It’s been a long time since I wrote one of these. Unfortunately it wasn’t because I finally got to the good stuff in Keller’s book and was forced to address my deepest held convictions and accept his position. No, it was largely because the book is degenerating so far that it’s not even fun to write these anymore. When I started I felt like I was, at least arguably, contributing something by countering his claims. He doesn’t even bother with those anymore. Anyway, on we forge.
This post will address the entirety of Chapter 11. I have read the whole thing 3 times and there are definitely no claims or arguments or assertions of any kind pertaining to the existence of a god. So, if that’s all you’re interested in, like my previous post, you can skip this one. Further, Keller’s entire “case” in this chapter is predicated upon acceptance of his assertions from Chapter 10. So, if you read my post on that chapter and found my arguments against Keller compelling, then you can skip this post, as well. For anyone who is left, I feel obligated to do a perfunctory look at what is presented. However, it is completely off topic in my opinion, so I can’t say I care much.
Keller’s goal in this chapter is to distinguish Christianity from all other possible forms of letting god be the center of your life. He distinguishes Christianity from other religions by saying that Jesus is the key to salvation, whereas all other religions merely teach the way to salvation. Since much of Christianity falls into this category as well Keller distinguishes between the bad stuff by calling it religion, and the good stuff, by calling it gospel. I’ll do the same in this post.
The difference between the two are great, for Keller. A religion prescribes various rules to follow to live a good life. Keller’s problems with this are many. He says that it is equivalent to selfish irreligiosity, in the end, since one will either succeed in following the rules, and therefor feel superior and entitled, or fail, and feel like a failure with nothing to lose. Apparently the fact that the religious person tried and theoretically accomplished some good in the world matters not.
This is because Keller knows that we are all sinners (We are? I thought we just put god in the center of our lives and we were set? Whatever. I’ll go with it) and cannot redeem ourselves by our own efforts. This is why Jesus died. Since we are saved by Jesus regardless of what we do in life, one feels compelled by love of Jesus to do whatever he commands. This knowledge is called the gospel. Keller describes how it makes it impossible to feel superior to others, since you know we are all sinners, and yet we cannot feel low, since we are loved by God who saved us. Keller says that following the gospel is actually very difficult, despite not having to follow any teachings, because one is in perpetual debt to, and love with, god, there is no end to what he can ask.
Okay. So, Keller’s completely abandoned the word “Reason” from the title of his book now. Everything in this chapter is just asserted with no rationalization or evidence or whatever. But why nitpick about such things when he’s clearly shown me the path to salvation? Well, primarily cause he hasn’t. Keller’s gospel is useless. He says we are “called to do” what God wants us to do. Well, how exactly does that work? I mean, how can I distinguish what god wants me to do from what I want me to do? Maybe god is calling me to write this rebuttal to your ridiculous book, and I’ve just mistakenly thought is was my own idea the whole time. Keller’s gospel doesn’t have any basis in reason and it’s wholly unnecessary. There’s nothing gained from the gospel that can’t be had with a complete lack of belief in a god.
The reasonable course for Keller would be to abandon the notion of a god. Since he can’t seem to do that, he’s (and apologists throughout the ages) concocted a way of pretending there is a god and he is following his will, while still ignoring anything he disagrees with or finds inconvenient. This, largely, is laudable. Replacing 1st century morality with 21st century variety is a good idea. However, doing so because a god “called you” to, is not. Just get rid of god altogether and do it because you figured out it was the right thing. That way there’s no way you could possibly interpret your own selfish interests as the “call” of god. Thinking for yourself is a good idea. Knowing you’re thinking for yourself is also a good idea.