I have been reading Tim Keller’s excellent book The Reason for God. (The subtitle is: Belief in an Age of Skepticism.) Now this is a book I am enjoying. In the first part of the book, Keller responds to questions and objections regarding Christianity that he has often received in the context of his ministry in New York City. Some of these objections include:
- There Can’t Be Just One True Religion
- How Could a Good God Allow Suffering?
- Christianity Is a Straitjacket
- The Church Is Responsible for So Much Injustice
- How Can a Loving God Send People to Hell?
- Science Has Disproved Christianity
- You Can’t Take the Bible Literally
The second part of the book discusses some reasons for faith. This book has been very enjoyable. Reading Tim Keller at times reminds me of reading C. S. Lewis. He is a thinker with a heart for ministry.
The following is an excerpt from chapter four in which Keller responds to charges that the church is responsible for so much injustice:
Christian theology also speaks of the seriously flawed character of real Christians. A central message of the Bible is that we can only have a relationship with God by sheer grace. Our moral efforts are too feeble and falsely motivated to ever merit salvation. Jesus, through his death and resurrection, has provided salvation for us, which we receive as a gift. All churches believe this in one form or another. Growth in character and changes in behavior occur in a gradual process after a person becomes a Christian. The mistaken belief that a person must "clean up" his or her own life in order to merit God’s presence is not Christianity. This means, though, that the church will be filled with immature and broken people who still have a long way to go emotionally, morally, and spiritually. As the saying has it: "The church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints." (pp. 53-54)
If Keller is right, regarding the church containing those who are "immature and broken," then why do so many of us go to such great lengths to hide our imperfections and our flaws?