV Isaiah 55:9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

    The tendency to judge God by human standards is alive and well.

  4. Hey Justin,

    Here’s another problem with pop’s critique. He says that it is illogical to say that the Christian God has always existed. Well, this is no different than saying animate and inanimate matter has always existed. In fact, it is probably more illogical to think this, as sentient beings deriving from eternally existent, non-thinking animate and inanimate matter is, well, ridiculous. Pops definitely has the burden of proof in this case, as it seems more logical to believe a rational, living God pre-existed creation and was the artificer of it all.

  5. Hey guys thanks for your input. I think we can all tell that irrationality isn’t only about intelligence but its about sin. Our own sin is always irrational and stupid. Thanks guys I apreciate your honest thoughts.

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